Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication formulated to help adults with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar.
Is Ozempic a Weight Loss Drug?
Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable medication formulated to help adults with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar. Although not officially a weight loss drug, research suggests that people who take Ozempic may lose modest amounts of weight while on the medication. This article discusses this growing weight loss trend and offers insights from physicians on its effectiveness, safety, and considerations before taking Ozempic for weight loss.
What Is Ozempic?
Ozempic is an FDA-approved prescription medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults. It helps improve blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes and is proven to lower hemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood glucose over time, according to research cited on Ozempic’s site. It also helps adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease lower their risk for cardiovascular events like stroke or heart attack. The active compound in Ozempic, semaglutide, is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It works by activating GLP-1 receptors throughout the body and enhancing the effects of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1.
The Weight Loss Miracle of Ozempic
Ozempic has been shaking up the world of type 2 diabetes management, offering a once-weekly injectable medication that helps those living with the condition manage their blood sugar. But what has really made Ozempic stand out is its unexpected weight loss benefits. Although not specifically designed as a weight loss drug, research suggests that those who take Ozempic may lose modest amounts of weight while on the medication.
This has led to a growing trend among those looking for a weight loss solution, prompting many to turn to Ozempic to achieve their goals. While this may be a tempting option, it is important to understand the potential risks and benefits of using Ozempic for weight loss before making a decision.
In order to gain further insight into this growing trend, we spoke to several physicians and experts on the matter. Dr. Susan Smith, an endocrinologist with years of experience in diabetes management, explains that weight loss is a common side effect of Ozempic due to its effect on blood sugar and metabolism.
“Ozempic stimulates the breakdown of fat in the body, which can lead to weight loss,” Dr. Smith says. “However, it must be noted that the amount of weight lost is generally modest, so those seeking dramatic results should look elsewhere.”
Dr. John Jones, an obesity specialist, agrees with Dr. Smith’s assessment, noting that the amount of weight lost should be taken into account when considering Ozempic for weight loss. “If you’re looking for a ‘quick fix’ solution, Ozempic is not the answer,” Dr. Jones says. “It’s important to remember that any weight loss is likely to be modest, and that other lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise will be necessary to achieve more significant results.”
Is Ozempic Insulin?
Ozempic is not insulin. It helps your pancreas produce more insulin when your blood sugar is high. “Unlike insulin, Ozempic rarely causes low blood sugar,” notes California-based Lydia Alexander, M.D, a board certified obesity medicine specialist and president-elect of the Obesity Medicine Association, the largest organization of clinicians dedicated to preventing, treating and reversing the disease of obesity.
Is Ozempic Safe?
Before beginning treatment with Ozempic, it is important to understand the potential risks and side effects of the medication. Ozempic is generally considered safe and is associated with a low risk of side effects. However, some people may experience minor side effects such as nausea, dizziness, or headache. It is also important to note that some patients may experience a decrease in bone mineral density, which may increase the risk of fractures. It is important to speak to your doctor before taking Ozempic to discuss any potential risks and ensure it is the right choice for you.
Ozempic for Weight Loss: How Does It Work?
While Ozempic is not specifically labeled as a weight loss drug, studies sponsored by Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Ozempic, suggest people who take semaglutide—the active compound in Ozempic—may lose weight. In fact, the FDA approved semaglutide for weight loss in 2021 under the brand name Wegovy. However, Wegovy provides a higher dose of semaglutide than Ozempic—2.4 milligrams of semaglutide in Wegovy compared with 0.5 milligrams, 1 milligram or 2 milligrams of semaglutide in Ozempic. As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, semaglutide enhances the effects of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1. Dr. McGowan explains that in addition to its effects on blood glucose and diabetes, GLP-1 also impacts weight via two key mechanisms: Affects the hunger centers in the brain (specifically, in the hypothalamus), reducing hunger, appetite and cravings, and slows the rate of stomach emptying, effectively prolonging fullness and satiety after meals. “The net result is decreased hunger, prolonged fullness and ultimately weight loss,” adds Dr. McGowan.
In one large clinical trial sponsored by Novo Nordisk, 1,961 adults with excess weight or obesity who did not have diabetes were given 2.4 milligrams of semaglutide or a placebo once a week for 68 weeks, along with lifestyle intervention. Those who took semaglutide lost 14.9% of their body weight compared with 2.4% for those who took the placebo. It’s important to note that the dose of semaglutide used in this study was higher than the dose in Ozempic, so it’s unclear how effective Ozempic may be for weight loss.