Ozempic Review: Can A Diabetes Drug Also Cause Weight Loss?

Ozempic Review: Can A Diabetes Drug Also Cause Weight Loss?


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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s) and published for informational purposes only. We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to prescription medication.

Ozempic is a prescription injectable medication for adults with type 2 diabetes. It’s one of the most commonly-prescribed diabetes medications in the U.S.

Ozempic is the brand name version of the drug, and the generic version is called semaglutide. We will use these terms interchangeably throughout this article as they refer to the same active drug ingredient.

In this article we’ll review the medical research on Ozempic to determine how it works and whether it’s likely to be effective for diabetes and weight loss. We’ll also overview some side effects of the drug, share a before-and-after video of a real Ozempic patient who lost weight on the drug, and explain whether certain foods need to be avoided while taking Ozempic.

Does Ozempic Work for Diabetes?

As noted in the intro, Ozempic is primarily a diabetes drug. This is the only condition that’s approved to treat by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A meta-study published in the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism journal analyzed data from 7 individual trials on Ozempic to treat type 2 diabetes. The researchers noted that Ozempic reduced HbA1c (a marker of blood sugar) by 1.01% and 1.38% at the lower doses of the drug. This was found to be a statistically significant reduction.

A separate medical trial published in 2018 found that Ozempic reduced the blood sugar spike after a meal in obese patients, and improved insulin sensitivity.

A more recent medical review that was even more comprehensive analyzed the efficacy of Ozempic for treating type 2 diabetes. The study authors analyzed data from 9,980 patients and concluded that the drug “can safely and effectively reduce blood glucose.”

We can conclude from the available data that Ozempic is effective for treating diabetes, which is unsurprising given that it was approved by the FDA for this purpose, which requires significant clinical backing.

Does Ozempic Cause Weight Loss?

One of the most common questions that patients have about Ozempic is whether it can influence weight loss. Ozempic’s website has conflicting information on this topic which could be confusing to a patient. The brand states that “Ozempic may help you lose some weight,” but then in the next line states “Ozempic is not for weight loss.”

The reason the brand has to be cautious about their wording here is that Ozempic is not approved by the FDA for weight loss, so the drug manufacturer cannot claim the product is effective for weight loss even if there is some medical research suggesting it may be.

A medical review published in 2022 examined whether Ozempic was effective for inducing weight loss. The researchers found some surprising results.

One study found that Ozempic at a 0.5 milligram (mg) dose caused an average weight loss of 8.22 pounds over 30 weeks. 37% of patients at this dose lost over 5% of their total body weight over the 30 week trial.

The same study found that Ozempic at a 1 mg dose caused an average weight loss of 9.99 pounds over 30 weeks. 45% of patients at this dose lost over 5% of their body weight over the 30 week trial.

A medical review published in the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism journal elucidated why Ozempic may be effective for weight loss. The drug reduces hunger and food cravings, and reduces the preference for high-fat foods. This may be due to the effect that normalizing insulin levels has on reducing food cravings.

Another interesting thing to note on the topic of Ozempic and weight loss is that the same active drug ingredient in Ozempic (semaglutide) is approved by the FDA for weight loss at a higher dose. Wegovy is a semaglutide prescription drug for weight loss, but its dose is 2.4 mg while the highest available dose of Ozempic is 2 mg.

All of the available research suggests that Ozempic may be effective for weight loss in overweight and obese patients, however we don’t recommend using the drug for that purpose alone as it’s not approved by the FDA for weight loss.

For both diabetic and non-diabetic patients, if weight loss is the goal, we would recommend speaking with their doctor about Wegovy which is FDA-approved for weight loss and uses the same active ingredient as Ozempic but at a higher dose.

Ozempic Side Effects

The side effects of Ozempic are well-documented. In fact, there is an entire medical review just on the side effects of Ozempic. 

The most common side effect of Ozempic is nausea, occurring in upwards of 20% of patients. Vomiting occurred in a range of 4% to 11.5% of patients, and diarrhea occurred in 4.5% to 11.3% of patients. Older patients with other medical conditions were noted to experience these side effects more than average.

The more concerning potential side effect of Ozempic is that of thyroid tumors. The medication carries a “black box warning” on its FDA label, which is the highest level of patient warning which indicates a side effect that may cause serious safety risks.

