Skinny Shot

What’s all the fuss about these diabetes medications that are being used for weight loss? Do they really work and why?

The short answer to this question is yes, they really work for most* people who take them. This has caused people to go wild in the attempts of getting their hands on this “magic medicine.” The “why” is a little more involved…

Obesity is an epidemic in this country of epic proportion. Studies suggest that as many as 100 hundred million (43%) of adult Americans and 15 million (20%) of children are obese in this country. This is directly related to lack of physical activity and eating a poor diet full of fast and convenient, processed foods that are heavily laden with preservatives, genetically modified ingredients, saturated fat, refined sugar and salt. The stark reality is, good and nutritious food is expensive and most don’t have the means to afford being able to eat as healthfully as they would like to. In addition to the lack of affordablility, there just isn’t enough time in the day to make daily home cooked meals.

You hear all the time, “I have tried EVERYTHING and still, can’t lose weight.” There is always a new fad diet out that promises amazing results; however, rarely delivers them. You can’t really blame it on diets as much as our fast paced and inactive culture that leads people to developing insulin sensitivity/resistance and metabolic resistance in large part because of what we have deemed as a way of life. Of course, there are other reasons outside of a person’s control in developing these conditions, but the large majority have done it to themselves. This is precisely what has set medications like Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro apart—their ability to produce significant results.

Ozempic has been used in this country to treat Type 2 Diabetes since 2017. Physicians noticed the enormous benefits that this medication had on insulin production, satiety and subsequently, weight loss. After clinical trials, the medication Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, was approved for weight loss under the brand name, Wegovy. Mounjaro, is a similar medication that is used for Type 2 Diabetes that has been shown to have even better weight loss potential than Wegovy has. Currently Mounjaro is not approved for weight loss, but most believe that soon it will gain FDA approval; however, will be rebranded under another name. Just as Wegovy is the “sister to Ozempic.” Mounjaro will be the brother to “TBD.” People who have not been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes are now using these medications for weight loss and loving the results they are getting from them. Practitioners can use medications off label at their discretion to treat their patients if the patient is eligible and they feel will benefit from taking them. Therefore, those who can get Wegovy or Mounjaro from the pharmacy or are able to pay out of pocket for them are reaping huge benefits.

Let me give you a brief explanation why these two medications have helped tens of thousands of people lose weight, when everything else they have tried has failed. Both medications contain GLP-1 (glucagon like peptide). This is a hormone that we already naturally make in our bodies. GLP-1 decreases blood sugar levels by increasing the demand on your pancreas to secrete more insulin. This is important because all those people that are insulin resistant are now able to have their body produce more because of this peptide. Doctors found that not only did this peptide help reduce blood glucose levels, but also played a large role in satiety. The feeling of being satisfied after eating. This was a game changer for people because suddenly, they didn’t feel the need to constantly eat. For many, it has given them the ability to not think about food at all. Consequently, people eat far less and can create that caloric deficit needed for weight loss and help their body efficiently respond to glucose in the bloodstream. Tirzepatide, the generic name for Mounjaro, also contains GLP-1, but has an additional hormone, GIP (gastric inhibitory polypeptide) that influences adipose/fat metabolism. It is thought by many, because of this additional hormone, people tend to lose more weight.

Like with all great things, there are some not so great things associated with these medications. They have side effects: thyroid cancer, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, dry mouth to name a few. If you aren’t turned off by the side effects, not everyone is a candidate to take these medications. If “you” or a family member have ever had MTC or MEN2, history of pancreatitis, kidney disease, current gall bladder disease or don’t meet the BMI criteria. Another downfall is most of the time people are paying out of pocket for these medications and they are quite expensive. While these medications have the potential to be life changing, we don’t know yet what happens when people have reached their goal and stop taking them? They haven’t been around long enough in the respect of weight loss to have any definitive conclusion. Maintenance is always tricky when anyone loses weight. One can assume that the same will hold true for these medications, as well. Time will ultimately tell us what we need to know. For now we will have to wait and see.

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