- Ozempic is a GLP-1 medication that can be used off-label for treating overweight and obesity.
- It can take over eight weeks to reach the maintenance dose of Ozempic and start seeing weight loss results, though some people start losing weight sooner.
- Consider building healthy habits around nutrition, exercise, stress, and sleep to help you maximize your results while taking Ozempic.
Ozempic is a diabetes medication that has gained recent popularity for its off-label use for weight management. It works by slowing down the rate of your stomach emptying, making you feel full longer.
However, most people don’t experience immediate weight loss on Ozempic.
The medication dosage is increased slowly over the course of a few months to help the body adjust and to minimize side effects. Weight loss may not begin until a person reaches the maintenance dose of Ozempic.
Continue reading to learn more about when you can expect to start losing weight on Ozempic.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable GLP-1 medication, also known by its generic name, semaglutide.
Ozempic is approved for treating high blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes. It can also be prescribed off-label for weight management.
Ozempic works by slowing digestion and stimulating the release of insulin to help your blood sugar levels stay in check after eating.
These mechanisms can also help with weight loss by reducing your appetite, helping you feel fuller after eating, and decreasing food cravings.
How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight on Ozempic?
If you’re taking Ozempic for weight management, you’re likely wondering how long it will take to lose weight.
Results vary depending on the person, with some people experiencing weight loss within a few weeks and others seeing results closer to eight weeks.
One reason is that the medication manufacturers recommend slowly ramping up the dosage of Ozempic over a few months to help your body get used to any side effects and to find the effective dose for you.
You’ll spend at least eight weeks on the starting doses of Ozempic before increasing to your maintenance level, and these lower doses may not result in weight loss for some people.
Reaching the highest dose of Ozempic can take over 16 weeks.
Other factors, like your medical history, age, or eating and exercise habits, can also impact how quickly the medication starts working.
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Ozempic comes in the form of a pen that you inject into your abdomen, thigh, or arm. It’s available in doses ranging from 0.25 mg to 2 mg.
The starting dose for Ozempic is 0.25 mg weekly. You’ll likely be instructed to stay on this dose for four weeks before increasing it to 0.5 mg.
In some cases, your doctor might recommend you discontinue the medication.
If you tolerate the lower doses, your doctor will guide you in increasing your dose of Ozempic every four weeks until you reach the effective level– this will be your maintenance dose. The maximum amount of Ozempic is 2 mg weekly.
Of note, Wegovy is the same medication as Ozempic (semaglutide), except it’s available at a higher dose. The maximum dose of Wegovy is 2.4 mg weekly. Wegovy is approved for weight loss, while Ozempic can only be used off-label for this purpose.
The right maintenance dose for you depends on your medical history, how well your body responds to Ozempic, and your side effects.
For example, some people with diabetes may have good blood sugar results at 1 mg and can stay at that dose.
Others using Ozempic for weight management may need 2 mg to see meaningful weight loss.
Some people experience intense side effects that limit how high of a dose they can tolerate.
How Much Weight Can You Expect to Lose?
A large clinical trial from 2021 found that people with obesity who took semaglutide at a dose of 2.4 mg and engaged in lifestyle interventions lost 14.9% of their body weight after 68 weeks. On average, participants lost 34 pounds during the trial.
In comparison, the placebo group experienced a 2.4% weight loss (an average of 5.7 pounds).
Over 85% of the patients in the trial lost at least 5% of their body weight while taking semaglutide, the minimum weight loss target recommended by many medical experts to achieve health improvements.
- 70% of patients lost at least 10% of their body weight.
- 50% of patients lost at least 15% of their body weight.
- 33% of patients lost at least 20% of their body weight.
Another clinical trial compared the effectiveness of semaglutide (Ozempic and Wegovy) with liraglutide (Saxenda and Victoza) for weight loss. After 68 weeks, those who took semaglutide lost 15.8% of their body weight, while those on liraglutide lost 6.4%.
Factors That Can Impact Weight Loss with Ozempic
Many factors can impact how effective Ozempic will be in helping you lose weight, from lifestyle habits to your medical history.
It’s important to remember that the clinical trials on semaglutide and weight loss included a dietary and exercise component as part of the intervention.
The weight loss results described above were achieved from a combination of medication and lifestyle changes.
Factors like not having a balanced diet or not eating enough calories can impact your results on Ozempic.
Similarly, maintaining a regular physical activity routine is an important part of staying healthy.
Experts recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two days per week of resistance exercises.
Keep in mind that participants of the clinical trials were all encouraged to meet 150 minutes of physical activity weekly.
Sleep and Stress
Other lifestyle factors, like poor sleep and high stress levels, can impact your weight loss results. Research shows that elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, can make losing weight more challenging.
In addition, you may experience more cravings for sugar and fried foods when stressed, making it harder to stick with your eating plan.
Sleep habits can also impact weight management.
Studies have found that people who have consistent bedtimes, higher sleep quality, and more total hours of sleep experience greater weight loss.
Specifically, untreated sleep apnea is a major factor that can inhibit weight loss.
If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to lose weight or take a medication associated with weight gain, you may experience different results on Ozempic compared to outcomes from the clinical trials.
Things like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may impact your ability to lose weight when untreated.
Ozempic is a GLP-1 medication used for treating type 2 diabetes, and more recently, is being prescribed off-label for weight management.
Clinical trials show that people can lose approximately 15% of their body weight on high doses of semaglutide (the generic name of Ozempic and Wegovy) when combined with diet and lifestyle changes.
Because doctors recommend slowly ramping up your Ozempic dose over a few months to minimize side effects, you may not notice weight loss until you reach your maintenance dose.
How a Dietitian Can Help
It’s important to focus on healthy lifestyle habits while taking Ozempic for weight management. Following overly restrictive or unsustainable plans will make it challenging to maintain your process after going off the medication.
A registered dietitian can create a realistic and effective eating and exercise plan to help you meet your long-term health goals.
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