Written on August 21, 2023 by Sendra Yang, PharmD, MBA. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Did you know that over 49% of United States adults have tried to lose weight in the past year? If you are trying to lose weight, you are among millions of Americans with the same goal. But it can be disheartening when you regain weight after losing it. Up to 35% of lost weight is regained one year after treatment, and 50% of patients will return to their baseline weight by year five.
Semaglutide is one of the treatment options for weight loss in obese and overweight people.[3-5] It’s been reported that one year after stopping semaglutide therapy, patients regained about two-thirds of the weight they previously lost. Continue reading to learn more about how to keep the weight off after semaglutide.
More On Semaglutide
Semaglutide is a newer treatment for weight loss.[3-5,7] The medication belongs to a class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide 1 or GLP-1. GLP-1s were first approved in the United States for treating type 2 diabetes. Due to the weight loss observed in patients, a few GLP-1 medications were recently approved for weight management.
In 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved semaglutide as the first once-weekly GLP-1 medication used for long-term weight management in people who are overweight or obese.[3,5] Wegovy® is the brand name of semaglutide for chronic weight management in obese and overweight patients.
How Semaglutide Works For Weight Loss
GLP-1 drugs mimic the way naturally occurring GLP-1 works in the body.  GLP-1 is a hormone developed in the gut that helps to regulate blood glucose. Though the entire mechanism of how GLP-1 works is not fully understood, it is thought that when the blood has high levels of glucose, it can stimulate insulin release from pancreatic beta-cells.
GLP-1 is also proposed to improve metabolism and weight loss by reducing glucagon secretion. This decreases glucose production in the liver, slows down gastric emptying and absorption of fat from the gastrointestinal tract, and decreases food intake. Semaglutide is a manufactured type of GLP-1 highly similar to the naturally occurring GLP-1 in humans.[3,4]
Side Effects Of Semaglutide
The most common side effects of semaglutide are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, headache, and fatigue. Other common adverse reactions include indigestion, dizziness, abdominal distension, belching, flatulence, gastroenteritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, nasopharyngitis, and hypoglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Semaglutide has a severe side effect warning or black box warning for thyroid C-cell tumors. Warnings and precautions with semaglutide are acute pancreatitis, acute gallbladder disease, acute kidney injury, increased heart rate, suicidal behavior and ideation, and hypersensitivity reactions.
Five Tips On Keeping The Weight Off After Semaglutide
Multiple studies have reported that semaglutide can help patients lose up to 15% of their original weight.[3-6] Significant weight loss is no easy feat, and keeping it off can be just as challenging. Here are five tips to help you keep the weight off after using semaglutide [8-11]:
- Continue exercising. Just because you have lost weight, this doesn’t mean that you should drop your exercise routine. It’s important to continue your physical activities to help you maintain your weight. Select exercises that allow you to do both aerobic workouts and resistance training.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Once you’ve started consuming a healthy diet, don’t stop. Continue eating nicely portioned and nutritious foods, high in fiber and good proteins and low in carbs. Drinking more water than sweetened beverages will also help you keep the weight off.
- Practice self-care. Sleeping enough and effectively managing your stress will help you keep the weight off long-term. Inadequate amounts of sleep and high levels of stress are known to raise cortisol levels, which impacts your insulin and glucose levels. Stress can also cause people to eat more, leading to weight gain.
- Be accountable and committed. Tracking your exercise routine and the foods you eat will help you be accountable. If you notice that you’ve missed going to the gym or consumed a few more cookies, you can remind yourself of your routine and diet to get back on the right path.
- Stay motivated and enjoy the journey. Losing weight can be both encouraging and discouraging for many. Staying motivated as to your why in losing weight will help remind you to stay on track. Reward yourself when you reach a milestone in the journey that you have set for yourself. Having a friend or family member who can check in with you is also helpful in staying motivated and on your path to keeping the weight off.
Next Steps With Everlywell
At Everlywell, our comprehensive Weight Care+ Program provides weight loss support via telehealth. You can get access to regular one-to-one visits with a licensed healthcare provider, GLP-1 prescriptions online if you qualify, and lifestyle content and support for related health conditions.
What Is Semaglutide?
How Fast Does Semaglutide Work for Weight Loss?
How Much Weight Can You Lose On Semaglutide?
- Data briefs - number 313 - July 2018. Attempts to lose weight among adults in the US, 2013-2016. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db313.htm. July 12, 2018. Accessed August 14, 2023.
- Blomain ES, Dirhan DA, Valentino MA, Kim GW, Waldman SA. Mechanisms of weight regain following weight loss. ISRN Obes. 2013;2013:210524. doi: 10.1155/2013/210524
- DailyMed - Wegovy®- semaglutide injection, solution. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=ee06186f-2aa3-4990-a760-757579d8f77b. Accessed August 14, 2023.
- Alorfi NM, Algarni AS. Clinical impact of semaglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist, on obesity management: A review. Clin Pharmacol. 2022;14:61-67. doi: 10.2147/CPAA.S374741
- Ghusn W, De la Rosa A, Sacoto D, Cifuentes L, Campos A, Feris F, Hurtado MD, Acosta A. Weight loss outcomes associated with semaglutide treatment for patients with overweight or obesity. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(9):e2231982. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.31982
- Wilding JPH, Batterham RL, Davies M, Van Gaal LF, Kandler K, Konakli K, Lingvay I, McGowan BM, Oral TK, Rosenstock J, Wadden TA, Wharton S, Yokote K, Kushner RF. STEP 1 study group. Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide: The STEP 1 trial extension. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2022;24(8):1553-1564. doi: 10.1111/dom.14725
- Kyrillos J. Semaglutide 2.4-mg injection as a novel approach for chronic weight management. Am J Manag Care. 2022;28(15 Suppl):S297-S306. doi: 10.37765/ajmc.2022.89293
- Spreckley M, Seidell J, Halberstadt J. Perspectives into the experience of successful, substantial long-term weight-loss maintenance: a systematic review. Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being. 2021;16(1):1862481. doi: 10.1080/17482631.2020.1862481
- Why people diet, lose weight and gain it all back. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-people-diet-lose-weight-and-gain-it-all-back/. January 6, 2023. Accessed August 14, 2023.
- Healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/healthy-weight.html. December 30, 2022. Accessed August 14, 2023.
- Losing weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html. June 15, 2023. Accessed August 14, 2023.