For most of us, getting healthy means weight loss. Not surprising since almost half of the American population (and similar first-world countries) suffers from obesity. Therefore, the search for the next miracle weight loss drug is always on. And the latest addition to that hype is- Semaglutide, a GLP-1 agonist that started off as a successful antidiabetic medicine.
So, is all the hype surrounding Semaglutide true? Or is it just another product big Pharmas are using to exploit a society desperate to lose weight? Typically, if you use Semaglutide for weight loss, you would have to spend $1500/month (approx) on the injections. And your insurance won’t pay for it since weight loss isn’t one of the categories they usually cover. With Replenish you’d be spending less than a third of that.
In this case, it is essential to understand whether Semiglutide is worth its hype. Especially, if you are betting your money and health on the medicine. Once you understand how the medication works and compare it to similar products, you will be able to make a better informed decision.
What Is Semaglutide?
Well, first of all, Semaglutide is primarily an antidiabetic medication, but don’t worry studies were conducted and people without diabetes lost weight. The group to which the drug belongs is called GLP-1 receptor agonists. They reduce appetite and delay the emptying of gastric contents.
As a result, people feel fuller for longer after meals. This helps people who tend to overeat or have insulin resistance develop healthy eating habits. Thus, controlling their blood sugar and weight.
The drug first hit the market in 2017 following its approval by the FDA as a potent antidiabetic drug. The brand name for this antidiabetic medication was Ozempic. Its success in reducing cardiac risks in patients with type-2 diabetes and known heart disease was promising.
The second Semaglutide to come to the market was Rybelsus. This too was an antidiabetic drug. Unlike Ozempic, Rybelsus was a tablet.
Finally, in 2021, Wegovy– the Semaglutide for weight loss, came to the market. It is important to understand that Wegovy is significantly different from Ozempic and Rybelsus. Although both are distinct brand names of the same drug, their purposes differ.
For instance, Wegovy contains a higher dose of Semaglutide than Ozempic. Each dose of Wegovy delivers 2.4 mg of Semaglutide to the body. Meanwhile, a single dose of Ozempic contains only 0.5-1.0 mg of the drug. Therefore, you shouldn’t replace one medication with the other one. (1,2,3)
Why The FDA Approved Semaglutide For Weight Loss?
The success of several clinical trials drove the FDA to approve Semaglutide or Wegovy as a weight loss medication. Combinedly, the trials involved more than 4500 participants.
These were adults who were overweight or morbidly obese. At the same time, they had at least one disease condition that was a direct result of their uncontrolled weight. Such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, etc.
During the trials, the participants were divided into two groups. One of them received regular doses of 2.4 mg of Semaglutide. Meanwhile, the other group was on a placebo. Both parties were on the same type of calorie-restricted diet and exercise program.
The trials continued for a period of 68 weeks. At the end of the trials, the participants on Wegovy lost an average of 15% percent excess body fat. Meanwhile, the patients on placebo, who only followed the diet and exercise lost around a measly 3-4% fat. There were no significant adverse reactions observed in the participants who received Wegovy.
Is Semaglutide Better Than Other Weight Loss Methods?
Every time a new weight-loss medication breaks into the scene, we wonder if this is it. Have we finally found the drug that can cure obesity once and for all? Well, there’s no precise and conclusive response to this query. What we can do is compare the new drug to the former weight loss methods. Let’s see how Semaglutide measures up.
Semaglutide Promotes Greater Fatloss
Orlistat is a medicine with similar purposes to Semaglutide. FDA approved it as a weight maintenance medication in 1999. It became an OTC drug in 2007. The drug blocks fat absorption in your intestines. People lost around five percent of body weight (in fat) while on the drug.
Another example is Liraglutide. Alike, Semaglutide is a GLP-1 agonist. It became a weight loss medication in 2015 and raised similar hype. Obese patients on Liraglutide experienced a fat loss of around nine percent of their body weight after a year of use.
Semaglutide, on the other hand, lets you experience a fifteen percent weight loss. This is noticeably higher than the other popular medications. So, Semaglutide wins this case.
More Convenient For use
Semaglutide is a highly convenient weight loss medication. You will just need one subcutaneous injection a week. In comparison, Liraglutide requires a daily injection. And Orlistat therapy means swallowing pills three times a day.
The reason for this is the drug’s long plasma half-life. This means it can stay in the body for higher periods of time compared to short half-life drugs such as Liraglutide or Orlistat.
Also, dieting becomes much easier when you are on Semaglutide. Because the drug tells your body to eat less.
Better Mechanism of Action
Semaglutide works more smartly than other weight loss medications. The drug mimics a hormone in our body. It is called GLP-1. We have receptors for this protein in our stomach, brain, and pancreas. GLP-1 binds to them and regulates blood sugar levels and appetite. Semaglutide does the same thing.
In the pancreas, it stimulates insulin release. Which in turn, lowers blood sugar. When it binds to the stomach, the passage of food slows down the digestive tract. As a result, you keep feeling full for a longer time.
Having a full stomach means, the secretion of hunger hormones like Ghrelin reduces. So, you don’t go looking for a snack only an hour after a meal. This makes following caloric restriction so much easier.
However, the cause of overeating lies deep within our brains. Semaglutide solves that too. It binds to the GLP-1 receptors of the hypothalamus and affects our desire for food. As a result, people using the medication become less interested in foods fat in fat and calorie. They also feel okay with eating smaller portions and less frequently.
Meanwhile, drugs like Orlistat only blocks fat absorption. This means it doesn’t deal with the main causes of the problem- uncontrolled hunger and cravings. Also, this makes dieting extremely complicated and difficult while taking Orlistat.
Some might say, Liraglutide is also a GLP-1 receptor agonist and works the same way. It’s true. However, Semaglutide has a higher affinity for the receptors than Liraglutide. This means it can bond more effectively with them. Therefore, Semaglutide’s effects are much stronger than other GLP-1 weight-loss drugs. (1,2,3,4,5,6)
Lesser Side Effects
When you use Semaglutide for weight loss, you experience lesser side effects than other drugs. There might be some nausea, bloating, and headaches the first day or two when you start using Semaglutide. However, the symptoms are usually mild and easily subside. Just make sure you are getting adequate fluid and eating timely.
Meanwhile, with a medication like Orlistat, there are a lot of adverse reactions to deal with. Since the medication prevents your intestine from absorbing the fat, you might experience steatorrhoea. Which means there might be too much fat in your stool. This might ultimately lead to chronic bowel problems.
Also, since your intestine isn’t absorbing fat, your body will miss the various fat-soluble vitamins.
Another problem with the injectable medication is injection site infection. In this case, the site where you pricked yourself can swell, bleed, become painful, or have a rash. Your body’s immunity reacts to the needle and might cause this.
With weight loss drugs like Liraglutide, which requires a daily injection, this kind of infection is more frequent. Meanwhile, the Semaglutide injection is only once a week. Therefore the prevalence of such infection is also low.
So, it looks like Semaglutide wins over other popular weight loss medications. It promotes greater fat loss, has a smarter action, is convenient, and has manageable side effects. But is it the ultimate weight loss drug? Well, we can’t conclude that right now. The drug is still young and we still need to see how it eventually works out for long-term users.
There’s no doubt you can safely seek Semaglutide for weight loss if you are suffering from obesity and associated conditions. However, you must use it after consulting your physician. Be sure to inform your doctor about any other diabetic medication you are on. Learn more about the safe use of Semaglutide on our next blog.