April 28, 2023
Impossible to ignore, the weight loss claims about Ozempic have even the talk-show hosts making jokes about everyone being on it.
But, does it work?
Here are the facts, science and know-how you need...
(Yup! This is the advantage of knowing a Nutritional Scientist.)
The short answer is, yes.
The long answer is ...well, longer.
Before you start using Ozempic for weight loss, you need to read this.
Ozempic is a brand of a type of medication called a semaglutide. These medications mimic a hormone that is naturally found in your intestines when you eat, called GLP-1. (GLP-1 is short form for glucagon-like peptide 1).
Injected weekly, Ozempic is an expensive medication that may be prescribed by your doctor for diabetes management, or in some cases for weight loss.
The Coles Notes Version: Ozempic makes you feel less hungry.
Ozempic acts like a hormone your body should normally produce when you eat that helps you use the food, and tells your brain to stop making you feel hungry.
There are 3 ways Ozempic appears to help you lose weight:
According to a few research studies available, and leading weight loss experts, there are a number of pros and cons to using Ozempic for weight loss everyone should know about:
PRO: Research studies show Ozempic does in fact cause weight loss.
PRO: Helps you feel less hungry which can help you tackle cravings for less healthful foods, and ease a transition to healthier eating patterns.
CON: It's expensive.
CON: If you don't adopt healthier eating patterns on Ozempic, once you stop taking it science shows you'll most likely regain the weight.
CON: The weight loss tends to be muscle - that's bad for your body composition.
Taking a semaglutide medication, like Ozempic, causes quick weight loss. Yet, if you don't change anything about your lifestyle while you're on it, it turns into another yo-yo diet. (A very expensive yo-yo diet).
The sudden weight loss that happens when you take Ozempic can be at the detriment of your muscle mass - and, your metabolism!
On Ozempic, you don't feel hungry. You eat less - a lot less.
In other words, you're sort of on a starvation style of diet. Studies show your body’s natural response is to try to recover that weight. It drives your hunger and appetite.
Well, that's not helpful!
The worst part of this is, studies show your body puts fat back on disproportionately faster than muscle. (Argh!)
Luckily, there's something you can do about it...
Exercise can help maintain muscle mass. You want muscle - it burns more calories, helps you power through your day, and is always in fashion.
This is a topic I've been researching for years. Belly fat is frustrating! Particularly, for my fellow 40+ readers with perimenopausal belly fat.
Belly fat is not only frustrating, it also increases the risk of metabolic illness, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So, how do you get a 6-pack?
You can do as many ab crunches as you like, and still struggle with belly fat. Strong abs are key to reducing back pain, and improving mobility, but exercising is only part of the answer to losing belly fat.
The reason your body is accumulating belly fat commonly has to do with cortisol and insulin. Your body makes more of these when you're stressed and consume so-called "sugary" things (e.g. sugary beverages, processed foods, etc).
To win the battle against belly fat, a lifestyle approach works best: more movement and nutritious whole foods, while making sleep and stress reduction a priority.
(I know - that is easier said than done.)
Here's what science knows: the best way to sustainably lose weight is to adopt a lifestyle that supports a healthy body composition, and your goals.
Where should you start?
Need some help with your weight? I can help. Let's chat.
Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide: the STEP 1 trial extension. Diabetes Obes Metab 2022 Aug; 24(8):1553-1564.
Is lost lean mass from intentional weight loss recovered during weight regain in postmenopausal women? Am J Clin Nutr 2011 Sep;94(3):767-74.
Semaglutide lowers body weight in rodents via distributed neural pathways. JCI Insight 2020 Mar 26; 5(6):e133429.
Therapeautic potential of semaglutide, a newer GLP-1 receptor antagonist in abating obesity, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and neurodegenerative diseases: a narrative review. Pharm Res 2022; 39(6): 1233-1248.
Perspectives into the experience of successful, substantial long-term weight-loss maintenance: a systematic review. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being 2021 Dec; 16(1):1862481.
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