Contrave Diet: Foods To Eat and Avoid

The majority of the United States population is considered overweight or obese. 

Being overweight or obese can come with health risks, such as an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

If you’ve ever set off on a weight loss journey before, you probably know that it’s not always easy. 

Losing weight and maintaining weight loss can be a challenge for many people, despite having good intentions and plans.

That’s where prescription weight loss drugs can come into play. 

Contrave is just one example of a prescription weight loss medication. 

What is Contrave, and how does it work? 

We have those answers and more, including suggested foods to eat and avoid if you are prescribed Contrave as part of your weight loss journey.

What is Contrave?

Contrave is the brand name for naltrexone HCl/bupropion HCl, a medication used to treat obesity in adults. The United States Food and Drug Administration approved Contrave in 2014.

Contrave comes in tablets in one strength: 8 mg/90 mg, which means each tablet contains 8 milligrams of naltrexone and 90 milligrams of bupropion. 

The typical dosing schedule for Contrave is as follows:

  • 1st week: 1 pill in the morning.
  • 2nd week: 1 pill in the morning, 1 pill in the evening.
  • 3rd week: 2 pills in the morning, 1 pill in the evening.
  • 4th week and beyond: 2 pills in the morning, 2 pills in the evening

Contrave is approved to use in people aged 18 years and older. Its safety hasn’t been established in children younger than the age of 18, especially because it comes with a black box warning for the potential side effect of suicidal ideation.

Speaking of side effects – the most commonly reported potential side effects of Contrave are:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Vomiting 
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth

Some potential serious side effects from taking Contrave include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Seizures
  • Increased blood pressure and/or heart rate
  • Sudden opioid withdrawal (you must avoid taking opioids for 7-10 days before starting Contrave)
  • Liver damage (hepatitis)
  • Manic episodes
  • Visual problems (glaucoma)
  • Increased risk of low blood sugar in people who take diabetes medications

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What is Contrave used for?

Contrave is used to treat overweight and obesity (having a body mass index of 30 or greater, or 27 and above with medical problems) in adults. 

Contrave works by helping to reduce cravings and reduce hunger, yet it’s not fully understood exactly how Contrave accomplishes this effect.

Let’s look at the active ingredients in Contrave. The first is naltrexone, a medication commonly used to treat alcohol and drug abuse disorders.

The second active drug in Contrave is bupropion, which is the drug name for Wellbutrin, a type of antidepressant. Wellbutrin has also been used to help people stop smoking, as well as treat seasonal depression.

According to early clinical trial results, Contrave resulted in weight loss of 3-7% of the initial starting weight of people taking it, as well as improvements in comorbidities (health problems related to obesity) and cardiovascular health.

Foods to avoid on Contrave

High-fat foods

Eating high-fat foods can worsen common side effects like nausea and vomiting. High-fat foods are also higher in calories. 

If you cut back on high-fat foods, your calorie intake might also decrease, which can promote weight loss (the goal of taking Contrave).

One of the first places to cut back on fat is by eating less fast food or convenience foods, which can be higher in fat. Other high-fat foods to avoid on Contrave include:

  • Beef (primarily non-lean cuts with marbled fat, or non-lean [20% fat] ground beef)
  • Butter
  • Cheese (in large amounts – cheese is a good source of protein and can be a part of a balanced and healthy diet)
  • Coconut (including coconut oil)
  • Ice cream
  • Lamb
  • Lard and cream
  • Non-lean cuts of pork
  • Palm oil and palm kernel oil (common ingredients in processed foods)
  • Poultry with the skin on
  • Processed meats like sausage, hot dogs, and salami
  • Some baked and fried foods including ingredients like lard and butter

Foods and drinks high in added sugar

A diet high in sugar is linked with obesity and numerous health issues. With the American population consuming an average of 300% of the daily recommended amount of added sugar, it’s usually easy to find where excess sugar can creep into your diet.

Processed foods and drinks are the leading sources of added sugars in most people’s diets. For instance:

  • Soda (both cola and caffeine-free varieties like lemon-lime, grape, etc.)
  • Sweetened iced teas
  • Sweetened coffee drinks
  • Fruit-flavored drinks 
  • Energy drinks
  • Desserts and sweets
  • Flavored foods like sweetened cereals, yogurts, nutrition bars, etc.
  • Some soups and condiments (sugar is often used to balance the acidity of foods like tomatoes)

So how much added sugar should you be limiting yourself to each day? The goal per the United States Dietary Guidelines is to limit added sugars to fewer than 10% of your total calories, which would be 50 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet.

However, the American Heart Association recommends a much lower amount of no more than 24-36 grams per day for women and men per day, respectively.

You can start limiting your added sugar by looking at the nutrition facts label on products you consume regularly. 

Once you’ve identified some high-sugar culprits, set a realistic goal to gradually cut back on added sugar.

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Foods to eat while taking Contrave

Fiber-rich foods

If you develop constipation while taking Contrave, you can help combat it by boosting your fiber intake. 

Fiber not only promotes bowel regularity but it helps make you feel full and can reduce hunger and cravings.

Diets rich in fiber may help promote weight loss, making it a useful tool, along with taking Contrave for weight loss.

