'Oatzempic' is the latest weight loss trend. Experts say it's not worth the risk.

It's 2024, and we're in an age of weight loss drugs. Slimmed-down Kardashians. Questionable celebrity statements on losing weight. And viral diet trends like TikTok’s 'oatzempic' method.

And while we'd like to think the dieting landscape has changed dramatically, it makes you wonder: Have we really come a long way? Or has diet culture just been somewhat... re-packaged? 

Because 'oatzempic' feels a lot like the Special K diet, rebranded. Or the infamous 'skinny tea' craze.

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For the uninitiated, influencers on social media are touting the promise that replacing meals with 'oatzempic' — a drink of oats mixed with water works as a weight loss tool, much like semaglutide.

@withlove.renita Day 13 did a whole detoxification from my stomach and the inflammation in my knee/body for sure! I did the extra lime it tastes better and i think it help aid in the digestion too #weightlossdrink#weightloss#loseweight#oats ♬ original sound - R é n i t a 🪐

One TikToker in particular, by the name of Renita said, "Today is day 11. I've lost seven pounds already."

How, you ask? 'The 'oatzempic challenge', of course.

"I have a fasting window and I have an eating window. I use the oats to break my fast and then I still eat the same. I try to have two or three high-protein meals," she said. "Take my advice with a grain of salt. This is just what's working for me. Oats are just an addition because of this challenge I found on TikTok."


But experts are recommending anybody who is considering this diet should exercise caution and consult a medical professional before doing so — because it's actually very dangerous.

Hang on. What is the 'oatzempic' trend?

Before we get into it, let's just get this straight: 'Oatzempic' is different to the weight loss drug Ozempic. In fact, 'oatzempic' is not even a form of medication at all. Rather, it's a homemade meal replacement oat shake made of half a cup of oats, a cup of water and some lemon and lime juice.

Sounds... delightful.

Mamamia spoke with KIC dietitian Liv Morrison, who explained, "It is, in my opinion when I tried it recently, not that palatable. I found it quite sour, it didn’t taste good."

"When we're looking at any of the ingredients that are added in, there's nothing inherently wrong or unhealthy about them. You can see some health benefits from being more hydrated from the water, some vitamin C from the lemon or lime juice, lots of fibre and other micronutrients that you can get a benefit from with the rolled oats and satiety kind of benefits there, making you feel fuller for longer."

The issue? Well, there are a few. 

First off, Morrison said what you're eating is meant to be enjoyable and jumping on a trend like this is ultimately going to impact your relationship with food. More often than not, she said, these kinds of trends will result in people labelling otherwise healthy everyday foods as 'unhealthy', subsequently changing the definition of these foods online.


"I find it a little bit dangerous to correlate oats to an actual drug that is really beneficial for many people," she said.

"It's also really important for us to recognise the public opinion of Ozempic is quite negative in social media. So when we're looking at oatzempic in itself, we automatically think fast, rapid weight loss results and kind of an easy way out, right? When we're then looking at something like oatzempic being promoted by influencers or everyday people, who aren’t health professionals, there’s no research or backing evidence behind it." 

"It's really easy for people to take it a step too far. The general guidelines that people are promoting online is to replace one meal a day or your breakfast. And some are also promoting intermittent fasting thereafter consuming this. It is also not an actual meal replacement. It hasn't got a balance of nutrients, micro and macro. There's limited or minimal protein, dietary fats, as well as it's missing most of the essential nutrients that we need per day for functioning."

Does it actually help people lose weight?

The 'oatzempic challenge' promises you can lose up to 18 kilos in two months — about two kilos per week. To put this into perspective, Morrison said, "Generally for a sustainable weight loss, we would be recommending half a kilo per week."

"Where the real danger lies, is when people are thinking, 'If I can lose 18 kilos by replacing one meal a day, why don’t I just take it the next step and replace multiple meals or snacks a day with this shake, and I will get faster and better results.' 


It's a slippery slope, and not a healthy approach, by any means.

"Whenever you see the word 'challenge', when it's in relation to anything that's food-related or your body and weight change, I find it a bit of a red flag," Morrison told us. "My ears prick, because that is basically saying there's a start and there's a finish time. When we're looking at healthy, sustainable, progressional change, there isn't that."

Morrison goes on to share that when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle — it's ideally a slow day-to-day kind of improvement. There shouldn't be restrictions on any kind of food group.

