Semaglutide (Ozempic) – The holy grail of fat loss?

Initially approved by the FDA back in 2017 for controlling type II diabetes in adults, semaglutide is a drug that belongs to the group of the GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) analogues. This group of substances has the ability to mimic the body’s response after eating a meal, including feeling full, as well as regulating insulin response and altering gastric emptying. Before that, liraglutide, another GLP-1 analogue, had been approved by the FDA in 2010 under the brand name Saxenda®.

Clinical studies involving semaglutide showed that patients on it were also losing weight, somewhere in the neighborhood of 11lbs over the course of three months. While that may not seem like much, this loss in body weight came with no dietary modifications, so take a moment and just imagine how powerful this drug can be if paired with a moderately aggressive caloric deficit.

As a matter of fact, users have reported losing 15 up to 20% of total bodyweight in that same timeframe when taken in conjunction with proper dieting and training. That’s huge! If we take a 200lbs individual, we’re talking about some 30lbs of weight (mostly fat, if the other variables are optimal) lost in three months.

Naturally, as this new drug hit the market under the brand names Ozempic® and Wegovy®, both from the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, we are seeing a tremendous interest in it coming from bodybuilders, fitness fanatics, soccer moms and just about anybody looking to lose weight. Ozempic® is originally meant for type II diabetes control, while Wegovy® was formulated more specifically for its weight loss capabilities.

Individuals taking semaglutide (or other GLP-1 analogues for that matter) can expect the following benefits:

  • Once-a-week subcutaneous application;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Controlled insulin levels even with higher glycemic loads;
  • Easier to stay on diet;
  • Especially helpful for overweight or obese individuals;
  • Slower gastric emptying (feel full for longer).

We all know there’s no free lunch, so  you can expect as possible side effects:

  • Moderate Nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort;
  • Liver issues if individual is prone to it;
  • Prolonged use may cause pancreas amylase levels to rise;
  • Drug withdrawal has to be done slowly and gradually;
  • May cause hypoglycemia since you won’t feel the need to eat as often;
  • Aggressive rebound, meaning if you go back to eating as you did before you’ll most likely gain the weight back;

Personally, the way I see these GLP-1 drugs is as a tool to help you adhere to a better diet and lose fat, especially if you are overweight or obese. Its use should be limited to a certain period of time, paired with proper dieting and training, and discontinued as you reach a better physique, not as something that allows you to eat whatever. As such, it’s very powerful and can yield amazing results.

Marco D. Angelo

PhD in biochemistry, specialized in enzymology and metabolic biochemistry with a background in pharmacology, he works in a molecular biology laboratory and in his spare time works as a high-performance trainer in addition to assisting other coaches.

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