Ozempic Review: Can Injections Cause Weight Loss?

Ozempic Review: Can Injections 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). 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 US.

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.

But is Ozempic shown in research studies to reduce blood sugar levels? And if so, by how much? Does this medication also cause weight loss? And how do real Ozempic users rate and describe the effects of the drug?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze clinical studies on Ozempic to determine if the drug is effective for type 2 diabetes, and if it causes weight loss.

We’ll discuss side effects, share real patient reviews including a before-and-after video claiming weight loss from the drug, and explain whether certain foods need to be avoided while taking Ozempic.

We'll also discuss the cost of Ozempic and options that patients have to reduce the cost.

Does Ozempic Reduce Blood Sugar?

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

Ozempic has been studied in various clinical trials testing its effects on blood sugar levels.

A meta-study published in the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism journal analyzed data from seven clinical trials on Ozempic for type 2 diabetes.

The researchers noted that Ozempic reduced HbA1c (a marker of blood sugar) by 1.01% and 1.38% at low doses. This was found to be a statistically significant reduction.

A 2018 clinical trial found that Ozempic reduced blood sugar spikes after meals in obese patients, and improved insulin sensitivity.

A 2020 meta-study reviewed 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 cause weight loss.

Ozempic’s website has conflicting information on this topic which could be confusing to a patient. The website states that “Ozempic may help you lose some weight,” but then in the next line states “Ozempic is not a weight loss drug.”

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

One clinical trial 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.

Patients interested in using Ozempic for weight loss can speak 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.

Real People Try Ozempic

A segment from the TODAY show is around five minutes long and interviews patients taking Ozempic:

A YouTube creator named “The Hangry Woman” has a review of Ozempic with over 350,000 views. She includes before-and-after images and claims to have lost 29 pounds after six months:

Does Ozempic Cause 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, according to the above-linked review, is nausea, occurring in around 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 thyroid tumors. The medication carries a “black box warning” on its FDA label, which is the highest level of patient warning, and which indicates a side effect that may cause serious harm.

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.

In September of 2023, the FDA updated Ozempic's drug label to include a warning about intestinal blockage, according to WebMD.

How Much Does Ozempic Cost?

Ozempic is relatively expensive without health insurance for patients in the US. 

According to GoodRx, the average retail price of Ozempic is around $950 at the time of updating this article.

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's 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.

We typically recommend that patients speak with their doctor about the generic version of drugs, because medical research shows that brand-name and generic drugs have similar efficacy, and generic drugs can be significantly cheaper.

However, according to Drugs.com, there is no approved generic version of Ozempic on the market at the time of updating this article.

Patients Review Ozempic

Ozempic has been reviewed over 1,000 times on Drugs.com, which is a website that allows users of prescription medication to publish reviews of their experience on the drug.

We cannot verify the accuracy or authenticity of any reviews on this site.

For type 2 diabetes, users have rated Ozempic 6.1/10. 

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

“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.”

Is Avoiding Certain Foods Required?

Patients are often curious about whether there are certain foods they need to avoid while taking Ozempic.

There is currently 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 may be beneficial to avoid processed foods with a high glycemic index that can 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 the brand recommends 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 Doses

Ozempic is available at three different once-weekly doses, according to the brand's 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 circumstance and history.

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 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.

Our Clean Weight Loss Picks

There are food-based nutrients which have been shown in medical studies to be effective for weight loss.

Dietary fiber was shown in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition to cause 16 pounds of weight loss in 6 months when combined with moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline).

MBG Organic Fiber Potency+ is our top fiber pick because it's certified organic, provides 7 g of fiber per serving and costs under $1.85 per serving at the time of updating this article.

MCT oil was shown in a meta-study to cause more than one pound of weight loss over 10 weeks. This equates to potential annualized weight loss of 6 pounds per year with less than one tablespoon's worth of MCT oil per day.

Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top MCT oil product, because the only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts. and it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.

Ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.

Pique La Ginger is our top ginger product, because it's an organic tea in convenient crystallized form, and all that's needed is to pour the powder into a glass and add hot water.

All three of the products mentioned in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.

We're not suggesting any of these supplements should be used to treat any medical condition, or that they're as effective as any FDA-approved medication; rather, we're just sharing information that individuals averse to prescription medication can speak with their doctor about.

Is Ozempic Insulin?

Because insulin is the most commonly-prescribed medication for type 2 diabetes, patients are often curious 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, so patients are often curious about which drug is more effective for lowering blood sugar.

A 2018 clinical 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 for blood sugar reduction 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.

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 insulin function.

The drug may also be effective for weight loss in overweight and obese patients 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.

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 and intestinal blockage.

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 management.

Ozempic has a relatively high retail price in the US, but the drug manufacturer offers a savings card that we linked to in this article as a resource for patients.