Rybelsus Foods to Avoid During Treatment

By Jennifer Nadel, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
February 14, 2023

Key takeaways

  • Rybelsus is a prescription medication taken daily to help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.

  • Rybelsus needs to be taken on an empty stomach with no more than four ounces of water for correct absorption.

  • Certain types of foods and beverages may inhibit the effects of Rybelsus or amplify uncomfortable side effects. 

Rybelsus is an oral medication that treats type 2 diabetes by helping keep blood sugar within a healthy range. Rybelsus works along with following a low-calorie diet and getting regular exercise. Eating certain foods may inhibit the effects Rybelsus have on your blood sugar. They can also worsen side effects such as nausea and indigestion. 

Read on to learn more about which foods to avoid if you are taking Rybelsus. 

What is Rybelsus (Semaglutide)?

Rybelsus is a prescription medication used to help lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. It is a once-daily pill that is taken in the morning without food and works when used along with diet and exercise. Rybelsus mimics the functions of the natural GLP-1 hormone. It works by encouraging the secretion of insulin from your pancreas when blood sugar levels rise. Rybelsus also decreases the amount of sugar your liver secrets and slows down how fast the stomach empties food during digestion. 

People who take Rybelsus typically experience lower A1C levels, balanced blood sugar, and weight loss. This medication does not increase your risk for cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack, or death. But, it could cause common side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and constipation.

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Uses of Rybelsus

Rybelsus oral medications help people with type 2 diabetes take control of their blood sugar. During studies, people who took Rybelsus and had an average starting A1C of 8.1% decreased their A1C by a total of 1% on 7 mg of Rybelsus and 1.3% on 14 mg. Although this medication is not for weight loss, many people who take it do experience weight loss. Lastly, Rybelsus helps protect against cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. 

Does Rybelsus Interact with Foods?

For Rybelsus to work as intended, you need to take it on an empty stomach and wait 30 minutes before eating, drinking, or taking other medications. Shortly after waking up, take your Rybelsus with no more than four ounces of water, then go about your morning. After 30 minutes have passed, you can eat, drink, and take any other medications or supplements. If you miss a dose, skip that dose and take your next dose the following day. Do not double up on your dose.

Healthy eating habits will help you reach your health goals. What you eat is especially important when you have type 2 diabetes. This is because what you eat has an impact on your blood sugar. The best foods to eat while you take Rybelsus include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Poultry
  • Fish

Foods to Avoid While Taking Rybelsus

Taking Rybelsus for diabetes can be an effective way to gain better regulate your blood sugar. However, it is important to understand the dietary restrictions that come with taking this medication. 

High-Fat Foods

High-fat foods can be particularly detrimental as they interfere with the glucose-lowering effects of Rybelsus and often increase the risk of side effects such as nausea and vomiting. High-

fat foods to avoid include:

  • Large amounts of butter and shortening
  • High-fat meats
  • Fried and greasy foods
  • Full-fat dairy products like cheese or whole-fat milk
  • Fried snack foods like chips

To get the most out of your medicine, choose lean proteins, such as baked chicken and fish, and replace butter with healthier alternatives like olive oil. Additionally, adding plenty of vegetables to each meal can help support your overall health while keeping saturated fat intake low. 

Spicy foods

Eating spicy foods may not have a negative impact on your weight loss and blood sugar goals; however, they can enhance certain uncomfortable side effects. These side effects may include nausea, stomach pain, or indigestion. To decrease your risk of unpleasant side effects, avoid foods that contain:

  • Chili powder
  • Hot peppers
  • Cayenne
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Other spices that cause heat

To enhance your experience with Rybelsus, focus on eating foods that are blander in flavor.

Foods with high sugar content 

While taking Rybelsus, it’s important to limit yourself from eating foods and beverages with high sugar. Such foods cause a spike and dip in your blood sugar levels that can interfere with the diabetes medicine’s effectiveness and create potential health risks. Avoid eating foods and beverages such as:

  • Sugary sodas, fruit juices, and sweet tea
  • Candy
  • Bread products from white flour
  • Muffins, cakes, and cookies
  • Sugary cereals

Instead, focus on eating wholesome foods like fruits, whole grains, vegetables, or nuts. These can help regulate your blood sugar levels without compromising on taste when you have cravings for something sweet.

Alcohol

There are no known interactions between alcohol and Rybelsus. However, it is known that drinking a large amount of alcohol puts you at higher risk for blood sugar problems such as low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. This effect increases when you are taking medications that lower your blood sugar. Drinking alcohol may also worsen several side effects.

To avoid the risk of hypoglycemia, do not drink alcohol. If you do choose to have an occasional drink, remember to keep your intake to a moderate level. This means one drink for females and two drinks for males. One drink is eight ounces of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or one and a half ounces of 80-proof spirits. Also, be sure to eat when you drink to avoid complications.

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Minimizing Rybelsus Side Effects

While you may not be able to avoid all side effects, there are some steps you can take to help ease them. Also, remember that these side effects typically lessen over time as your body adjusts to your new medication. 

  • Take on an empty stomach: It is very important to take your medication on an empty stomach. Eating food or taking other medications or supplements at the same time as Rybelsus may reduce its effects.
  • Swallow tablets whole: Crushing, splitting, or chewing your tablets may disrupt how the medication absorbs into your body. It may also trigger nausea and vomiting, which are common side effects.
  • Only take the medication with water: The effectiveness of Rybelssus has not been tested with anything other than water. Drinking any other beverage while you swallow your pill may decrease its effectiveness and cause nausea or indigestion.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking: Give your pill 30 minutes to completely absorb before eating or drinking anything. If you struggle with nausea, try going to bed with something on your stomach. Thirty minutes after taking your pill, you can take any other medications or supplements as well as eat something. 

When to See a Medical Provider

As with any medication, it is important to understand how certain foods may affect treatment goals. To ensure that Rybelsus works properly for you and to avoid adverse side effects, it is advisable to have a conversation with your medical provider about any foods or drinks that should be avoided. Having a thorough understanding of foods to avoid may help improve your outcomes from the treatment. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What do you eat with Rybelsus?
When you wake up in the morning, it is important to take Rybelsus on an empty stomach. After 30 minutes, you can eat and drink. The best foods to eat while taking Rybelsus are vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and whole grains. These foods will work with Rybelsus to help you manage your blood sugar and meet your health goals.
Can you have caffeine with Rybelsus?
It is best to take Rybelsus with water on an empty stomach. Most people find it easiest to take it with a little sip of water when they first wake up. After 30 minutes, you can go ahead and eat something and have your cup of caffeine.
Is Rybelsus hard on the kidneys?
There have been reports of Rybelsus causing kidney damage or worsening kidney conditions. If you have kidney problems, discuss this with your medical provider before taking Rybelsus.
What medication should not be taken with Rybelsus?
Some people taking Rybelsus along with insulin experience hypoglycemia. Discuss glucose monitoring with your medical provider before taking Rybelsus and know what to do if your glucose level starts to drop too low.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Jennifer Nadel, MD

Dr. Jennifer Nadel is a board certified emergency medicine physician and received her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine. She has worked in varied practice environments, including academic urban level-one trauma centers, community hospital emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities, telemedicine, EMS medical control, and flight medicine.

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