What was once considered a little-known drug to help control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic has grown in popularity over the past few years.
People with all types of diabetes, and even some people without diabetes, ask their doctors for Ozempic prescriptions.
But what are the advantages of Ozempic? Can it improve health? And can it help you lose weight?
In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about Ozempic and weight loss.
What is Ozempic?
Semaglutide (a GLP-1 agonist) is sold under the brand names Wegovy and Ozempic.
It is an injectable drug developed by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, which also develops the popular Novolog and Fiasp insulins.
It was first approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017.
Due to its long duration of action, this injectable type 2 diabetes drug is only taken once a week. Helps people with type 2 diabetes lower blood sugar and HbA1c.
Ozempic increases insulin secretion and sensitivity while inhibiting the liver’s release of glucagon to lower blood sugar levels.
Ozempic helps to reduce food intake by reducing appetite and slowing down digestion, causing many people to lose weight while taking Ozempic.
It has also been proven to reduce the risk of a serious heart attack, stroke or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and pre-existing heart disease.
The recommended dose of Ozempic for injection is 0.5 mg or 1.0 once weekly. It can be taken with or without food.
What are the side effects of Ozempic?
The most common side effects include:
- Constipation and other gastrointestinal problems
- Weight loss
More serious side effects include:
- Thyroid tumors, including malignant neoplasms
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Changes in vision
- Kidney problems
- Hypoglycemia, especially if you are on insulin therapy
- Serious allergic reactions
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience fever, vision changes, or a feeling of weakness or pain after taking the medicine.
Not recommended during pregnancy and breast-feeding (stop taking Ozempic 2 months before becoming pregnant).
Can Ozempic help you lose weight?
The history of Ozempic and weight loss is complicated. The drug was first approved to help patients with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar levels.
After many people had great success in improving their health outcomes due to decreased appetite and increased insulin sensitivity, doctors began prescribing Ozempic “off-label” (without FDA approval) to patients struggling with chronic obesity.
In June 2021, the FDA approved Wegovy (a generic version of Ozempic also developed by Novo Nordisk) for weight management in overweight or obese adults with at least one other chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.
Doctors also often prescribe Ozempic and other GLP-1 agonists “off-label” to people with type 1 diabetes, whether or not they are struggling with their weight, to better control blood sugar and manage insulin resistance. Again, many have seen significant weight loss with long-term use of the drug.
This is backed up by studies showing that study participants lost 10 to 15% of their body weight over 68 weeks using weekly subcutaneous injections of Ozempic in combination with lifestyle changes (such as healthy eating and exercise).
Study participants in the placebo group lost an average of only 2% of their body weight.
In the Ozempic group, most people (between 70-80%) lost 5% or more of their body weight, but the weight lost was regained after stopping the drug.
Another two-year study showed similar results, with participants using Semaglutide losing an average of 16.7% of their total body weight compared to 0.6% in the placebo group.
Patients using Semaglutide were also significantly more likely to lose at least 5% of their body weight, with almost 84% of patients using Semaglutide losing at least as much weight.
Yet another study by SURE Denmark/Sweden showed not only a statistically significant weight loss among patients using Semaglutide, but also an improvement in HbA1c levels.
So all indications are that yes, it can and does help people lose weight. It’s just a matter of whether you can and should take it.
Who should not take Ozempic?
You should only take Ozempic if your doctor has told you to and you most likely have diabetes and struggle with insulin resistance.
Many people want to try Ozempic because of its ability to help people lose weight, but this is currently causing a nationwide shortage of Ozempic for people who need the drug to help manage their diabetes.
Ozempic is not FDA approved for people with type 1 diabetes, but your doctor may suggest it to you if you struggle with high blood sugar and low insulin sensitivity.
Ozempic does not replace the need for insulin, so if you start using Ozempic you will also need to continue your insulin regimen.
Ozempic is not recommended for pregnant women, so if you are taking Ozempic and are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, you will need to stop taking the medicine.
You should not use Ozempic if you or any member of your family have ever had medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) or if you have multiple endocrine adenomatosis type 2 (MEN 2).
Do not use Ozempic if you are allergic to semaglutide or any of the ingredients in Ozempic. Before starting treatment with Ozempic, tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking.
This semaglutide helps to suppress appetite, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent the release of glucagon from the liver, all of which work together to not only lower blood sugar but also help people lose weight.
Many studies confirm this, with the average weight loss of patients being around 15% of their total body weight.
People usually experience weight gain if they stop taking weekly injections.
People who have any type of diabetes and struggle with insulin resistance can usually be prescribed Ozempic “off-label” (without FDA approval) to not only improve their blood sugar but also lose weight.
Ozempic has also been proven to improve heart health and prevent serious heart attack, stroke, and death in people with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease. Ozempic does not replace the need for insulin.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about Ozempic if you want to try this relatively new drug.
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