by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Ozempic, originally designed to manage blood sugar in adults with Type 2 diabetes, has unexpectedly become a buzzworthy contender in the realm of weight loss lately. Approximately 42% of American adults are grappling with obesity, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. In the search for effective weight loss solutions, people have explored various methods and medications.
One emerging trend has caught significant attention: individuals turning to the diabetes drug Ozempic as a potential tool for weight loss. While not officially a “weight loss medication,” research indicates it may lead to modest weight loss.
Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, is FDA-approved at higher doses, as is Wegovy for obesity and related conditions.
Recently, Ozempic’s off-label use for weight loss has gained popularity, partly due to Wegovy shortages and social media buzz about its weight-reducing effects.
In this article, we will dive deeper and learn about Ozempic and how it can be effective for weight loss.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your nutrition or weight loss program.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic serves as an injectable medication designed to assist adults with Type 2 diabetes in managing blood glucose levels. Also, it is approved to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in individuals with both Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Belonging to the GLP-1 agonist class of medications, Ozempic functions by imitating a gut hormone known as GLP-1, helping to lower blood glucose levels post-meal consumption. It also inhibits the liver’s glucose production and promotes a prolonged feeling of fullness.
Ozempic is accessible in the form of a pre-filled pen injector for once-weekly use, offering an extended duration of action compared to other daily or twice-daily injectable options. It is important to note that the primary component, semaglutide, is available as an oral tablet named Rybelsus for Type 2 diabetes and in a higher-dose form called Wegovy for chronic weight management, regardless of diabetes status.
How Does Ozempic Work?
Ozempic operates by replicating a naturally occurring hormone in the body. As these hormone levels increase, they signal the brain that you are full, promoting a sense of satiety. In addition to that, Ozempic delays digestion by extending the time it takes for food to pass through the body, similar to the impact of bariatric surgery.
When utilized for diabetes management, weight loss often emerges as a common “side effect” of Ozempic. It is important to note that Ozempic is intended for long-term use in diabetes treatment.
Is Ozempic Beneficial for Weight Loss?
The research regarding semaglutide and its effects on weight loss mainly employed the dosing regimen of Wegovy.
In a 2021 study, it was found that once-weekly doses of 2.4 mg of semaglutide, when combined with lifestyle changes, resulted in substantial reductions in body weight.
In this study, individuals who combined the medication with lifestyle adjustments experienced an average weight loss of nearly 15%, in contrast to the 3% observed in the placebo group. This suggests that semaglutide may aid in weight loss, especially at the higher 2.4 mg dose. However, it remains unclear whether the 0.4 mg difference in dosing between Ozempic and Wegovy has a significant impact, as both medications function similarly.
It is important to note that these drugs are not intended for individuals seeking minor weight loss. Using them for such purposes, especially in individuals of normal weight without diabetes, may pose risks that outweigh the benefits, potentially leading to side effects associated with inappropriate use.
How Long Does It Take to See Weight Loss Results with Ozempic?
Getting to the right Ozempic dose can take a few months. You start with a small dosage and slowly use more to make sure your body is okay with it. While you do this, you might lose some weight, and how much weight you lose depends on how much Ozempic you use.
The initial dose for Type 2 diabetes is 0.25 mg once weekly for four weeks, primarily to acclimate your body to the medication. Subsequently, the dose is raised to 0.5 mg once weekly. In clinical trials, individuals on the 0.5 mg dose lost approximately 8 lbs over 30 weeks. If necessary, the dose can be increased in 4-week intervals, up to a maximum of 2 mg once weekly.
Generally, higher Ozempic doses correlate with greater weight loss and improved blood glucose control. In a 40-week study, those on the 1 mg dose lost an average of 13 lbs, while the 2 mg dose led to an average weight loss of 15 lbs.
It is essential to note that medications like Ozempic and Wegovy should be combined with lifestyle modifications such as a healthy diet and regular exercise for optimal results.