Maybe you’ve noticed something about an amazing new weight loss medication while scrolling through your phone. Or perhaps you’ve noticed someone you know is looking more trim and fit than they used to, seemingly without much effort. You may have heard people talking about semaglutide — the revolutionary medication recently approved for weight loss by the FDA.
You’re forgiven if you heard something and rolled your eyes. After all, the dream of taking a pill and watching pounds melt away is just that: a dream. Right?
Not any more. Semaglutide really does live up to its promise. It truly works. No, it’s not a pill — but it is changing the lives of thousands of people who haven’t been able to lose that weight that seems to creep up on you as you move through your 40s and 50s. It’s an honest revolution in the battle against weight — and it might be the solution you’ve been looking for.
What Is Semaglutide?
Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide analog, known as GLP-1. What does that mean? It means semaglutide mimics the natural glucagon-like peptides your body produces as a vital part of your digestive process. Your body can’t really tell the difference between the medication and the natural hormone, so it responds naturally and without significant side effects.
Semaglutide was originally developed as a medication to help people with Type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. The FDA approved semaglutide for this purpose in 2017. It’s been sold under the brand name Ozempic for that purpose since then (you may have seen the catchy Ozempic ads on TV).
But an unexpected thing happened as people with Type 2 diabetes started to take semaglutide under the name Ozempic. They realized they weren’t eating as much because their appetite had decreased on its own. As a result, they were losing weight.
The drug company which developed semaglutide began to pay attention to this. Testing for semaglutide as a weight loss medication began and the initial trials were far more successful than anyone expected. Test subjects lost an average of about 16% of their body weight. If you weigh 200 pounds, that would take you down to a healthier 168.
The control group, who didn’t realize they were taking a placebo, lost 5.7% of their body weight. That means starting at 200 pounds, you’d end up at about 189 pounds.
The results were even more remarkable when you look at the number of people who lost weight. About 48% of the control group lost weight. In comparison, a whopping 87% of those taking semaglutide lost significant amounts of weight. And the longer they took semaglutide, the greater their results were. Overall, semaglutide showed greater efficacy than any other weight-loss aid or medication on the market.
The only medical weight loss treatment that was in the same ballpark as semaglutide was bariatric surgery, which comes with far more risks and side effects than semaglutide.
As a result of the trials, the pharmaceutical company went back to the FDA for approval of semaglutide as a weight loss drug. In 2021, the FDA approved it, now under the brand name Wegovy, as the first weight-loss medication approved in 14 years. While Ozempic and Wegovy both are versions of semaglutide, the formulation of each is slightly different.
How Does Semaglutide Work in Your Body?
Those GLP-1 hormones your body produces naturally play a critical role in your digestive process. They help you feel full, reducing your appetite so you stop eating. The natural GLP-1 hormones have a short lifespan, though — you’ve probably experienced this when, after eating an ample Thanksgiving dinner, you find that, yes, you could eat a little more dessert after all.
Semaglutide works in your body in the same way your natural GLP-1 hormones work — but it has a longer effective period. It makes you feel full for a longer period. As a result, you stop eating for a longer period, and you eat less. Now your body is working with you when you try to eat healthy and restrict calories, rather than you feeling constantly hungry. The result is weight loss.
But that’s not all semaglutide does. It also slows down the rate at which your stomach empties. That also keeps you feeling full for longer. You’re likely to find you don’t want seconds or dessert. You may find it easy to stop snacking between meals because, well, you’re already satisfied.
How Does Semaglutide Work?
Your body releases natural GLP-1 hormones every time you eat. These hormones reduce your appetite and help you to feel full. However, they’re active only for a very short time. Semaglutide mimics these hormones, so you feel full and less hungry without eating. It reduces your appetite, so you eat less — and it keeps up that effect for much longer than the natural hormones.
Semaglutide also slows your digestive process. It decreases the rate at which your stomach empties after eating, which helps you feel full longer. So while you still need to make healthy food choices, including choosing low-calorie foods and reducing the amount of fat in your diet, your body now works with you to make those choices easier. That’s because you feel full and satisfied while eating less food.
Semaglutide also keeps your body in balance as you lose weight. Many people find they rarely feel full while they’re losing weight. They’re hungry all the time. That’s because the hormone controlling hunger actually increases when you lose weight. Semaglutide pushes back against that feeling.
