Let’s Talk About Ozempic

May 2023 | Wellness Connections

By Linda Wilcox

woman's feet standing on scale- decorative image for blog post about ozempic.

Ozempic has become popularized in the media and is the new hot celebrity trend for weight loss transformation. As Ozempic is being prescribed to more and more people, it might be a good idea to talk about it and understand what it is, how it works, and how it fits into health and wellness.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a diabetes medication that was originally created by a Danish pharmaceutical company in 2012 as an injectable medication called semaglutide (also known as Ozempic). The FDA approved Ozempic for treatment of type 2 diabetes in 2017. A higher dose of Ozempic was developed for weight loss, known as Wegovy. In 2021 the FDA approved Wegovy as a weight loss treatment for: 1) adults with a BMI greater than 30 and 2) adults with a BMI greater than 27 with a potential weight-related health condition like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes. The FDA recommends using Wegovy in addition to diet and exercise for weight management. (*Note – It has not been tested on people in normal weight range or under the clinical obesity marker without any other health conditions and little is known on the long-term effects on weight, metabolism, and overall health.)

How it Works

Ozempic is a part of a group of medications known as GLP-1 RAs (glucagon-like peptide – 1 receptor antagonists) that mimic a naturally occurring hormone in our body called GLP – 1 (glucagon-like peptide) that is released from the intestine and targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake letting the brain know – “Hey, I’m full”. Artificially taking an increased amount of this hormone ends up suppressing appetite and feeling full faster which leads to a decrease in calories consumed and ultimately weight loss. People with type 2 diabetes typically have issues with making insulin (a hormone made in the pancreas) or making enough of it. Ozempic does help with blood sugar control by helping the secretion of insulin which helps remove sugar out of the blood and into your cells. Ozempic works to help both digestion and metabolism in people with type 2 diabetes.

Side Effects and Other Considerations

Ozempic and other similar drugs are available by prescription only. They are an injectable drug requiring self- administration on a weekly basis. If insurance does not cover the medication it can cost up to $1400 per month.

Reported side effects include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Limited but more serious side effects include thyroid tumors, cancers, inflammation of the pancreas, and gallbladder issues.

An important consideration of using this medication is managing the dosage when one is sick. Limited food intake and dehydration can affect blood sugar levels and can cause serious side effects if not managed properly.

Once this medication is started it could be a lifelong medication to keep weight off. It works well while you are on it, but as soon as it is discontinued the feeling of decreased/suppressed appetite goes away; you start to feel hungry and start eating again which results in gaining weight back. There is still a lot to learn about what happens when people go off GLP-1-RAs and the impact it has on weight and metabolism.

The safety and efficacy of these drugs is unknown as there is limited research on Ozempic and Wegovy for off-label use.

woman thinking with multiple arrows on a chalkboard behind her head

The Bottom Line

Ozempic and other GLP-1 RAs have been approved by the FDA for treating type 2 diabetes and weight loss in people with a higher BMI. Always work with your doctor and healthcare team when considering any medication. They will help you determine medications that are right for you based on your medical history.

If you choose to incorporate a GLP-1 RA for weight loss, consider working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to help manage the side effects and build healthy habits to improve long-term weight loss and rebound weight gain.

Experts agree that medication alone is not enough for long-term weight loss and drugs do not replace making lifestyle changes that improve your overall health.

There are many different approaches to weight loss. The best approach is one that can be sustained over a lifetime that focuses on helping you to improve your overall health. Your relationship with food, incorporating a balanced approach to nutrition, encourages physical activity, stress reduction, and healthy sleep habits which all play into long-term success.

If you have questions about weight loss and weight loss medications, contact Linda – RDN for personalized nutrition and wellness care.

red hand weight, red apple, blank notepad and red colored pencil on a table top

Have a plan


There are several ways to approach your workout routine. You can follow someone on the internet, get a personal trainer, or roam around the gym looking for inspiration. There is another technique that can be used for busy people with variable schedules and unpredictable spring weather. It can go something like this, write down the days of the week then plan out your workouts taking weather into account (if working out outsid and activities on your calendar. From there write out your workout plan (cardio, strength, take a class etc.) for the week. Make sure you plan for at least 2 rest days which can be strategically placed throughout the week when you are busy, or the weather is bad. This technique can come in handy on a regular basis or during transition periods throughout the year.

Linda Wilcox, RDN, LD

Linda is our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist that uses a balanced approach to health and wellness, focusing on nutrition, movement, sleep, and connecting you with other appropriate health resources.

Linda understands and recognizes the courage needed to take the first step in caring for yourself and starting your own health and wellness journey. Learn more about Linda’s services like individual wellness and nutrition consultations, ministry and church wellness consultations, and group presentations here!

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