Oatzempic can't compare to Ozempic, say experts, and don’t rely on either for weight loss

TikTok trend highlights how oats are a good source of fibre, but holistic nutrition and common sense trump social media fads

Oatzempic, a blend of oats, water and lime juice, has gone viral for its appetite-suppressing properties. Getty Images
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'TikTokers need to stop bombarding people with weight-loss hacks, setting them up for failure.” That’s clinical dietitian Mitun De Sarkar’s take on "Oatzempic", the latest health hack trending on social media.

Made by blending half a cup of oats in one cup of water and topped with the juice of half a lime, the recipe relies on the high fibre content of oats to suppress the appetite and consequently lead to weight loss. Proponents compare it to diabetes medication Ozempic – which is increasingly being used as a weight-loss drug even by non-diabetics – and claim consuming it every morning for two months straight can help shed up to 18kg.

But experts are not buying it.

Fibre in the diet

There is no denying that oats are healthy. As Sarkar explains: “They have got a special type of fibre called beta-glucan, which can reduce the appetite and keep you full. But you cannot equate oats with a GLP-1 receptor agonist such as Ozempic. There is simply no comparison.”

There is also such a thing as too much fibre, especially for people with insulin and colon conditions.

“If you consume large quantities of oats or choose instant oats, it could cause a spike followed by a drop in blood sugar,” notes Ruba Elhourani, senior dietitian and head of the nutritional department at RAK Hospital. “This variation in sugar levels can be harmful for diabetics and people with insulin resistance.

“Food with such high fibre content is also not recommended for people with colon problems, who need to restrict their fibre intake.”

Holistic nutrition is key

Fibre aside, the human body has a daily requirement of macro and micronutrients. If not met, this will harm long-term weight loss as well as overall well-being.

Melanie D’Souza, a dietetics specialist at Aster Hospital Sharjah, says she does not subscribe to the Oatzempic as a daily breakfast fad because of the absence of protein.

“While the blend is a great source of fibre, a healthy breakfast should also have at least 15g to 20g of protein to keep you full for longer and meet your daily requirements,” D’Souza explains. “People who are claiming weight loss with Oatzempic could be substituting it for a high-calorie breakfast or could be losing muscle mass – rather than fat – because of the inadequate protein intake.”

D’Souza says those who still want to incorporate oats in their first meal should avoid instant oats and use the steel-cut or rolled variety. To this, add a good source of protein – be it a scoop of protein powder, eggs or Greek yoghurt – along with healthy fats such as nuts and seeds in moderate portions.

Beware social media ‘doctors’

No matter how many followers a social media personality might have, they cannot be trusted blindly if they don’t have a degree in medicine or nutrition. As fitness trainer Danielle Wilkinson notes: “Many influencers are subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is when you learn a small amount of information and then believe you understand the topic fully. This leads influencers to passionately sell products or systems that ‘worked for them’.”

Take Ozempic, for example. Celebrities and influencers might rave about it, but few highlight the common side effects listed on pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk’s website. Think nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain and constipation, while serious side effects are listed as pancreatitis, changes in vision, kidney failure, serious allergic reactions and “possible thyroid tumours, including cancer”.

As Dr Salman Abdul Bari, a general practitioner at RAK Hospital, puts it: “Physicians across the world do not recommend it for normal-weight patients for cosmetic purposes.”

When it comes to Oatzempic and other unsubstantiated weight-loss hacks, Sarkar says TikTokers and social media influencers “need to get their facts right rather than look to go viral by claiming quick fixes". She adds: "All they serve to do it make diet culture toxic.”

Common sense dictates a calorie-deficit diet goes hand in hand with lifestyle changes, adds D’Souza. “To maintain weight loss, you need to accompany any new diet with physical activity, adequate sleep and manageable stress levels, to name a few," she says. "A holistic approach is the best way to improve mental and physical health and our relationship with food.”

Updated: April 15, 2024, 7:02 AM