To know what semaglutide is, you first need to understand what peptides are. Peptides are short chains of amino acids that occur naturally in the body. They’re involved in a variety of biological processes, including cell signaling, metabolism, and inflammation.
Semaglutide is a synthetic form of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a peptide that’s naturally occurring in the gut. GLP-1 is involved in regulating appetite and food intake. It does this by increasing satiety (the feeling of fullness) and decreasing hunger.
What is semaglutide?
Originally developed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analog. GLP-1 is a hormone that’s released after eating that regulates appetite and glucose levels.
Developed by Novo Nordisk, semaglutide was approved by the FDA in December of 2017 as a once-weekly injection to treat type 2 diabetes.
In 2019, the FDA also approved semaglutide for use as a weight loss injection, making it the first and only medication of its kind.
What are the benefits of semaglutide?
1. Helps you lose weight and keep it off.
The most obvious benefit of semaglutide is that it can help you lose weight. In one study, participants who took semaglutide lost an average of 16.5% of their body weight after 68 weeks.
That’s compared to participants who took a placebo, who only lost 5.4% of their body weight.
What’s more, semaglutide was also shown to help people keep the weight off long term. In the same study, participants who took semaglutide were able to maintain 50% of their weight loss after one year.
2. Reduces the risk of diabetes and other obesity-related diseases.
Weight loss isn’t just about looking good. It’s also about reducing your risk of obesity-related diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Obesity is a major risk factor for all of these conditions. In fact, obesity is responsible for 1 in 12 deaths worldwide.
Semaglutide has been shown to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. In one study, participants who took semaglutide had a 58% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who took a placebo.
Participants who took semaglutide also had a lower risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
3. Improves quality of life.
By helping you lose weight, semaglutide can also improve your quality of life. In one study, participants who took semaglutide reported improvements in their physical health, mental health, and overall quality of life.
Participants who took semaglutide also reported improvements in their ability to work and be productive. They also had fewer sick days and missed less work.
4. It’s well tolerated.
Semaglutide is generally well tolerated, with the most common side effects being nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own.
How does semaglutide work?
With all its benefits, you might be wondering how semaglutide works. Semaglutide works by mimicking the effects of GLP-1, a hormone that’s naturally occurring in the gut.
GLP-1 is involved in regulating appetite and food intake. It does this by increasing satiety (the feeling of fullness) and decreasing hunger.
By mimicking the effects of GLP-1, semaglutide can help you lose weight by reducing your appetite and making you feel fuller after eating.
It’s believed that semaglutide works by affecting the areas of the brain that control hunger and satiety. Semaglutide is thought to reduce hunger by inhibiting the activity of hunger-stimulating hormones, like ghrelin.
It’s also thought to increase satiety by increasing the activity of satiety-stimulating hormones, like peptide YY and GLP-1.
How do you take semaglutide?
Generally, semaglutide is taken as a once-weekly injection. The injection can be given subcutaneously (under the skin) or intramuscularly (into the muscle). Naturally, the subcutaneous injection is less invasive and is the preferred method.
The semaglutide injection pen comes with everything you need to give yourself a semaglutide injection, including the needle and alcohol swab. To give yourself a semaglutide injection, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Clean the injection site with an alcohol swab.
- Remove the semaglutide pen from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cap from the semaglutide pen and check that the plunger is in the “up” position.
- Insert the needle into the semaglutide pen.
- Turn the dial on the semaglutide pen to select your dose.
- Pinch a fold of skin at the injection site and insert the needle into the skin.
- Push down on the plunger to inject the semaglutide.
- Withdraw the needle and apply pressure to the injection site with your finger.
- Replace the cap on the semaglutide pen.
- Dispose of the used needles and semaglutide pen in a sharps container.
Before you start taking semaglutide, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the potential risks and side effects. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you if semaglutide is the right weight loss treatment for you.
Note: Never start or stop taking semaglutide without first talking to your doctor. Check out Peptide Injections for Weight Loss: The New Fat-Busting Tool?
What are the risks and side effects of semaglutide?
Like all medications, semaglutide comes with potential risks and side effects. The most common side effects of semaglutide are:
- Nausea– Unfortunately, nausea is a common side effect of semaglutide. If you experience nausea, try taking semaglutide with food or at bedtime. You can also talk to your doctor about other ways to reduce nausea.
- Vomiting– Along with nausea, vomiting is another common side effect of semaglutide. If you’re vomiting, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. You can also talk to your doctor about other ways to reduce vomiting.
- Diarrhea– If you experience diarrhea, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. You can also talk to your doctor about other ways to reduce diarrhea.
- Abdominal pain– Some people experience abdominal pain when taking semaglutide. This is believed to be caused by the semaglutide affecting the lining of the gut. If you experience abdominal pain, see your doctor.
Less common side effects of semaglutide include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Decreased heart rate
- Dry mouth
Semaglutide is a relatively new medication, so more research is needed to understand the long-term risks and side effects. To keep safe, consult your doctor before starting semaglutide.
Semaglutide is a new medication that’s showing promise as a weight loss treatment. Semaglutide is thought to work by affecting the areas of the brain that control hunger and satiety. While promising, semaglutide is a new medication and more research is needed to understand the long-term risks and side effects.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, talk to your doctor about whether semaglutide might be right for you.