Ozempic For Weight Loss: How It Works, Side Effects & More


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Ozempic has taken TikTok by storm. It’s hailed as a miracle weight loss drug that helps you shed the pounds without even really trying. 

Sound too good to be true? Well, it could be.

There’s lots of misinformation about Ozempic for weight loss on social media, and there are a few safety concerns you need to know about. But the drug can help you lose weight — if it’s a good fit for you. 

Let’s dive right in. We’ll cover how Ozempic works, whether the drug is safe and the common side effects (beyond fitting into your favorite jeans again).

What Is Ozempic For?

Ozempic is a once-a-week injection FDA-approved for people with type 2 diabetes — not weight loss. 

When used alongside diet and exercise interventions, Ozempic can help lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. It can also reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and death in patients with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Some healthcare providers are also prescribing Ozempic off-label as a weight loss medication.

Ozempic is one brand name for a drug called semaglutide. You can also get semaglutide in tablet form — the brand name for that is Rybelsus, which is also approved for type 2 diabetes.

A higher-dose injection of semaglutide is available under the brand name Wegovy — this one is FDA-approved for weight loss.

When used alongside diet and exercise, Wegovy is FDA-approved to help with weight management in:

  • Adults who have obesity 

  • Adults who are overweight and also have at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol 

  • Children 12 and older who have obesity

Keep reading to learn how semaglutide works for weight loss.

(Related: Metformin For Weight Loss: Does It Work?)

How Does Ozempic for Weight Loss Work?

Ozempic is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. This mouthful of a medication is used to treat diabetes and obesity. 

The several types of GLP-1 receptor agonists include: 

  • Exenatide

  • Lixisenatide

  • Liraglutide

  • Albiglutide

  • Dulaglutide

  • Semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic and its obesity-fighting cousin Wegovy) 

But how does Ozempic work for weight loss exactly?

Quick science lesson: When you eat, your digestive tract releases the GLP-1 hormone. One of this hormone’s jobs is to prompt your body to make more insulin, which reduces your blood sugar levels. 

High levels of GLP-1 can reduce your appetite and trigger feelings of fullness. 

Where does Ozempic come into this? Well, Ozempic works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone, lowering blood sugar and making you feel full. 

The active ingredient in Ozempic, semaglutide, is linked to: 

  • Less hunger

  • Fewer food cravings

  • Better control of eating 

  • Lower preference for high-fat foods

All this can lead to you eating fewer calories and, therefore, losing weight. 

There are studies to back this up. 

2021 study looked at almost 2,000 adults without diabetes taking either a weekly semaglutide injection or a placebo for 68 weeks (over a year!). They also made some lifestyle changes, like improving their diet and getting regular physical activity.

After 68 weeks, the group taking semaglutide lost an average of almost 15 percent of their body weight. The group taking the placebo wasn’t quite as successful — they lost an average of 2.4 percent of their body weight.

Semaglutide wasn’t all good news for participants in the study, though.

Gastrointestinal disorders — like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and constipation — were the most common side effects. This caused some people to stop taking the drug. And serious adverse events were reported in almost 10 percent of participants taking semaglutide. 

One thing to note about this study is that participants received a 2.4-milligram (mg) dose of semaglutide. Ozempic is usually prescribed at a lower dose than this, starting at 0.25 milligrams and increasing to 0.5 to 1 milligrams a week for patients with diabetes.

Another thing to be aware of? The study was funded by Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Ozempic and Wegovy — so we should probably view these particular results with a healthy skepticism.

Other research has found similar results, though. One study, this time from 2022, compared a weekly semaglutide injection with a daily liraglutide injection — another GLP-1 receptor agonist. Besides taking the injections, participants made those all-important diet and exercise interventions. 

Both groups lost weight, but participants taking semaglutide lost more weight than those taking liraglutide.

(Related: Weight Loss Injections: Are They Safe?)

Is Ozempic Safe?

This is the question of the hour. We can’t say for sure whether Ozempic is safe for weight loss. More research needs to be done.

Here’s what we know so far.

More Research on Ozempic Is Needed 

Most clinical trials on Ozempic were done on people with type 2 diabetes. So it’s not clear what the risks could be for people without the condition who are just looking to lose weight.

