Ozempic is best known for its ability to help patients with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar in combination with diet and exercise. It stimulates the pancreas to release insulin when glucose is present. It is also used to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke.
But the drug has also proven to be effective in helping those with obesity or overweight improve their metabolic health and lose weight. Obesity causes increased levels of fatty acids and inflammation, which leads to insulin resistance. This can turn into type 2 diabetes.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic belongs to the drug class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and contains the active ingredient semaglutide.
Ozempic is not a weight loss drug on its own. It must be used in addition to lifestyle changes to maximize success and avoid weight regain. These include diet, exercise, sleep, and emotional health.
Incretins are released when food is consumed
A gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) are the two main incretin hormones that are released from the gut into the bloodstream when food is ingested. They then stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreatic beta cells. This is called the incretin effect and is responsible for at least 50% of the total insulin secreted after you consume oral glucose or nutrients.
How Ozempic works
Ozempic works by imitating the incretin hormones produced naturally in your body when you eat food.
It slows down how fast your stomach empties food, called gastric emptying, and makes you feel full for longer. Increased satiety makes you feel less hungry and reduce cravings, causing you to eat less and lose more weight.
Who should use Ozempic
Ozempic is indicated for chronic weight management in patients with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30 kg/m2.
How long does it take to lose weight on Ozempic?
Like any drug, this medication can produce different results from one person to the next and it’s not possible to predict how long it will take to lose weight on the medication.
Weight loss takes time, and you will see the best results when you combine Ozempic with a healthy diet and exercise. How much weight you lose depends on the dosage you are taking, for how long, and several other factors.
Ozempic has been shown to result in an average weight loss of 5% or more of body weight after one year of treatment.
It is also possible that the medication may not work for you, or you may not be able to tolerate the full dose due to side effects.
Foods to avoid while taking Ozempic
Although there are not any specific foods that you must avoid while taking Ozempic it is recommended to avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, and calories, to prevent or reduce the potential side effects while taking this medication. These types of foods can also raise your blood glucose levels.
Examples of foods to avoid are:
- fast food
- junk food
- processed food
- alcoholic beverages
- ice cream
- snacks that are perceived as healthy, like granola bars or fruit snacks that are high in sugar
Best foods to eat while taking Ozempic
There are not any specific foods that you have to eat while taking Ozempic, but a healthy diet that is low in fat, sugar, and calories is recommended. A healthy diet will also help control blood glucose levels and assist with weight loss.
Recommended foods include:
- Fruits, like apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes.
- Vegetables, like broccoli, carrots, and spinach.
- Whole grains – carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice.
- Legumes, like beans and lentils.
- Lean protein, like chicken, fish, tofu, and beans.
- Healthy fats, like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds help reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event.
Most people taking Ozempic experience few side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Abdominal pain
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Upset stomach
- Bloated, belching, or gas
- Loss of appetite
If you experience nausea while taking Ozempic, you will be able to reduce the symptoms by:
- Eating slowly.
- Eating smaller meals.
- Eating bland foods and light.
- Drinking ice-cold or clear drinks, for example, unsweetened tea or water.
- Avoiding foods that are sweet, greasy, or fried.
Serious side effects
- Inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis) – severe pain in the stomach area (abdomen), with or without vomiting.
- Vision changes.
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) – dizziness or light-headedness, blurred vision, anxiety, irritability or mood changes, sweating, slurred speech, hunger, confusion or drowsiness, shakiness, weakness, headache, fast heartbeat, and feeling jittery.
- Kidney problems (kidney failure)– diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting may cause a loss of fluids (dehydration). Make sure you drink enough fluids to help reduce your chance of dehydration.
- Serious allergic reactions– swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, problems breathing or swallowing, severe rash, or itching, fainting, or feeling dizzy, very rapid heartbeat.
- Gallbladder problems– pain in the upper abdomen, fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), or clay-colored stools.
- Thyroid tumors, including cancer – a lump or swelling in the neck, hoarseness, trouble swallowing, and shortness of breath.
Tell your health care provider if you:
- Have problems with your pancreas or kidneys
- Have a history of diabetic retinopathy.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant or breastfeed. Stop using Ozempic 2 months before you plan to become pregnant.
- Suffer from type 1 diabetes.
Do not combine Ozempic with other weight loss medication without consulting your healthcare provider first.
It is not known if Ozempic is safe and effective for use in children under 18 years of age.
How to use Ozempic
Ozempic is available as a long-acting, pre-filled injectable pen in the following strengths: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg.
Ozempic should be administered once a week on the same day each week. It can be taken with or without meals.
You will likely need to slowly work your way up to the target dose to see the most amount of weight loss.