This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 10/03/2021 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

Is Semaglutide Approved for Weight Loss?

 

Semaglutide is a drug that’s most commonly available in a weekly injection form for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

 

Its main function is to help to reduce blood glucose in those that need help with managing it where diet and exercise have failed.

 

 

However, during studies, it was shown that Semaglutide injections also helped patients to lose weight due to the fact that it causes a reduction in appetite.

 

 

Now Semaglutide has been licensed for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy,, it can be prescribed to you by a doctor or consultant if they believe that it will help you to manage your weight better – even if you don’t have type 2 diabetes.

 

However, it’s important to know that this is at the discretion of the prescriber following an initial consultation.

 

If you’re taking Semaglutide for weight loss, it’s incredibly important that it should be used alongside a healthy diet and increased exercise wherever possible.

 

How effective is Semaglutide?

 

The effectiveness of Semaglutide for weight loss depends on a variety of factors, including your start weight, how much you have to lose, and any underlying health conditions you may have that affect your weight.

 

However, studies were carried out with Semaglutide injections in order to find out how much weight patients were able to lose whilst taking the treatment.

 

In a study carried out over 56 weeks, patients with an average body weight of 198lb (or 14.14st) lost an average of 9.2lb with a 0.5mg monthly injection of Semaglutide, whilst patients with an average starting weight of 197lb (14st) lost an average of 12.1lbs in the same amount of time.

 

All patients taking Semaglutide injections lost more or less 5% of their initial starting weight within these 56 weeks.

 

However, it is worth nothing that the participating patients all had type 2 diabetes, so this may have affected the amount of weight they lost during the study.

 

Another study used adult participants with a BMI of over 30 who did not have type 2 diabetes.

 

Some of these participants received a 2.4mg dosage of Semaglutide once weekly, whilst others received a placebo, both groups also had to adopt lifestyle changes.

 

The study was carried out over a 68-week period.

 

 

Results showed that participants taking Semaglutide lost an average of 14.90% of their starting weight, whilst people receiving the placebo only lost an average of 2.4%.

 

In fact, half of the participants receiving Semaglutide actually lost 15% or more of their initial starting weight at the end of the study.

 

Only 4.9% of the placebo group achieved this.

 

Whilst 31% of the placebo group did lose 5% of their initial starting weight, 86.4% of the Semaglutide group also achieved this milestone.

 

 

The studies that have been conducted around Semaglutide and weight loss certainly show that the injection does help with a reduction in weight, but it must be used alongside sustainable and healthy lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and more exercise.

 

Many people find that diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to help them to manage their weight within a healthy range, so may need medical intervention to help them reach their target.

 

Semaglutide may be a good option due to the effectiveness shown in studies.

How much weight can you lose with Semaglutide?

Patients taking Wegovy (Semaglutide) for weight loss should lose around 15% of their starting weight during the first few months of treatment.

This means that if you started treatment weighing 200lbs, you should lose around 30lbs during this time, bringing you much closer to a healthy BMI.

During these early stages, you’ll increase your Semaglutide dose up to a maximum of 2.4mg a week and should be experiencing the full effects of the medication by this stage.

If you aren’t losing weight during your treatment then Wegovy may not be the right treatment for you and your prescriber may decide to end your treatment.

 

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is the brand name of the weekly Semaglutide injection that’s used to treat type 2 diabetes.

 

It’s manufactured by Novo Nordisk – a global pharmaceutical company that specialises in medicines for diabetes, and its main action is to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes where diet, exercise, and other medications such as metformin have not been enough to control it.

 

Ozempic has been available in the UK since early 2019, and in that time, it has yielded positive outcomes for both those with type 2 diabetes.

 

It’s important to know that Ozempic (Semaglutide) isn’t a type of insulin, but instead, it mimics a hormone that’s produced by your gut once you’ve eaten.

Although Ozempic and Wegovy both contain Semaglutide, they are licensed for different things and one should not be used for the other.

Put simply, Ozempic is used for type 2 diabetes, Wegovy is used for weight loss, and they shouldn’t be used the other way around.

How does Semaglutide work for weight loss?

Semaglutide is a type of medication known as a GLP-1 receptor agonist, making it one of a group of medications that also includes Liraglutide, the active ingredient in Saxenda.

GLP-1 receptor agonists affect two hormones created by your pancreas called insulin and glucagon, these hormones help you manage your blood sugar levels.

By affecting these hormones, Semaglutide helps to slow down the emptying of your stomach and reduce your blood sugar levels, effectively helping you to feel fuller for longer and reducing your appetite.

Naturally, these changes in your hunger levels make it easier for you to stick to a lower-calorie diet, which helps you to lose weight over time.

 

How fast does Semaglutide work? 

 

As humans, we’re all different, so the amount of time that it takes to work can vary from person to person.

 

However, most people do start seeing results in terms of weight loss within the first few weeks of taking the injections – even before reaching the therapeutic dose of 1mg.

 

As a general guide, most people taking Semaglutide for weight loss are expected to lose at least 5% of their body weight within 12 weeks of starting treatment.

 

Generally speaking, if Semaglutide doesn’t help you to lose 5% of your starting weight after 12 weeks of using it, then it might not be the most suitable treatment for you, and you may need to look at alternative options.

 

 

What is titration? 

 

Essentially, titration means that you will gradually increase the dosage you take until you reach a therapeutic dose which you should then be able to maintain throughout your program.

 

Each Semaglutide pen contains 4 of your prescribed dosage, and your prescriber will likely start you on the lowest dose for a month, until you finish the pen.

 

Once you’ve completed this initial dose, you should then be increased to the 0.5mg pen as long as you’re tolerating any side effects.

 

Again, you should stay at this dose for 4 weeks until you finish the pen, and it’s then likely that your prescriber will increase to the therapeutic dose – 1mg.

 

Titration ensures that you’re eased into the medication, and you’re less likely to experience severe or harsh side effects this way.

 

It lets your body get used to the medication over time and is a more gentle approach, as starting at too high a dose could cause unwanted effects and illness.

 

Titration with medicines such as Semaglutide is an important part of the weight loss, as studies show that higher doses yield better results in terms of weight loss.

 

Gradually increasing your dose of Semaglutide means that you shouldn’t lose weight too rapidly, which can also cause other health issues.

 

What is the dosage needed for weight loss?  

 

Most people that use Semaglutide to lose weight stay around a dose of 1mg per week.

 

This is achieved after a titration period to make sure that you’re able to tolerate the medicine.

 

If you believe that 1mg is too much for you, and you find that you’re getting weight loss results at 0.5mg, then you should have a conversation with your prescriber to discuss reducing your weekly dose.

 

However, you should be aware that ultimately, the decision lies in the hands of the prescriber, and they will advise you on what they think is best for your overall health.

 

There is also a possibility that your prescriber may advise that you increase your dose.

If you think this could be right for you, please mention it in your next consultation so that our weight management specialists can decide if it’s suitable for you or not.

 

Most people that take the 1mg dose each week find that they are able to tolerate it well, and that it helps them to eat smaller portions, snack less, and consume fewer calories than if they weren’t using Semaglutide.  

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