Ozempic’s black box warning notes that in rodents the drug causes thyroid C-cell tumors. For this reason it’s contraindicated for patients with a family history of some thyroid conditions. We recommend that patients speak with their doctor about these risks prior to taking the drug.

How Does Ozempic Work?

Ozempic is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA). This class of compounds is effective for diabetes because it can help the body regulate levels of glucose.

According to medical research, GLP-1RA drugs may inhibit the release of a hormone called glucagon which is commonly elevated in type 2 diabetics. This hormone signals to the body to increase blood sugar levels, so by inhibiting its effect blood sugar levels may drop.

For weight loss, Ozempic may be effective because of its effects on hunger and satiation as we reviewed in the previous section. The drug also delays gastric emptying which causes patients to feel full longer.

Do I Need to Avoid Certain Foods on Ozempic?

There’s a common patient misconception that there are specific foods which cannot be eaten on Ozempic. That is not true and there is no information on the drug's FDA label detailing specific foods that need to be avoided. 

That being said, because Ozempic is a type 2 diabetes medication it seems logical to avoid processed foods with a high glycemic index that are likely to cause blood sugar spikes and potentially worsen diabetes. Avoiding foods like chips, cakes, cookies and candy may make Ozempic more effective.

Ozempic’s website even has a healthy eating section where they recommend different plant-based, nutrient-dense meals.

A diet rich in high-fiber, unprocessed foods may be optimal for patients who are hoping for a secondary benefit of weight loss while taking Ozempic. This type of diet is more favorable for weight loss than high-calorie processed foods.

Ozempic Dose

Ozempic is available at three different once-weekly doses, according to their website: 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg. Higher doses are generally associated with increased efficacy and increased side effects.

In some of the medical reviews we previously cited in this article, higher Ozempic doses were also associated with increased weight loss.

Doctors often start patients on a lower dose of the medication to establish tolerability, and then increase dose as needed. We recommend that patients speak with their doctor about what an appropriate Ozempic dose is based on their individual medical situation.

Ozempic Weight Loss Before and After

Although Ozempic is not prescribed for weight loss, individuals are often curious about seeing before-and-after images of an Ozempic patient who lost weight while using the drug.

A YouTube creator named “The Hangry Woman” has one of the most popular before-and-after videos highlighting her weight loss on Ozempic after 6 months. She claims to have lost 29 pounds:

Our Weight Loss Supplement Recommendations

There exist several over-the-counter (OTC) weight loss supplements that don't require a prescription, and which have medical research backing.

We are not suggesting that these products are as effective as Ozempic; just that it may be worthwhile for an overweight patient to discuss these options with their doctor given their documented efficacy and lack of significant side effects. They may also be used in addition to prescription weight loss medication.

We recommend dietary fiber as a safe and effective weight loss supplement, especially when combined with caloric restriction.

landmark medical study found that moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline) combined with dietary fiber intake (a minimum of 20 grams per day) caused an average weight loss of 16.03 pounds over 6 months. That’s a pace of 32 pounds per year of weight loss in overweight individuals simply by adding fiber to a moderately-restricted-calorie diet.

The fiber supplement we recommend is SuperGut Fiber Mix. It contains a clean and effective formulation: a blend of three different types of unflavored dietary fiber and zero additive ingredients. It can be mixed into liquids or foods. Interested consumers can buy SuperGut fiber at this link.

We recommend using two fiber mixes per day, which provides 16 grams (g) of fiber. This is within the effective fiber dosing range associated with the greatest weight loss outcomes in the above-linked study.

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is another dietary supplement which has been shown in clinical trials to cause weight loss.

MCT oil is quickly absorbed by the body and increases metabolic rate, which causes fat loss. A meta-study on MCT oil documented weight loss of 1.12 pounds over 10 weeks. This equates to a potential annualized weight loss of 5.84 pounds with MCT oil supplementation.

We recommend Bulletproof MCT Oil as our top MCT oil product, because it has a clean and effective formulation. The only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts, and the product has no questionable additives. Interested consumers can buy Bulletproof MCT Oil at this link.

