Since its FDA approval in 2017, the injectable medication Ozempic has caused a sensation around the globe. Yes, it’s an impressively effective, non-insulin treatment for adults with Type 2 Diabetes and established cardiovascular disease. But Ozempic’s popularity in the news and on social media hasn’t stemmed directly from that.
Rather, Ozempic has become a household name—and, incidentally, experienced a worldwide shortage due to popular demand—because of one of its side effects: Namely, weight loss. Celebrities, social media influencers, and billionaires alike have publicly shared their Ozempic-influenced weight loss journeys and success stories, inspiring millions of people across the continents to seek out the drug themselves.
So, if you have heard about Ozempic for weight loss and are wondering if a prescription for the drug might be the right fit for your circumstances, you’re certainly not alone.
While Ozempic is associated with weight loss, losing weight on the drug is not necessarily as simple as you might think. For one thing, Ozempic is not actually approved as a weight loss drug (more on this below), and for another, it’s not the right fit for everyone. Even if your doctor does believe that Ozempic is a suitable option for your needs and circumstances, weight loss results can differ widely based on a variety of different factors.
In this post, we’ll take a close look at Ozempic and how it works for weight loss. We’ll consider who is a good candidate for the drug, how much weight you can lose on it, and how it may impact your body in both positive and negative ways.
Though well-researched, none of the information below constitutes medical advice. For more information about Ozempic and to determine if it may be the right choice for you, speak directly with your doctor or healthcare provider.
Ozempic (semaglutide) is a Type 2 Diabetes medication associated with weight loss in patients with and without Type 2 Diabetes when taken in conjunction with healthy lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, and more). While it’s not FDA-approved as a weight loss drug, many healthcare professionals prescribe it off-label for this use.
Ozempic helps lower blood sugar levels, reduce appetite, and slow down the digestive system. That being said, the amount of weight lost while on the drug will vary from patient to patient. Many factors impact Ozempic’s efficacy in individuals. These include the dosage of the drug being taken, genetics, metabolism, diet, exercise, emotional health, sleep, medical history, and tolerance to side effects.
What Is Ozempic?
Ozempic (semaglutide) is a name-brand prescription medication that’s injected subcutaneously once per week to treat Type 2 Diabetes in adults. It also reduces the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with Type 2 Diabetes and established cardiovascular disease.
Ozempic is not approved as a weight loss drug but is sometimes prescribed off-label for weight loss purposes in obese patients or those who are overweight with at least one weight-related medical condition (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or cardiovascular disease). Ozempic’s sister drug, Wegovy, is approved for chronic weight management in adults and teens when used as an adjunct to a healthy diet and regular exercise. Wegovy is very similar to Ozempic but comes at a higher dosage (2.4 mg).
Ozempic comes in prefilled injectable pens that are intended for single-patient use. Patients typically begin taking Ozempic at a non-therapeutic starting dose of 0.25 mg per week. After four weeks, the weekly dosage is increased to 0.5 mg. Once another four weeks have passed, the prescribing doctor will evaluate whether or not further dose increases are warranted (up to 1 mg or a maximum of 2 mg weekly). Slowly increasing Ozempic’s dosage over a series of weeks or months helps the body adjust to the drug and can reduce the severity of potential side effects.
How Ozempic Works for Weight Loss
While Ozempic isn’t technically approved as a weight loss drug, its active ingredient, semaglutide, has been associated with medically significant weight loss in clinical trials—which ultimately led to Wegovy’s approval for chronic weight management.
But how exactly does Ozempic promote healthy weight loss?
Ozempic belongs to the class of medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. In simple terms, this means that its active ingredient, semaglutide, imitates a naturally occurring hormone that’s released in the small intestine in response to food. This hormone, known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), acts on both the brain and digestive system to control blood sugar levels and regulate hunger.
When semaglutide binds to GLP-1 receptors throughout the body, it signals your brain that digestion is underway. In turn, this reduces cravings for food and increases feelings of satiety (fullness). Ozempic, like all GLP-1 receptor agonists, also slows down gastric emptying (the rate at which food is emptied from your stomach into your small intestine) and the entire digestive process as a whole. This allows you to feel comfortably full for longer periods of time.
