Semaglutide helps with weight loss by mimicking a natural hormone in our body that signals the brain to feel full after eating.
By amplifying this “full” feeling, it helps people eat less and reduce their calorie intake. As a result, individuals taking semaglutide often feel satisfied with smaller meals, leading to weight loss over time.
You may have seen Ozempic or Wegovy on the news, two popular brands implementing semaglutide for the use of diabetic treatments.
Although these brands may not have been initially designed for weight management, people have found semaglutide for weight loss effective along with a regimen of regular diet and exercise.
How Semaglutide Works
Semaglutide helps with weight loss by acting like hormones that regulate appetite. This primarily revolves around its action as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist.
This might sound technical, but simply put, it mimics a naturally occurring hormone in our body that plays a pivotal role in regulating our appetite and food intake. By tapping into the body’s innate mechanisms, semaglutide offers a biologically grounded approach to weight loss.
When we consume food, our intestines produce a hormone called GLP-1. This hormone has multiple roles, but its primary function from a dietary perspective is to signal to the brain that we’ve eaten enough, promoting feelings of fullness and satisfaction.
This natural mechanism helps us regulate our food intake and, by extension, maintain a healthy weight. However, in some individuals, especially those with type 2 diabetes or obesity, this GLP-1 signaling might be impaired or not as effective.
This is where semaglutide steps in to help. By binding to the same receptors in the brain that natural GLP-1 would, semaglutide amplifies the “I’m full” signals.
The result? Reduced appetite and decreased food consumption. When a person feels satiated with less food, their calorie intake naturally diminishes, leading to weight loss.
But the benefits of semaglutide don’t just stop at signaling the brain. The medication also impacts the speed at which the stomach empties.
After eating, semaglutide can slow down the rate at which food moves from the stomach into the intestines. This delayed gastric emptying prolongs the feeling of fullness, ensuring that an individual doesn’t feel hungry quickly after a meal.
This aspect is particularly beneficial for preventing overeating or frequent snacking, which can contribute to excessive calorie intake and weight gain.
Semaglutide Boosts Insulin Release
Another important feature of semaglutide’s action is its glucose-dependent insulinotropic effect. In essence, the drug boosts insulin release but does so in a manner that’s dependent on the body’s blood sugar levels.
When blood sugar rises, such as after a meal, semaglutide promotes more significant insulin release to help cells absorb this sugar. However, when blood sugar is normal or low, semaglutide doesn’t push insulin secretion aggressively.
This balanced approach ensures that blood sugar levels remain stable, reducing the risk of sudden sugar cravings which can often lead to unhealthy snacking or overeating.
Burning Fat In Multiple Ways
While the mechanisms mentioned above provide a comprehensive view of how semaglutide aids in weight loss, it’s worth noting the compound effects of its actions. Reduced appetite and delayed gastric emptying not only help in immediate calorie restriction but over time, can also lead to changes in eating behavior.
As individuals experience satiety with less food and for more extended periods, they may naturally adopt healthier eating habits, opting for smaller portions and feeling less compelled to eat high-calorie, low-nutrition foods.
Moreover, clinical trials have consistently shown that semaglutide, when compared to placebo, leads to substantial weight loss. In some studies, participants on semaglutide reported up to 15% reduction in body weight, a testament to its effectiveness.
What To Know Before Starting Semaglutide
1. Research and Awareness
Before considering any medication, thorough research is crucial. Familiarize yourself with semaglutide’s mechanisms, potential benefits, side effects, and contraindications. This foundational knowledge ensures you approach the medication with an informed perspective.
2. Consultation with a Healthcare Professional
Never start a medication without consulting a healthcare expert, preferably an endocrinologist or a primary care physician. They can provide guidance tailored to your individual health needs and conditions. A professional can:
- Evaluate whether semaglutide is appropriate for you.
- Discuss potential risks and benefits in the context of your health profile.
- Inform you about potential interactions with other medications you may be taking
3. Understanding Administration
Semaglutide is administered as a subcutaneous injection, which means it’s injected just under the skin. Here are the steps:
- Storage: Before unsealing, store the medication in the refrigerator. Once in use, it can be kept at room temperature but must be used within a month.
- Preparation: Before injecting, check the solution for any discoloration or particles. It should be clear and colorless.
- Injection Sites: The common sites for subcutaneous injections are the front of thighs, the upper arm, or the abdomen. Rotate the injection sites to avoid soreness.
- Technique: If you’re unfamiliar with giving yourself injections, request a demonstration from your healthcare provider or a pharmacist. They can provide guidance and possibly even hands-on training.
6. Monitoring and Side Effects
Once you start the medication:
- Monitor: Regularly track your weight, but also pay attention to other parameters like appetite changes, energy levels, and overall well-being.
- Side Effects: Be vigilant about potential side effects. The most common are gastrointestinal, like nausea or diarrhea. If any side effects become severe or if you notice anything unusual, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
- Follow-up Appointments: Schedule regular check-ups with your physician to evaluate the drug’s effectiveness and safety in your specific case.
7. Complementary Lifestyle Measures
While semaglutide can aid weight loss, the best results are often seen when combined with lifestyle changes:
- Diet: Adopt a balanced diet with an emphasis on whole foods, lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.
- Exercise: Incorporate regular physical activity based on your capabilities and interests. Even simple activities like walking can significantly impact weight loss efforts when combined with semaglutide.
In summary, semaglutide’s role in weight loss is multifaceted. By mimicking the natural GLP-1 hormone, it reinforces the brain’s appetite regulation mechanisms, ensures prolonged feelings of fullness by slowing gastric emptying, and promotes a balanced insulin response to prevent sugar cravings. Together, these actions create a conducive environment for sustainable weight loss and healthier eating habits.
Although this isn’t a miracle weight loss drug, combining the use of semaglutide with other proven methods to decrease body fat can help you with your health goals.
Ashlee is the Medical Director at Evolve Wellness and Health in Englewood, Colorado. She obtained her Master of Science in Nursing in 2006 from Colorado State University-Pueblo, and is board-certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She has practiced in the field of hormone replacement therapy (both male and female) and medical weight loss since 2013.