A Registered Dietitian’s Take On Ozempic: The Disturbing Truth

Elon Musk, when asked about how he looked “fit, ripped and healthy,” tweeted that he was taking Wegovy. On TikTok, the hashtag #Ozempic has been viewed over 273 million times. 

You’ve seen so many people drop a shocking amount of weight by ditching their old diets for a dose of these two diabetes drugs.

But is Ozempic (and other similar drugs) really the solution to all our weight loss woes? Or is there more than meets the eye? 

After months of watching and researching this drug, I’m ready to answer those questions. Here’s my take on Ozempic and why it’s disturbing not only from a health perspective, but from a financial one as well.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic (as well as other semaglutide drugs like Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Rybelsus) is an antidiabetic medication used for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes and an anti-obesity medication used for weight management, developed by Novo Nordisk in 2012. Today, millions are using this drug “off-label” to lose weight rapidly.

How Ozempic Causes Weight Loss

Semaglutide lowers blood sugar levels and regulates insulin, a crucial step for people with Type 2 diabetes. This drug also imitates a hormone that we naturally produce in our intestines called glucagon-like peptide-1. This hormone signals to our bodies that we feel full and prompts our stomachs to empty more slowly. 

These types of medications, then, help people lose weight because they cause people to be in a significant caloric deficit and improve their overall blood sugar management quite easily. 


How Much Does Ozempic Cost?

These medications are extremely expensive out of pocket. Prices range from $200 to $1300 a month. If you’re forced to pay for Ozempic each month, this price tag could eventually be a financial hardship for you. Outside of Hollywood, Ozempic is eventually too expensive. 

Will My Insurance Cover Ozempic?

Insurance is covering these medications, but only for people who meet specific criteria. Typically, you have to have a BMI of 30 or above, or you have to have a BMI of 27 or above with two specific comorbidities. 

As you lose weight and your health improves, you may reach a point where you no longer meet these criteria. At this point, your insurance can stop covering the cost. 

The Side Effects of Ozempic 

Diabetes treatments like Ozempic can have surprising effects, such as a reduced desire to drink alcohol. But they also carry serious risks including malnutrition and facial aging, and going off the drugs can also take a toll.

Most people taking these medications will report GI discomforts, like nausea, stomach cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. There’s a small risk of developing pancreatitis and gallbladder issues. For some, especially for those who have a family or personal history, these medications can increase your risk of thyroid cancer. 

How Long Do Results Last?

Ozempic (and others like it) is not a medication you can take temporarily. It’s very clear, based on the current research, that semaglutide (the main component of these drugs) is not a long-term fix. 

These medications are extremely effective while you’re taking them. But the data shows that if you stop taking these medications, you have a very high likelihood of gaining back the weight if not more. 

So, before you start this medication, make sure that you see yourself using it for the rest of your life, or at least until more data comes out detailing a better exit strategy.

The Disturbing Issue with Ozempic Weight Loss

The benefits of Ozempic may outweigh the risks for those with a BMI of over 30 or who have Type 2 diabetes. But if you’re considering this drug to improve your appearance, you need to know the inner workings and long-term effects this drug will have on your body. 

The most up-to-date data on these drugs is showing that people are losing weight, but up to 40% of that weight is from lean muscle mass. This stat is scary, and I want to tell you why.

Your lean muscle mass is your absolute metabolic powerhouse. If we’re overweight, it’s good for our bodies to lose fat, but it’s very bad for our bodies to lose muscle mass. If our muscle mass drops, so does our metabolism, which means we have to eat less and less each day to maintain our weight loss. 

Picture this: 

Stephanie starts taking a daily shot of Ozempic for weight loss. Within months, she’s down 20 pounds. Twelve of these pounds were fat. Eight were lean muscle mass. Now, Stephanie weighs less, but her metabolism is a lot slower. 

Because Stephanie has lost 20 pounds, her BMI has dropped below 27. Her insurance no longer covers the $900 monthly cost of Ozempic. She can’t afford that price, and the GI discomfort she’s been experiencing is too harsh for her as well. She stops taking Ozempic. 

Within weeks, Stephanie’s appetite is back. Her old cravings are just as they were before, and her blood sugar levels are no longer balanced. Like most others coming off Ozempic, her weight comes back.

Now, Stephanie is back to her old weight, but she’s actually a lot worse off than before. She had lost 8 pounds of lean muscle mass, but the weight she regained is almost all fat. Her metabolic rate is much lower than before she took Ozempic. When she eats even a moderate amount, more of those calories are being stored as body fat. 

Lean muscle mass is incredibly hard to build. It takes immense effort to even sustain our muscle mass as we age. Stephanie’s short-term success on Ozempic has now made it even harder for her to lose weight and maintain it. 


If You’re Determined to Take Ozempic for Weight Loss, Do This.

  1. Track your body composition: Before starting this drug, get a DEXA scan to analyze your body composition. Continue monitoring your lean muscle mass in relation to your percent body fat to make sure that 40% of your weight loss isn’t coming from your lean muscle mass. 
  2. Minimize lean muscle mass loss as much as possible: Eat at least 100 grams of protein per day (which will most likely require you to eat when you’re not hungry while using these appetite-suppressing medications). Complete strength training multiple times a week in an effort to sustain as much of your muscle mass as you can. 
  3. Determine your exit plan: Lay out a solid plan that you can use to help you sustain your results as much as possible after you’ve stopped taking the medication. Choose a program with a lot of accountability, like LEAN, that can step in the drug’s place. 


How to Lose Weight Drug-Free

You can accomplish long-term, healing weight loss naturally. If you’ve heard my warnings and want weight loss without long-term damage, I’m your girl. Check out how my program LEAN has helped thousands of others heal their bodies, lose weight, and stay fit year after year. 

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1 Response
  1. Pam

    It’s morally wrong for doctors to prescribe this to people who don’t have diabetes and want it to lose weight. This is causing a major supply issue for the people who actually need it and rely on it to help manage their diabetes. If you want to lose weight, you need to get off your butt, put down the bag of chips, and put in the work needed! Stop taking away medication from people that actually NEED it. Everyone today is looking for a quick, easy fix (usually a pill they can pop) to avoid doing any real work!

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