What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

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The active component of Ozempic and Wegovy, semaglutide, has the potential to be a potent aid in the promotion of weight loss and management of diabetes. It’s been hailed as a “miracle” weight loss drug for people living with obesity.

But it only functions for as long as it is used, just like with many medications. The moment a person stops taking semaglutide as prescribed, their weight will probably start to return.

Wegovy, which is prescribed for obesity, and Ozempic, a diabetes medication used off-label for weight loss, have seen a sharp increase in prescriptions over the past year. A lot of people are visiting doctors and telehealth providers to get prescriptions for weight loss, whether it’s for obesity treatment or just to lose a few extra pounds.

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

Steven Heymsfield, MD, a professor of metabolism and body composition at Louisiana State University, claims that starting the medication without exercising caution, however, can be harmful in the long run. He said it’s “almost a paradigm” in obesity medicine that when a person stops an effective weight loss treatment, whether it be pharmacologic or behavioral, their weight tends to rebound.

“You take this medication and you lose a lot of weight, according to the warning. But you must continue on it throughout your entire life. Do you agree to carry out that? And if you get off of it, the chances are really good you’re going to go right back to where you were,” Verywell was told by Heymsfield.

People who stopped taking semaglutide after regular use gained back an average of two-thirds of the weight they lost in a year, according to a significant study released last spring. The trial was funded by Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Ozempic and Wegovy.1

“My excitement is balanced with the experience that these drugs are potentially dangerous and they’re very powerful and they should be treated with respect,” Heymsfield said. “This rebound phenomenon is more severe than anything I’ve ever observed. Relapse happens to everyone when they stop receiving treatment for obesity, but this one appears to be linked to a quicker recovery.”

What Happens to Your Body When You Take Ozempic Or Wegovy?

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

Semaglutide increases levels of the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) in the body, which is how it functions. Insulin production is induced by this hormone. GLP-1 drugs help to lower blood sugar and delay stomach emptying, making people feel full longer.2

“A lot of people will tell you if they start taking one of these medications that they finally know what it feels like to feel full,” According to the Obesity Medicine Association’s president, Angela Fitch, MD, FACP, FOMA, Verywell. “If you are unable to identify the sensation of being full, it will be difficult for you to control your eating habits.”

A person who uses semaglutide can eat less without their body going into starvation mode. When the person stops taking the medication, their body will interpret the calorie deficit as a sign of malnutrition and will attempt to regain the lost weight. According to Fitch, this might imply that the person’s previous appetite will return and that their metabolism will once more slow down.

There is a good chance that all the behaviors the person displayed prior to taking semaglutide will recur, including an insatiable appetite and high blood sugar.

A person may stop taking semaglutide for a variety of reasons, including high out-of-pocket expenses or difficulty obtaining the medication due to a shortage. Some semaglutide users report unpleasant side effects like weight loss, a change in attitude toward alcohol, and odd cravings. Those reactions ought to disappear in the weeks following a person’s last dose of semaglutide.

“It has an impact on your biological drive to consume food and alcohol. The desire to resume that behavior returns to normal as soon as you stop it. We don’t have data to show that it gets worse,” Fitch said.

According to Fitch, there isn’t enough evidence to say whether it is effective for a person to stop using semaglutide and then resume it if the weight starts to creep back on.

What Should You Do If You Want to Stop Taking the Drug?

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

There is no need to gradually decrease a person’s dose or cadence if they decide to stop taking semaglutide. A person’s body will naturally cycle through the remaining medication once they stop taking the medication on a regular basis, according to Fitch.

It can take between five and seven weeks for Wegovy to completely leave the body if someone is taking the highest dose possible. To be on the safe side, the label recommends stopping for at least two months before trying to get pregnant.2

According to Fitch, each person’s post-semaglutide health picture will differ depending on how much weight they lost, how quickly they lost it, whether it was muscle or fat, and whether they exercised or took other preventative measures.

She advises those seeking treatment for weight loss to consult frequently with a reputable provider so they can modify their lifestyle and medical attention. It’s critical for someone taking semaglutide to keep up their protein intake and exercise when they start losing weight, according to Fitch. If not, they might not be losing fat; instead, they might be losing muscle.

Sometimes it may be wise for the patient to take less semaglutide to see if they can continue to lose weight before deciding to stop taking the medication.

“I’m worried somewhat about some of the episodic care that’s being delivered quickly with these sorts of medications that isn’t being supported in a long-term fashion,” Fitch said.

Is Ozempic a Sustainable Weight Loss Solution?

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

Even a brief weight loss can have positive effects on health. In the Novo Nordisk study, those who took semaglutide for 68 weeks before stopping were followed. Over the following year, cardiometabolic risk factors—including blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels—rose in participants who stopped taking semaglutide but remained lower than those in the placebo group.1

But losing weight and keeping it off are usually more advantageous. Weight cycling is when a person repeatedly switches between being overweight and underweight. There is some evidence to indicate that the more a person weight cycles, the harder it becomes to keep weight off.3

According to Heymsfield, it is always advisable to combine medications like semaglutide and others that aid in weight loss with dietary and exercise modifications. In this manner, a person won’t have to deal with worse health problems if they decide to stop taking the medication.

In addition, it can be mentally taxing for some people to lose weight only to gain it back.

According to Heymsfield, people who are obese and have tried numerous weight-loss methods frequently feel desperate to use a successful treatment. A rebound might not be advantageous if someone is dealing with depression or other mental health issues related to their weight loss.

Semaglutide can be made more widely available to those who will benefit from it by placing an emphasis on treating obesity rather than pandering to vanity. The Food and Drug Administration has listed Ozempic and Wegovy as having a drug shortage for months.

“I’m very concerned about this rage for these GLP-1 agonists,” Heymsfield said. “Hollywood actors and actresses who are attempting to lose 10 pounds should not be taking these medications; instead, they should be reserved for those who truly require them and pose a health risk due to obesity.”

After a few years, Heymsfield said, weight loss issues typically don’t get better. For those who have obesity, it is a lifelong concern. Semaglutide might be one component of a comprehensive healthcare strategy.

“Keep concentrating on those behavioral adjustments. Try and learn as much as you can while you’re on the drug,” Heymsfield said. “If a more formal weight-control program is more effective for you after you stop taking the drug, do that.”

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