Grab your cheat sheet
If you’ve been searching for a product to help you lose weight, then you’ve probably heard of Wegovy.
It’s been all over the internet lately, particularly with celebrities such as Elon Musk and Chelsea Handler having recently owned up to trying Wegovy (or similar weight loss injections).
When public figures like these admit to using a weight-loss product like Wegovy, it naturally gets people talking and wondering if it could work for them.
And to be honest, it intrigued us too. So we decided to cut through all the noise and get straight to the heart of the issue: does Wegovy work?
Is this really the new “must-have” weight-loss solution?
Or is it just hype?
To see what it’s all about, we dug down into the ingredients, the dosages, and the science behind how this new drug treatment is supposed to work.
Here are our thoughts on whether or not Wegovy is a safe and effective weight-loss aid.
What is Wegovy?
The first thing to know about Wegovy is that it’s not your standard weight-loss product. It’s not a supplement or an oral medication, it’s an injection.
To be specific, it’s an injection of a drug called Semaglutide. This is an antidiabetic drug that is prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It can also be prescribed as an anti-obesity medication to aid long-term weight management.
So why the two names?
Well, Semaglutide is the actual name of the drug, which is then sold under brand names like Wegovy.
Another Semaglutide brand name you might be familiar with is Ozempic. Both of these products, along with a similar drug called Rybelsus, are manufactured by the same company: Novo Nordisk.
Whilst there are many similarities between Wegovy and Ozempic, they are not exactly the same drug; there is a slight difference in the dosages – with Wegovy’s highest dose being 2.4 mg to focus on weight-loss effects, and Ozempic providing a maximum dose of 2 mg for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Who is Wegovy intended for?
Wegovy is really just intended for people with obesity, as well as those carrying a large amount of excess body weight along with having weight-related medical issues.
So this is not a drug treatment suitable for most people.
Healthcare providers would typically only prescribe Wegovy to individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30 (i.e., a person living with obesity).
However, people with a BMI of over 27 but who also have medical problems related to weight management (such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other cardiovascular risk factors) may also qualify for a prescription.
Despite these supposedly rigorous prescription parameters, people are still trying to get hold of Wegovy or Ozempic to help with their general weight-loss goals. Such strong demand, along with manufacturing problems, has led to an apparent shortage of Semaglutide drugs in several countries, including the US and Canada.
This lack of availability has unfortunately brought about an uptick in counterfeit Semaglutide drugs being marketed by unscrupulous parties, which many desperate customers have purchased in the absence of the genuine thing.
Fake or unauthorized versions of prescription drugs should be avoided entirely as they are unlikely to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, therefore, could lead to unknown side effects and severe adverse reactions.
Does Wegovy work?
Wegovy clearly states that the medication should go hand-in-hand with a reduced-calorie diet and an increase in physical activity – so it should not be perceived as some miracle drug that requires no effort from the user.
The science behind Wegovy is actually pretty sound, which is why healthcare providers are willing to prescribe it to treat diabetes.
Semaglutide works by mimicking an appetite-suppressing hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which sends signals to your brain telling it that you’re full.
By doing so, a GLP-analogue like Semaglutide can help regulate how much you eat – the idea being that you’ll ultimately require fewer calories to feel satiated, and you can therefore reduce your food intake and lose weight.
The drug also delays the emptying of your stomach, so you feel fuller for longer; plus it boosts the release of insulin to help regulate your blood pressure and sugar levels – and can therefore be used as a treatment for diabetes.
There are some impressive statistics to back up the claims as well. A 68-week, double-blind medical trial concluded that Wegovy could lead to an average 15% reduction in body weight when combined with increased physical activity and a reduced-calorie diet plan.
The participants in the study were all adults living with obesity or with excess weight along with a weight-related medical issue (although people with type 2 diabetes were excluded from the study), with an average starting weight of 232 lbs.
After the trial, over 83% of participants had lost 5% or more of their total body weight, compared to 31% of a placebo group.
Likewise, a higher percentage of participants lost 10% and 15% of their body weight whilst trialing Wegovy than the placebo group – 66% vs. 12% and 48% vs. 5%, respectively.
