Semaglutide for Weight Loss in People Without Diabetes

By Amber Smith
Sep 24, 2023 4:00 AM
Article 18


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Semaglutide is one of the newest and most effective weight loss drugs on the market. Recently approved by the FDA, this drug is making a name for itself all around the world. This injectable medicine was initially only prescribed for people with diabetes; however it’s now been approved for general weight management. 

Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges of the twenty-first century largely because more people are working from home, fewer people have access to healthy food at a low cost, and many people have metabolic diseases. Obesity can be a chronic issue in some individuals and until now, few pharmacologic options for losing weight have been available to people who have not been able to manage their weight only by increased exercise and decreased calories.

Losing weight can be complicated and many people who struggle to lose weight initially will also struggle to keep it off once the weight is gone. Semaglutide is one of the best new options for people struggling with obesity, which can help to decrease appetite, slow down the emptying of the stomach, and increase feelings of fullness. This allows people to lose weight.

Research uncovering just how effective semaglutide is for weight loss, the approval of semaglutide by the FDA, and the subsequent success of the drug shows how important it is to treat obesity as a metabolic disease in contrast to just expecting obese individuals to use willpower and changes to their lifestyle to manage their weight.

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA). It works by mimicking the naturally produced GLP-1 hormone, which is released in the gastrointestinal tract when you eat. 

GLP-1 generally tells the body to produce higher levels of insulin, which in turn decreases blood sugar levels. This is why it’s been used for years to treat type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, when more GLP-1 is released in the body, it sends a message to your brain, telling it that you’re full. Your brain then suppresses your appetite.  

These reasons demonstrate why semaglutide has been such a successful treatment for obesity when used alongside lifestyle changes Such as healthy eating and increased physical activity. 

Where can I get semaglutide as a person without diabetes?

Semaglutide on Third AvenueEditor’s Choice & Most Effective

If you’re interested in taking semaglutide for weight loss as a person without diabetes, talk to your doctor or go to Third Avenue to find out more. Third Avenue is one our favorite places to go to in order to find out about healthcare options available to us. This company is pioneering the telehealth scene and provides easy, convenient, and accessible options to patients from within their own homes. Third Avenue’s goal is to break down the barriers that stand in the way of people trying to reach their health goals by offering healthcare consultations online, which can cater to your wellness needs.

Third Avenue provides therapies that cater to your personal needs, and they base their therapies around factors such as your age, ethnicity, medical history, and personal preferences to make sure you have the most efficient and personalized service. Third avenue matches you with board-certified experts in weight loss and weight management who can provide you with ongoing 24-hour support 7 days a week.

Semaglutide is also available by prescription from your healthcare provider, so please talk to your doctor to discuss how semaglutide may help you reach your weight loss goals.

Semaglutide is currently in high demand all over the world, which has created a shortage of the medication globally. This has meant that people who do have type 2 diabetes have been unable to access the medications that they need, and that many people are being prescribed semaglutide for off-label purposes.

Off-label use by people who don’t have type two diabetes is contributing to this shortage, and it’s quite tricky for people who have been prescribed this medication to help with the management of their blood glucose levels to get their hands on this medication. 

Even though there’s a global shortage of semaglutide, many other GLP-1 analogue medicines that work similarly to semaglutide can be prescribed to people who do and don’t have type two diabetes. 

Semaglutide for weight loss in people without diabetes

If you don’t have diabetes and are looking to use semaglutide for weight loss, the FDA has currently approved the product Wegovy, which can be used by adults and children aged 12 years or over for weight loss in obese and overweight patients. In addition to this, Wegovy, or semaglutide, is also used by people with medical conditions related to obesity, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, in order to lose weight and maintain weight loss in conjunction with an improved diet and increased physical activity and exercise. 

As the demand for semaglutide grows, health practitioners are prescribing other brands of semaglutide to their patients for off-label use. Other brands that have semaglutide include Ozempic and Rybelsus, which are commonly prescribed, in conjunction with diet and exercise, for weight loss, but are more generally prescribed for management of blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. Additionally, Ozempic is prescribed to patients who are at risk of heart attacks, stroke, and heart disease.

