Is TikTok's 'Oatzempic' Weight Loss Hack Safe? A Nutrition Expert Weighs In

First approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017, Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable treatment drug for adult patients with type 2 diabetes (via UC Davis Health). Although not FDA-approved for weight loss, some doctors prescribe the medication off-label for this purpose. The drug's weight loss side effects are due to the fact that it functions similarly to a natural blood sugar-reducing hormone in the body that also slows digestion and sends chemical messages of satiety to the brain.

Garnering millions of views on TikTok, viral videos of a weight loss hack with the spin-off name, the "oatzempic" trend, have been circulating social media. Purported to produce similar weight loss results as Ozempic, the hack involves drinking a blended mixture of 1/2 cup of oats, 1 cup of water, and lime juice. It certainly sounds like one of the tastier TikTok food trends we've come across, but is it effective or safe? Tamar Samuels, MS, RD, Cofounder of Culina Health, tells us in an exclusive interview that there are ways in which the effects of Ozempic and the "oatzempic" trend may overlap. "Oats are a great source of soluble fiber, a type of fiber that absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive system," she says. "This property slows down digestion, promoting a feeling of fullness, similar to one of the effects of Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonist medications. Foods rich in soluble fiber also have cardioprotective properties, including cholesterol and blood-sugar-lowering effects."

Potential health risks associated with the oatzempic trend

When it comes to safety, Samuels notes that although studies have shown eating fiber may support weight loss, weight loss and obesity are nuanced health conditions, with weight gain and weight loss both influenced by a number of different factors. "Obesity, in particular, is a complex condition influenced by many factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental influences. Therefore, achieving and maintaining weight loss requires a comprehensive approach that addresses individual needs and factors contributing to weight gain and obesity."

Samuels further cautions that depending on the "oatzempic" hack alone may pose potential health risks, such as the development of nutrient deficiencies due to a lack of food variety. Additionally, overly-restrictive diets can be hard to stick to in the long run, she states. After all, we can only eat so many oats before we start to get bored. Rather, Samuels explains that eating a varied diet fosters a sense of enjoyment, supports adherence, and ensures adequate nutrient intake. 

Is subbing this drink for a meal a safe practice?

Samuels goes on to say that we're better off sticking to a well-rounded meal over an "oatzempic" meal replacement, because the beverage won't provide us with the balance of macronutrients and phytonutrients we need. "A balanced meal typically includes a combination of whole foods that contain all three macronutrients — carbohydrates, proteins, and fats — along with a variety of phytonutrients found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables," she states. Essentially, while the "oatzempic" trend may have us covered when it comes to whole grains, it's lacking in protein, healthy fat, and nutrient-rich fruits and veggies, which together, can support healthy metabolic functioning, appetite, weight loss, and overall health.

In fact, drinking "oatzempic" beverages, as opposed to eating a balanced breakfast, may produce the opposite desired effects. "While oats are beneficial for weight loss and improving overall health when incorporated into a balanced eating plan, substituting 'oatzempic' as a meal replacement for weight loss could potentially increase cravings and result in unsustainable outcomes due to its restrictive and unappetizing nature," Samuels says. However, this doesn't mean we can't incorporate oats into our diets in more healthy ways. Instead of drinking an "oatzempic" shake, Samuels suggests eating a bowl of oatmeal or overnight oats deliciously paired with fruit, nuts, and yogurt. This way, you'll still get the great taste you love, minus any extra calories.