You may have been hearing a lot about a pharmaceutical drug called Ozempic® and how it works for weight loss. That’s today’s topic so let’s dive in. OZEMPIC is a brand name for the drug known generically as semaglutide, which is used in the management of type 2 diabetes. Semaglutide belongs to a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. It is given by subcutaneous injection.
GLP-1 is a hormone in everyone’s body that helps to regulate (specifically lower!) blood sugar levels. By mimicking the action of GLP-1, semaglutide helps to increase insulin secretion which then reduces glucose production in your liver. In doing so, there is less glucose secreted by the liver, and this helps manage blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes. Let’s discuss what a GLP-1 antagonist is.
Imagine your body is like a busy town and sugar is the fuel that keeps the town running. It keeps the street lights on, and the railroad tracks running properly and everything else. Sometimes, too much sugar comes into the town, and that’s not good.
The special law enforcement team in your body is called GLP-1. They are like traffic cops in the town, helping to make sure sugar goes to the right places and doesn’t pile up in the streets (the “streets” meaning your blood).
Now, Ozempic is like a superhero that wears a GLP-1 costume. Because it looks a lot like GLP-1, it helps the law enforcement team control the sugar from getting out of control and destroying the town! In other words, Ozempic helps guide the sugar into storage buildings and warehouses (your cells) so the streets don’t get jammed with sugar. This makes the whole town healthier and happier.
To be clear, ANYTHING you do like anything you take (herbal supplements or pharmaceutical) that either increases insulin secretion (which reduces blood sugar) will help you lose weight and control the sugar in the city using my example. It will also help you manage type 2 diabetes. Ozempic helps with diabetes by helping with weight loss too.
To be clear, Ozempic (and any other remedy or drug that works similarly) will help reduce weight due to a combination of factors. By this I mean that if you balance blood sugar, you obviously reduce appetite. It may even slow gastric emptying which gives you that ‘feel full’ and satisfied feeling. That alone will help you to control portions of meals. So because of these effects, Ozempic (semaglutide) has been hailed as a bit of a miracle drug for weight management.
I am glad that people are waking up to the idea of balancing blood sugar and insulin, and the more complex idea that cravings can be controlled by working on these mechanisms. These thoughts are exactly what I put out in my book Diabetes Without Drugs.
Back then it was not as accepted, but today, with the commercials about Ozempic® people are coming to the realization that by controlling blood sugar, they can reduce appetite and lose weight. Everything I know was put into my formula GlucoScript – which is designed to help support already healthy blood sugar levels and to promote metabolism.* It’s a great formula that helps keep your hand out of the cookie jar .
We hear a lot about Ozempic. There is a similar drug that deserves an honorable mention. It is the same chemical of semaglutide but at a higher dosage (I believe it is about 2.4 mg given once weekly) and is specifically approved for weight loss in obese adults. It is sold under the brand name of WEGOVY.
Prescriptions for Ozempic and other diabetes drugs have increased dramatically due to commercials and promotions. People are using this medication and several others to lose weight which is a bit of an oddity to me, but nevertheless, it is still happening.
You may wonder why I scratch my head… it’s because a diet does not cause side effects (other than weight loss), but taking medications will. We essentially poison ourselves with junk food,, and then years later bring in more synthetic chemicals to reverse the damage done! It’s a double whammy of sorts. See below for some of those side effects. While rare, there are some pretty hefty side effects that are possible.
There are no real contraindications with a diet, but there are with medications. See your local physician to for personalized medical advice and information. You can also grab a copy of my book on diabetes, or take a look at this website which has information on my dietary supplement.
Common Side Effects associated with GLP-1 antagonists:
Gas/bloating or indigestion
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Less Common Side Effects:
Injection site reactions (such as redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site)
Gallstones or gallbladder disease
Inflammation of the pancreas (termed pancreatitis)
Changes in vision
Increased (or irregular) heart rate
Rare but Serious Side Effects:
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), especially if used with other medications that lower blood sugar
Thyroid tumors, including cancer (In animal studies, semaglutide has been associated with thyroid tumors. It’s unknown whether this effect occurs in humans)
Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis (if you are prone to allergies read my article for 10 NATURAL SOLUTIONS)
Diabetic retinopathy complications
Acute kidney injury
This medication and other GLP-1 antagonists may interact with other medications or medical conditions. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to have a long conversation about the pros and cons of taking drugs to lose weight.
How Well Does Ozempic® Work?
The amount of weight loss that individuals can achieve with Ozempic (semaglutide) can vary on many things include how much you take (ie dosage), your compliance or adherence to the plan, lifestyle changes (are you going to exercise too?), and individual differences in response to the medication. Not everyone responds the same way.
In clinical trials for type 2 diabetes, Ozempic has been associated with moderate weight loss. For example, in the SUSTAIN clinical trial program, patients with type 2 diabetes taking Ozempic lost an average of approximately 4-5 kg (that’s about 9-11 lbs) over 30-56 weeks, depending on the dose and other factors. So over maybe a year, you could see a 10 pound reduction in weight? Is the risk to benefit ratio good in your opinion?
I mentioned Wegovy earlier. For chronic weight management, the FDA approved this drug (which is a higher dose compared to Ozempic). In clinical trials for Wegovy, participants without diabetes but with overweight or obesity lost an average of approximately 15% of their body weight over 68 weeks. For someone who weighs 100 kg (about 220 lbs), this equates to a weight loss of approximately 15 kg (about 33 lbs).