There are also no long-term randomized controlled trials on Ozempic for weight loss. So if you’re taking it for the long run, the risks are unknown there, too. 

Wegovy (that’s the higher-dose version of Ozempic) is approved for weight loss, but it’s still a relatively new drug. While FDA approval means they’re relatively confident in its safety, these newer drugs don’t have the decades of research to back them up as other weight loss medications like metformin.

Ozempic Comes With Health Risks 

As with any medication, Ozempic comes with risks. 

One of those is the potential risk of thyroid C-cell tumors. In studies on mice and rats, semaglutide was shown to increase the incidence of thyroid C-cell tumors. It’s not clear whether semaglutide could have this effect in humans.

Liraglutide has been linked to cases of medullary thyroid carcinoma, a type of thyroid cancer. But more research is needed to draw a guilty verdict against this class of drug. 

Ozempic isn’t safe for people with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or those with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 — another type of thyroid cancer. 

Beyond cancer, there are other health risks you should know about.

In clinical trials, some participants developed pancreatitis while taking Ozempic. And in trials on people with type 2 diabetes and high cardiovascular risk, there were some cases of diabetic retinopathy (vision loss). 

As for GLP-1 receptor agonists as a whole, there may be a risk of:

  • Acute kidney injury

  • Worsening of chronic renal failure

  • Hypersensitivity, such as swelling and anaphylaxis

Plus, it’s not clear whether Ozempic is safe for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Let your healthcare provider know if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to be soon.

(Related: Are Weight Loss Drugs Covered By Insurance?)

Avoid Taking These Drugs With Ozempic 

There are a few drug interactions to know about.

You shouldn’t take Ozempic if you’re taking insulin or an insulin secretagogue drug, like sulfonylurea. This can up your odds of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). 

You also want to watch out for any oral medications you’re taking — that’s right, any oral medications.

Ozempic causes a delay in gastric emptying, which means food is kept in your stomach for longer. This delay may impact how oral medications are absorbed by your body. 

Tell your healthcare provider about any oral medications you take (or may start taking) if you’re considering adding Ozempic to the mix. 

The Benefits May Outweigh the Risks

Ozempic comes with health risks, but so does obesity. 

Almost 42 percent of adults over 20 have obesity, and a whopping 73.6 percent are either overweight or have obesity. 

Obesity can lead to a whole host of medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer — to name just a few. 

So while Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss, it can be beneficial for those struggling to manage their weight. But it isn’t the only option. Hers offers access to clinically proven medications including metformin as part of a holistic weight loss program, no injections required. 

Common Side Effects of Ozempic

Common Ozempic side effects include: 

  • Nausea 

  • Vomiting 

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach pain 

  • Constipation 

These side effects are reported in more than five percent of people taking Ozempic. 

That’s not all, though. Other potential side effects of Ozempic include: 

  • Low blood sugar 

  • Redness or discomfort at the injection site

  • Increased amylase and lipase (enzymes that break down carbs and fats)

  • Gallstones 

  • Increased heart rate 

  • Fatigue 

  • Changes in taste (foods could taste bad to you)

  • Dizziness 

Ozempic weight loss may not be forever. Once you stop taking the drug, there’s a chance you’ll regain some (or all) of the weight you lost. 

Research from 2022 looked at what happened when people stopped taking semaglutide after 68 weeks of treatment. One year later, study participants had regained an average of two-thirds of the weight they’d lost. 

As it’s a relatively new drug, there are no long-term trials on Ozempic. So it’s unclear whether it’s safe to take the medication long-term to keep the weight off.

Plus, GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs like Ozempic are expensive – up to $1000 a month, and typically not covered by insurance, which can be enough to put some people off.

Is Ozempic for Weight Loss Right for You? 

Ozempic is a diabetes drug, but it can be prescribed off-label for weight loss. Its higher-dose cousin, Wegovy, is FDA-approved as an anti-obesity medicine. 

But does that mean the drug is right for you? Maybe, but not necessarily.

Here are the key facts:

  • Ozempic can help you lose weight. Semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic) can help you feel less hungry and more full. When combined with diet and exercise changes, it can help you lose weight. 

