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Wendy Shafranski


April 22, 2024

What Do We Think of Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is a hot topic! You may know this as Ozempic, Rybelsus or Wegovy. These are weight loss drugs that have grown in popularity, taken by celebrities, housewives and everyone in between. And they work very well, causing drastic weight loss.

We are regularly asked what we think of these drugs, so I figured I’d write an article. First and foremost, I do think these can be a life-changer for people who have struggled with obesity. However, for the person who wants to lose a few pounds, I’m not convinced it’s the right option.

First, some background on semaglutide. It mimics the GLP-1 hormone, released in the gut in response to eating. One role of GLP-1 is to prompt the body to produce more insulin, which reduces blood sugar (glucose).  These drugs target the brain centers that regulate appetite, which helps you eat less.

Semaglutide drugs were initially prescribed for diabetes patients and one of the side effects was weight loss, so now they are being re-marketed and prescribed as weight loss drugs.

As with any drug, there can be side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea, constipation and gassiness
  • Headache
  • Stomach issues, including nausea, vomiting, pain or distension (bloat)

The side effects I listed above were from the Ozempic website and are all physical. But, I’ve read about or talked to people who have experienced other side effects, more on the mental side. These include no desire for or enjoyment of food, an alteration in the way food tastes and an overall unhealthy relationship with food. And these can continue when the person goes off the drug.

Then, there is muscle loss. When most people lose weight there is usually a degree of muscle loss. With semaglutide, there appears to be greater-than-average losses in muscle. So, it becomes ultra-important to consume adequate amounts of protein, yet that’s hard because you don’t want to eat. And it’s also crucial to strength train, although it’s hard to gain muscle without an adequate amount of calories.

And what happens when you go off semaglutide? There are many reports that the weight is regained (sometimes even more). This makes sense to me, as semaglutide isn’t teaching you to make conscious choices or necessarily building good habits, it’s making food less appealing for the time you were on it. I’ve also heard that cravings increase afterwards. I had someone tell me that, now off of Ozempic, she craves sugar like never before.

I’ve probably painted a very bleak picture, but again I want to stress that these drugs are helping people who have lived for years with obesity. If they can help to reduce obesity rates and in turn improve obesity-related health issues, then they could change the world we live in. However, I know firsthand that they are also being taken by people with just a few pounds to lose.

Bottom line, before trying semaglutide, ask yourself if you’ve done all you can to lose weight. If you’ve struggled with obesity for awhile, it could be an option. If you just have a few pounds to lose, change your diet, prioritize protein and exercise.

If you are on a semaglutide drug, you must eat protein and be very consistent with resistance training to combat the muscle loss.

I fear that we are going to see a lot of people who lose scale weight, but became even more under-muscled. And that comes with its own set of problems like lack of mobility and strength, low energy levels, low immune system, low bone density and even compromised organ function.  

We’ve had people contact us saying that their doctor has prescribed semaglutide and told them they need to strength train. In almost all instances so far, they decide not to do it, as they are happy with the scale just going down. And that is distressing.

History has shown us that there is no magic pill for health and weight loss. So, if you are on semaglutide, reach out to a trainer and, most importantly, commit! They can be instrumental in helping you keep muscle and making sure you are eating appropriately and making changes that will make the weight loss stick long-term.

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