Weight Loss

Does Ozempic cause weight gain?

July 2, 2024

Written by Maeve Ginsberg

Medically reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

Reading Time: 
reading time

Key Points

  • Ozempic is a type 2 diabetes drug correlated with weight loss.
  • While drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are unlikely to cause weight gain, weight gain is a concern for life after the medication.
  • A registered dietitian is the most qualified person to help you navigate weight loss and overall weight management before, during, and after taking semaglutide medications.

If you're exploring weight loss and diabetes treatment options, you've likely heard of Ozempic and Wegovy at this point. You might be curious how these medications, along with lifestyle changes, can help with weight management and even improve key diabetes markers like insulin levels.

Do these medications really help you lose weight? And more importantly: does Ozempic cause weight gain?

Let's explore how weight loss drugs like Mounjaro and Ozempic work, as well as whether they can cause weight gain.

Can Ozempic cause weight gain?

Ozempic is unlikely to cause weight gain. Ozempic is approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and Wegovy, which uses the same active ingredient, semaglutide, is approved for weight loss.

Drugs like Ozempic, including Mounjaro (which uses tirzepatide), act on GLP-1 receptors in the brain and have been found to induce weight loss but aren't strictly prescribed for weight management. Only Wegovy is considered a weight loss medication.

That said, it takes time for these drugs to work – some of the most successful studies were over a year long. While it is unlikely that you'll see weight gain as you start using weight loss medication, it may take some time to lose weight and start seeing changes.

Once you've reached your goal or the medication stops working even at the full dose, you may stop taking it. Other people stop using obesity medicine if the costs are too high or the side effects are too severe. It can take several weeks for the drug to leave the body upon cessation, so it may take some time before you feel a difference.

Weight gain comes into the conversation when you consider the long term. As with all weight loss, you need to consider how to mitigate re-gaining lost body weight.

trial of nearly 2,000 people published in 2022 by Novo Nordisk indicated that, one year after stopping 2.4 mg doses of semaglutide, people had regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost. This is likely because their hunger levels returned to what they were before taking the medication.

That doesn't need to be an immediate cause for alarm. What you do after a diet or taking obesity medicine depends on many individual factors: how much weight you lost and how quickly, how much of that weight loss came from fat vs. muscle, and what other lifestyle changes you've taken.

It's also important to keep in mind that these drugs haven't been around for that long. Novo Nordisk, the company that created Ozempic, was first FDA approved in 2016, but the drug has only been in use as it is today since early 2022. We don't yet know what long-term use looks like or what long-term side effects might be.

The best way to handle life both on and off weight loss medication is to work with a dietitian to ensure you're eating properly and taking care of yourself for the long-term. Drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro may be powerful enough on their own, but with the guidance of an RD, you'll be empowered with knowledge every step of the way.

Find a weight loss dietitian covered by your insurance now.

How do Ozempic and Wegovy cause weight loss?

Ozempic mimics a hormone called GLP-1 that is released into the gastrointestinal tract upon eating. GLP-1 prompts the body to release more insulin to help reduce blood sugar. The hormone also signals that you feel full, helping reduce mental appetite, which may cause people to eat less. This slowed digestion is similar to the effects of bariatric surgery.

As is the case with most obesity medicines, semaglutide does not change your metabolism. It is the sense of feeling full that helps people eat less and lose weight. For a lot of people, particularly those with obesity, using Ozempic or Wegovy has shown them what it feels like to feel full for the first time. That's because GLP-1 agonists act on the part of the brain that influences appetite – so many patients feel full with less food than they normally eat.

It's important to note that Ozempic is only FDA approved for type 2 diabetes treatment. Wegovy, which uses the same active ingredient, semaglutide, is approved for weight loss. While Ozempic and Wegovy use the same active ingredient, they are formulated differently and for different purposes.

For both Ozempic and Wegovy, people do not begin taking the full dose at once. They start at a low dose and increase every four weeks until they reach an effective dose or the maximal dose.

The dose increase is determined by your doctor depending on your weight loss progression and overall response to the medication, including improvements in diabetes markers like insulin/glucagon or in heart health like cholesterol.

Should you use Ozempic or Wegovy?

If you're interested in Ozempic as a type 2 diabetes treatment or Wegovy as a weight loss medicine, start by talking to your doctor. Only a licensed medical provider can prescribe drugs like Ozempic.

While Mounjaro, Ozempic, and Wegovy might seem wildly popular, the reality is that only a small percentage of the population is genuinely eligible to use them. This has led to the formulation of off-brand versions of semaglutide being sold by compounding pharmacies, which could contain non-FDA approved ingredients and haven't been through the same testing.

If you are eligible for weight management medication, you will start with a physical and blood tests to ensure you don't have any underlying issues. Your pancreas and kidneys must be healthy enough to process the obesity medicine.

How a dietitian can help

When it comes to weight loss, whether it's with a medication like Wegovy or Mounjaro, or simply through lifestyle changes, a registered dietitian is the most qualified person to support you. They can help provide guidance, share research and knowledge, and cheer you on as you make the necessary changes to lose weight.

Losing weight is difficult enough. Add in the process of trying a new medication like Wegovy, Ozempic, or Mounjaro, and you might feel overwhelmed quickly. A dietitian can guide you every step of the way, finding the best ways to manage your weight loss and/or diabetes so that it feels realistic and sustainable for your personal lifestyle.

When taking something like Ozempic, an RD can help guide you through changing appetite and cravings. They can also help with the transition off the medication to ensure your body weight stays as steady as possible.

You can find a dietitian covered by your health insurance who specialises in obesity, weight loss, and diabetes with Fay. All you have to do is input your insurance information, filter by specialty, and explore your options.

You don't have to face your weight loss journey alone. Get started with a weight loss dietitian with Fay today.

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.

  • Drugs.com - Mounjaro vs Ozempic: How do they compare?
  • Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism: A Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics - Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide: The STEP 1 trial extension
  • Drugs.com - Ozempic FDA Approval History
  • Forbes - How To Get Ozempic: Eligibility Criteria, Cost And More
  • Novo Nordisk - Ozempic

Does your insurance cover nutrition counseling?
When you see a dietitian through Fay, your insurance is likely to cover the cost. Enter your insurance details to get pricing.
Check my benefits
Anthem svg logo
Blue Cross Blue Shield Logo
United Healthcare logo
Aetna svg logo
Cigna svg logo
Humana logo
Maeve Ginsberg

Written by Maeve Ginsberg

Maeve Ginsberg is a health and wellness writer with a personal passion for fitness. As an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and former powerlifter, she loves combining her interests in health with her writing. Maeve has a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. 

Rita Faycurry, RD

Medically Reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

Rita Faycurry, RD is a board-certified Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in clinical nutrition for chronic conditions. Her approach to health is centered around the idea that the mind and body are intimately connected, and that true healing requires an evidence-based and integrative approach that addresses the root cause of disease. In her books and articles, Rita offers practical tips and insights on how to care for your body, mind, and spirit to achieve optimal health and wellness.