Written on July 18, 2023 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. 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.
Table of contents
The weight loss medication Wegovy® (semaglutide) came on the market in June 2021, and demand has been high since then. This medication, a once-weekly injection, had excellent results in clinical trials showing weight loss of up to 15% of body weight. It is recommended for adults with a BMI equal to or greater than 30 or adults with a BMI equal to or greater than 27 plus a weight-related medical condition. It should be noted that Wegovy® is recommended to be utilized long-term for ongoing weight management.
According to the manufacturer's website, Wegovy® comes in 5 different dose strengths. Wegovy®’s starting dose is 0.25 mg once a week, and then you increase the dose every four weeks until you reach the full dose of 2.4 mg. It’s important to follow the dosing schedule as recommended by your healthcare provider.
The most common side effects of Wegovy® may include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, stomach (abdomen) pain, headache, tiredness (fatigue), upset stomach, dizziness, feeling bloated, belching, gas, stomach flu, heartburn, and runny nose or sore throat.
If you are started on Wegovy® and experience nausea, it is recommended that you contact your healthcare provider for guidance. In addition, you can try eating bland, low-fat foods, avoid lying down after you eat, eat more slowly, and increase your water intake (including foods with water like soup and gelatin) if feeling dehydrated.
Another weight loss drug on the market that is getting a lot of attention is Ozempic®, FDA-approved only for Type 2 diabetes but being prescribed off-label for weight loss. The active ingredient for both drugs is semaglutide, a GLP-1 agonist. The primary difference is that the maximum dose for Ozempic® is lower than that of Wegovy®.
When blood sugar levels start to rise after someone eats, these drugs stimulate the body to produce more insulin. The extra insulin helps lower blood sugar levels.
Lower blood sugar levels help control type 2 diabetes. But it's not clear how the GLP-1 drugs lead to weight loss. Doctors do know that GLP-1s appear to help curb hunger. These drugs also slow the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine. As a result, you may feel full faster and longer, so you eat less.
Along with helping to control blood sugar and boost weight loss, GLP-1s seem to have other major benefits. Research has found that some drugs in these groups may lower the risk of heart diseases, such as heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease. People taking these drugs have seen their blood pressure and cholesterol levels improve. But it's not clear whether these benefits are from the drug or from the weight loss.
The downside to GLP-1 drugs is that all but one has to be taken by a shot. And, as with any drug, there is a risk of side effects, some serious. More common side effects often improve as you continue to take the drug for a while.
Some of the more common side effects include:
Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) are a more serious risk linked to the GLP-1 class of drugs. But the risk of low blood sugar levels typically only increases if you're also taking another drug known to lower blood sugar at the same time, such as sulfonylureas or insulin.
The GLP-1 class of drugs isn't recommended if you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or multiple endocrine neoplasia. Lab studies have linked these drugs with thyroid tumors in rats. But until more long-term studies are done, the risk to humans isn't known. They're also not recommended if you've had pancreatitis.
Everlywell's comprehensive GLP-1 weight loss program pairs a weight loss drug with regular clinician care, lab testing, and support for related conditions via telehealth. Specifically, clients receive:
Everlywell also offers the home-collection hemoglobin A1c test which is an easy way to measure how well you have been maintaining your blood sugar levels for the past 90 days.