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What Is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide is a weight loss treatment that you might have seen sold under the brand name Wegovy. If you are an adult with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher and are classed as obese, or have a BMI of 27 or higher and at least one health condition related to weight, semaglutide could help you with weight loss.

In this comprehensive guide, we discuss the effectiveness of semaglutide as a weight-loss treatment, present its results and compare it with other weight-loss treatments on the market.

What Is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide, sold under the brand name Wegovy, is a weight loss treatment that is combined with regular exercise and a low-calorie diet. It is self-administered and comes in an injection pen. Wegovy is available in a range of five strengths (0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1.0 mg, 1.7 mg and 2.4 mg). Semaglutide is also used in other medications such as Ozempic and Rybelsus (both treatments for type 2 diabetes).

At the time of writing, Wegovy is not available in the UK. But it is expected to be launched later in the year (2023) after being approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Semaglutide was developed by Novo Nordisk, the Dutch pharmaceutical company that owns the Wegovy brand.

What Is Semaglutide Used For?

Semaglutide is used to treat weight loss and type 2 diabetes. You may take semaglutide for weight loss if you are considered obese with a BMI of 30 or higher, or have a BMI of 27 or higher and at least one health condition related to weight (such as type 2 diabetes).

How Does Semaglutide Work for Weight Loss?

Semaglutide has been clinically proven to help people achieve weight loss when used with regular exercise and a low-calorie diet. It is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that mimics the natural GLP-1 hormone. GLP-1 is produced by the body to control blood sugar.

The medication stimulates the release of insulin (a hormone that signals to the body that blood sugar levels are high enough) and suppresses the release of glucagon (a hormone that the body releases when your body has low blood sugar) in the pancreas. As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, semaglutide affects these two hormones, slowing down glucose absorption into the blood and regulating blood sugar levels. This is how semaglutide can reduce your appetite, helping you to lower your calorie intake and lose weight.

In order to receive the full benefits of weight loss treatment semaglutide, it is important to exercise regularly. For some people, this may be difficult to begin with. It is recommended that you begin by taking a brisk 30-minute walk at least four times per week. A healthy diet will also play a key role in achieving your weight loss objectives when taking semaglutide.

For more information, please read our article ‘How Does Wegovy Work For Weight Loss?’.

Semaglutide Weight Loss Dosage Chart

Semaglutide comes in five strengths (0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1.0 mg, 1.7 mg or 2.4 mg), and you will increase your dose every month. Below is a semaglutide weight loss dosage chart for adults:

  • 1st month – a starting dose of 0.25 mg, once per week
  • 2nd month – increased to 0.5 mg, once per week
  • 3rd month – increased to 1.0 mg, once per week
  • 4th month – increased to 1.7 mg, once per week
  • 5th month – increased to the maintenance dose of 2.4 mg

Wegovy should be taken on the same day of every week. If you wish to change the day of the week on which you take Wegovy, you can do this, provided your last dose of Wegovy was administered at least 48 hours before.

If you forget to take a dose of Wegovy, take the missed dose as soon as you remember if you are scheduled to take the next dose more than 48 hours later. If your next dose is scheduled less than 48 hours later, simply skip the missed dose and take your next dose as normal on the scheduled day. If you have missed more than two weeks’ worth of Wegovy, you should ask your doctor for advice on how to restart your treatment. Wegovy can be taken with or without food.

How Long Does Semaglutide Take To Work?

To receive the full benefits of Wegovy (semaglutide) for weight loss, it must be combined with adequate exercise and a healthy diet.

Exercising for 30 minutes a day won’t just help you lose weight, it offers benefits such as improving your sleep and supporting your mental health. There are many ways to exercise while taking Wegovy to lose weight. You may wish to build up intensity gradually with brisk daily walks. Alternatively, muscle-building workouts using weight training and bodyweight exercises can help you to retain muscle mass as you lose weight.

In terms of diet, when you are taking Wegovy for weight loss, try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains. These types of foods are rich and fibre and nutrients. Avoid foods which are processed, high in sugar or high in saturated fats. Take the option of grilled or boiled foods over fried dishes.

Semaglutide vs Saxenda

Semaglutide and Saxenda can both be used as weight loss treatments and work in the same way, being GLP-1 receptor agonists that help to regulate and reduce appetite. The two medications are immediately effective in suppressing appetite but will take longer to help achieve weight loss in combination with regular exercise and dietary changes.

Both Semaglutide and Saxenda come in various strengths – doses are increased gradually. Saxenda is administered every day, unlike Semaglutide, which is administered once per week.
A study found that adults who took semaglutide for weight loss lost more weight compared to adults who took Saxenda.

You can learn more about how the two weight loss treatments compare by checking out our article 'Wegovy Vs Saxenda'.

Is Semaglutide Safe?

Semaglutide is safe provided you take the medication exactly as prescribed. You should always check with your doctor before taking the medication; ensuring that you are a good candidate for the medication and are not taking anything that may interact with it. You should inform your doctor if you are currently taking medicines such as dulaglutide, exenatide and liraglutide. There are also some vitamins and herbal supplements that could affect semaglutide.

You can find a comprehensive list of semaglutide interactions here.

Semaglutide Side Effects

Not everyone will experience side effects from semaglutide. Clinical trials showed the most common side effects of semaglutide to be:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

Other common side effects include:

  • Swelling
  • Itching at the injection site
  • Redness at the injection site
  • Tiredness

If you are concerned by any of these side effects, or they persist, inform your doctor.

Serious side effects from semaglutide are rare. If you experience side effects seek immediate help, this includes:

  • Changes to vision
  • Signs of kidney, gallbladder or pancreas disease
  • Severe stomach pain

Where to Buy Semaglutide

Semaglutide is currently available in the UK as a diabetic medicine and is expected to be launched as a weight loss treatment (under the brand name Wegovy) in 2023.

Join our mailing list and be informed when Wegovy is in stock. Email us with the subject 'WEGOVY" at: [email protected].