Is semaglutide effective for weight loss in people who don't have type 2 diabetes?

Semaglutide is the newest and best medication on the market to help suppress the appetite to manage and maintain weight loss. However, several other medications are on the market for the purposes of weight management. 

Semaglutide is available for weight loss under a few brand names, such as Wegovy. Your healthcare professional can prescribe a semaglutide medication if they think that it may help you on your weight loss journey. 

Being overweight or obese is complex, and many factors go into the reasons for weight gain and the ability, or inability, to lose weight. Drugs such as semaglutide can help people who have previously struggled to lose weight to finally shed some pounds and help them reach their health goals

What are the side effects of semaglutide?

When people take semaglutide medicines such as Wegovy or Ozempic, they commonly experience side effects such as diarrhea, constipation,  nausea and dehydration. Patients often experience changes in their bowel movements. These side effects can be managed by having your doctor prescribe you other medications such as stool softeners, laxatives, and anti-nausea medications. Severe side effects from semaglutide can be life threatening; however, they are rare. Semaglutide may be associated with an increased risk of developing pancreatitis or forming gallstones, though whether semaglutide directly causes these conditions hasn’t been verified. These conditions are serious, and should be monitored by a primary care physician. 

Generally, to decrease the likelihood and severity of side effects, your doctor will start you off on a lower dosage and gradually build up your dose so that your body can tolerate the medication more easily.

Other common side effects of using semaglutide are:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Heartburn or acid reflux

  • Burping or belching

Serious, and less common side effects of taking semaglutide are:

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Dizziness

  • Fainting

  • Pain that’s ongoing and begins in the middle or upper left stomach area and spreads to the back; it may also include vomiting

  • Changes in vision

  • Yellowing of skin and/or eyes as well as pain in the upper stomach area, fever, and changes in stool color.

  • Decreased frequency of urination, followed by swelling of the extremities

  • Appearance of a rash, itching or swelling of the eyes, mouth, or throat as well as difficulty swallowing or breathing.

If you experience any of the more serious side effects while you’re taking semaglutide, please call your doctor immediately, 

Other serious, yet rare side effects include:

Development of thyroid tumors or cancer

  • If you notice any swelling or lumps on your neck, have it checked by a doctor. Other indications that you may have developed a thyroid tumor include hoarseness, shortness of breath, or trouble swallowing.

  • In studies of rodents, some semaglutide medications caused thyroid cancer and/or tumors. However, it has not yet been determined if semaglutide medications cause these effects in humans.

How is semaglutide supposed to be used?

Semaglutide medications such as Wegovy and Ozempic are available as a prefilled dosing pen that contains the semaglutide solution. The prefilled pen is then used to inject the solution subcutaneously into the skin of the thigh, abdomen, or arm. The medication is supposed to be injected only once a week at the same time each week, at any time of the day. If you want to change the day of the week that you inject the medication, you can do this, as long as it has been at least 48 hours since your last dose. Your doctor will tell you how to use the semaglutide, and you should use the medication as directed. Do not use semaglutide more often or less often than your doctor tells you to. 

Your doctor will likely start you off on a low dose of semaglutide and increase the dosage slowly, generally after four weeks of taking the medication. Your doctor may then wait another four weeks to increase your dosage again depending on how your body reacts to the medication. 

For Ozempic and Wegovy, both of which contain semaglutide, are administered using a pen. The following instructions have been taken from the Ozempic website for use:

First, prepare your pen by checking that the medicine inside is colorless and clear.

Second, attach a new needle to your pen. Do this by tearing off the paper tab and  pushing on the needle and turning it until it is tightly screwed on. 

Next, ensure that your pen is working properly and the flow is correct. To make sure it’s working properly, turn the dose selector part until it shows the flow check symbol. Press and hold the dosage button until the counter reads 0, and ensure that a drop of medicine appears at the tip of the needle. 

