Weight loss injections, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, have risen in popularity for their potential impacts on suppressing appetite and helping with weight loss.
With all of the different weight loss medications and supplements out there, it can be hard to navigate what works and what doesn’t.
One of the reasons weight loss injections have recently been gaining traction is that research is showing that they have the potential to be very effective.
But are there side effects to taking weight loss injections? Are they beneficial for everyone?
In today’s post, I will be weighing in on my opinion on weight loss injections as a certified dietitian-nutritionist. I will be breaking down what they are and some of the benefits, as well as the side effects and downsides of taking them. So let’s get started.
If you are looking for more evidence-based nutrition content, make sure you check out the other articles on my blog!
What are Weight Loss Injections?
Weight loss injections are a type of FDA-approved injection that is inserted daily or weekly and administers a medication designed for weight loss.
They are typically prescribed by a doctor in a situation where a patient is having trouble losing weight through conventional weight-loss methods. This includes diet, exercise, etc. They are also prescribed for people with chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes.
A few of the most popular injections include:
Depending on which one you take, it will influence your body and promote weight loss in different ways. That being said, they will also have different side effects.
How Can Weight Loss Injections be Helpful?
I want to start off by talking about a few of the benefits of taking weight loss injections and why they may be helpful.
These medications are found to be highly effective at helping people lose weight, with the results being comparable to bariatric surgeries.
Overall, the potential benefits include:
- Suppressed appetite
- Weight loss
- Improved insulin resistance
- Improvement in related symptoms
- Improved cardiovascular outcomes
One of the most popular injections on the market is Ozempic. It is an FDA-approved injection that is originally meant for people with type 2 diabetes.
Once they found the drug was effective in weight loss, they began prescribing it for obesity and obesity-related conditions as well.
It is useful for diabetes because the active compound inside called semaglutide helps your pancreas produce more insulin. Insulin is the hormone inside your body that regulates your blood sugar levels. In fact, studies have shown that Ozempic can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance (IR) is when your body is more sensitive to insulin so you have to produce more of it. Not only is IR linked to diabetes, but also plays a role in conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Additionally, injections such as Ozempic may be beneficial for reducing other symptoms for women with PCOS that are linked to IR, including hirsutism.
Side Effects of Injections: Appetite Suppressant
So now that you know how these injections can be helpful, I want to get into the nitty gritty about the possible side effects. It is important to remember that many of these injections are newer on the market. We don’t really know everything there is to know about them!
Since injections such as Ozempic suppress your appetite, many patients report an aversion to food. It makes you have an overall disinterest in meals and wanting to eat. The severity of the feeling will depend on the person and dose, but some report feeling fairly nauseous while on it.
This can greatly affect your quality of life since many people find enjoyment in food and eating. Whether that is eating out with your friends or cooking food with your family! You will want to keep this in mind before starting injections.
Side Effects of Injections: Gaining Weight Back Long Term
Currently, there are not any long-term studies done on these injections. We don’t know what effects they could be having on your body after taking them continuously.
Another major concern is the weight returning once you stop taking them. Since you are suppressing your appetite, your body adjusts to eating less food. Then when your appetite returns, you end up increasing your calories and gaining back the weight you lost. Some of the studies done on these injections found that participants gained the weight back after stopping the medications.
These injections should not be looked at as a “magic pill” for weight loss. Even though they can effective short term, we don’t currently know the long-term effects they have on your body and health.
Other Side Effects of Injections
Other common side effects are nausea, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Ozempic also may cause other more serious side effects like Thyroid tumors, cancer, inflammation of your pancreas, kidney problems (failure), gallbladder problems, or low blood sugar. This is important to keep in mind when deciding if you want to take these medications.
Are Weight Loss Injections Right For You?
This is the big question. And my best answer is – it depends!
These medications are not a magic pill. They can take more than a year for the drug to reach full effectiveness, and many patients have to remain on the medication long-term. You would need to continue treatment with these medications in order to maintain the weight lost, just as you would need to continue taking diabetes medications to maintain blood sugar levels.
Another caveat is that not everyone will respond— in the semaglutide trials, about 13% of individuals with obesity didn’t lose any weight at all.
Depending on the patient and their other diseases, these medications can help with other weight-related medical problems, such as improving blood pressure or cholesterol levels, improving blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes, and delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. For women with PCOS, it may be supportive for influencing insulin resistance, as we talked about above.
However, you can not take these injections while pregnant or trying to conceive. So if you are on a fertility journey, this is something to consider!
Overall, these injections are not a sustainable solution since they must be taken for life and there are potential serious side effects associated with taking these drugs.
As a functional nutritionist that focuses on sustainable weight loss, it is best to approach weight loss from a holistic perspective that considers diet, lifestyle, sleep, stress levels, and mental health status. Before jumping into relying on a “quick fix”, are there other actions you can first take to improve your health.
Weight Loss Injections: The Takeaway
My best advice for anyone interested in weight loss injections like Ozempic is to talk with a qualified healthcare professional. A dietitian-nutritionist like myself can help you decide if this is a good solution for you and help you find the root cause solution for weight gain without having to rely on medications as a first option.
Whether you struggle with weight management or fertility struggles, a wide variety of health issues respond well to nutrition interventions. By nourishing your body with the right foods and complementing it with sustainable lifestyle habits, we can optimize your hormonal and metabolic health.
If you are thinking you want to explore this topic more, then head over to my services page to book a strategy call with me! Let’s get you going on the right track toward your best and most empowered health.
What questions do you have about weight loss injections? Drop them below in the comments!
Additional Resources:The PCOS Nutritionist Podcast has a great podcast episode on this topic and how it relates to PCOS.