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Dangers of using Ozempic and Wegovy for weight loss

In the last 3-4 years, the use of weight loss meds such as Ozempic and Wegovy (and recently Mounjaro and Zepbound) is rising, because of their “magical” ability to significantly drop body weight. Officially, they are marketed for diabetes and obesity, but in fact are used by many people who just “want to lose 10 pounds and have money” as well. These drugs, (which function as GLP-1 receptor agonists, but these are boring details), are now used as “hammer” solution for weight loss. The very rapid adoption and extreme marketing of these injections (by the way, they are also available as oral meds) hides or downplaying significant risks and many times long-term consequences that are not understood by the public, who most of the time simply has no idea.

Multiple studies (research) and real life facts have shown that while effective in reducing appetite (which can be easily achieved with correct lifestyle, but who wants that…), these medications lead most people who take them to severe nutritional deficiencies and pretty bad metabolic effects (I will supply links to research and articles in the end).

My goal with this piece is to show the hidden dangers of these popular medications, and help you to avoid unnecessary health issues and create awareness for your friends, family, and patients, since I am aware how many of my people are in the field of medicine.

How these meds work

While might be a little boring, it is ALWAYS important to understand what is the effect of something you do. Most people are definitely afraid of injecting anything at all, unless it is very forced medical need. Example is an IV in a hospital. Which is essentially just for hydration. But when it comes to losing weight, so many people just say “bring it on”.

Ozempic and Wegovy mimic the action of GLP-1, a hormone that controls appetite and insulin levels. When these drugs are in your system, they cause the body (pancreas to be exact) to release insulin more effectively / in larger quantities, while also delaying gastric emptying (basically leaving food in your stomach longer by slowing down the digestion), which makes you feel full longer. But, this appetite suppression is not some magic and it is far from not wanting to eat naturally. For most people, the reduced desire to eat lead to vast nutritional deficiencies and imbalances, as essential food groups like protein sources and vegetables are often consumed in smaller amounts, if at all, (and less frequently). There’s a lot of research indicates that such changes in eating habits often triggers underlying health conditions and create new health issues, including serious gastrointestinal problems (does intestinal blockage sounds like fun?), here’s some reading – https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/27/health/fda-ozempic-label/index.html. This mechanism, while beneficial in controlling blood sugar on the paper (because later in this text I will show you what is actually happening), requires extremely careful management to avoid leading to more severe health problems down the line.

Short-term side effects

The right of the bat effects of Ozempic and Wegovy usually are pretty distressing.

Many of our clients who were on the meds or are active users report nausea, vomiting, and a general aversion to food, which can become so bad that even favorite food becomes an issue and an aversion. These side effects are happening because of the drugs’ mechanism of slowing stomach emptying, which, while intended to keep you full longer, many times results in severe gastrointestinal distress. Studies highlight an increase in hospital admissions related to such side effects among first-time users (source needed). Additionally, these symptoms disrupt daily life and significantly impact overall health, making it crucial for users to consider these risks under medical advice.

Other severe gastrointestinal side effects: diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain are very common. These can be severe enough to require stopping the drug.

There’s also a difficulty tolerating the drugs: many people struggle with the gastrointestinal side effects and a large chunk of them have to discontinue the meds due to the side effects not improving over time.

Long-term health impacts

The long-term use of these drugs (that includes all similar drugs, including Mounjaro and Zepbound) leads to way more than discomfort, many times causing severe health issues. Muscle loss (sarcopenia) and bone density reduction (osteopenia) are already bad enough due to insufficient intake of protein and other nutrients.

Side bar: the only way to preserve muscle and bone in any healthy adult is consuming enough protein, having enough calories and (no way to skip this) strength training. And no, jumping with 3 pounds dumbbells in a group class is not that.

Back to our subject: The above severely increases the risk of osteoporosis and frailty, especially in peri-menopausal and menopausal women (most of whom are already having these issues) and older adults. To make it even worse, there are findings from studies that link prolonged use of these drugs to thyroid problems, which means there’s an impact on overall hormonal balance (some more info from John Hopkins University here: https://hub.jhu.edu/2024/01/11/ozempic-wegovy-weight-loss-drugs-pros-cons/). This further strengthens the importance of managing the use of these medications very carefully to prevent irreversible damage to the body’s structural and metabolic health.

