How Do GLP-1 Agonists Cause Weight Loss?

How Do GLP-1 Agonists Cause Weight Loss?

Losing weight can be difficult for a lot of people. Even if you eat healthy and exercise regularly, sometimes it's not enough. But now there are new medicines that can help. The FDA has approved two GLP-1 agonists to help with weight loss. If you want to know how these medicines work in your body and which is best for losing weight, keep reading.

What Is a GLP-1 Agonist Medication for Weight Loss?

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is a hormone your body makes in the gut when you eat. It does three important things: it helps release insulin, makes you feel less hungry, and keeps you feeling full for a longer time. Medicines called GLP-1 agonists, like semaglutide (sold as Wegovy®), copy this hormone. They help control your blood sugar, reduce cravings, and make you feel full. GLP-1 agonists were first used to treat type 2 diabetes but have also been found to help with weight loss.

How GLP-1 Agonists Contribute to Weight Loss

GLP-1 agonists work in different parts of your body, like your gut and brain, to help you feel less hungry and eat less food. They do this by making your stomach empty slower, making you feel full for longer. They also send signals to your brain to tell it that your stomach is full, so you eat less. These medications also help release more insulin when you eat and control your blood sugar. This can help reduce cravings for unhealthy, high-calorie foods. GLP-1 agonist medicines copy all of these actions, and when combined with lifestyle changes, they can help you lose weight.


If you want to lose weight, FDA-approved medications like GLP-1 agonists can help. They work best when you change your lifestyle, like eating healthy, being more active, and changing your mindset. Talking to a healthcare provider before taking any weight loss medication is essential. They will check your medical history and decide if a medication like a GLP-1 agonist is a good option for you as part of a comprehensive plan to lose weight.

Which GLP-1s Are Best for Weight Loss?

A few different GLP-1 agonists are sometimes used for weight loss, even though they haven't been officially approved. However, only two GLP-1 agonists are approved by the FDA specifically for weight loss: Wegovy® (semaglutide) and Saxenda® (liraglutide). Taking these medications, eating fewer calories, and being more active can help you lose weight. They are effective in promoting weight loss.



Wegovy is a medicine that you inject once a week. It was approved by the FDA in 2021 for weight loss. It contains a substance called semaglutide, also found in another FDA-approved medication called Ozempic. However, in Wegovy, the dose of semaglutide is higher because it's used specifically for weight loss and not for treating type 2 diabetes.


Saxenda is another medicine that helps with weight loss. It was approved in 2014 by the FDA. You inject it once a day. Saxenda contains an ingredient called liraglutide. Liraglutide is also found in a medicine called Victoza, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes. However, for weight loss, Saxenda is prescribed at a higher dose.


You might be wondering which FDA-approved GLP-1 medication is better for weight loss. A study conducted in 2022 compared Wegovy (given at a dose of 2.4 mg once a week) with Saxenda (given at a dose of 3 mg once a day) in adults who were overweight or had obesity but didn't have diabetes. The study lasted for 68 weeks. The results showed that the Wegovy group achieved an average weight loss of 15.8%, while the Saxenda group had an average weight loss of 6.4% when they followed a healthy diet and made lifestyle changes.


It's important to know that not every weight loss medication works the same for everyone. The results can vary from person to person, and many factors can influence how well a medication works for weight loss. These factors include your medical history, lifestyle, and personal preferences. So, when choosing a treatment plan, it's essential to consider all of these factors and work closely with your healthcare provider to find the best approach for you.

Who Can Take GLP-1 Agonists for Weight Loss?

Wegovy and Saxenda are medications specifically approved for adults who have obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) or are overweight (BMI of 27 or higher) with weight-related health conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. They can also be prescribed to children 12 years old or older with obesity. To achieve the best results with these medications, using them alongside healthy lifestyle changes is essential.


You can only get Wegovy and Saxenda with a prescription, and the coverage for these medications may vary depending on your insurance provider. It's a good idea to check with your health insurance to understand what costs you may need to cover out-of-pocket.


Like any medication, being aware of possible side effects is crucial. The most common side effects of Wegovy and Saxenda include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, constipation, headache, and fatigue. Some less common but more severe side effects include gallbladder issues, including gallstones, acute kidney injury, and pancreatitis. It's important to note that both medications have warnings about a rare form of thyroid cancer, which has mostly been seen in animal studies. Regular monitoring by your healthcare provider is recommended if you take these medications.


Before starting any medication, discussing your decision with your healthcare provider is essential. Working with a medical weight loss program that understands your health history and goals is essential to develop a safe and effective treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Alternatives to GLP-1 Agonists for Weight Loss

Not everyone can use GLP-1 agonists like Wegovy and Saxenda. If you or your family have had medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, these medications are unsafe. Also, if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or had a severe allergic reaction to the ingredients in GLP-1 agonists, you should avoid using them.


But don't worry! There are other FDA-approved weight loss medications you can consider as alternatives. These include Contrave (bupropion/naltrexone), Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate), and phentermine. If you prefer not to take medication, you can focus on lifestyle changes to lose weight. This includes eating a balanced diet, being more active, getting enough sleep, and working with a Registered Dietitian or a healthcare professional specialising in weight management. The most important thing is to find a plan you can stick with for a long time.

GLP-1 Agonists Done the Right Way: How We Can Help

There are two FDA-approved GLP-1 agonists for weight loss: Wegovy and Saxenda. Our providers can prescribe these medications if they suit your medical needs. However, it's essential to know that there can be various reasons why someone might have difficulty losing weight, and it's not always easy to find the exact cause. Weight Loss Coach is here to help individuals understand their unique weight-loss challenges and offer guidance on overcoming them.


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