Then, select your dosage and administer the injection. Before injecting, turn the dose selector until the dose you are taking appears, then inject your dose by inserting the needle into your skin, and then pressing and holding down the button. When the needle is still in your skin, count to 6 and remove it from your skin. 

After you’ve completed your injection, remove the needle from the pen carefully and dispose of it into a sharps disposal container, and then put the lid back on the pen.

Make sure to rotate the sites of injection each time you use semaglutide. For example, one week, inject it in your upper arm, the next week, inject it in your abdomen, the next week, administer it in your thigh, and so on.

How should I store my semaglutide?

Semaglutide medications need to be stored at a specific temperature to ensure that they remain stable. Before opening your semaglutide medication, it should be stored in the refrigerator, at a temperature between 4 degrees and 8 degrees. Unopened semaglutide medications can be stored in the refrigerator until they reach their expiration date.

After opening, you can either choose to store your semaglutide in the refrigerator or at room temperature. They are safe to keep at room temperature for 30 days after opening.

If you do choose to leave your medication out of the fridge, you need to ensure that your pen won’t be exposed to temperatures over 30°C (86°F). If it’s a hot day, make sure to keep your semaglutide in the fridge or in a cool area to ensure it doesn’t exceed this temperature.

You also need to ensure that the pen’s lid is kept securely in place when stored to protect it from light and to prevent children from potentially coming in contact with the medicine. If your pen gets too hot, is exposed to too much light, or has passed its expiration date, the medication should not be used. If this has happened, the medication may look cloudy, thickened, have particles in it, or have color. This is why it is important to ensure that your medication is clear and colorless before each use.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

Ideally, semaglutide medications should be taken once a week in conjunction with regular exercise and a healthy diet. However, if you miss a dose of semaglutide, you should take the missed dose within 5 days of the missed dose. If 5 or more days have passed since your missed dose, you should skip the missed dose and take your next dose on the regular day that you take the medication. 

Who shouldn't take semaglutide?

Semaglutide medications aren’t suitable for everyone.

You can’t take semaglutide medications if you or any of your family members have or have had medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). Additionally, you shouldn’t take semaglutide if you or any of your family have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome 2 (MEN 2).

Before you take any semaglutide medications, such as Ozempic or Wegovy, you should tell your healthcare provider if you have any other health conditions such as:

  • If you have had any previous issues with your kidneys or pancreas.

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant and breastfeed during the time you plan to take semaglutide. Not enough research has been done on semaglutide to know if it will harm your unborn baby and whether it may be passed into your breast milk. If you’re already using semaglutide, stop using it at least two months before you intend to get pregnant. 

  • If your family has a history of a condition called diabetic retinopathy.

When you stop using semaglutide, do you gain weight back?

It’s possible that when you stop taking your semaglutide medication that you’ll gain back some of the weight you’ve lost. The reason for this is that semaglutide doesn’t cure obesity, and your body won’t continue the metabolic path it was on while you were taking the medication. 

To ensure that you maintain your weight loss with semaglutide, it’s important to implement healthy changes to your lifestyle, including physical activity for 30 minutes per day as well as diet changes to lower calorie foods or smaller portion sizes. 

Does semaglutide decrease your blood sugar if you don’t have type 2 diabetes?

Semaglutide doesn’t contain insulin; it works with your pancreas to produce more insulin if your blood sugar is increased. It also stops the liver from releasing too much sugar into the bloodstream. In addition, it causes food to be emptied from the stomach more slowly, making you feel full for a longer amount of time and decreasing your appetite. 

Why do I keep hearing about celebrities taking semaglutide medications on social media?

While the companies that make semaglutide medications, such as Wegovy or Ozempic, can’t control who uses their prescription-only medications, doctors can make sure that medicines only go to people who need them and who are intended to be treated by the medications. Because we live in the twenty-first century and social media is widely accessible, you may see people—including celebrities—posting about their use of semaglutide to treat type two diabetes and for weight loss. However, it’s important to remember that not everything that you see online about certain conditions is accurate. If you have any questions about semaglutide, talk to your doctor and don't make any changes to the medications you take without first consulting with your healthcare provider.