"All foods can be included and enjoyed. And there isn't an end goal, really. This goes for food and exercise, it is something that you can do forever — it’s a way of life, rather than a diet or challenge." 

"When we're looking at the links between social media usage and eating disorder statistics, there is a clear correlation here in trend. Unfortunately, when we're looking at these diet trends that are really popularised on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, it is directly targeting the age demographic most at risk for disordered eating behaviours — teens to mid-twenties."

"The next concerning thing with a lot of these social media kind of diet, fad diet trends, is that they are now using — and we've seen this a few times more recently — everyday foods that are readily accessible in the house, which makes it really difficult for someone that's like trying to take care of a loved one to recognise unhealthy and disordered eating behaviours."


Of course, this trend isn't anything new. In fact, it joins a swag of many, many other questionable health and wellness challenges found on social media. 

Along with other well-known fad diets, Morrison said you can compare 'oatzempic' to more recent TikTok-fuelled examples, such as influencers touting chia seed drinks for weight loss, or the celery juice cleanse from a few years back. 

"Both of those are basically laxatives and they are normal foods. Although the 'oatzempic' drink isn't necessarily a laxative, it is something to curb satiety," said Morrison.

Is the 'oatzempic challenge' dangerous?

Like most unsubstantiated health fads and fluffy nutritional claims you'll find on social media, the 'oatzempic challenge' falls into the dangerous basket — with experts warning people to avoid it at all costs.

"You might be also at risk of abusing it and doing it too much to replace too many meals or snacks in each day, it is something that can increase your risk of malnutrition, but also worsen your relationship with yourself and food, which is really a huge concern for me."

Read: this trend does not mimic the way weight loss drugs work and could have really negative health impacts.

"At another level, it really affects your metabolic hormones, satiety hormones, and risk of rapidly regaining weight once you finish the challenge, when that stop time comes. So it is creating this diet cycle, this restriction feeding cycle, which is really negative for us and we want to try to avoid."


Seen as an affordable and easily accessible option, dry oats, Morrison said there's also a worrying blind spot that can occur for parents. 

"Unless a parent is up to date on trends on social media, and it's really difficult even as a dietitian as they’re changing week to week, a lot of these foods now that are otherwise seemingly healthy, but can actually be unhealthy depending on how they're utilised. 'Oatzempic' is a perfect example of that. 

"Your teen could be making a smoothie several times a day and you're like, oh great, they're adding in carbs, that's great. And it can be perceived as a really beneficial thing for them because it's an accessible item for them to make this 'oatzempic' shake is easy to hide damaging eating behaviours and eating disorder tendencies as well."

Pretty scary, huh?

KIC founder Steph Claire Smith also weighed in on her thoughts, sharing that the 'oatzempic challenge' is just diet culture rebranded.

"Every time I see another quick-fix, fad diet flooding my feed it makes me so furious," she told us. "Oatzempic is not an innovative weight loss recipe, it’s just restrictive dieting in fancy dress. Losing that amount of weight in such a short amount of time is not good for you."

"Not only are you depriving yourself of nutrients, you’re depriving yourself of the pure enjoyment of food. I have been there. In my early 20s I was in a place with my restrictive eating where I’d fall for any toxic diet culture messaging."


As Morrison shared with Mamamia, at the end of the day experts really want people to see the red flags when it comes to online trends. 

"Who is it being promoted by? Is that a trusted source or is it just Joe Blow? Does this actually have a stop or start time? Are there any red flags around challenges and the wording that they're using? Is the thing that you're consuming actually enjoyable? Can you see yourself implementing that change long-term? And is it actually impacting your relationship with yourself or food or are you cutting out multiple food groups?"


"They're the big things that I would really be questioning each day because at the end of the day, although looking at each of the ingredients, there's nothing wrong with them at an individual level. But when you're looking at a holistic big picture, when you take a step back, there are some things that play which can be quite damaging to many people."

Steph added, "That’s why I’m so passionate about speaking up and voicing the dark side of these fad diets. I questioned whether to address this trend on TikTok because honestly, I didn’t want to give it the light of day, but I saw so many videos promoting the false 'benefits' of this diet and I had to speak up. Being healthy and enjoying your food can co-exist."

"At KIC, we’re all about helping people build a sustainable healthy lifestyle. 'Oatzempic' is not sustainable, and it’s not healthy. It’s a hard no from me."

It's 2024. Why are we still stuck here?

What do you think of the above trend? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Canva.

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