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Semaglutide and weight loss - how it works, benefits, and side effects

Semaglutide and weight loss

Semaglutide is a medication that can help people with obesity or overweight lose weight by mimicking a hormone that regulates appetite and food intake. It can also balance insulin levels and reduce blood sugar levels. The amount of weight loss varies by patient and dosage, but some studies have found that people can lose 15 to 20 percent of their body weight over 68 weeks with semaglutide.

Semaglutide is available under different brand names, such as Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus. Each brand has its own uses, dosages, forms, and costs. In this article, we will explain how semaglutide works for weight loss, what are its benefits and side effects, and how to use it safely and effectively.

How semaglutide works for weight loss

Semaglutide belongs to a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. GLP-1 stands for glucagon-like peptide-1, a hormone that is released by the gut after eating. GLP-1 has several effects on the body that help regulate blood sugar levels and weight management. It:

  • Stimulates the pancreas to produce more insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar levels

  • Inhibits the release of glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar levels

  • Slows down the emptying of the stomach, which reduces the amount of food intake and delays the absorption of glucose

  • Reduces appetite and increases satiety, which leads to lower calorie intake and weight loss

  • Increases energy expenditure, which burns more calories and fat

Semaglutide works for weight loss by mimicking the action of GLP-1. It binds to and activates the GLP-1 receptor on the cells of the pancreas, liver, stomach, brain, and other tissues. By doing so, it enhances the effects of GLP-1 on blood sugar control and weight management.

Benefits of semaglutide for weight loss

Semaglutide has been shown to be effective in helping people with obesity or overweight lose weight. It can cause an average weight loss of 15% of body weight in people taking Wegovy for obesity or 8 to 10 lbs in people taking Ozempic or Rybelsus for diabetes.

Weight loss can have several benefits for people with obesity or overweight, such as:

  • Improving blood sugar control

  • Reducing blood pressure

  • Lowering cholesterol levels

  • Decreasing inflammation

  • Enhancing quality of life

  • Reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases

Side effects of semaglutide for weight loss

Semaglutide can cause some side effects that some people may find bothersome or difficult to tolerate. The most common side effects are:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Stomach pain

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

These side effects are usually mild and tend to go away over time as the body gets used to the medication. They are more likely to occur with higher doses of semaglutide. That’s why it is recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase it over several weeks.

To reduce the risk of these side effects, it may help to:

  • Eat smaller meals

  • Avoid high-fat foods

  • Drink plenty of fluids

  • Stay upright after eating

  • Take anti-nausea medications if needed

However, some rare but serious side effects may also occur with semaglutide. These include:

  • Pancreatitis: inflammation of the pancreas that can cause severe abdominal pain that may radiate to the back, nausea, vomiting, fever, and elevated blood enzymes. This can be a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

  • Gallbladder problems: such as gallstones or inflammation that can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), and elevated liver enzymes. This may require surgery or other treatments.

Low blood sugar: especially if taking other diabetes medications that lower blood sugar levels such as insulin or sulfonylureas. This can cause symptoms such as sweating, shakiness, hunger, confusion, drowsiness, weakness, headache, or blurred vision. This can be a dangerous condition that requires immediate treatment with glucose tablets, juice, candy, or other sources of sugar.

  • Allergic reactions: such as rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. This can be a severe condition that requires emergency medical care.

  • Thyroid tumors: benign or malignant growths in the thyroid gland that can cause symptoms such as hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, or a lump in the neck. This can be a rare but serious condition that requires further evaluation and treatment.

If you experience any of these side effects or any other unusual or severe symptoms while taking semaglutide, you should contact your doctor right away.

How to use semaglutide for weight loss safely and effectively

Semaglutide is a prescription-only medication that should be used under the guidance of your doctor. Your doctor will determine the best brand, dose, and form of semaglutide for you based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and other factors.

Semaglutide is available in three different brands and forms:

  • Wegovy: a once-weekly injection that comes in a pre-filled pen device. The recommended dose for obesity is 2.4 mg once weekly. You should start with a lower dose of 0.25 mg once weekly and gradually increase it over 16 weeks until you reach the target dose. You can inject it under your skin in your abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. You can use it at any time of the day, with or without food. You should use it on the same day each week.

  • Ozempic: a once-weekly injection that comes in a pre-filled pen device. The recommended dose for diabetes is 0.5 mg or 1 mg once weekly. You should start with a lower dose of 0.25 mg once weekly and increase it after four weeks to 0.5 mg once weekly. Your doctor may increase your dose to 1 mg once weekly if needed. You can inject it under your skin in your abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. You can use it at any time of the day, with or without food. You should use it on the same day each week.

  • Rybelsus: an oral tablet that you take by mouth once daily. The recommended dose for diabetes is 7 mg or 14 mg once daily. You should start with a lower dose of 3 mg once daily for 30 days and then increase it to 7 mg once daily. Your doctor may increase your dose to 14 mg once daily if needed. You should take it in the morning on an empty stomach with no more than 4 ounces of plain water. You should wait at least 30 minutes before eating, drinking, or taking other medications.

Before using semaglutide, you should read the medication guide and instructions for use provided by your pharmacist or doctor. You should also learn how to prepare and administer the injection if you are using Wegovy or Ozempic. You should store semaglutide according to the package directions and discard any unused or expired medication safely.

You should use semaglutide regularly to get the most benefit from it. Remember to use it every 7 days if you are using Wegovy or Ozempic and every day if you are using Rybelsus. It may help to mark your calendar with a reminder.

You should also follow your doctor’s advice on diet modification and exercise while taking semaglutide. These lifestyle changes can enhance the effects of semaglutide on weight loss and blood sugar control.

You should monitor your weight and blood sugar levels regularly while taking semaglutide and report any abnormal results to your doctor. You should also have regular check-ups with your doctor to evaluate your progress and adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Semaglutide can help you lose weight with confidence and ease. For more information, consult with a healthcare professional specializing in weight management, or visit our website at

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