Can children take semaglutide?

It’s not yet known if semaglutide products such as Wegovy or Ozempic should be used in children; however, some research has found that GLP-1 agonist use in children is potentially dangerous.

Make sure to consult your family doctor before changing any child’s medication. Prolonged use of semaglutide has not yet been studied in children. 

Does semaglutide interact with any other medicines?

Interactions between some medications can change how they work and increase the risk of side effects. Before you start taking semaglutide, let your doctor know which other medications you take so that they can ensure that semaglutide is safe for you. 

Semaglutide can’t be used in combination with other medications that also contain semaglutide as well as similar medications such as dulaglutide or exenatide.

Many other medications can have interactions with semaglutide, so make sure to tell your doctor about all of the medications you’re taking before using semaglutide.

How long does it take to see results with semaglutide?

Different people respond to semaglutide in different ways. Research has found that significant weight loss can occur even within the first 2–3 weeks of treatment with semaglutide. However, results will vary from person to person, and weight loss depends on a wide range of factors such as your personal fitness levels, physical activity, and the food that you eat. 

Does semaglutide decrease belly fat?

Semaglutide may help you lose weight overall, which may include loss of fat around the abdominal area; however, this is just due to a loss in fat overall. Although using semaglutide can decrease the amount of fat around the abdomen, this will vary from person to person. Factors such as your genetics and body composition affect where your body will lose weight when combined with a healthy diet and increased physical activity.

How should I expect to feel after taking semaglutide?

With the number of people being prescribed semaglutide, thousands upon thousands of reviews and stories have been written by or about people who have had both good and bad experiences with semaglutide.

Many people say that the benefits from taking the drug far outweigh the negative side effects. 

Some positive effects that people mentioned were that clothes fit better, it felt easier to move around, and it was even easier to bend over and tie their shoes or put their socks on. 

However, some other people said that the negative side effects outweigh the benefits and they weren't able to take the medication for an extended amount of time. 

Often, taking weight-loss medication  greatly increases the quality of life in people of all ages. For example semaglutide has allowed parents and grandparents to play with or run after their children when previously they couldn't. Another example is that people were able to start shopping at mainstream clothing stores, instead of plus-size stores.

Losing weight can also increase your cardiovascular fitness and overall health, as well as decreasing your risk of developing diabetes, heart attacks, or strokes. 

For some people, semaglutide decreased their appetite, which made it easier for them to make healthier choices. For example, they were able to choose to eat yogurt instead of candy or chocolate. 

Will semaglutide actually help me lose weight?

Semaglutide has been well studied in people with type 2 diabetes and obesity. One large research study published in 2021 found that individuals who used semaglutide were able to lose an average of 14.9% of their body weight in just over a year (Wilding J, Batterham R et al., 2021). Over 85% of people who took semaglutide lost more than 5% of their body weight when compared to the placebo group, where the percentage of people that lost more than 5% of their baseline body weight without taking the drug was 32%. Additionally, an earlier small study of 30 individuals found that people who used semaglutide once a week ate an average of 24% fewer calories than a control group who did not use semaglutide. 

Individuals who lost weight using semaglutide were also able to keep the weight off for a clinically significant amount of time. For individuals who have weight related health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, prediabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea, weight loss of 10–15% is recommended. Another study found that semaglutide use led to loss of fat rather than lean body mass. In addition, cardiovascular health was improved, and the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiometabolic diseases was decreased. 

The bottom line

Semaglutide is a great option for people who struggle with obesity and who have been unable to put in place lifestyle modifications that have allowed them to lose weight. With results only ever found previously with bariatric surgery, using GLP-1 agonists such as semaglutide is a less invasive option for obese individuals.

There are some disadvantages to using semaglutide, including increased gastrointestinal side effects such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation, as well as a potential risk of thyroid cancer. However for some people, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives and could result in a huge change that allows them to change their health outcomes, risk factors, and give them a new lust for life.

To understand whether semaglutide is right for you, we recommend reaching out to an online weight loss clinic like Third Avenue to discuss your options.

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