How Is Semaglutide Administered?
You’ll administer semaglutide yourself in the privacy of your own home after we get you started on your regimen. It’s administered as an injection, which you only need to take once a week. You can take it at any time of the day, with or without food, as you prefer. The only timing requirement is you take the injection on the same day of the week each week. You can choose your own injection site. Most men opt for the upper arm or the thigh, often changing the injection site each week.
We’ll start you off on a low dose of .25 mg per week. Over 3 to 4 months, the dosage increases gradually until you’re at the maximum effective dose of 2.4 mg per week. If your body doesn’t adjust to the new hormone right away, we might spread out the time to reach full dosage for another month or two. Because your body gets to ramp up slowly, any side effects you might experience are minimized.
By about the 3-month mark, you should start to see weight loss results. Those results should continue for about a year in most cases, and maintenance use of semaglutide will help you keep the pounds off.
Does Semaglutide Have Other Benefits?
Yes, it does — though we get it if you feel as though losing 16% of your body weight is already a significant benefit. Because semaglutide was originally developed to help people with Type 2 diabetes, it has all sorts of good effects on blood sugar levels. Many men who are carrying extra weight may not be aware they’re pre-diabetic. When you take semaglutide, your blood sugar becomes better regulated, so you are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
In addition, many men taking semaglutide find their blood pressure starts to come down a bit, decreasing your risk for stroke, heart disease or heart attack. And there’s even more good news. Semaglutide is a long-term weight loss aid. That means you’re more likely to keep off the weight you lose. If you’ve ever crash-dieted, only to see the pounds come right back the moment you stop the ultra-restrictive diet, you know what a great benefit this is.
Are You a Candidate for Semaglutide?
Because semaglutide is a prescription drug, you have to meet certain criteria established by the FDA to be eligible to take it. If your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher, which classifies you as medically obese, you are eligible to receive a prescription for semaglutide. In addition, if you have a BMI between 27 and 30, which classifies you as overweight, you may also be eligible. In this case, you must also have a co-occurring weight-related medical condition, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol.
Given 70% of Americans are eligible to receive a semaglutide prescription, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to take it. And if you aren’t in that 70%, it’s because the FDA doesn’t think you need to lose weight (which must feel pretty good to hear). If you do qualify, get ready for a real game-changing experience.
What Might Keep You From Being a Candidate for Semaglutide?
Not everyone with a BMI of 27 or above is necessarily a candidate for semaglutide treatment. There are a few specific medical conditions that can make semaglutide a bad idea. If you have experienced increased heart rate, gallstones or any other gallbladder issues, pancreatitis, kidney disease, diabetic retinopathy or low blood sugar, you should talk to your doctor before trying semaglutide.
Even more important: anyone with a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN-2) must avoid semaglutide. If you have a history of depression, suicidal ideation or mood disturbances, you should also not take semaglutide.
If you’re an insulin-dependent diabetic, you may be able to take semaglutide. However, because the medication isn’t intended for use by people with Type 1 diabetes, your dosage may have to be adjusted and monitored carefully.
When you come to us at Texas Men’s Health Group, we’ll be able to talk through your weight loss goals and your current medical conditions and medications to determine what your best way forward is.
Is It Time to Check Out Semaglutide?
If you think you qualify for semaglutide treatment and you’ve been wanting to lose that extra weight, the answer to this question is easy. Yes. You should make an appointment with us at Texas Men’s Health Group to see whether semaglutide is the right solution for you.
We have the expertise you need to help you understand and explore the reasons for your weight gain. Many men start gaining weight in their 40s and beyond. In some cases, weight gain is a result of the drop in your naturally occurring testosterone that occurs to men as they age. Beginning in your 30s, you can expect to produce 1% less testosterone per year, with a host of accompanying side effects that can include loss of libido, mental fogginess, loss of physical strength, decreased energy, sleep disturbances — and yes, weight gain, especially around the belly.
If testosterone deficiency is at the root of your weight gain (and other symptoms), we can help you with that. We can also help if you’re experiencing other signs of aging and want to push back against them through treatment with human growth hormone peptides. (And yes, that treatment also fights back against weight gain.)
At Texas Men’s Health Group, we are dedicated to helping you stay vital and vigorous even as you age, and we offer a plethora of solutions to that end. Contact us today to see how we can help you with semaglutide or other treatments to boost your health and wellbeing.