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Guide to Ozempic for Weight Loss


Sometimes, a medication used to treat one unique condition may come with unintended health benefits for a separate condition (off-label medication) [1]. Oftentimes, the original drug manufacturer will study and research these off-label benefits to see if they can get the drug approved for both its original and off-label uses. As it turns out, this is the current situation for a type 2 diabetes medication named Ozempic and the off-label benefit of weight loss.

Semaglutide is approved in the US to treat type 2 diabetes as a once-weekly under-the-skin injection under the name Ozempic [2]. In addition to helping patients manage their diabetes, recent studies have found that higher doses of Ozempic can lead to a better A1C blood test. This means that adults who are overweight or obese may be able to use Ozempic for weight loss, giving them a better chance at meeting their health goals.

This article will discuss the current and future possibilities for patients hoping to take the Ozempic diabetes drug for weight loss.

Note: Ozempic injections for weight loss are currently under review by the FDA as a once-weekly shot to be used in combination with diet and exercise [3].

Article Contents:

  • What Is Ozempic Used For?

  • How Does Ozempic Help You Lose Weight?

  • How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight Using Ozempic?

What Is Ozempic Used For?

Ozempic is an injectable medication approved to help with blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes patients. It belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists, which mimic the GLP-1 hormone naturally found in your body and lower blood sugar levels after meals [4].

Ozempic is generally prescribed as a pre-filled pen injection that patients use once weekly. As a diabetes medication, Ozempic is considered a long-acting option since it can work longer in your body compared to other drugs in its class that need to be administered once or twice a day. Semaglutide, the generic form of Ozempic, is also available as an oral tablet under the brand name Rybelsus.


How Does Ozempic Help You Lose Weight?

While GLP-1 agonists such as Ozempic are designed to help control your blood sugar, studies have found that individuals taking them tend to start losing weight. The key hormone GLP-1 can help your pancreas release insulin and block a hormone that causes your liver to release sugar. However, the most significant factor for taking Ozempic for weight loss is its third function: curbing your appetite.

Ozempic can signal to our bodies that we feel fuller than we really are, prompting the stomach to empty slower – a process known as gastric emptying. In addition to gastric emptying, taking an Ozempic injection for weight loss can help you feel fuller for longer and play a direct role in how your appetite is regulated [5].

Once approved, Ozempic and its weight loss capabilities may play a key role in helping manage obesity. Obesity is a severe and chronic condition, often leading to further health complications down the road, such as prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. As of 2018, nearly half (42%) of all adults in the US alone are living with obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 30 kg/m2 [6]. Most individuals who live with obesity are undiagnosed, and less than 3% are prescribed medication to help them manage their condition [7].

A once-weekly Ozempic injection for weight loss, combined with a healthy diet and exercise, could help individuals worldwide reach their weight management goals.

How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight Using Ozempic?

Since results vary in individuals taking any medications it is impossible to gauge the resulting weight-loss when using Ozempic. Novo Nordisk’s weight-loss trial[8] tested for semaglutide which is the active ingredient shared by Ozempic and Wegovy – the latter being formulated for weight-loss in non-diabetics. Therefore, it is unclear whether the results in their trial are attributable to Ozempic or Wegovy.

Consequently, most weight-loss results attributable to Ozempic that we see in the media and on social media are largely anecdotal, unofficial, and highly dependent on individual physiology and circumstance. While Wegovy is likely a safer choice for weight-loss for non-diabetics, if the patient prefers Ozempic and their physician prescribes its use, appreciable weight-loss could take several months to appear. Alternatively, some patients may not experience any weight-loss, as they may not be able to tolerate full doses due to side effects.


Frequently Asked Questions About Ozempic and Weight Loss

If you're considering taking Ozempic for weight loss, you may have questions before seeing your primary care physician. Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions about Ozempic and weight loss for more information so as to be prepared for your discussion with your doctor.

Is Ozempic a Type of Insulin?

No. Ozempic is not considered a type of insulin or insulin substitute. However, it does stimulate your pancreas to release insulin when glucose is present.

Is Ozempic a Stimulant?

No. Unlike many common weight loss medications, Ozempic is not a stimulant.

Can I Take Ozempic If I Have Another Condition?

According to Novo Nordisk (the company that manufactures Ozempic), patients with the following conditions should avoid using Ozempic for weight loss or diabetes management:

  • Pancreatitis

  • Type 1 Diabetes

  • Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Problems With the Pancreas or Kidneys

  • Are Pregnant or Currently Breastfeeding

  • Family History of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC)

  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Syndrome Type 2 (MEN 2)


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The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice. Patients should not use the information presented on this page for diagnosing a health-related issue or disease. Before taking any medication or supplements, patients should always consult a physician or qualified healthcare professional for medical advice or information about whether a drug is safe, appropriate or effective.