The diabetes drug Ozempic has received a lot of attention lately. TikTok influencers, tech mogul Elon Musk, and other celebrities have all touted the use of either Ozempic or Wegovy, which share the active ingredient semaglutide. To boot, we’ve seen social media hashtags with Ozempic and Wegovy (both manufactured by Novo Nordisk) soar to jaw-dropping numbers. The main difference between the two is Wegovy has a higher dose of semaglutide and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss, while Ozempic is approved for treating type 2 diabetes.
But, all the publicity is warranted because the lower dose of semaglutide, Ozempic— FDA-approved in 2017 to treat type 2 diabetes—has seen amazing success when used off-label to support weight loss. In fact, semaglutide is a game-changer for chronic weight management in those who’ve tried everything to lose weight but just can’t keep it off.
In 2021 The New England Journal of Medicine reported the results of a double-blind 68-week trial of semaglutide and weight management that included 1,961 participants with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more or a BMI of 27 or more with a weight-related medical condition like hypertension (high blood pressure) or high cholesterol. The study found that those who took a 2.4 mg weekly dose of semaglutide and underwent lifestyle changes lost an average of almost 15 percent of their body weight compared to the placebo group, who lost an average of 2.4 percent.
So, what’s all the hype about? We’re here to help answer some questions. Here’s what we know now about Ozempic for weight loss and what the medication can do.
Ozempic is part of the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1) medication class. These drugs mimic the GLP-1 hormone we naturally produce in our gut, lowering blood sugar levels and enhancing insulin secretion, which is crucial for people with type 2 diabetes. It helps curb hunger and slows digestion in our bodies, so we feel full longer. As a result, people with obesity have lost weight while taking it.
Even more, semaglutide has been shown to “reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, or death in adults with type 2 diabetes and known heart disease,” according to multiple clinical trials funded by Novo Nordisk.
And it’s significant to note that some patients have reported reduced cravings while using semaglutide for weight loss.
Just like with all prescription drugs, there are side effects to be aware of. The most commonly reported side effects while taking Ozempic for weight loss are gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.
Your wellness and health are the top priority, so let your health care provider know if you experience any side effects. If your side effects are too severe, your health card professional may switch you to another weight loss medication.
Although extremely rare, we want to be transparent here at Found, so here’s a list of the more serious Ozempic side effects that can occur:
Possible thyroid tumors, including cancer
Low blood sugar
Inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis)
Higher amounts of alcohol can lower your blood sugar levels depending on what you drink. Likewise, Ozempic works in your body, helping to reduce your blood glucose levels by enhancing insulin secretion. When combined, alcohol and Ozempic can increase the risk of hypoglycemia, potentially leading to lightheadedness, fatigue, and fainting.
Doctors typically recommend limiting your alcohol intake while on Ozempic for weight loss and keeping a careful watch on the type of alcohol you’re consuming—wine has less alcohol per volume than distilled spirits, so the moderate amount of consumption varies. Of course, talk to your health care provider about drinking alcohol while taking Ozempic for weight loss and what they recommend for you individually.
Fortunately, there are no other foods to avoid while taking Ozempic for weight loss.
Ozempic (semaglutide) is typically given in once-weekly injectable doses of 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, or 2 mg. The starting Ozempic dosage for weight loss is 0.25 mg weekly for the first four weeks. This will help give your body a chance to get used to the medicine. At week five, your health care provider will increase the dose to 0.5 mg once weekly as long as you tolerate the medication well. Then your health care provider may increase your weekly dosage as long as everything goes smoothly.
Great question. When you first get your Ozempic pens (before they’re opened and used for the first time), they need to be refrigerated at 36°F-46°F up until the expiration date.
Once you use a pen, you’ll keep it at room temperature (59°F-86°F) or refrigerated at 36°F-46°F. The manufacturer warns exposure to heat or sunlight can hurt its efficacy, so keep it in a dry, cool place.
With the initial dose of 0.25 mg, your blood glucose levels may drop noticeably after the first week. Still, the full effect can take several weeks, given that it is a long-acting medication and will take time to work. The manufacturer also outlines Ozempic’s effectiveness will vary from person to person and “may take longer due to unique factors, such as age, weight, amount of body fluid, additional medications you take, kidney or liver function, or your other medical conditions.”
Plus, it’s unquestionably meant for use with exercise and a diet of whole foods for the best results. Your health care provider will discuss the correct dose of semaglutide for you as you embark on your weight care journey.
Studies indicate that long-term use of Ozempic for weight loss is necessary. In fact, a year-long extension study completed after the 68-week clinical trial mentioned above discovered that participants who stopped their weekly injections of 2.4 mg of semaglutide regained two-thirds of their initial weight loss. In addition, the study, published in 2022 by the Journal of Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, confirms “the chronicity of obesity and suggest ongoing treatment is required to maintain improvements in weight and health.”
Meaning, yep, that’s right, because obesity is a chronic disease, you may need to take medication long-term for sustainable weight management. As long as you feel okay taking it, keep the weight off, and maintain healthy lifestyle changes, there’s no reason to stop taking Ozempic for weight loss.
Ultimately, your doctor will help you decide if Ozempic for weight loss is right for you. Be open and honest about your goals, medical history, and any medication you may be taking so they can ensure you receive the best treatment.
*GLP-1 Note: "GLP-1s are now available as part of Found's weight loss medication offering. While GLP-1s are effective for weight loss, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone. Eligibility for a GLP-1 is based on a thorough evaluation of your medical history, eating behavior, lab work, and insurance coverage. If a GLP-1 is not appropriate for you, our providers will work with you to determine a safe, effective medication for your health profile."
Found offers a science-backed approach to weight care that's based on your unique biology, psychology, lifestyle, and prescription medication needs. Your Found medical provider will prescribe you either one or a combination of medications in order to aid your weight loss journey. Combined with behavior change, health coaching, and a supportive community, medication can be a safe, effective way to help lose weight.
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. If you think prescription weight loss might be right for you, take this short quiz today to learn how Found can finally deliver the results you’ve been looking for.