It’s important to note that Ozempic doesn’t work in isolation. In order to see meaningful weight loss results, it’s critical to complement weekly Ozempic injections with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, plenty of sleep, and emotionally healthy practices.
See also: Why People Regain Weight after stopping Ozempic
How Ozempic Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Hunger, diet, weight loss, and blood sugar control are all intimately connected in the human body—and they all have a significant impact on your health. After all, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are directly correlated with each other.
To gain a better understanding of how Ozempic impacts all of the above, let’s take a closer look at some of its mechanisms of function:
Ozempic Helps the Pancreas Release More Insulin
When you ingest food, the amount of sugar in your blood increases. In response, your pancreas produces insulin to regulate (lower) your blood sugar levels.
Ozempic increases your pancreas responsiveness by signaling that the digestive process is underway. This, in turn, triggers the release of natural insulin into your bloodstream.
Improved blood sugar control can help you prevent the development of Type 2 Diabetes in the future.
Ozempic Helps Prevent Your Liver From Storing Too Much Fat and Sugar
When your blood sugar levels are high, your liver responds by storing sugar as glycogen, to be released at a later date when your body needs it. However, an excess buildup of glycogen can also end up stored throughout the body as fat.
Ozempic aids in the regulation of blood sugar levels, which in turn helps the liver store and release healthy amounts of glycogen. This is good for weight loss and your overall health.
Ozempic Slows Down Food Leaving Your Stomach
As mentioned above, semaglutide slows down gastric emptying and the rate of digestion as a whole. This helps you lose weight by reducing your appetite, making you feel fuller for longer, and allowing you to consume smaller portions without feeling hungry. It also promotes a smooth, slow release of sugar into your bloodstream (rather than extreme spikes and troughs), which can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes or other serious conditions.
Ozempic Helps Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Events
In clinical trials, Ozempic has been shown to reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with Type 2 Diabetes and established cardiovascular disease. This is a positive association for overweight or obese patients, even those without diabetes or established cardiovascular disease.
How Much Weight Can You Lose on Ozempic?
It’s impossible to determine the exact amount of weight you’ll lose while taking Ozempic. Why? Because every single patient is unique in a variety of ways. Here are some of the factors that will contribute to determining how much weight you may lose:
- The dosage of semaglutide you’re taking and how consistently you’re administering it
- Your lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep, emotional health)
- Your metabolism, genetics, and medical history
- Your tolerance of Ozempic’s side effects
Ozempic’s SUSTAIN trials demonstrated a clear relationship between Ozempic and weight loss in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Ozempic’s STEP trials demonstrated a clear relationship between Ozempic and weight loss in obese and overweight patients with or without Type 2 Diabetes at a 2.4 mg weekly dosage.
In one 68-week trial, more than 70% of obese and overweight patients lost at least 10% of their starting body weight. Roughly 50% achieved weight loss results of 15% or more of their starting body weight.
Who Can Take Ozempic for Weight Loss?
Ozempic is intended for adult patients with Type 2 Diabetes. That being said, some healthcare professionals prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight loss purposes. Only your doctor will be able to tell you whether or not your needs and circumstances make you a suitable candidate for taking Ozempic. For more information, see our post titled Can A Non-Diabetic Take Ozempic For Weight Loss?
Ozempic Side Effects
Ozempic has many possible side effects, many of which are mild and resolve over time. The most common side effects associated with Ozempic are gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. Less common are injection site reactions, headaches, dizziness, and mild low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
In terms of serious side effects, contact your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Severe allergic reactions
- Severe hypoglycemia
- Pancreatitis, kidney problems, or gallbladder problems
- Vision changes
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing or a lump in your neck (possible thyroid tumor)
Disclose all health conditions and current medications (including natural supplements) to your doctor before taking Ozempic, and discuss habits such as alcohol and tobacco usage.
Ozempic is not suitable for people with a family or personal history of thyroid cancer. It is also not approved during pregnancy, when breastfeeding, or when trying to become pregnant.
Transform Your Health With Ozempic Today
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