Semaglutide and GLP-1s: The Game Changer for Weight Loss?

For those looking to shed some extra pounds, Semaglutide, a new medication recently approved by the FDA, might just be the answer. This glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) is available in both oral and injectable forms and has shown significant effectiveness in promoting weight loss in obese individuals.

Clinical trials have been conducted to test the efficacy of Semaglutide for weight loss. In one trial, 957 obese individuals were given once-daily subcutaneous injections of semaglutide or a placebo for 52 weeks. The study found that the semaglutide group lost an average of 8.0% of their body weight compared to the placebo group, which lost only 2.6%. Another phase 3 trial with 1,961 obese individuals showed that those who were given once-weekly subcutaneous injections of semaglutide lost an average of 16.0% of their body weight compared to the placebo group which lost only 5.7%.

What’s more, oral semaglutide has also been found to be highly effective for weight loss. In yet another phase 3 trial, 1,839 obese individuals were given once-daily oral semaglutide or a placebo for 68 weeks. The study showed that the semaglutide group lost an average of 14.9% of their body weight compared to the placebo group which lost only 2.4%.

But Semaglutide isn’t the only GLP-1 receptor agonist that has shown effectiveness in promoting weight loss. A meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials found that liraglutide, exenatide, dulaglutide, and semaglutide were all highly effective in reducing body weight in obese individuals. The study showed that those who received GLP-1 receptor agonists lost an average of 4.8 kg compared to 1.6 kg in the placebo group.

GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Semaglutide promote weight loss by targeting specific receptors in the body that regulate appetite and glucose metabolism. By suppressing glucagon release, stimulating insulin release, and reducing appetite, these medications can lead to decreased caloric intake and feelings of fullness, resulting in weight loss. Additionally, GLP-1 receptor agonists have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, providing further metabolic benefits. For individuals with obesity, GLP-1 receptor agonists can be a valuable tool for weight loss when used in combination with healthy lifestyle modifications.

…but there are downsides.

Like any medication, Semaglutide and other GLP-1 receptor agonists may have potential side effects. Common side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms can occur during the first few weeks of treatment and may resolve over time. It is recommended to start the medication at a low dose and gradually increase to the desired dose to minimize these side effects. In rare cases, GLP-1 receptor agonists may also increase the risk of pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. In addition, these medications may increase the risk of thyroid cancer, although the evidence is not conclusive.

It is important to inform your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms or other side effects while taking Semaglutide or any GLP-1 receptor agonist. Your healthcare provider may need to adjust your dose or consider alternative treatment options.

Due to the recent supply shortages of Semaglutide and other GLP-1 receptor agonists, some individuals have turned to purchasing compound formulations online as an alternative. However, it is important to note that these online formulations are not regulated by the FDA and their safety and efficacy are not well established. These compounds may not contain the proper dosages or may contain harmful ingredients, which can lead to serious side effects and health risks. It is strongly recommended to avoid purchasing and using compound formulations purchased online, and instead consult with a healthcare provider for safe and effective treatment options. Your healthcare provider can provide guidance on obtaining FDA-approved medications or alternative weight loss treatments that are safe and effective.

In summary, Semaglutide and other GLP-1 receptor agonists have shown to be effective for weight loss in obese individuals. They could be a viable option for those who have not responded well to lifestyle interventions alone. But it’s essential to consult with a medical professional before starting on any new medication.


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  3. Davies MJ, Bergenstal R, Bode B, et al. Efficacy of liraglutide for weight loss among patients with type 2 diabetes: The SCALE diabetes randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2015;314(7):687-699. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.9676
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