The chatter about weight loss medications is all around us these days—it pops up in your Instagram reels, in celebrity gossip magazines, and your social circles. Even news outlets like National Public Radio are covering it. It’s true that weight loss drugs have reached a new level of popularity. And one in particular has been at the forefront of most talk: Wegovy.
Wegovy (semaglutide) has been all over the news because the results have been remarkable. Research suggests it can help patients lose 15 percent of their body weight when combined with diet and exercise. Wegovy is one of two GLP-1s that’s been FDA-approved for weight loss. The other is Saxenda (liraglutide), which works similarly for weight management in people who have obesity or who have a BMI of 27 or greater with related health issues.
In addition to Wegovy and Saxenda, Ozempic (also semaglutide), which is FDA-approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, has also shown promise for weight loss. And to say demand for this drug is high among those looking to drop pounds—whether 10 or 100—would be a major understatement.
With all the information circling around, you may have questions about how Wegovy weight loss works and if it’s right for you. We’re here to help sort through some of the claims and give you up-to-date information on what we know now.
Wegovy (semaglutide) is a once-weekly, injectable glucagon-like peptide 1 agonist (GLP-1).* The medication imitates the GLP-1 hormone your body already makes and to help regulate appetite and how much food you eat. It also signals your pancreas to release insulin after eating or when blood sugar is high—ultimately reducing blood sugar levels.
Essentially, what Wegovy does is help your gut and brain better communicate to make you feel fuller and reduce appetite. It’s been FDA-approved since June 2021 for weight management in patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater who have at least one weight-related condition—like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol—or in patients with a BMI of 30 or greater.
The Wegovyweight loss results are promising. In a double-blind 68-week clinical trial by Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Wegovy, 1,961 adults, with obesity or overweight, took either Wegovy or a placebo in addition to following a reduced-calorie diet plan and increased physical activity. Those on Wegovy lost an average of 35 pounds or about 15% of their body weight. Those taking the placebo lost an average of 6 pounds, or roughly 2.5% of their body weight.
How much weight you lose when taking Wegovy for weight loss is completely dependent on you. You’re wonderfully unique. And although the trial results are encouraging, they depend on factors like your biology and behavioral healthy lifestyle changes. Your health care provider should cover all the information you need to make the best choice when it comes to weight loss meds to see if Wegovy weight loss is a fit for you.
Great question. In the 68-week trial, patients taking Wegovy began to lose weight at around four weeks, when doses increased from .25mg to .50 mg. And they continued to lose weight throughout the trial.
Keep in mind, Wegovy may be touted as a “quick-fix” drug, but that’s not how Wegovy weight loss works—with or without medication. So don't stress if it’s not working right away. It takes dedicated and continual use for results that last. Remember to keep your health care provider in the know about your weight loss and how you’re feeling during the journey. If Wegovy isn’t working for you, they’ll try other medications that may work better.
The typical Wegovy weight loss dosing begins at 0.25 mg, injected under your skin once a week for four weeks (one month). You will use a higher dose every four weeks until you reach a weekly maintenance dose of 2.4 mg. The standard dosing schedule might look like this:
Month one: 0.25 mg once a week
Month two 0.5 mg once a week
Month three: 1 mg once a week
Month four: 1.7 mg once a week
Month five and beyond: 2.4 mg once a week (maintenance dose)
Obesity is a chronic disease, which means that for many people, medication will need to be taken long-term for sustainable weight loss. Just like other medical conditions like asthma or arthritis, obesity needs to be treated continually.
One review in the Journal of Investigative Medicine found that those who were given a placebo after 20 weeks of losing weight on semaglutide regained around 13 pounds. Meaning, when they stopped using the drug, they didn’t sustain their weight loss. This shows that continual use is needed for lasting weight management. Not only that, the most common side effects were pretty minor and included things like nausea and constipation—which subsided. And Wegovy has been proven to be well-tolerated by most patients for long-term use.
Besides the common side effects, there are a few others to be aware of, although the risk of these is extremely low:
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Allergic reactions: rash, swelling, fainting
Increased heart rate
Pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas)
Before taking Wegovy for weight loss you’ll receive all the prescribing information from your healthcare provider. And you’ll be advised about any possible interactions with other medications or supplements you may be taking, or how the drug may impact other health issues.
*GLP-1 Note: "Found is not currently prescribing GLP-1 medications for weight loss, but we are considering it as a part of our strategy to help members meet their weight-loss goals in the future. Stay tuned for updates on a potential GLP-1 rollout at Found. Until then, we can still help you meet your weight loss goals with our current online weight loss program."
Found offers a science-backed approach to weight care that's based on your unique biology, psychology, lifestyle, and prescription medication needs. The average Found member loses 10 percent of their body weight during their first 12 months on the program. In total, members have lost 800,000 pounds to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.
Davies M, Færch L, Jeppesen OK, Pakseresht A, Pedersen SD, Perreault L, Rosenstock J, Shimomura I, Viljoen A, Wadden TA, Lingvay I; STEP 2 Study Group. Semaglutide 2·4 mg once a week in adults with overweight or obesity, and type 2 diabetes (STEP 2): a randomised, double-blind, double-dummy, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial. Lancet. 2021 Mar 13;397(10278):971-984.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33667417/
New York Department of Health. Nov 2021. Chronic Diseases and Conditions.https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/chronic/
Novo Nordisk. WEGOVY (semaglutide) injection, for subcutaneous use Initial U.S. Approval: 2017.https://www.novo-pi.com/wegovy.pdf
Singh G, Krauthamer M, Bjalme-Evans M. Wegovy (semaglutide): a new weight loss drug for chronic weight management. Journal of Investigative Medicine. 2022;70:5-13.https://jim.bmj.com/content/70/1/5
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (4 June 2021). FDA Approves New Drug Treatment for Chronic Weight Management, First Since 2014. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-drug-treatment-chronic-weight-management-first-2014
Wilding J P.H., D.M., et al. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. N Engl J Med. 2021; 384:989-1002.https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2032183
Zhong P, Zeng H, Huang M, Fu W, Chen Z. Efficacy and safety of once-weekly semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity: a meta-analysis. Endocrine. 2022 Mar;75(3):718-724.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34981419/