The effective dose range of MCT oil for weight loss (based on the medical review) is 1.7 g to 10 g per day. Bulletproof's MCT oil provides 14 g in one tablespoon, so around two-thirds of one tablespoon should be a maximally-effective dosage.

Is Ozempic Insulin?

Because insulin is the most commonly-prescribed medication for type 2 diabetes, patients are often confused about whether Ozempic is a type of insulin.

Ozempic is not insulin but it can help regulate insulin secretion. The way Ozempic works is by regulating the hormones glucagon and insulin to better manage blood sugar.

When patients become type 2 diabetic, their hormone levels often become dysregulated, and Ozempic helps the body normalize these hormone levels which has downstream effects on blood sugar. This is a different mechanism of action than directly injecting with insulin which also reduces blood sugar.

Ozempic Vs. Trulicity

Trulicity is another type 2 diabetes medication which is the brand name for a generic compound called dulaglutide. Both drugs are in the GLP-1RA class of antidiabetic medications.

A medical trial directly compared the effectiveness of Ozempic and Trulicity for treating type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that at both low and high doses, Ozempic was superior to Trulicity in improving blood sugar levels and also for weight reduction. A greater number of patients on Ozempic hit their blood sugar targets than those on Trulicity.

Based on the available research, we would recommend that patients speak with their doctor about Ozempic rather than Trulicity if they are seeking medication to manage their type 2 diabetes.

How Much Does Ozempic Cost Without Insurance?

Ozempic is relatively expensive without insurance, as are most prescription medications in the U.S. According to GoodRx, the average retail price of Ozempic is $1,029.22 at the time of updating this article.

This is why it's extremely important to pursue all potential subsidized pricing options such the Ozempic Copay Card and free state medical insurance where available.

What Is The Ozempic Copay Card?

Ozempic offers a copay card accessible through their website that can help patients save money on the medication. The Ozempic savings page on the manufacturer website allows patients to text the brand to receive their card.

The copay card advertises online that patients can pay as little as $25 for a 1-month, 2-month or 3-month supply for up to 24 months.

The savings page also has a co-pay lookup tool that allows patients to find their co-pay cost in advance, which can help with financial planning.

Ozempic User Reviews

One of the most useful tools for analyzing user reviews of pharmaceutical medications is Drugs.com. Their Ozempic user reviews page features reviews from over 500 Ozempic patients at the time of updating this article.

For type 2 diabetes, users have rated Ozempic 5.7/10. 

The top-rated positive review of Ozempic comes from a reviewer named “Zell” who claims the drug helped them lose weight:

“What a miracle! 9 months later and I’m down 40 lbs”

The top-rated negative review is written by a user named “Stingie” who reported negative side effects after taking the drug:

“I did one injection and have been ill since. Have had acid reflux, burping, vomiting, constipation, headache and dizziness.”

Should I Take the Generic Version of Ozempic?

As referenced throughout this article, the generic form of Ozempic is called semaglutide. These two names refer to the exact same active compound; Ozempic is just the branded version.

Medical research shows that brand-name and generic drugs have similar efficacy, which logically follows since they have the same active ingredient.

We typically recommend that patients speak with their doctor about the generic version of a drug rather than the brand-name version, since the latter costs more and may provide no additional health benefit.

In Ozempic’s case, it’s unclear if generic semaglutide injections are available yet, but we recommend that patients speak with their doctor about this potential option.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Ozempic is an injectable medication which can help patients manage type 2 diabetes by reducing their blood sugar and normalizing their insulin function. The drug may also be effective for weight loss as a secondary benefit, but it is not yet approved for weight loss by the FDA.

We recommend that patients interested in weight loss medication speak instead with their doctor about Wegovy, because this medication uses a higher dose of the same active ingredient as Ozempic, and is approved by the FDA for weight management in overweight patients.

Dietary fiber and MCT oil are OTC weight loss supplements backed by clinical research.

Ozempic’s most common side effects are relatively minor, such as nausea and diarrhea, but there may be a small risk of severe side effects such as tumors, at least based on animal studies.

There is no need to avoid specific foods while using Ozempic, and the notion that this is necessary is a common patient misconception. We do recommend that patients on Ozempic try to eat a healthy diet composed of unprocessed whole foods, as this is likely to benefit both type 2 diabetes and weight loss.




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