In the search for effective weight loss solutions, many individuals explore pharmaceutical interventions. If you’re reading this blog post, you know Ozempic started as a drug for type 2 diabetes. But when diabetics started losing weight while taking Ozempic, the drug gained attention as a potential aid for weight loss. While Ozempic may show promise in certain cases, it is important to consider the risks and drawbacks. In this blog post, I do not recommend Ozempic for weight loss.
1. No appetite contributes to muscle loss
When people take Ozempic to lose weight, what they really hope to lose is body fat. However, if you can feel “full” from a glass of water (as Bari Weiss explains on Honestly), you are likley not eating enough protein to maintain your lean body mass (LBM). Therefore, when you restrict calories, you lose significant muscle in addition to the desired fat loss. While it’s motivating to see the scale down down, this type of weight loss is not healthy. On the contrary, losing muscle results in lower metabolism — which sets you up to quickly regain the fat (and then some) as soon as you come off the drug.
2. You regain the weight after stopping Ozempic
Published data that shows, once a person stops taking semaglutide (the generic name for Ozempic), they very quickly regain about 2/3 of the weight the lost. And only people who lost very large amounts of weight will remain in some deficit to their starting point. In other words, everyone ends up back where they started. And the more you have to lose, the more you end up regaining. So, if you want to lose the weight and keep it off, you have to ask yourself, “Am I willing to go on this drug for life?”
3. Ozempic costs $8,000 per year
Imagine what you could do with $8,000. How many personal training sessions could you buy? Or how many massages you could enjoy? Imagine the variety of Meal Kits could you test in your home kitchen! Ask yourself, what exercise equipment would change my life?
Personally, I’d rather spend 8K on a new road bike and enjoy many hours of cycling bliss. Which, by the way, burns hundreds of calories and allows me to eat many more discretionary calories (e.g., chocolate, gluten-free cookies) without gaining weight.
4. Potential side effects
As with any medication, semiglutide (Ozempic) carries the risk of side effects. Common side effects reported in clinical trials include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and abdominal pain. I work primarily with IBS patients, so I know these gastrointestinal symptoms can be quite bothersome and may negatively impact quality of life. However, there’s another side effect that may actually increase risk of death — Ozempic increases your resting heart rate by 10 beats per minute (bpm).
Why is resting heart rate important?
Resting heart rate is the number of times (per minute) your heart beats while you are at rest. Your resting heart rate is a good indicator of your stress response, sleep quality, activity level, recovery, and overall health. The lower your resting heart rate, the healthier you are.
According to Oura, “variation beyond 3-5 bpm above or below your personal average may be a sign of low recovery or excessive stress on your body, such as illness, poor diet choices, late-night eating, or lack of sleep.”
As Dr. Peter Attia explained to Bari Weiss on Honestly, “I’m not aware of a physiological condition that raises your resting heart rate by 10 bpm that’s good for you.” In other words, increased resting heart rate is bad.
Need more evidence? This 2016 study from the Canadian Medical Journal provides evidence that risk of dying from heart disease increases 8% for every 10 bpm increase in resting heart rate.
5. Have you really exhausted all alternatives?
While weight loss is not the goal of my Total Gut Health Program, many clients report weight loss while following their personalized anti-inflammatory eating plan. Think about it. When the body is inflamed, it is much more difficult to lose extra pounds. When we calm the fire, and metabolism returns to normal, the body has a much easier time finding its ideal weight. Learn more about anti-inflammatory diets & reducing inflammation here.
While Ozempic may show promise as a weight loss aid, it is crucial to consider its limitations and potential drawbacks. The documented regain after discontinuing the drug, and its potential side effects, along with the associated cost all contribute to a cautious approach towards recommending Ozempic solely for weight loss purposes. As with any medical decision, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your specific circumstances and guide you towards the most appropriate and effective weight management strategies.