Five tips for taking Ozempic for weight loss

Looking to lose weight with Ozempic? Here’s our advice for taking the weight loss medication
Team Habitual
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Update: Wegovy is now prescribed for weight loss in the UK. Ozempic is mostly restricted to treat diabetes. If you are taking Ozempic for weight loss, it might be worth switching to Wegovy, which is available in higher strengths and can lead to higher levels of weight loss. Learn more about Wegovy here.

Ozempic, the drug licensed for patients with type 2 diabetes, has become a highly sought after medication for people looking to lose weight.  

As one in a class of medication called GLP-1 analogs, Ozempic (which contains a compound called semaglutide) mimics naturally occurring hormones that can decrease the concentration of glucose in your bloodstream after eating and lead you to feeling fuller for longer. While initially licensed for patients with type 2 diabetes, Ozempic developed a popular ‘off label’ application for weight loss, with many people without type 2 diabetes accessing the medication to benefit from significant weight loss.

If you are thinking about taking Ozempic for weight loss, it's worth knowing that Wegovy is now available in the UK. Wegovy contains the same active compound as Ozempic, and is available in higher strengths than Ozempic. At present, providers have been advised not to prescribe Ozempic to patients without type 2 diabetes, so your best bet would be signing up for a Wegovy plan if you're looking to access Ozempic for weight loss.

Whether you're taking Ozempic or Wegovy, here are 5 tips for enhancing your outcomes.

1. Follow the medical advice

Throughout your weight loss journey, it’s important to remember to take Ozempic (or Wegovy) in a responsible and safe manner.

For one, you should ensure that you are correctly following the appropriate dosage guidance. Ozempic is taken as a once-weekly injection, increasing in concentration from 0.25mg for the first four weeks, up to 0.5mg for the next four weeks, and then up to 1mg maximum. If you are taking Wegovy, you can escalate further to 1.7mg and then 2.4mg doses.

This gradual increase is done for a reason: to introduce your body to the drug gently and to soften the side effects which may come about from increasing concentrations too quickly. While it may be tempting, do not try to increase your medication in the hope that it will yield faster results.

If you miss an injection, for whatever reason, just make sure that you take it within five days of the missed dose. [1]

It’s advisable to choose a set day that you take your injection on (making it harder to forget to take one). If you want to change the day you take your injection, make sure you are leaving at least 48 hours before starting the new day. To avoid missing injections, set reminders on your phone or calendar, and choose days when you know you’re going to be at home to safely take your injection. 

Like most people, you also may not be used to self-injecting medication. Follow tutorials online (like this one), or get instructions from a doctor who can show you how to inject correctly.

2. Keep track of your progress

Like with any weight loss journey, tracking your progress is both important and helpful if you’re taking Ozempic medication. For one, it ensures you are disciplined about achieving a particular weight goal; but perhaps more importantly, it can keep you motivated and positive about the progress you are making. 

Digital health platforms like Habitual offer access to an accompanying mobile app for anyone taking Ozempic. Not only does this let you log your weight on a regular basis (and allows you to see your progress over time), it also gives you access to community support and expert advice to help you on your weight loss journey. 

You might also want to keep a personal journal for your journey (written, or on a journaling app on your phone—we have a journaling feature in the Habitual app!). There is actually strong science behind journaling and its ability to help individuals achieve weight loss. Some people may use this to keep track of the calories they are eating: if you are taking Ozempic, this can be a useful way to see its effect on your appetite, as well as keep an eye on portion sizes you are consuming. Moreover, journaling can help you identify particular weaknesses in your diet (for example, times when you are prone to snacking, or particular daily treats you enjoy). 

3. Accompany it with a healthier lifestyle

Ozempic, Wegovy, or neither—weight loss isn’t just about eating less, it’s about eating better. Implementing a healthy, well-rounded diet remains the most effective way to lose weight and increase your overall well being. 

Given that Ozempic’s effects will mean you are eating less, it becomes increasingly important that what you are eating is healthy and nutritious. Some small changes might include:

  • Swap simple carbohydrates (sugary foods, white bread, pasta, rice) for complex carbs (wholemeal pasta, brown rice, whole grains)
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least half of your dinner plate should be vegetables)
  • Eat more lean protein (turkey, white fish) than fatty proteins (red meat)
  • Consider using products like Habitual meal replacements to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need, whilst controlling calorie intake

Try to cut out other unhealthy habits, such as smoking and excessive drinking, which can often have a close link to weight gain. 

On top of a healthier, well-rounded diet, you should also be implementing a regular course of exercise. You should aim to do 30 mins a day, five times a week. This doesn’t all have to be vigorous exercise in the gym: go for a walk, play different sports, dance in front of TV. The key to keeping yourself motivated is to keep exercise varied and interesting. Exercise is particularly important to maintaining muscle mass as you lose weight, and can also be a great way to manage your blood sugar levels

Not only will exercise and a balanced diet improve your health physically, exercise will have a positive effect on your mental health. Weight management can be taxing on your mental wellbeing, so it’s important to implement things that will positively impact how you are feeling.

4. Consider alternative medications if you've reached a weight loss plateau

Ozempic is not the only weight loss medication on the market (and, as mentioned above, it's not even licensed for weight loss). Wegovy contains the same compound and is available in two higher strengths than Ozempic, meaning that the weight loss outcomes achievable on Wegovy tend to be better than on Ozempic. If you're taking Ozempic for weight loss, you will likely be able to switch onto an equivalent or higher dose of Wegovy by providing evidence of your prescription, which means you won't need to start from the lowest dose of Wegovy.

There is also another medication which is newer to the UK called Mounjaro. If you're stalling with weight loss on Ozempic or Wegovy, it might be worth switching to Mounjaro, which contains a similar but different compound. While we are still in early days of clinical trials, there is some initial evidence to suggest that Mounjaro may lead to better weight loss outcomes with fewer side effects.[3]

5. Don’t view it as a ‘magic pill’

Throughout your weight loss journey, it’s important to remember: regardless of how effective Ozempic is with helping you reach a healthy target weight, it is not a magic pill for weight loss. 

For one, Ozempic also may not work the same for everyone. Factors like genetics and other underlying healthy conditions may impact its efficacy. 

But more importantly, the ‘magic pill’ mindset can under-emphasise the effort required to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it for a long term period. Drugs like Ozempic can be effective for up to two years if they are used continually [2]. But studies also show that weight regain is likely for those who stop taking Ozempic. [4]

Still further, Ozempic’s efficacy is still heavily influenced by lifestyle factors, hence the need for regular exercise and a healthy diet alongside any medication. Viewing it as an instant cure will set you off on the wrong footing for achieving the target weight you have in mind. And it’s not just about weight in the end, but rather health and happiness—an outcome which may not be achievable if you’re relying on medication to do all the heavy lifting.

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[1] Ozempic dosing. Ozempic, retrieved April 21st 2023. Accessible here

[2] Garvey WT, Batterham RL, Bhatta M et al. Two-year effects of semaglutide in adults with overweight or obesity: the STEP 5 trial. Nat Med. 2022;28(10):2083-91. Accessible here

[3] Tirzepatide versus Semaglutide Once Weekly in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes (2021) Accessible here.

[4] Wilding, J., Batterham, R. Davies, M., et al (2022). Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide: The STEP 1 trial extension, Diabetes Obes Metab. 2022 Aug;24(8):1553-1564. Accessible here

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