Fiber is in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Fiber isn’t found in meat, dairy products, or fats like oils.

Some examples of high-fiber foods to eat while taking Contrave include:

  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Almonds 
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Barley
  • Black beans
  • Bran flakes
  • Broccoli
  • Brown rice
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chia seeds
  • Green peas
  • Lentils
  • Oat bran 
  • Oatmeal
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Pistachios
  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Split peas
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflower kernels
  • Turnip greens
  • Whole wheat bread 

Lean protein

Since many types of protein (fatty meats, processed meats, etc.) can be high in fat and may thwart weight loss (and worsen nausea and vomiting), it’s better to choose lean protein sources while on Contrave.

Some examples of lean protein sources are:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lean cuts of pork or red meat (extra-lean beef, pork tenderloin, etc.)
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Soy (including tofu)
  • White meat poultry

Fruits and vegetables

It’s not news that fruits and vegetables can help promote weight management and improve your health. 

Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help fight inflammation, which is associated with obesity.

You can’t go wrong with any type of fruit or vegetable, so aim to get a variety whenever you can. Making a goal to include a fruit or vegetable with most meals and snacks is a great way to get started.

If you need some inspiration, here is a list of 40 different fruits and vegetables that are especially nutritious.

  1. Arugula
  2. Beet greens
  3. Blackberries
  4. Broccoli
  5. Brussels sprouts
  6. Cabbage
  7. Carrots
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Chard
  10. Chicory
  11. Chinese cabbage
  12. Chive
  13. Collard greens
  14. Dandelion greens
  15. Endive
  16. Grapefruit (pink and red)
  17. Grapefruit (white)
  18. Iceberg lettuce
  19. Kale
  20. Kohlrabi
  21. Leaf lettuce
  22. Leeks
  23. Lemons
  24. Limes
  25. Mustard greens
  26. Oranges
  27. Parsley
  28. Pumpkins
  29. Radishes
  30. Red peppers
  31. Romaine lettuce
  32. Rutabaga
  33. Scallions
  34. Spinach
  35. Strawberries
  36. Sweet potatoes
  37. Tomatoes
  38. Turnips
  39. Turnip greens
  40. Watercress

Foods to eat on ContraveFoods to avoid on Contrave
Fiber-rich foodsHigh-fat foods 
Lean proteinFoods and drinks high in added sugar
Fruits and vegetables

Other things to avoid while taking Contrave

Opioid use

As we mentioned earlier, Contrave can cause opioid withdrawals. Avoid taking any type of opioid (including certain prescription pain relievers) for 7-10 days before you start Contrave.

Alcohol use

Drinking alcohol can worsen dizziness, a potential side effect of Contrave. In addition, drinking a lot of alcohol and suddenly stopping can cause problems while you’re taking Contrave.

Certain medications

If you’re taking any of the following medications, you should check with your healthcare provider before starting Contrave:

  • MAOI medications (used to treat depression)
  • Opioid medications
  • Benzodiazepines (sedatives)
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Any other medications that contain bupropion
  • Any other type of prescription weight loss medication

Sedentary lifestyle

You’re more likely to be successful with your weight loss journey on Contrave if you also practice sustainable, healthy lifestyle habits. 

One of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle to promote weight loss (and health!) is to be physically active.

If you have a sedentary lifestyle with limited movement, you’re more likely to develop insulin resistance (which can lead to type 2 diabetes), heart disease, and osteoporosis (thinning of bone and bone loss), among other health problems.

Try to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, and work to break up long periods of sitting, such as sitting at a desk for hours or long commutes. 

All of these little efforts can add up if you’re consistent with them!

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Should you take Contrave with food?

Contrave can cause nausea and vomiting, so taking it with food can help reduce these common side effects. 

However, it’s also fine to take it without food, so you can choose which option is best for you and your schedule and tolerance of Contrave.


Contrave is the brand name for bupropion/naltrexone, a medication used to treat overweight and obesity in adults.

The exact method of action of Contrave is unclear, but it’s thought to help reduce hunger and cravings, helping you to lose weight.

Taking Contrave, along with practicing healthy lifestyle habits, will increase your chance of success and significant weight loss, which is why eating a healthy diet is important.

Some foods to avoid while taking Contrave include high-fat foods and foods and drinks high in added sugar.

Foods to eat while taking Contrave include fiber-rich foods, lean protein, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Explore More

contrave side effects

Contrave Side Effects: Headache, Nausea, Constipation, Sleep.


  1. Krupa-Kotara K, Dakowska D. Impact of obesity on risk of cancer. Cent Eur J Public Health. 2021. 
  2. Padwal R. Contrave, a bupropion and naltrexone combination therapy for the potential treatment of obesity. Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2009.
  3. Faruque S, Tong J, Lacmanovic V, Agbonghae C, Minaya DM, Czaja K. The Dose Makes the Poison: Sugar and Obesity in the United States – a Review. Pol J Food Nutr Sci. 2019.
  4. Park JH, Moon JH, Kim HJ, Kong MH, Oh YH. Sedentary Lifestyle: Overview of Updated Evidence of Potential Health Risks. Korean J Fam Med. 2020.

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