Ozempic for Weight Loss: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Ozempic boasts impressive weight loss results in individuals with obesity and diabetes, but will it work the same for those who're somewhat lean?

female bodybuilder holding Ozempic box over their heads with lights flashing and background athlete crowd cheering on

Weight loss necessitates pain.

Sacrifice. And hunger to a certain degree — no matter how much “satiating, low-calorie-density” foods you may load up on.

No magic pill will help you lose weight effortlessly; without consciously limiting what (and how much) you put in your mouth and increasing your activity levels. Right? Well, at least, that’s the narrative we’ve always been fed.

But what if we were wrong? What if weight loss could indeed be easy?

Of course, we’re talking about Ozempic: the weight loss medication that’s created quite the buzz … everywhere. (Over half of the global adults are “usually trying to lose weight”, after all.)

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a once-weekly injectable — though recent clinical trials suggest that it could be available in pill form soon-ish — medication that lowers blood sugar levels and regulates insulin in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

You don’t have diabetes. Could you benefit from “optimizing” your blood sugar levels?
Continuous Glucose Monitoring: The Key to Healthy Eating?
Continuous glucose monitoring—you don’t have diabetes, but you wish to use it to tweak your diet for better blood sugar control. Should you?

And while it excels at helping individuals with diabetes control their blood sugar levels, researchers noticed a fascinating, unplanned-for outcome: significant weight loss.

Anywhere between 5% to 20% loss in baseline body weight.

Even in individuals without diabetes (but obese or overweight). To put that into perspective, Ozempic could potentially zap 20 kg (44.10 lbs.) off someone with an initial weight of 100 kg (220.46 lbs.) in as little as a few months, just like that. *snaps fingers*

Learn how long weight loss usually takes here:
Muscle Growth And/or Weight Loss: How Long Does It Take?
When will your muscles grow? And weight loss: how long does it take? If you’re sick of the advice “Be patient”, this article was written for you.

How does Ozempic cause weight loss?

Did your eyes bulge a little at those numbers? If so, you're probably thinking, "What sorcery is this?"

Don't worry. There's no black magic at play.

How Ozempic induces weight loss actually falls back on the trusty principle of energy balance. See, Ozempic is a brand name for the active ingredient (i.e., “generic name”), “semaglutide”, much in the same way TYLENOL® is to paracetamol.

Semaglutide imitates a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (i.e., it’s a GLP-1 agonist) you naturally produce in your intestine, which:

  • Limits appetite by signaling to your body that you feel full, and
  • Prompts your stomach to empty more slowly (which enhances satiety)
So, to that effect, you’d feel fuller faster and stay fuller for longer.

Which leads to? 🔔 Ding ding ding — a reduced calorie intake, tipping your energy balance toward the deficit side of things.

What to consider before taking Ozempic for weight loss

OK, so. Based on everything you've learned, Ozempic looks realll good to you.

It imitates a hormone your body already produces to enhance your satiety and help you shed excess weight … begging the question, “What’s the catch?” 🎣

Turns out, there are several.

You’ll have to convince a doctor to give it to you

Ozempic isn’t FDA-approved for weight loss.

Now, it isn’t unusual for doctors to prescribe medications for “off-label” use (i.e., for a different purpose from what the medication is explicitly for).

But it’ll mean the onus falls on you to find a doctor willing to prescribe you Ozempic. (Some glib will likely be necessary.)

Assuming you’ve found THE doctor, it’ll still cost you (like, a lot)

Of course, this varies based on your geographical location and whether you have insurance coverage.

For instance, someone in the United States who has insurance coverage will only need to pay US$25 for a month’s supply of Ozempic, a drastic reduction from the eye-watering US$804 those without coverage would have to fork out.

Those in the UK and Canada can also expect more wallet-friendly prices than those in the United States.

It’s not an “inject-and-lose-weight” affair

Remember how Ozempic supposedly could help you lose up to 20% of your baseline weight just like that?

We were exaggerating a lil’.

Multiple clinical studies have shown that participants with BMI values ≥ 25.0 (i.e., overweight and obese) have lost significantly more weight than those in the placebo group.

But it’s important to note that both groups were also subjected to lifestyle intervention programs.

Even those on Ozempic made wiser dietary choices and made efforts to move more throughout the study period.

