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A Holistic Nutritionist’s Thoughts on Ozempic

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve caught wind of the recent Ozempic hype. Ozempic and other GLP-1 RA medications (I’ll expand on what that means shortly) have entered the global spotlight as the hot health topic among celebrities and across news outlets. While the drug was originally prescribed for diabetes, this “miracle medication” has risen to fame over the last few years due to its impact on rapid weight loss.

With all of the buzz around it, I’ve been getting lots of questions from my clients: What is Ozempic? How does it work? Would I benefit from it? 

As a holistic nutritionist who considers the multidimensional aspects of wellness and not just the impact of medications, my responses are just that: multidimensional. My support stands somewhere in the middle ground; let me tell you why.

What Is Ozempic?

Ozempic is the brand name of a drug known as semaglutide. You may have also seen names like Wegovy and Rybelsus in advertisements—these medications are also branded versions of semaglutide (Wegovy is specifically marketed for weight loss, while the others are FDA-approved for type 2 diabetes treatment). More than likely, you’ve also seen Mounjauro and Zepbound hit the market, which are brand names of a related drug called tirzepatide that boasts the same outcomes as semaglutide. These names can be a mouthful, so to simplify the conversation, let’s just stick to Ozempic, as each medication produces similar outcomes.

Ozempic is classified as a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It’s a once-a-week injectable originally prescribed for type 2 diabetes. Although it is not FDA-approved for weight loss, it is often prescribed as a method for weight loss, yielding mass amounts of weight being shed by users and leading to its explosion in the media.

How Does Ozempic Work?

Ozempic mimics the effects of GLP-1, a hormone naturally produced in the body. GLP-1 receptors are found in many regions of the body, from the liver to the stomach to the brain. Ozempic affects the body in three primary ways: 

  1. Ozempic increases insulin sensitivity by signaling the pancreas to produce more insulin. This mechanism allows sugars to enter the cell for energy rather than circulating in the blood, increasing the risk of issues such as heart disease. 
  2. Ozempic also prompts the pancreas to produce less glucagon, which stops the liver from creating excess glucose that may elevate blood sugar levels.
  3. Ozempic slows down the digestion of food in your stomach and targets the area of the brain that tells you you’re no longer hungry, contributing to more prolonged bouts of fullness and satiety.

Each of these factors is important for diabetes management, but the third point is why so many people lose weight on Ozempic and similar drugs. Because Ozempic regulates hunger and reduces appetite, users naturally eat fewer calories, likely resulting in a calorie deficit that promotes weight loss.

What Are the Benefits of Ozempic?

Again, though not approved for this result, Ozempic’s most notable claim to fame is its use as a tool to help people lose significant amounts of weight. However, we see other important benefits from the medication, too. Ozempic is proven to effectively lower A1C, a lab test that measures your average blood sugar levels over three months. Ozempic has also been shown to lower the risk of major cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke, in some individuals. Some also argue that Ozempic may reduce cancer risk since obesity puts people at a greater risk for the disease. Overall, we can see that Ozempic offers several potential positive effects on the body.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Taking Ozempic?

The most common side effects seen with Ozempic use include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation. Another symptom worth noting is the notorious “Ozempic face,” which involves a hollowed look to the face, sunken eyes, and jowls around the jaw and neck. This term is somewhat misleading because it describes a facial appearance associated with rapid weight loss from any cause. The long-term effects of using Ozempic are yet to be known since the drug is relatively new.

My Thoughts on Ozempic

I recognize the significant impact Ozempic can have on people’s lives. I know people who have been on and off the medication and have seen great results when coupled with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. Still, my greatest concern is its sustainability. Ozempic, alongside other weight loss drugs, acts as a Band-Aid to cover up the root cause of obesity. However, for lasting results, the root has to be addressed. Otherwise, if someone chooses to discontinue the medication or simply cannot obtain it due to shortages (yes, there ARE shortages since so many people, even those who don’t need it, want to get their hands on it), they’re likely to gain back the weight and possibly even more. Weight loss isn’t as simple as an injection; it involves healthy lifestyle changes that Ozempic, or any drug on its own, doesn’t guarantee to deliver.

Then, there’s potential misuse and abuse of Ozempic. Ozempic might be a last resort for those who’ve struggled with obesity for a long time, and it can do wonders for those people. For others, Ozempic might be a quick fix for dropping a few pounds before summer. For the people who don’t truly need the medication for health reasons, it can be detrimental, causing more harm than good. For those who are not obese or severely overweight, there is a significant concern of malnutrition or nutrient deficiencies. Rember, people losing weight on Ozempic do so because they are eating fewer calories, not because they are taking a magic pill that burns fat. When limiting caloric intake, it is critical to ensure you’re still getting enough nutrients.

Overall, I believe in seeking professional nutrition support for long-lasting results that bring harmony to the body, mind, and soul. Personalized care is the most effective approach to achieving and maintaining goals, including those regarding weight loss. Personal care may be offered in tandem with medication like Ozempic, but it is not required by law or practice, so it’s up to the customer to seek holistic support if they are not offered it. 

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The Takeaway

Ozempic makes daily headlines for its effects on weight loss, but the truth is that there’s no perfect solution. I have mixed feelings toward Ozempic because, while it can be utilized as an effective tool for weight loss, weight loss truly boils down to motivation, support, and accurate nutrition and health advice for making informed decisions. And I know it’s easier said than done, but I’m here to help you with all of it! By booking a one-on-one session with me, we can discuss your health goals, whether weight-related or not, and create a unique, sustainable plan just for you.

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