The internet is buzzing with stories of celebrities and TikTok creators losing weight using medical weight loss injections, known as semaglutide (best recognized as Wegovy or Ozempic) or tirzeptide (Mounjaro). The injections promise to help people overcome mental and physical barriers to drop weight with minimal effort, and these promises are enough to cause some people to disregard their inhibitions and take their chances, despite the alarming drawbacks.
While these weight loss injections may sound appealing, it’s vital to consider the fine print for the medications before racing to your doctor to get a prescription or ordering it online.
How do weight loss injections work?
Simply put, they help regulate blood sugar levels and decrease appetite (but note, this is only while you are currently using weight loss injection medication).
Semaglutide (Ozempic or Wegovy) belongs to a class of medications known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1 Ras, similar to liraglutide (Saxenda) and tirzeptide (Mounjaro). 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). For that reason, health care providers have used semaglutide to treat Type 2 diabetes. But GLP-1 in higher amounts also interacts with the parts of the brain that suppress your appetite and signal you to feel full. When used in conjunction with diet and exercise, it can increase weight loss in people who are obese or overweight.
Currently, semaglutide is only approved for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy, while Ozempic is approved for diabetes management. But as interest in semaglutide for weight loss continues to grow, health care professionals are finding ways to try and manage the demand. Many prescribe other brands of semaglutide, (using a drug that is FDA-approved for a different reason) and well as tirzeptide (best known as Mounjaro).
How effective is Semaglutide (Wegovy or Ozempic) for Weight loss?
If you’ve been served an ad for weight loss injections while scrolling through social media, or watching a commercial on TV, it’s likely that you were shown the statistics that the average total body weight percentage loss is 15%.
What they don’t advertise strongly (but you will find in the small print) is that these statistics are over a period of 68 weeks, or 15 and a half months.
So, for someone who is 200 pounds, losing 15% of their body weight would add up to 30 pounds in 68 weeks.
It’s also important to note that in each case study, and everywhere you read about the effectiveness of these weight loss injections, participants received individual counseling sessions every 4 weeks to help them adhere to a reduced-calorie diet (500 calorie deficit per day relative to the energy expenditure estimated at the time they underwent randomization) and increased physical activity (with 150 minutes per week of physical activity, such as walking) was recommended.
What would you personally expect if you ate 500 calories less per day than what your body needed? You’d likely lose weight. According to most traditional weight loss theories, no matter what type of diet you follow, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in each day. According to medlineplus.gov, if you can eat 500 fewer calories every day, you should lose about a pound a week (no injections needed).
At BeBalanced, we believe that losing weight (especially for women over 40) is not just calories in, calories out or medications that mimic hormone production.
What about muscle and bone loss on weight loss injection medication?
According to the trial results mentioned above, the average total body weight lost during the 68-week trials was around 15%. However, what should be very alarming is that of that 15%, close to half of the total weight lost was lean body mass. And what is lean body mass? It’s muscle, organs, and bone. What it isn’t is body fat.
Data shows that weight loss from taking GLP-1 medications like Ozempic and Wegovy can cause a decrease in muscle mass, lessen bone density, and lower your resting metabolic rate, leading to sarcopenia (the gradual loss of muscle mass, strength, and function and is typically associated with aging).
The FDA, and popular success stories of semaglutide, doesn’t account for patients who are also losing lean muscle, which could worsen their health in the long-term. While some muscle mass loss is common during weight loss, losing too much can backfire. Muscle mass is important for a healthy metabolism and preventing injury, particularly as we age.
Will I gain weight back after stopping the use of weight loss injections?
The short answer, most likely. In some cases, individuals gained even more weight back after stopping the use of weight loss injections.
Research published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism indicates that once people stop using the medication semaglutide (better known as Wegovy and Ozempic), any weight they’ve lost is likely to return.
This study, which sought to examine changes in body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors upon the termination of the drug, found that after a year, injection users had regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost.
The positive changes they had seen in cardiometabolic risk factors like blood pressure, blood lipids, HbA1c, and C-reactive protein had similarly reversed. According to the study authors, these findings reinforce the need to continue treatment to maintain the benefits of the medication.
Because semaglutide decreases your appetite along with the potential loss of muscle, gaining weight after stopping the injections seems inevitable, unless you have addressed the underlying cause of weight gain in the first place.
Healthy, long-term weight loss success requires sustainable changes to lifestyle and eating habits, not a “magic pill.”
Why am I not losing weight on Ozempic (or Wegovy)?
If you read the frequently asked questions on websites that sell Ozempic, you would read something similar to the following:
Are you taking Ozempic but not losing weight? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are several reasons why you may not be experiencing your desired weight loss on Ozempic.