Let’s compare that to a ketogenic which is what I recommend for people seeking weight loss. It works faster and better than Ozempic (in my humble opinion), and there are no side effects if you do it properly. It’s the type of lifestyle I’ve eaten for most of my adult life. It just means low carbohydrates and low sugar, mainly protein and fat.
In the short term (say the first few weeks), people often see relatively rapid weight loss due to the loss of water weight as the body depletes its glycogen stores. As you get used to the diet, your cravings will calm down. You will feel more satiated. Just like with the drugs, you will see more insulin secretion, and a reduction in blood sugar. It is a perfect diet for someone with diabetes. It is a diet that essentially limits sugars and carbs, you cannot go wrong on this unless you go into ketosis!
With time, the rate of weight loss typically slows. Research studies have shown that on average, a person might lose between 2 to 10 kg (4.4 to 22 lbs) over a period of 3 to 6 months on a ketogenic diet! That’s better than the results shown by synthetic drugs! And there are no side effects.
As for the keto-carnivore diet, which is a more restrictive version of the ketogenic diet that focuses primarily or exclusively on meat/protein, there is less research available on its effects on weight loss. It’s likely that the weight loss patterns would be similar to a standard ketogenic diet, or even better. The keto-carnivore diet is a bit more restrictive than keto, and that could make it harder to adhere to long-term. I recommend this diet for persons suffering with auto-immune conditions, or hard to diagnose conditions that have a lot of “itis” problems (meaning inflammation). Symptoms tend to calm down and disappear after 6 to 8 months on a diet like this.
It’s important for me to note that while ketogenic types of diets can be effective for some people in losing weight, they are not without potential risks. Unlike drugs there are few if any side effects however, some diets can cause nutrient deficiencies, cholesterol imbalances, or other problems and because a diet is so personal I cannot even guess how you yourself would respond.
I can only tell you that my husband and I follow a keto diet (sometimes even keto-carnivore for a period of time) and our cholesterol ratios are perfect. Our BMI is great, and our homocysteine levels are now awesome. Our blood pressure is almost always perfect, especially mine. So we don’t think our diet has any bad side effects, but we are speaking from a personal stance with a sample size of n = 2. Please consult your physician and dietician (nutritionist) to see if a keto diet is right for you, or if Ozempic is right for you, or if any herbal remedy is right for you.
It’s hard to say what’s right for everyone, but one thing is for sure: Embarking on a healthier lifestyle and regimen to help you lose weight and increase fitness is good for your entire cardiovascular system. With heart attack and stroke reaching epidemic levels I will cheer you on from here to support you on any method of weight loss that you want to try! Speaking of things to try, let’s delve into that.
Many people seek natural approaches or supplements to support weight loss or manage blood sugar levels because the drugs are expensive, sometimes not covered by insurance, and also there are side effects in some people.
Here are a few natural approaches that some people consider:
1. Dietary Changes: A balanced diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugars, and high in fiber and healthy fats can help with weight management and blood sugar control.
2. Physical Activity: Regular exercise is a cornerstone of weight management and can also help in controlling blood sugar levels. Whether or not you take Ozempic, or an herbal supplement, physical activity should always be part of a healthy lifestyle.
3. Cinnamon: Some studies have suggested that cinnamon might help lower blood sugar levels, though the evidence is not strong enough to recommend it as a substitute for medication. Cinnamon also thins the blood a little bit, if the topic of anticoagulants and platelet inhibitors interests you, read my article about\
4. Berberine: This compound found in several plants has been studied for its potential effects on lowering blood sugar levels.
5. Alpha-Lipoic Acid: Sometimes used as a supplement for its antioxidant properties, alpha-lipoic acid has also been studied for its potential effects on blood sugar levels.
6. Banaba Leaf: Provides “corosolic acid” which may improve insulin sensitivity, helping you to use blood sugar more effectively. It blocks absorption of some carbs in the gut leading to a reduction in blood sugar spikes after eating.
7. Holy Basil: Also known as Tulsi, it increases insulin secretion and improves insulin sensitivity. Further, it reduces absorption of glucose in the intestines.* It may reduce cortisol levels, a stress hormone known to lead to weight gain.* I wrote an article about holy basil which you can read HERE.
8. Resveratrol: It improves insulin sensitivity and activates AMP-activated protein kinase an enzyme that scoops up glucose from the bloodstream.
9. Fenugreek Seeds: These are rich in soluble fiber, which can help manage blood sugar levels.
10. Bitter Melon: This is sometimes used in traditional medicine practices for its purported blood sugar-lowering effects.
11. Apple Cider Vinegar: Some people believe that it can help with weight loss and blood sugar control.
We’ve talked about a lot of things today. To summarize this, my mainpoints are that Ozempic is a medication that acts like a superhero in your body, helping to manage sugar levels in your blood. Simply put, it dresses up like a member of your body’s special sugar-controlling police force, GLP-1, and helps guides sugar into the right storage places (and out of your bloodsteam). This helps keep your body’s “town” running smoothly and healthily. There are also natural herbal supplements that some people use to help control their sugar levels. These are often taken with medication as adjunctive treatments but as a side effect may lower your blood sugar TOO much so be careful and supervised, and continue testing your FBS as often as you need to. Self treatment for diabetes is NOT recommended.
Just a warning here because I want this very clear since hypoglycemia is as dangerous as hyperglycemia:
Before making any changes to your medications or trying new supplements, especially if you have any chronic health conditions, it’s very important to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can guide you on the best choices to make sure that Ozempic – or any natural supplements- work well with any other medications you are taking and are the right fit for your health needs.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.