What was once considered an obscure drug to help manage the blood sugars in people with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic has grown in popularity over the past few years.
People with all types of diabetes, and even some people without diabetes, are asking their doctors for Ozempic prescriptions.
But what are the benefits of Ozempic? Can it improve your health? And can it help you lose weight?
This article will investigate everything you need to know about Ozempic and weight loss.
What is Ozempic?
Semaglutide (GLP-1 agonist) is sold under the brand names Wegovy and Ozempic.
It is an injectable drug developed by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, which also develops the popular insulins Novolog and Fiasp.
It was first approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017.
Due to its long duration of action, this injectable type 2 diabetes drug is only taken once per week. It helps people with type 2 diabetes lower their blood sugars and HbA1c levels.
Ozempic increases insulin secretion and sensitivity while also inhibiting the liver from releasing glucagon to lower blood sugar levels.
Ozempic helps reduce food intake by lowering appetite and slowing digestion, causing many people to lose weight while taking Ozempic.
It also has been proven to reduce the risk of major heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and pre-existing heart disease.
The recommended dose of Ozempic injection is 0.5 mg or 1.0 once weekly. It can be taken with or without food.
What are the side effects of Ozempic?
The most common side effects include:
- Stomach pain
- Constipation and other GI issues
- Weight loss
More severe side effects include:
- Thyroid tumors, including malignant tumors
- Changes in vision
- Kidney problems
- Hypoglycemia, especially if you’re on insulin therapy
- Serious allergic reactions
Seek medical attention immediately if you develop a fever, have changes to your vision, or are feeling weak or in pain after taking the medication.
It is not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding (you should stop using Ozempic 2 months before you plan on becoming pregnant).
Can Ozempic help you lose weight?
The story of Ozempic and weight loss is a complicated one. The drug was first approved to help patients with type 2 diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels.
After many people found great success in improved health outcomes due to decreased appetite and increased insulin sensitivity, doctors began prescribing Ozempic “off-label” (without FDA approval) for patients struggling with chronic obesity.
In June 2021, the FDA approved Wegovy (the generic version of Ozempic also developed by Novo Nordisk) for weight management in overweight or obese adults with at least one other chronic health condition, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.
Doctors also commonly prescribe Ozempic and other GLP-1 agonists “off-label” to people with type 1 diabetes, whether or not they’re struggling with their weight, to better manage blood sugar levels and reign in insulin resistance. Again, many have seen significant weight loss when on the drug long-term.
Studies support this, showing that participants in a trial lost between 10-15% of their body weight over the course of 68 weeks with weekly subcutaneous shots of Ozempic when used in combination with lifestyle changes (like healthy eating and exercise).
Study participants in the placebo group only lost 2% of their body weight on average.
In the Ozempic group, most people (between 70-80%) lost 5% or more of their body weight, but any lost weight was regained when they stopped taking the medication.
Another two-year study showed similar results, with participants on the Semaglutide losing an average of 16.7% of their total body weight versus 0.6% with placebo.
The Semaglutide patients were also much more likely to lose at least 5% of their body weight, with nearly 84% of Semaglutide patients losing at least that much weight.
Yet another study out of SURE Denmark/Sweden showed not only statistically significant weight loss among patients using Semaglutide but also improved HbA1c levels as well.
So all signs point to yes, it can and does help people lose weight. It is just a matter of whether or not you can and should be taking it.
Who should not take Ozempic?
You should only take Ozempic if your doctor has prescribed it for you, and most likely, if you have diabetes and are struggling with insulin resistance.
Many people wish to try Ozempic due to its ability to help people lose weight, but that is now causing a nationwide Ozempic shortage for people who need the drug to help manage their diabetes.
Ozempic is not FDA-approved for people with type 1 diabetes, but your doctor may suggest it for you if you’re struggling with high blood sugar levels and low insulin sensitivity.
Ozempic does not replace the need for insulin, so if you start Ozempic, you will have to also continue your insulin regimen.
Ozempic is not recommended for people who are pregnant, so if you are on Ozempic and are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you will have to stop the medication.
Do not use Ozempic if you or any of your family members have ever had medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), or if you have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).
Do not use Ozempic if you are allergic to Semaglutide or any of the ingredients in Ozempic. Tell your doctor all medications that you use before starting treatment with Ozempic.
This Semaglutide helps suppress appetite, increase insulin sensitivity, and prohibit the release of glucagon from the liver, all working together to not only lower blood sugar levels but to help people lose weight, too.
Many studies back this up, with the average amount of weight loss patients experience being around 15% of their total body weight.
People usually experience weight gain if they stop taking the once-weekly injection.
People who have any type of diabetes and are struggling with insulin resistance can typically be prescribed Ozempic “off-label” (without FDA approval) to not only improve their blood sugar levels but to lose excess weight as well.
Ozempic is also proven to improve heart health and prevent major heart attack, stroke, and death in people with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease. Ozempic does not replace the need for insulin.
Talk with your doctor to learn more about Ozempic if you want to try this relatively new medication.