Incorrect Calorie Intake
While Ozempic can help with weight loss, it is not a “magic pill”. It won’t work if you are still intaking more calories than your body burns. Calorie intake plays a significant role in weight loss. A caloric deficit is necessary alongside Ozempic supplementation to reach your physique goals.
Lack of Exercise
Ozempic works best when combined with regular physical activity. Incorporating an exercise regimen that suits your fitness level and goals is essential for achieving successful weight loss.
You may need a higher dosage.
What do weight loss injections cost?
If you qualify for insurance, the minimum that you pay per month, for 15 and a half months is $25 a month. That’s a total of $387.50. Keep in mind that only 48% of people lose the full 15% of their weight in that timeframe, the rest only lose between 5% and 10%. As we noted earlier, for a 200-pound person, 15% is 30 pounds in 15.5 months, 10% is 20 pounds, and 5% is 10 pounds.
Most people, on average, are paying closer to $300 per month, which adds up to $4,650 over 15.5 months.
Others are paying $900+ per month. So, for 15.5 months at $900 per month, that’s $13,950!
What are the side effects of semaglutide weight loss injections?
Aside from the potential loss of muscle, and weight gain after stopping the injections, the most common side effects of Wegovy (semaglutide) noted on their website and in clinical studies include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal distension
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
The following issues have been reported in clinical trials of semaglutide:
- Thyroid C-cell Tumors
- Acute Gallbladder Disease
- Acute Kidney Injury
- Hypersensitivity Reactions
- Diabetic Retinopathy Complications in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Rate Increase
- Suicidal Behavior and Ideation
Wegovy may cause serious side effects, including:
- Possible thyroid tumors, including cancer
- Inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Increased risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in patients with type 2 diabetes
- Kidney problems (kidney failure)
- Serious allergic reactions including swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat; problems breathing or swallowing; severe rash or itching; fainting or feeling dizzy; or very rapid heartbeat
- Increased heart rate
- Depression or thoughts of suicide
How does the BeBalanced approach to weight loss differ from the weight loss injections?
At BeBalanced, we work with your unique body chemistry to balance your hormones naturally for fast weight loss and improvements in symptoms of PMS and menopause naturally. And we provide the tools to help you keep the weight off for good.
According to a recent client survey where we surveyed clients who completed all appointments associated with our Becoming Balanced program from March 2022 – March 2023:
The average weight lost in the first 30 days of the Becoming Balanced program: 18.01 lbs.
Percentage of clients who said that the program was manageable: 97%
Percentage of clients who maintained their weight loss for more than 6 months: 62%*
Note: The national average percentage of people who lose weight and keep the weight off for over a year is only 20%.
*Of the 318 clients surveyed, 208 completed the Becoming Balanced program over 6 months ago. Of the 208, 62% reported they were able to keep their weight off.
Percentage of clients who reported they would recommend BeBalanced: 92%
The BeBalanced, Becoming Balanced program combines a whole-food, hormone balancing diet, along with natural supplementation to target liver support, gut health, increase insulin sensitivity, and balance hormones naturally. It also includes stress management techniques along with one-on-one coaching/accountability and community support.
Not only do we help clients lose an average of 15-21 lbs. in a month, and learn how to keep it off long-term, but most clients also experience improvements in their mood, sleep, energy, night sweats/hot flashes, bloating and more without any negative side effects.
According to our survey above, clients reported the following symptom improvement:
- 74% improved mood.
- 82% improved sleep.
- 82% improved energy.
- 74% improved hot flashes and/or night sweats.
- 71% improved bloating/fluid retention.
As opposed to using medication that overrides your body’s natural ability to balance blood sugar and curb cravings, we believe in a holistic approach that works with your body to bring it into balance naturally.
Although our program is completely natural and medication free and averages a weight loss of 15-21 pounds in the first 30 days, we do also work with clients who are on semaglutide medications, enhancing their results and helping them learn how to sustain their weight loss if they choose to stop taking the medication.
Ready to learn more? Schedule your free consultation with one of our wellness coaches to see how BeBalanced can help you reach your weight loss goals. We offer both in person and virtual appointments at any of our centers nation-wide.
How does the BeBalanced program compare to semaglutide (Wegovy or Ozempic)?
Ready to learn more about BeBalanced?
There is no shortage of information to be found online about how to lose weight, maintain your weight, fight inflammation, navigate menopause, and find inner peace. But how do you know what advice is the best advice for YOU? And what’s the best way to incorporate everything into your routine so you can create the life you want? Good news – that’s our passion!
Whether you come in person to meet with us in one of our beautiful local centers or opt for a virtual appointment, our wellness coaches are delighted to sit down with you and hear about your challenges and determine together which of our solutions would best help you to reach your goals. Whether you want to lose weight, improve digestion, have more energy, lower anxiety, improve your sleep, reduce hot flashes, increase libido, or all of the above, we have a customized program for you.
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