Struggling with Vanity Pounds? Semiglutide could help

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GLP-1 (Glucagon-Like Peptide 1) is an important gut-derived regulator that is released after eating carbohydrates or fats.  GLP-1 enhances insulin secretion and synthesis, suppresses glucagon secretion (glucagon increases sugar production), slows gastric emptying, and reduces appetite.

GLP-1 interacts with the part of your brain that suppresses your appetite and signals you to feel full.  When used in conjunction with diet and exercise, it can cause significant weight loss. It can improve or lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease in people who are obese or overweight.

Semiglutide is a drug that mimics GLP-1. While it was originally used to stabilize blood sugars in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and weight loss was a fringe benefit, it is now used also with the primary goal of helping people lose weight.

The FDA has approved use for the brand name drug Ozempic in patients with a BMI over 30, or those with a BMI over 27 and a medical disease related to obesity. Because of the popularity of these medications, there have been significant drug shortages, and compounding pharmacies have created versions of Semiglutide for “off label” use, meaning it is not covered by the FDA. This has made Semiglutide more available, especially for those who do not meet the requirements for insurance coverage.

If you are interested in using Ozempic and meet insurance requirements, we recommend you discuss this with your primary care physician or a medical weight loss specialist. What about the rest of us who would appreciate another tool to help loose weight that isn’t necessarily causing a medical complication, but is impacting our perceived quality of life?

This is where things get a little more philosophical. The diet industry makes tens of billions of dollars each year in the United States, so there is certainly interest! While losing weight should be as simple as consuming less and burning more, people still struggle. Even though “vanity pounds” seem frivolous to some, they can mean a lot when it comes to enjoying your life. It may be that you need help losing weight that was gained while recovering from an injury, or maybe you are getting ready for vacation or a big event. Can you safely use this medication to help lose weight if you are not obese?  It is complicated.

I think everyone has either heard the opinion or experienced the reality that diets don’t work in the long run. It really takes a lifestyle change to maintain results. You can also do tremendous damage to your metabolism by overly restricting calories. Your body is very smart and wants to survive, so it will accommodate and become more efficient, which backfires when you return to a plentiful diet. While studies vary, they show that about 80% will regain the weight lost by dieting within a year. Ozempic studies show that about 60% of weight is regained after stopping the medication. Does this mean you shouldn’t diet at all or that you should just have realistic expectations?

When considering the pros, I think we are all two thumbs up with just the weight loss part, but there are other benefits that you may not be aware of. You may crave less alcohol and may even improve your cardiovascular health.

The list of cons is long. There are a lot of common side effects that many people cannot tolerate. Most common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and possible ileus (slowing of gut mobility), vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, headache, fatigue, upset stomach, dizziness, bloating, belching, gas, and heartburn, and delayed gastric emptying. This last one makes having anesthesia more dangerous, so it is required to stop taking the drug 1-2 weeks prior to any procedure. People can also develop pancreatitis, acute gallbladder disease, kidney disease, hypoglycemia, rapid heart rate, and even depression or suicidal ideations. You cannot use this if you or your family have a history of medullary thyroid cancer or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Syndrome Type 2, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. You have heard the saying that you can’t be too rich or too thin. Well first, the Ozempic brand medication runs approximately $1200 per month while compounded Semiglutide runs about $400 per month. It is not cheap. What about the too thin part? This drug can be abused. Eating disorders are serious matters and can be life threatening. This could be a terrible combination. Losing fat can also come with losing muscle mass. Skin can become more laxed and “Ozempic face” has been described as the toll loosing a lot of weight can have on your appearance.

Yikes!!! Maybe just consuming less and burning more calories is sounding more attractive by the minute! Hopefully that would work for you. If after considering this you think you are a good candidate and are willing to use the time while on this medication to help establish a better lifestyle and break bad habits, come talk with us. Maybe we can help.