Finally, almost one in three (30%) were even able to lose 20% or more of their body weight during the trial, compared to just 2% of those given placebos.
Whilst there is clearly precedent for significant weight loss with Aemaglutide-containing products, the mechanism behind their effectiveness is such that once you stop taking the medication, you are liable to put your body weight back on.
It bears repeating, too, that these weight-loss figures concern people with large amounts of excess body weight to lose. It was not trialed as a weight-loss tool for the general public, and it should not be considered as such.
How to take Wegovy
As an injectable medication, taking Wegovy isn’t as simple as swallowing a capsule or pill – there’s a bit more to consider with this new weight-loss drug.
The official Wegovy website has a handy video that walks the viewer through the process step by step, though, so users can always refer back to that should they need a reminder of how it works.
We’ll also run through how to take Wegovy now to provide you with a quick outline of what’s involved.
The key takeaways are:
- The medication is delivered in single, weekly doses by a specialized pen – this is not reusable, and each pen contains just one dose.
- Dosages are already determined and preset by the healthcare provider before being sent out, so there’s no measuring required at home.
- Each weekly dose is to be taken on the same day each week and at the same time (usually 2.4 mg once weekly)
- The user picks an injection site – it should be either the stomach, upper legs, or upper arms (although a partner will be required to assist with injections into the arms). Healthcare providers can help the user choose a site if requested.
- The same body part can be chosen each week, just not the exact same spot each time.
- The site should be cleaned with soap and water or with an alcohol swab before injecting.
- Pressing the pen firmly against the skin will start the injection (a clicking sound will confirm it has begun).
- The pen needs to be held down for 10 seconds to deliver the full dose – a second click will confirm when it is done (the pen’s yellow bar moves as the medication is administered and must have completely stopped before the pen is removed).
- Once the pen is removed away from the skin, it should be disposed of safely in an approved container – not in the regular household trash.
As a side note, it is also recommended that the Wegovy pen is stored in the refrigerator. Although it will be fine for up to 28 days if stored elsewhere between 46-86F.
Dosages begin at 0.25 mg and slowly increase to the full 2.4 mg weekly allowance over the course of five months.
What are the possible side effects of Wegovy?
When you visit the official Wegovy website, one of the first things to greet you is a large disclaimer stating that the product may cause serious side effects – the first ones mentioned being “possible thyroid tumors, including cancer”!
Thank you for being so open and honest about it, we guess. But this is somewhat off-putting, to say the least.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. A whole host of other potential side effects are mentioned, some mild, some moderate, some pretty severe. Here’s what could be in store if you try it and it all goes wrong.
- Stomach flu
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Allergic reaction
These are just the most common side effects of taking Wegovy or other Semaglutide-containing products, by the way.
So whilst it appears that these occur fairly regularly for people on the medication, it doesn’t stop there when it comes to adverse effects. These are obviously bad enough, but they seem pretty minor compared to the other issues these injectable weight-loss drugs can cause.
Potential severe Wegovy side-effects
One of the most concerning links is between Semaglutide and thyroid cancer. There’s a list of warning factors on the Wegovy website related to thyroid issues.
For example, if there is a personal or family history of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), you are warned not to take Wegovy. Likewise, you are urged to avoid the product if you have ever had the endocrine system condition Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).
If, even after reading all of the warnings, you were to try Wegovy, you are told to keep an eye out for any symptoms related to your thyroid, as they can potentially be symptoms of thyroid tumors. You should immediately contact your doctor if you experience shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, swelling of the neck, or hoarseness in the throat.
Whilst thyroid issues are one of the main risks with Semaglutide drugs, the potential for life-changing and life-threatening effects isn’t limited to this area of your body. Serious problems could arise in multiple major organs.
An inflamed pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis) is a distinct possibility. This is signified by severe and persistent pain in the stomach area, with or without vomiting, and can be felt throughout the whole abdomen and lower back.
The kidneys may also be affected, with an increased risk of kidney disease or full kidney failure. Drinking plenty of fluids may help with dehydration caused by Wegovy injections, but diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting can all be exacerbated by the drug and worsen kidney problems.
Gallbladder issues could also arise, including the formation of gallstones (which may require surgery to be removed). Some of the main warning signs are upper abdominal/stomach pain, fever, or jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin).
