GLP-1 receptor medications mimic the body’s natural GLP-1 hormone, making you feel full.

Anything that seems like a quick n’ easy weight loss cure tends to fly off the shelves, and GLP-1 drugs (Ozempic, Wegovy, Rybelsus) are no exception. But is semaglutide actually worth the hype?

Let’s explore the ins and outs of GLP-1 for weight loss, including a deep dive into how (and if) it works.

GLP-1 causes your body to produce more insulin, reducing blood sugar levels. In high quantities, it also triggers the parts of your brain that reduce appetite and make you feel full — even when you haven’t eaten anything.

In a 2021 study of 2,000 adults with obesity, researchers compared two groups: People who dieted and exercised while taking semaglutide and those who dieted and exercised without taking it.

Researchers found that after 68 weeks, about half the participants taking the drug lost about 15 percent of their weight. A third lost 20 percent. Those who only dieted and exercised alone lost about 2.4 percent of their weight.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved three semaglutide medications thus far. They are:

  • Ozempic is only approved to lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart problems in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Rybelsus tablets are approved for the same use as Ozempic, only in oral form.
  • Wegovy injections are approved for adults and children over 12 who are medically considered either overweight with weight-related medical problems or obese.

All of these medications require a prescription, and there’s also no FDA-approved generic version.

You may see TikTokers injecting or popping it on the reg, but the only GLP-1 medication approved for weight loss is Wegovy. Still, it’s not meant for those who want to drop a few pounds — technically, it’s only approved for:

  • those with a BMI of 30 or more
  • those with a BMI greater than 27 + who also have at least one weight-related health condition

Many people have been taking Ozempic and other GLP-1 formulations off-label to lose weight, even if they don’t have a medically-recognized issue. But remember that this caused a serious shortage for those who really needed it.

Safety first!

Not all “semaglutide” products are legit. Most of these sketchy formulas — like semaglutide sodium or semaglutide acetate — haven’t been found to be effective or safe yet.

If you opt for an online pharmacy, the FDA’s BeSafeRx campaign has resources to help you make a smart choice. Also, talk to your healthcare provider before trying any weight loss aid, even if a product seems safe.

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GLP-1 drugs work by essentially imitating the body’s natural GLP-1 hormone, which is emitted after you eat and contributes to feelings of fullness. It also reduces blood sugar levels.

So far, these medications are only approved for those with type 2 diabetes, those with obesity, or those who are overweight with at least one medically-recognized weight condition.

Since it’s only available by prescription at the moment, talk to your doctor about if GLP-1 is legit for you.