If you’re on social media or follow the news, you’ve likely heard of Ozempic. Originally designed to treat type 2 diabetes, this medication has gained widespread attention for its weight loss benefits. But do these claims hold up under scientific scrutiny? To find out, we consulted Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who explains exactly what happens to your body when you take Ozempic.

Read on to learn how Ozempic’s effects on your body can help you make informed decisions about its use and what to do while taking the drug. And for more, don’t miss How Do Ozempic, Wegovy & Mounjaro Compare for Weight Loss?

What is Ozempic?

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Ozempic is an injectable, non-insulin prescription medication primarily used to manage type 2 diabetes. It contains semaglutide, a compound that mimics a hormone in your body responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. According to 2023 research, Ozempic lowers blood sugar by stimulating insulin production from the pancreas and reducing the release of glucagon, another hormone involved in glucose regulation.

Beyond blood sugar control, Ozempic is noted for its potential to aid in weight loss. Many users report a decreased appetite and slower gastric emptying, which leads to feeling fuller longer and eating less. A 2022 study in JAMA found that patients who were overweight or obese who took Ozempic experienced an average body fat reduction of nearly 11% over six months.

Addressing the broader appeal and usage of Ozempic, Moody notes, “Ozempic can be life-saving for those who struggle to exercise or control hunger due to weight issues. However, it’s also become popular among the wealthy who can afford to buy the drugs to lose weight for more aesthetic purposes.”

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Ozempic’s impact on your body.

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Ozempic has several immediate and long-term effects on the body, varying from beneficial to potentially concerning. Here’s a detailed look at these impacts, according to Moody.

  • Changes in appetite and fatigue: Some immediate effects of Ozempic are changes in appetite and fatigue.
  • Changes in appearance: It’s common for users to take on a slightly gaunt appearance if weight loss is sudden and significant.
  • Long-term effects: There’s limited evidence on the long-term effects of Ozempic as the drug’s use for weight loss is still relatively new, but some scientists suggest that persistent gastrointestinal distress and heart issues are possible.
  • Rebound weight gain: Moody cautions against long-term use of the drug for weight loss, as discontinuing use will cause your normal appetite to come back, which can result in rebound weight gain.
  • Cardiovascular benefits: Some studies suggest long-term use of Ozempic may lower the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, in people with type 2 diabetes. These extended benefits highlight Ozempic’s potential role in boosting overall health and reducing your risk of long-term diabetes-related complications.

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Potential drawbacks of taking Ozempic.

Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home
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While Ozempic is praised for its diabetes management and weight loss benefits, it also has potential drawbacks. Here are some of the most common and serious side effects to be aware of.

  • Gastrointestinal issues: According to a 2022 study in Frontiers in Public Health, typical side effects of semaglutide include gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
  • Constipation: The National Institutes of Health also cites constipation as one of the most common Ozempic side effects.

These symptoms are usually more pronounced when you first start the medication and tend to diminish over time as your body adjusts. However, they can be uncomfortable and may require dietary adjustments or other interventions to manage effectively.

  • Serious side effects: In addition to gastrointestinal symptoms, Moody cautions there are more serious but less common side effects to consider, stating, “More serious side effects of Ozempic use are pancreatitis, thyroid cancer, and gallbladder disease.”
  • Increased risk of pancreatitis: A 2023 study found that patients with diabetes taking semaglutide had a 74% higher risk of acute pancreatitis.

That’s why discussing these risks with your healthcare provider is essential to ensure the benefits of taking Ozempic outweigh the potential drawbacks for your specific health situation.

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Tips for changing your lifestyle when taking Ozempic.

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While Ozempic can be effective for weight loss, adopting healthy lifestyle habits is crucial to maintain long-term health and boost longevity. Here are some tips for making healthy lifestyle changes when taking Ozempic, courtesy of Moody:

  • Manage your appetite: Ozempic mainly impacts appetite but doesn’t teach users how to change their lifestyle to maintain weight and health.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet: Those taking Ozempic can still have a poor diet, putting their health at risk, as weight is just one piece of your overall health puzzle.
  • Exercise regularly: Consistent exercise, especially weight training, is recommended as rapid weight loss from Ozempic use can result in muscle loss.
  • Build and maintain muscle mass: Maintaining a good amount of muscle mass is correlated with better health and weight loss, not just appearance.
  • Sustain healthy habits: It’s essential to consider how to sustain healthy habits and lifestyle changes to maintain weight loss once the goal is met, rather than relying indefinitely on the drug.

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Adam Meyer, RHN

Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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