With Wegovy being a diabetes-related medication, there could also be some adverse effects in this area. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is common for patients with type 2 diabetes who try Wegovy, particularly when combined with other diabetes medications (like insulin or sulfonylureas). There are numerous symptoms that can signify low blood sugar, including dizziness, blurred or changed vision, light-headedness, anxiety, mood changes, irritability, slurred speech, sweating, drowsiness, hunger, confusion, headaches, increased heart rate, feeling weak, shaky, or jittery.
Some people have been known to have allergic reactions to Semaglutide too, which requires immediate medical intervention. Problems with breathing and swallowing, as well as dizziness, fainting, and rapid heartbeat, are all symptoms of this, as is a severe rash or itchiness. Any swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat can also be taken as a sign of a severe allergic reaction.
Finally, and frighteningly, GLP-1 analogues are currently being investigated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), after reports of these weight-loss medications causing depressive thoughts and even suicide in those who have used them. There is also a warning about recognizing any mental health changes like these on the Wegovy website, suggesting that this is in fact a known potential effect.
Medical conditions that should be disclosed to healthcare professionals before using Wegovy include:
- Problems related to the kidneys or pancreas
- Type 2 diabetes or a history of diabetic retinopathy
- Having (or have ever had) depression, suicidal thoughts, or mental health issues
Wegovy can also interfere with pregnancy and breast milk, so it should certainly not be used by anybody who is pregnant or breastfeeding or who even plans to be in the near future.
Any medications or other weight-loss drugs (including over-the-counter medicines, herbal supplements, and vitamins) should be disclosed to a healthcare professional as well, as Wegovy may have an effect on how they work and vice versa.
Along with all of the side effects mentioned by Wegovy themselves, plenty of major reactions have actually been reported by individuals who have tried the semaglutide injections, ranging from frequent vomiting and being unable to eat to incredibly severe reactions like stomach paralysis (otherwise known as gastroparesis).
These issues don’t just occur whilst taking the drug; they have even been shown to persist long after the injections have stopped. The Mayo Clinic states that when it comes to gastroparesis, for example, there is no current cure, only management of the condition. Malnutrition, dehydration, and a decreased quality of life are all major complications that can result from the disease – with the effects still causing problems even years later.
Should I take Wegovy?
With all the hype and attention around Wegovy, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a new miracle weight-loss solution. But, unfortunately, that’s just not the case.
There are some positives around Wegovy, but it should very much be something that is prescribed and monitored by a healthcare professional. Injectable semaglutide products are not for general or everyday weight loss; their use should purely be prescribed for obesity and weight-related medical issues.
The results from the clinical trials may look impressive, but we just can’t look past some of those potential side effects. You should never put yourself in danger or risk your health, nor should you have to – there are plenty of alternatives to Semaglutide injections if you wish to suppress your appetite or lose body weight.
Supplements containing glucomannan (also known as konjac root) or nopal cactus (prickly pear) are safe and easy to use and don’t require a medical professional to administer or prescribe them.
Glucomannan can help regulate appetite by expanding in your stomach so you feel full, and nopal cactus simply binds to dietary fat so it can be removed from your body as waste instead of accumulating as body fat around your waistline.
Low-calorie meal-replacement shakes are another good way to reduce the appetite with no increased risk to your health, as they provide the nutrients that your brain and body requires to feel full, without having to overeat or give in to cravings. Their natural proteins and digestive enzymes can suppress your hunger hormones, and ingredients like oat flour can further restrain your need to binge eat whilst also improving your digestion and blood sugar levels.
Opting for supplements or meal-replacement shakes that are designed to naturally support your metabolism and encourage fat burning is the smart way to get a helping hand with losing weight.
Results will be safe and continue at a steady rate, without the need to fear that your life is in danger from shocking and serious side effects – peace of mind that Semaglutide weight-loss drugs like Wegovy just don’t provide.
Whatever your weight-loss goals are over the coming months and years, please ensure you put your own health and safety first. Don’t ever endanger your quality of life by injecting yourself with dangerous medications – no matter how much weight you want to lose. There are far safer and easier ways to shed the pounds.