How Does Ozempic® Work For Weight Loss? Is it Right For You?Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition Experts’ Corner
Ozempic®* is the latest weight loss trend making waves thanks to social media. Influencers and healthcare providers alike are praising its effectiveness in helping people shed unwanted pounds.
With all the buzz, you may wonder if using an Ozempic® injection for weight loss is right for you. But how does Ozempic® work for weight loss, anyway?
Let’s look at the science behind this popular prescription. Once you understand what Ozempic® is and how it works, you’ll know how to separate the hype from the facts to make the best choice for your goals.
What Is Ozempic®?
Despite its recent popularity, Ozempic® has been around for a while, and it’s not technically a weight loss drug.
Available by prescription only, it’s a self-injectable medication taken once weekly to help people with Type 2 Diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. It can also help reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack for certain people.
Weight loss happens to be a side effect of taking Ozempic®, but the FDA has not yet approved using it solely for weight reduction. Still, many healthcare providers are prescribing it off-label for this purpose.
The reasoning is that Ozempic® contains the same active ingredient – semaglutide – as Wegovy®**, a sister drug that has received FDA approval for weight management. Since its approval, however, Wegovy® has been in short supply, resulting in doctors and patients turning to Ozempic® as a substitute.
The main difference between these two medications is their dosage of active ingredients. Ozempic® has a maximum weekly dose of 2 mg of semaglutide, while Wegovy® targets a slightly higher dosage of 2.4 mg per week. Both dosages produce weight loss results, and it’s expected the FDA will approve using Ozempic® for weight loss soon.
How Does Ozempic® Work For Weight Loss
Ozempic®’s active ingredient, semaglutide, mimics the effect of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone.
GLP-1 is a naturally occurring hormone released by your gut after you eat. It impacts weight loss in three key ways:
- It improves blood sugar control by boosting insulin production after a meal and suppressing the production of glucagon – a hormone in the liver that increases blood sugar levels.
- It tells your brain that you are full, turning off cravings and hunger signals, so you feel satisfied.
- It slows down your digestive system, allowing more time for digestion and absorption of food. This action helps keep blood sugar levels stable and keeps you feeling fuller, longer.
By enhancing the effects of GLP-1, Ozempic® helps you manage your appetite and use energy from food better. As a result, you may eat fewer calories, ultimately leading to weight loss.
How Much Weight Can You Lose With Ozempic®?
So, how much does Ozempic® help with weight loss? Research results show that semaglutide can help certain people lose around 1 pound per week when combined with diet and exercise.
- A large study showed that people who received a weekly injection of 2.4 mg of semaglutide for 68 weeks lost 14.6% of their body weight, while people who received a placebo treatment lost only 2.4%. Both groups followed a diet and exercise program.
- A smaller study showed that semaglutide was effective at a lower dose of 1 mg per week. Over 12 weeks, study subjects receiving semaglutide reduced their daily calorie intake by about 24%, reported less hunger and food cravings, and lost an average of 11 pounds.
- Another study found that semaglutide produced similar weight loss results in real-world patients as in controlled clinical trials. This study collected data from patients prescribed semaglutide at weekly doses between 1.7 and 2.4 mg for 3 to 6 months. Average weight loss was 5.9% at three months and 10.9% at six months.
Do these results mean that taking an Ozempic® injection alone will magically melt pounds? Definitely not. But it may help some people improve their ability to lose weight while following a healthy diet and exercise plan.
How to Use Ozempic® Successfully
There are a few important things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to successfully using an Ozempic® prescription for weight loss.
It takes time to work.
Ozempic® won’t help you lose those pesky 5 to 10 pounds before your vacation. Due to the side effects of this drug, most people need to scale up their dosage over a few weeks. All in all, it can take months to start seeing this long-acting medication’s full effects.
You may need to take it long-term.
Most weight loss interventions require sustained effort to maintain long-term results, and Ozempic® is no exception. When people stop using Ozempic®, weight regain is common.
One study found that, on average, people gained about two-thirds of their weight back within a year of stopping the medication. However, more research is needed to understand this better.
Additionally, since semaglutide is a new drug, there is limited data available on its long-term safety. The longest study to date lasted 68 weeks, which is about 1.5 years.
You’ll want to consider your willingness to take this weekly injection indefinitely before signing up for an Ozempic® prescription.
You still need to make diet and lifestyle changes.
Ozempic® doesn’t replace the need to eat healthy and stay active to lose weight. Instead, by reducing hunger and cravings, Ozempic® helps you overcome some of the challenges of maintaining a healthy weight.
Following a reduced-calorie diet full of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats is a must if you want to see long-lasting changes to your weight and health.
For many people, making these changes is overwhelming, and that’s where programs like Nutrisystem may help. By delivering delicious, perfectly-portioned meals and snacks to your doorstep, our plans have done all the work of planning, measuring, and cooking for you.
The Nutrisystem programs are designed by Dietitians to meet dietary guidelines for weight management. Instead of endlessly wondering which foods will help you lose weight and never making any progress, our programs lay it all out for you.
We make it easy for you to take the first steps toward your weight goals by showing you how to pair our convenient meals and snacks with a few simple and healthy grocery additions.
Over time, this learn-by-doing approach teaches you about portion control and how to regularly incorporate delicious and healthy foods, such as lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, into your diet.
Under the guidance of your doctor, whether a pairing with Ozempic® is right for you, or used on its own, Nutrisystem can help relieve some of the stress of losing weight.
Is Using Ozempic® For Weight Loss Right For You?
With all of this considered, Ozempic® may be a good option for you if you are following a healthy diet and exercise plan but are still not seeing the results you want, and you have one of the following conditions:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Insulin resistance or prediabetes
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Heart disease
- BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater
- BMI of 27 kg/m2 or above who have at least one weight-related disease
However, Ozempic® is not for everyone. It helps people struggling with long-term weight management, so it’s definitely not the right choice for someone looking to quickly drop a few pounds.
Experts also recommend you avoid this medication altogether if you:
- Have a family history of thyroid cancer
- Are diagnosed with MEN 2, a rare endocrine disorder
- Have a history of diabetic retinopathy
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have a history of pancreas or kidney problems
- Are allergic to any of its ingredients
Finally, you’ll want to consider the side effects of taking this medication for weight loss.
The most commonly reported side effects of Ozempic® are digestive symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation. These symptoms affected close to 75% of the participants in a large study, but for most people, they were only short-lived and occurred primarily during the first few weeks of treatment.
Other, more severe side effects, including diabetic retinopathy, pancreatitis, and kidney problems, have also been reported.
You should speak to your doctor about all risks, benefits, and side effects of taking Ozempic® to help you decide if it’s the best choice for you.
Losing weight can be challenging, and it’s normal to want to find solutions that help make it easier.
While Ozempic® has become a hot topic in weight loss news, it is far from being a magic wand for weight loss and is not a substitute for healthy lifestyle changes.
If you’re struggling with managing your weight, discuss the risks and benefits of taking Ozempic® with your doctor. Our Nutrisystem programs can also help you on your weight loss journey by setting the foundation for a nutritionally balanced diet tailored to your weight goals.
*Ozempic® is a trademark of Novo Nordisk A/S, and is not affiliated with Nutrisystem, Inc.
**Wegovy® is a trademark of Novo Nordisk A/S, and is not affiliated with Nutrisystem, Inc.