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Foods That Mimic Ozempic
Health and Fitness

Foods That Mimic Ozempic

Written by Dr. Katie Takayasu

Assisted by Alexandra Budnick


Not everyone is a candidate for weight-loss medications like Ozempic and Monjauro, but many of us who are conscious about our health are interested in experiencing a helpful side effect many users notice: increased satiety.


If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt had times when you ate food – usually ultra-processed, usually hyper-sweet, super-salted, or high-fat (or a combination of all three, like Harry & David’s Caramel Moose Munch popcorn!) – where it was tough to stop after just one serving.


Food and Hormonal Signaling


Appetite is generally controlled by ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, the fullness hormone. 


A plant-forward diet (like the one I write about in my book Plants First) is a great strategy not only for inflammation, but also serves the body’s hormonal signaling.

Our bodies are a symphony of hormones - not just estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone - but also cortisol, insulin, leptin and ghrelin. When the symphony is playing in tune, we enjoy a feeling of wellness that is literally music to our ears. When the hormonal signals are off, we feel lousy.

The biggest of these hormonal players in nutrition is the interplay of blood sugar and insulin. Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas directly after we consume any type of carbohydrate. Carbs are not bad. In fact, we need them, since our brain’s only fuel is glucose.

The problem is when we eat carbohydrates that are not balanced by corresponding fiber, fat and protein. Eating repeated unbalanced meals or snacks leads to higher releases of insulin. If blood sugar and insulin secretion is elevated for long periods, our bodies eventually become deaf to the signals, leading to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and weight gain. We can also experience crashes in energy, crabby moods, and feeling hungry all of the time no matter what we’ve eaten.
 

The Secret to Success = Fiber + Fat + Protein


The secret to satiety and weight management is hormone management, and it starts with eating balanced meals and snacks.There are a few foods that naturally have a balance of fiber, fat, and protein and include nuts, seeds, edamame, and dark chocolate. The ones below get a special shout-out for their nutrient density and tastiness.

Walnuts


Walnuts are a great source of protein, anti-oxidant omega-3 fatty acids, copper, folic acid, manganese, vitamins B6 and E. These phytonutrients are correlated to improved brain health and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.  The fat and protein in walnuts makes them a perfect snack because they keep our blood sugar balanced and truly satiate. I usually buy unsalted, unroasted plain nuts and measure them in an espresso cup (which happens to be just about ¼ cup, a perfect serving!).


Hazelnuts + Almonds


Hazelnuts and almonds are particularly rich in iron, and also have the added benefit of blood sugar balance and satiety. Iron is an essential nutrient for all of us because it’s a building block of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in our red blood cells. Iron is also important to our metabolism because it’s a component of myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. Iron is necessary for growth and development, which is why we check young children for anemia routinely. The next time you’re craving some Nutella, consider making your own hazelnut butter. Just place some toasted hazelnuts and a pinch of kosher salt in a food processor and pulse until a thick nut butter forms. 


Chia Seeds


Chia are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and a complete protein (meaning they have all of the essential amino acids unable to be made in the body). Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber. That amount of fiber is helpful to satiety and digestion (especially if you tend to constipation) and regulation of blood sugar. Two tablespoons of chia also provide a solid 177mg of calcium to strengthen our bones. I love making chia jam (you can find the recipe on my blog here.


Hemp Seeds


Along with the antioxidants in many superfoods, hemp seeds are also a great source of complete protein, fiber and healthful fatty acids, especially omega-3s. Hemp seeds also support heart health and reduce inflammation, helping to manage heart disease and type 2 diabetes. I sprinkle hemp seeds on literally everything and use ground-up hemp protein powder as my primary source of protein in smoothies.


Edamame


Many people are scared of soy because they think it will give them man-boobs or breast cancer, but the research jury is in: whole organic soy in the amount of about 1/2 cup per day on average is actually good for you. In fact, a large systematic review of breast cancer survivors showed those who ate a modest amount of whole soy actually decreased their risk of recurrence. If you’re a perimenopausal lady starting to notice hot flashes and night sweats and worried about weight-gain around the middle, having a modest amount of whole organic soy in your diet can decrease vasomotor symptoms by about 20% and prevent menopause-related weight gain. I buy organic frozen edamame to add to soups, stews, or as the protein on my lunch salad.


Dark chocolate


Dark chocolate is full of inflammatory agents and antioxidants, which come from flavanols in cocoa bean. I’d recommend staying north of the 80% mark when choosing a chocolate, so that you garner the health benefits without a ton of sugar. Choose organic and fair trade chocolate when possible.


Dark chocolate is rich in stearic acid, an anti-inflammatory saturated fat - unlike animal saturated fat - doesn’t impact cholesterol. Most healthy eaters don’t eat enough saturated fat, so dark chocolate can be a great way to get the suggested amount of 10% of daily calories from saturated fat. We need saturated fat for lipid metabolism and to maintain our cell membrane integrity.


Dark chocolate also happens to be rich in resveratrol, a strong antioxidant for the body (most commonly found in grapes and wine) known for its potent cardiovascular effects including helping with blood pressure and brain health, and magnesium, a mineral that supports sleep and nervous system relaxation. I keep a bar of 85% dark chocolate in my handbag at all times. It’s saved me from less healthy food purchases when I’m out and about and need a snack, and it tastes delicious with a cup of tea.


Armed with these choices, you’ll be ready for blood-sugar balancing that leads to satiety using the macronutrient balance of fiber, fat and protein.



Citations:

  1. Papadaki A, Nolen-Doerr E, Mantzoros CS. The Effect of the Mediterranean Diet on Metabolic Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials in Adults. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 30;12(11):3342. doi: 10.3390/nu12113342. PMID: 33143083; PMCID: PMC7692768.

  2. Martins FO, Conde SV. Impact of Diet Composition on Insulin Resistance. Nutrients. 2022 Sep 9;14(18):3716. doi: 10.3390/nu14183716. PMID: 36145093; PMCID: PMC9505491.

  3. Castro-Barquero S, Ruiz-León AM, Sierra-Pérez M, Estruch R, Casas R. Dietary Strategies for Metabolic Syndrome: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients. 2020 Sep 29;12(10):2983. doi: 10.3390/nu12102983. PMID: 33003472; PMCID: PMC7600579.

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Katie T

Dr. Katie Takayasu is an Integrative Medicine physician, author of Plants First: A Physician’s Guide to Wellness Through a Plant-Forward Diet, and speaker in the holistic health space, bridging the gap between traditional Western medicine and the evidenced-based complementary health tools of nutrition, acupuncture, meditation, botanicals and lifestyle optimization.

www.drkatie.com
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