Meaning? If you were only to take Ozempic, you'd be lucky to see a 5% reduction in weight.

Nausea, malnutrition, and all the side effects

Ozempic causes food to stay longer in your stomach than it should.

Common Ozempic side effects thus include upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, bloating, and malnutrition.

Many experts also recommend individuals on Ozempic avoid high-fat foods (e.g., French fries, burgers, and pizzas) as these tend to exacerbate the above-listed common side effects of Ozempic.

Current research involves individuals with BMI values ≥ 25.0

Look into the clinical studies on Ozempic, and you’ll see that the participants are either overweight/obese or have type 2 diabetes.

Ozempic hasn't been systematically tested in "healthy" people with lower body weights.

So, if you are technically at a "healthy" weight, it's entirely possible that you'd experience less significant weight loss results and/or worse side effects.

Stop, and you’ll likely regain the weight

Ozempic induces weight loss by boosting your satiety.

That means it'll only work for as long as you take it. So, do you see yourself taking Ozempic (or any GLP-1 agonist alternative) for the long term?

For the rest of your life?

Those who (actually) need it may not get it

The important thing to remember about Ozempic is that it’s a diabetes medication.

In many countries, the sheer demand for the drug — as an off-label weight loss medication — is greater than the manufacturer can supply.

The result?

Those with diabetes are left struggling with supply shortages, unable to get their hands on the drug that’ll help them control their blood sugar levels.

So … should you take Ozempic for weight loss?

TBH, only you can answer that (after carefully considering the pros and cons).

But regardless of whether you eventually spring for Ozempic, one thing's for sure: you'll still need to make certain lifestyle changes — from healthier eating habits to regular exercise — to optimize your chances of successfully losing weight.

If you need help with those, check out GymStreak.

Our smart, AI-powered app gives you everything you need to stay on top of your nutrition and fitness routine, including tailored, progressive workout plans and a calorie tracker.

Take a peek below:

Workout Programming + Nutrition Tracking, Off Your Hands

*sigh of relief* We'll guide you through it all — step-by-step. Just download the app, and you'll be making progress toward your dream body like never before.


52% of the World’s Adults Are Trying to Lose Weight. Who Are They? https://business.yougov.com/content/44057-52-worlds-adults-trying-lose-weight. Accessed 14 July 2023.

Aroda, Vanita R., et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Once-Daily Oral Semaglutide 25 Mg and 50 Mg Compared with 14 Mg in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes (PIONEER PLUS): A Multicentre, Randomised, Phase 3b Trial.” The Lancet, vol. 0, no. 0, June 2023. www.thelancet.com, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)01127-3.

Collins, Logan, and Ryan A. Costello. “Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 2023. PubMed, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551568/.

Gao, Xueqin, et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Semaglutide on Weight Loss in Obese or Overweight Patients without Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 13, 2022. Frontiers, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2022.935823.

Ghusn, Wissam, et al. “Weight Loss Outcomes Associated With Semaglutide Treatment for Patients With Overweight or Obesity.” JAMA Network Open, vol. 5, no. 9, Sept. 2022, p. e2231982. Silverchair, https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.31982.

Knop, Filip K., et al. “Oral Semaglutide 50 Mg Taken Once per Day in Adults with Overweight or Obesity (OASIS 1): A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Phase 3 Trial.” The Lancet, vol. 0, no. 0, June 2023. www.thelancet.com, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(23)01185-6.

Livingston, Shelby. “Why Buzzy Weight-Loss Drugs Such as Ozempic and Wegovy Cost so Much More in the US.” Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/weight-loss-drugs-ozempic-cost-more-in-america-than-uk-2023-5. Accessed 14 July 2023.

“Medications Within Borders: Canada Limits Ozempic Purchase.” Medscape, https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/991967. Accessed 14 July 2023.

Ozempic Prices, Coupons & Savings Tips - GoodRx. https://www.goodrx.com/ozempic?dosage=1-prefilled-2mg-pen-of-2mg-3ml&form=carton&quantity=1&label_override=ozempic. Accessed 14 July 2023.

“People with Diabetes Struggle to Find Ozempic as It Soars in Popularity as a Weight Loss Aid.” NBC News, 12 Jan. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/people-diabetes-struggle-find-ozempic-soars-popularity-weight-loss-aid-rcna64916.