Pancreatitis risk: There is a potential increased risk of pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, associated with long-term use of these GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs. More information in the same article from above: https://hub.jhu.edu/2024/01/11/ozempic-wegovy-weight-loss-drugs-pros-cons/.

Thyroid cancer risk: There is an association between prolonged use of these medications and an increased risk of medullary thyroid cancer, though the overall risk is still considered relatively low. That said, you really don’t want to discount it, I certainly would not.

Muscle Loss Risks: The drop in muscle mass and bone density is a severe consequence of long-term use of weight loss meds like Ozempic and Wegovy. As one’s diet become less balanced, lacking in protein and essential nutrients, the body begins to shed muscle and bone mass to compensate for nutritional shortages. This degradation not only weakens physical strength and stability but also increases the risk of fractures and long-term disabilities. The results of these changes are going very deep, impacting not just weight but overall health and quality of life, and it is so important to understand, that once you lose the muscle, you’re not getting it back without months or years of weight training, and as for bone density it will translate to years.

Not to be scare monger, but it is important to understand, that in a nutshell, by losing muscle and bone, one also increases their body fat percentage. And that means, that when you rebound (and you will read about it later), you will regain the fat, you will not regain the lost muscle, and therefore, your body fat percentage and the rate of gaining fat back will be much, much higher than before.

In a clinical trial of semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy), participants lost an average of 15 pounds of lean muscle mass along with 23 pounds of fat over 68 weeks. Here’s more on it: https://fortune.com/well/2023/09/27/weight-loss-drugs-ozempic-wegovy-risks-for-people-over-65/

Now, some people might say that they don’t care or it is not really critical. That would be extremely self harming. Fun fact, an average woman can add up to 18 pounds of muscle during their lives total, meaning, even a female with a good muscle mass can lose almost all she built over the years just in one year and never be able to fix it.

By the way, this is very similar to the muscle loss seen with bariatric surgery.

Also, if you search, you will find that the companies making the drugs are now trying to pair them with meds that “might” prevent muscle loss. Which of course is not something that can be done with drugs.

Nutritional consequences

The impact of appetite suppression from weight loss meds often typically leads to significant dietary changes. Users consume way fewer calories, especially from protein and fibrous vegetables (because they are less tasty and more filling), which are non-negotiable for maintaining muscle mass and digestive health. This shift results in severe nutritional deficiencies that not only undermine health goals but also compromise your immunity and your recovery systems. Prolonged malnutrition increases the severity of side effects and further destabilizes metabolic health.

Does the weight comes back once Ozempic and other similar medications are stopped?

When you stop taking any of GLP-1 like meds, absolute majority of users experience a rapid regain of weight, (as fat). This is happening because the appetite comes back and one starts eating how they used to, in addition the appetite is usually increased due to long deprivation and finally, but not happily, because the body, having adapted to lower food intake and nutrient absorption, begins to store more fat once normal eating resumes. As mentioned above, the lost muscle mass and bone density are being recovered recovered. And this dramatic change in body composition elevates the of insulin resistance (and the risk of diabetes) sky high, and further complicates metabolic health.

Sad stories

It is so said to hear very similar stories from my new clients who are current or past users about how horrible they feel, how the life has changed to a bad direction, how they get sick more often, have no energy, and how the weight came back faster than they could do anything.

How to manage the damage from Ozempic, Wegovy and similar medications?

The only way to stay healthy while using the drug is a complete diet change, dropping processed food completely, calculating and consuming the amount of protein that is needed for you specifically, calculating and consuming the right amount of vegetables, evaluating bloodwork and rebalancing all missing vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. And. Yes, all that means not much without a good strength training program performed correctly.

For good and for bad, there’s simply no way to not get damaged and most of the time severely without proper strength training while on the meds and after them. And not as a temporarily measure.

Now, I will tell you a secret, a person who already has type of nutrition I have described above and strength trains, would never need the drug, since the effect of the protocol gives the same results in terms of appetite reduction, however – without any of the drugs’ side effects and dangers.

I ask anyone considering these medications to really weigh whether you need them, since there’s almost no one who benefits from them for real, long term. Marketing, and online articles show you happy people every day, but guess what, people in the Ozempic commercial never took it. They are just actors. Consult with someone who really understands the subject and use comprehensive and personal strategies that will help you to get healthy and good looking over-time VS a damaged person. Make informed decisions and and do what is right for you.

And if you’re looking to get an advice, feel free to message, I am always happy to help.

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