  • Ozempic comes with potential side effects. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea — oh my! More serious adverse reactions include low blood sugar and gallstones. The cost of Ozempic (and similar drugs) is also a barrier for many.

  • More research needs to be done into safety. Ozempic is a relatively new drug, so we don’t have long-term studies or research on patients without diabetes who used it to lose weight.

The final verdict? Ozempic may help you lose weight, but speak to a healthcare provider to find out if it’s suitable for you or whether other weight loss methods might be a better fit.

We get that this might just be the beginning of your exploration into weight loss treatments. If you’re feeling “on the fence” about Ozempic, there are plenty of other safe and effective treatments for weight loss for you to explore. 

This article originally appeared on Hers and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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25 Weight-Loss “Tricks” You Should Stop Immediately

25 Weight-Loss “Tricks” You Should Stop Immediately

When it comes to diet and nutrition, we all want to find “the answer” that will fix our alleged problems. As a result, we often latch onto crazy diet ideas that, in the moment, sound like the perfect solution. But these too-good-to-be-true “solutions” can hurt more than help us in our attempts to achieve weight loss and gain healthy habits.

Here are some of the most common diet myths exposed.


The protein-pushing keto craze sure makes it seem like carbs should be avoided at all costs. But do grains deserve their bad reputation?

“People often say that carbs are fattening,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD. “But complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, are not ‘fattening’ foods.’”

In other words, avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread, rice and processed snacks, but keep those whole grains for a healthy balance.

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While diet sodas may be a better alternative than their full-sugar counterparts, medical studies are starting to show that the artificial sweeteners may actually cause us to eat more calories later in the day. If you want to keep the fizz and ditch the artificial sweetener, try flavored carbonated water instead.

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Like carbs, the type of fats we eat makes a difference. That, in combination with how many calories we eat each day, determines our body weight. Trans fats, typically found in many fried foods, can cause cardiovascular disease. However, saturated fats do not have the same effect and can, in fact, help keep us satisfied longer, leading to fewer calories consumed.

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Maybe you’ve only been eating the egg whites to avoid raising your cholesterol. Well, maybe you don’t have to anymore.

“Unless you are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease, eating the eggs AND yolks can actually help you,” says Darin Hulslander, CEO and owner of DNS Performance and Nutrition. “For one, yolks are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Egg yolks also elevate high-density lipoproteins, which are the ‘good’ proteins that can help remove plaque from the arteries.”


If you count calories, you might think losing weight is as simple as staying under a certain number every day. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. You can eat 200 calories of lean protein or 200 calories of chocolate, but the body processes each differently. Depending on what you eat, your body can store or burn more calories. So, use those calories wisely!

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Reading headlines such as “red meat could lead to cancer” is frightening. And while some studies indicate there is an association with red meat consumption and cancer, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean it causes cancer. Eating red meat in moderation is not dangerous.

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The American Heart Association recommends that people consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium (salt) each day. Excessive sodium can lead to high blood pressure. However, this doesn’t mean we have to eat bland food. Use salt in moderation and, if you have high blood pressure, talk with your doctor on the best guidelines for your individual needs.

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Sure, peanut butter is a good source of protein and fat. However, you need to be careful about what kind you put in your pantry. Many national brands of peanut butter are filled with extra sugar, fats and preservatives that counteract any health benefits. Check the label and pick up a jar with as few ingredients as possible to get the healthiest version of this favorite snack.

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Calories can’t tell time. The time of day of when you eat only matters if you tend to overindulge at the end of the day and eat too many calories. If you happen to eat a late dinner or snack but stay within your normal calorie range for the day, it should all even out in the long run. However, many people mindlessly eat at night because they are bored or tired, and this is what leads to weight gain.

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This is the one case where all calories are pretty much alike. Multiple studies show that eating the same amount of calories in either a few larger meals or more frequent smaller ones have the same outcome on the body. In other words, this is a case where 1,000 calories in a day are the same, no matter how often you eat during the day.

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With labels like “Lean Cuisine” and “Healthy Choice,” it’s easy to think that pre-packaged frozen meals are not only convenient but also a better choice to help us in our diet goals. This isn’t always the case. Many of these pre-packaged meals contain too much sodium, which can lead to water retention and bloat. Also, many offer too few calories, which can lead to hunger later on in the day. Check the labels carefully and make sure you’re making the best choice.


