Weight Loss

Does Ozempic make you feel full?

July 1, 2024

Written by Maeve Ginsberg

Medically reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

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obesityobesity
Contents

Key Points

  • Ozempic makes you feel full by delaying gastric emptying and activating the part of your brain that is connected to appetite.
  • Ozempic, Wegovy, and other semaglutide drugs have been shown to help weight loss in people with obesity and diabetes.
  • GLP-1 agonists also help with blood sugar and insulin, heart disease, and blood pressure.

Ozempic, Wegovy, and other weight loss drugs are all the news lately for their ability to help people lose weight. And it's true: these medications have been shown to improve blood sugar levels, reduce risk of death from heart disease and related factors, and, of course, lose weight.

But you might have also heard that Ozempic makes you "feel full." And you might be wondering: How does that work exactly?

Does Ozempic make you feel full? Let's examine the diabetes medication and how it works, as well as discuss other weight loss medications and their impact on diabetes and weight management.

Why does Ozempic make you feel full?

Ozempic is a medication for type 2 diabetes with semaglutide, a GLP-1 agonist which mimics a hormone of the same name to manage blood sugar levels.

GLP-1 delays gastric emptying, which means it takes food longer to travel through the digestive system which can contribute to a sense of fullness. Drugs like Ozempic also act on the brain, either directly activating the hypothalamus or indirectly activating the vagus nerve, signaling that you feel full, thereby reducing appetite and overall intake.

In essence: Ozempic makes you feel full because you are digesting slower and your brain is receiving signals that you are full.

Due to this, some people experience side effects like nausea and vomiting as they increase their doses.

How does Ozempic work for weight loss?

Drugs like Ozempic have become renowned for their ability to help obese and diabetic people lose weight. It's not that the drugs themselves make you lose weight – it's that they ease the process.

In a summary analysis of multiple trials, it was found that "A lower energy intake was considered the key factor responsible for bodyweight reduction," meaning that a lower calorie intake was the most important factor in weight loss when taking obesity medicine.

Ozempic and Wegovy, which also uses semaglutide but is approved for weight loss, have also been found to have positive impacts on other comorbidities like heart health, blood pressure, and insulin.

Both drugs are administered subcutaneously via a shot once per week. You start with a low dose and increase every week or month based on your progress at the advisory of your healthcare provider.

In one study, patients taking semaglutide had a 26% lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or nonfatal stroke than did those receiving the placebo. Patients also experience clinically meaningful and sustained weight loss and a reduction in systolic blood pressure.

Wegovy and Ozempic have also been shown to improve glycemic control and insulin levels. For those with diabetes or obesity, this is a significant factor. The same summary analysis found that semaglutide was the most effective in both weight loss and glycemic control compared to other weight loss and diabetes drugs, like liraglutide and Mounjaro.

The mental effect of drugs like Ozempic is one of the most notable things. Reducing appetite and signaling a sense of feeling full can help reduce "food noise" in the brain, leading people to think about (or obsess over) food less. For many struggling with obesity, the impact of this is life-changing, feeling that they understand when they are full for the first time.

How long does it take to lose weight with Ozempic?

Most trials on Ozempic and Wegovy have been at least 20 weeks long, with most being over a year long. Most people start the drugs at a lower dose, slowly increasing every week or month based on results and side effects. Your healthcare provider will determine your dose and the rate at which you should increase it based on your individual results.

Novo Nordisk, the creator of Ozempic, recommends starting at 0.25 mg weekly. You'll likely stay at this dose for the first four weeks before determining if you'll increase to a 0.5 mg weekly dose. Some people see great results with both blood sugar and weight loss on lower doses while others need to continue increasing up to the 2-2.4 mg weekly higher doses (the maximum doze of Ozempic is 2 mg while Wegovy is 2.4 mg).

How much weight can you lose with weight loss medication?

One clinical trial from 2021 found that, after 68 weeks, participants with obesity who took the full dose of Ozempic and made lifestyle changes lose 14.9% of their body weight – an average of 34 pounds per participant.

Another summary analysis found that 86.5% of participants on semaglutide lost at least 5% of their body weight. For someone starting at 200 pounds, that's at least a 10 pound weight loss.

How much weight you might lose on a drug like Ozempic depends on a multitude of factors, including your starting weight, comorbidities and health conditions, and lifestyle. As previously mentioned, lifestyle changes are critical to success with any weight loss medication. Ozempic or Wegovy alone don't change your metabolism; they simply change how your brain thinks about food and eating.

If you're wondering if Ozempic or Wegovy might be right for you in your weight management journey, start by talking to your healthcare provider. For support in managing your diabetes and weight loss, find a dietitian covered by your health insurance with Fay.

Wegovy vs. Ozempic: What's the difference?

GLP-1s have been shown to aid in weight reduction in obese patients with and without diabetes through improved glycemic control via stimulating insulin and inhibiting glucagon.

Wegovy and Ozempic have the same active ingredient of semaglutide but are approved for different purposes:

  • Ozempic is FDA approved and indicated to treat type 2 diabetes and heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes and preexisting heart conditions like heart attacks and stroke. Ozempic is prescribed off-label as a weight loss drug.
  • Wegovy is approved for weight loss and heart disease treatment in adults who are obese or overweight with known heart conditions.

These obesity medicines have a risk of side effects, namely vomiting and nausea. If you quality for the medication, you will need to have bloodwork done before to ensure that your pancreas and liver are healthy enough to process the drug.

How a dietitian can help

Only a medical provider can prescribe obesity medicine, but when it comes to managing weight loss, a dietitian is the best professional for the job. Dietitians are well-versed in weight loss medications, obesity, diabetes, and overall weight management. With their help, you can navigate your changing appetite and find meals that satisfy you while still hitting your weight loss goals.

It's vital to ensure you're hitting both your macro- and micronutrient targets and getting the right balance of nutrients to keep your insulin levels consistent and be sure you're giving your body what it needs even as your intake decreases.

A dietitian can provide a custom diet plan to help manage all of these factors and support you as you make the necessary lifestyle changes to lose weight in a sustainable way.

Weight loss can be a difficult and emotional process. An RD is there to support every step of the way, from mental challenges to weight loss plateaus.

Working with a registered dietitian doesn't have to be expensive, either. With Fay, you can find a board-certified registered dietitian nutritionist covered by your insurance so you could pay as little as $0 per session. Fay also bills directly to your insurance so you don't have to worry.

Find 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.


Sources
  • Journal of Investigative Medicine - Wegovy (semaglutide): a new weight loss drug for chronic weight management
  • The New England Journal of Medicine - Semaglutide and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes
  • Postgraduate Medicine, Volume 134 - Efficacy and safety of semaglutide for weight management: evidence from the STEP program
  • Novo Nordisk - Ozempic 
  • The New England Journal of Medicine - Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity
  • FDA - Ozempic 
  • FDA - Wegovy



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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. 

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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.

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