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The role semaglutide can play in weight loss

1 min Read

Learn about semaglutide, Ozempic’s active ingredient, and how it works for weight loss. Explore the benefits, side effects, and frequently asked questions about semaglutide.

What you’ll learn:

  • Semaglutide is a medication that mimics a natural hormone called GLP-1, which helps regulate appetite and blood sugar.
  • Semaglutide works in three ways: reduces hunger, suppresses cravings, and improves blood sugar control.
  • Studies show significant weight loss, with people taking semaglutide losing an average of 15% of their body weight over 16 months.
  • Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, although serious side effects are possible. 

You’ve likely heard of the weight-loss benefits of Ozempic through social media, the news, or through one of Noom’s programs. What you might not know is that semaglutide is the active ingredient in Ozempic, which is FDA-approved for diabetes management and also prescribed off-label for weight loss. Semaglutide is responsible for Ozempic’s blood-sugar-lowering and weight-loss effects. But what is semaglutide and how does it work?

What is semaglutide and how does it aid in weight loss?

Semaglutide is a type of medication called a GLP-1 receptor agonist. It aids in weight loss by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1, which is naturally produced by your body in response to food. This hormone helps control hunger and blood sugar levels. Here’s how it works in simpler terms:

First, semaglutide helps reduce hunger and makes you feel full longer. It does this by slowing down how fast your stomach empties after eating. When your stomach empties more slowly, you feel full and satisfied for a longer time, which helps you eat less. Think about how after you’ve eaten Thanksgiving dinner. Some people report that semaglutide makes them feel like this much of the time.  

Second, semaglutide targets the brain’s appetite control centers. By acting on these areas, it helps suppress your appetite and reduce cravings. Taking semaglutide is like pressing a button that sends a message to your brain saying, “Hey, you’re full! Stop being hungry!” This makes you feel less hungry and more satisfied, even if you haven’t eaten a lot. This makes it easier to stick to a healthy and balanced diet, like those cultivated by Noom.

Third, semaglutide helps control blood sugar levels. After you eat, it helps move sugar from your blood into your cells for energy. This process supports weight loss and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.

How much weight can I lose taking semaglutide?

Clinical studies show that medications containing semaglutide can lead to significant weight loss. People taking semaglutide achieved an average weight loss of 15% over 16 months, compared to a mere 2.4% in the group that only made lifestyle adjustments. These impressive results highlight semaglutide’s potential as a reliable tool to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

People who combined Noom with semaglutide or a GLP-1 medication lost even more weight. We have two plans to choose from that can help: Noom Med and the GLP-1 Companion

If you want to know if a GLP-1 medication is right for you, Noom Med will connect you with qualified clinicians who can determine your eligibility and coordinate access to the right one. This can include navigating tricky insurance options. 

If you’ve already been prescribed a medication like semaglutide, Noom’s GLP-1 Companion can help minimize side effects and tailor your nutrition needs. By addressing the medical and behavioral aspects together, we help individuals taking semaglutide to achieve long-term, sustainable weight loss. 

FAQs: Common questions about semaglutide

Is semaglutide safe for long-term use?

Clinical trials have determined that semaglutide is safe and effective for long-term use. Studies have examined its effects for up to 68 weeks. However, as with any medication, you should discuss the possible risks and benefits with your doctor before starting treatment. 

What are the most common side effects of semaglutide?

Many people experience nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, stomach pain, and fatigue while taking semaglutide. These side effects are usually mild to moderate and tend to get better as your body gets used to the medication.

What are the potential serious side effects of semaglutide?

Serious and less common potential side effects include thyroid tumors and/or thyroid cancer, inflammation of the pancreas, gallbladder issues, kidney issues, and serious allergic reactions. For a more comprehensive list of side effects, visit the official Ozempic and Wegovy websites, brand-name drugs that contain semaglutide as the active ingredient.

I’ve heard of other unofficial side effects of semaglutide. How concerned should I be?

There have been many articles in the media about the surprising side effects that those who’ve been prescribed Ozempic and Wegovy have experienced. This includes increased fertility, suicidal thoughts, “Ozempic face,” and muscle loss. Briefly, here are points to consider for each side effect:

Muscle loss: Some users report losing muscle mass along with fat while on semaglutide. What’s happening is that rapid weight loss from anything can cause some muscle loss. However, most weight loss on semaglutide is fat. To minimize muscle loss, doctors recommend maintaining adequate protein intake and strength training. Noom has tips that can help.

Increased fertility: Some users report that semaglutide boosts fertility, especially in women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). While semaglutide isn’t a fertility drug, weight loss can improve factors that often cause infertility, including unbalanced insulin levels and irregular ovulation. You can read more in this informative article by Dr. Linda Anegawa on GLP-1s and PCOS.

Decreased effectiveness of birth control: Some users say that semaglutide decreases the effectiveness of their birth control. It appears that GLP-1s may impact the absorption of some types of birth control pills. However, more research is needed to confirm a direct link and you should always talk to your doctor about your personal situation.

Suicidal thoughts: This became a big concern when users reported experiencing depression or thoughts of self-harm while on semaglutide. However, recent studies have found that semglutide has a lower risk of suicidal thoughts compared to other obesity and type 2 diabetes medicines. There have also been official government studies by the FDA (US) and the EMA (Europe) that have found no link between these medicines and suicidal thoughts.

Ozempic Face: You might have seen reports of increased wrinkles or a gaunt appearance of the face, dubbed “Ozempic face” on social media. “Ozempic face” is likely related to rapid weight loss and is not unique to semaglutide. When people lose a lot of weight quickly, they can also lose fat in their face, making it appear less plump and more aged. Similar effects are seen with any rapid weight loss method. Here are a few tips on how to avoid “Ozepmic Face.” 

Can semaglutide be used in combination with other weight loss medications?

Taking semaglutide with other weight loss medications should only be done with your doctor’s guidance. They can provide insights about the potential benefits and risks and create a treatment plan that’s right for you.

How long does it take to see results with semaglutide?

In clinical trials, participants using semaglutide experienced noticeable weight loss as early as 12 weeks into treatment, with continued weight loss over time. However, individual results can vary. For optimal results, semaglutide works best alongside a healthy lifestyle program like Noom.

Can semaglutide help with weight loss maintenance?

Yes, semaglutide can help keep the weight off after you’ve lost it. A pivotal study featured in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) showed that people who kept taking semaglutide were better at maintaining their weight loss than those who switched to a placebo. Again, learning how to eat better and move more in coordination with Noom can also help keep weight off long-term. 

Benefits of combining semaglutide with Noom

It’s clear that semaglutide can help control appetite and improve metabolic health. However, medication alone is not enough for long-term weight loss success. Noom offers a complete approach to weight management by combining semaglutide with personalized psychological support through Noom Med or the GLP-1 Companion. This strategy helps you build healthy habits, manage stress, and deal with the emotional challenges that often come with losing weight. Noom and semaglutide work together to maximize your chances for long-term success. 

Note: Ozempic is not FDA-approved to treat obesity or for weight loss.