When looking to avoid processed carbohydrates, many people reach for wheat or multigrain bread over white. But be careful! Make sure you’re picking up 100% wheat or whole grain bread. Otherwise, you could be just be getting mostly white bread with a little wheat flour mixed in — or even just food coloring to make it look brown!

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This nutrition myth has been around forever, but it’s just not true for most people. Medical studies show that among extremely active people such as marathon runners and skiers, taking at least 200 milligrams of vitamin C every day can possibly cut the risk of getting a cold in half. But for most people, taking daily vitamin C did not seem to actually reduce the risk of getting a cold.

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Wouldn’t it be great if there were such a thing as a negative-calorie food? You know, the kind that burns more calories when we eat it than it has? Sadly, there is no such thing, even when it comes to something as healthy as a piece of celery.

“Regardless of the [calories] in the food, you’re always going to be able to get something out of it,” says Stephen Secor, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alabama.

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Organic is simply how ingredients are grown, usually pesticide-, herbicide- and insecticide-free. An organic label does not mean it’s healthier than non-organic foods. Even things like sugar, granola bars and boxed mashed potatoes can be organic. So, don’t rely on an organic label to tell you if something is automatically better for your diet.

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While cutting out gluten from your diet can help if you have celiac disease, it isn’t really a factor in weight loss.

“Unless you suffer from celiac disease, there’s not much scientific support to back the claim that eating gluten-free is healthier or a smart strategy for weight loss,” says Ashvini Mashru MA, RD, LDN. “Cutting gluten out of your diet most often leads to a reduction in overall calories, simply due to the sheer amount of grain-based foods that we eat on a regular basis.”

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Fewer calories consumed means weight loss, right? Not so fast!

“In fact, studies have proven it to be the opposite: skipping meals promotes weight gain,” says Cheryl Forberg, RD, nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser.” “When we skip a meal, by the time we eat, we’re so hungry we consume too much, too fast and choose the wrong foods.”


Foods like asparagus and lemons are known as natural diuretics. And while these kinds of foods may not hurt when it comes to holding onto excess water, eating large amounts of them will not help get rid of belly bloat or weight.

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Your daily cup of coffee may give you a good dose of caffeine, which is a stimulant to your body. However, that caffeine jolt does not boost your metabolism enough to be a weight loss cure-all. Also, depending on what you add to your coffee (cream, flavorings, sugar), you could be adding extra calories to your day. So if you love a cup of joe, keep it basic and black, if possible.

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This is a short-term fix with many long-term problems. By severely cutting daily calories for extended periods of time, your entire metabolism can change to actually hold onto weight! Also, your body needs adequate nutrition to stay healthy. If you want to lose weight and keep it off forever, you need a modest calorie restriction plan that you simply continue and never stop.


You cannot outrun a bad diet. It’s as simple as that. Exercise is great for our cardiovascular health and for building good muscle tone. And yes, it does help regulate our weight. But the amount of exercise you have to do to counteract a few extra slices of pizza isn’t sustainable or reasonable. So work in a healthy diet plan along with your regular workouts for optimal results.

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In a pinch, these convenience items are helpful in maintaining a healthy diet. But things like shakes and nutrition bars are not meant to be long-term replacements for healthy meals. Check the ingredients for artificial sweeteners if you buy these items. Your best bet: Make these at home and use them occasionally.

Getty Images | John Sciulli

Yes, some people should probably cut back on sugar in order to make their diet healthier. But naturally sweet foods such as fruits are sources of important vitamins and minerals. The sweets to avoid are those with added sugars and syrups.

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Good news! While fresh vegetables are always a healthy option, so are most frozen varieties. Over time, fresh vegetables can lose nutrients, while frozen ones can retain them longer. Make sure you pick up frozen vegetables without added sauces, cheese or sodium to keep them as close to fresh as possible.

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Can you imagine life without ice cream, cookies or cake? You don’t have to in order to follow a healthy eating plan. In fact, planning to have some of your favorite treats occasionally can ensure you don’t feel deprived and end up splurging later on.

This article originally appeared on TheDelite and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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