You may have heard about these drugs as Ozempic®, Wegovy® or Mounjaro®, which have gained significant attention lately. Elon Musk himself took to Twitter to share his remarkable success, disclosing that he managed to shed an impressive 30 pounds with the aid of Wegovy® and fasting. These drugs are designed to slow down gastric emptying and trigger feelings of satiety by mimicking the actions of the Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormones. By regulating blood glucose levels and promoting weight loss, GLP-1 agonists offer a dual approach to address some of the most prevalent health challenges of our time.
Use for Management of Weight Loss and Diabetes – Are these drugs right for you?
At present, only Wegovy® has received approval from the FDA specifically for weight management in combination with a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity. The drug was originally approved in June 2021 for adults with obesity or overweight with at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol). It was then also approved in December 2022 for teens ages 12 and up who have a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for their age and sex.
Other GLP-1 agonists, including Ozempic® (an injectable version), Rybelsus® (an oral tablet), and Mounjaro® (a novel injectable version), are solely approved by the FDA for managing type 2 diabetes rather than for weight management purposes. These medications are often used when other diabetes medications have not provided sufficient control of blood sugar levels.
Side Effects and Concerns
- While these drugs offer substantial benefits, they also carry potential side effects. Common ones include gastrointestinal disturbances like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, pancreatitis, and abdominal pain, as well as nasopharyngitis and headaches. Additionally, some patients have reported heart palpitations.
- Concerns about potential lean muscle mass loss due to the substantial weight loss these drugs induce have been raised. Patients should adhere to an appropriate diet and exercise regimen to preserve muscle mass.
- Additionally, certain GLP-1 agonists have been associated with an increased risk of thyroid cancer, in particular after 1–3 years of treatment. Caution is warranted, particularly for patients with a history of thyroid disease.
- Another common observation is that, when individuals stop taking these drugs, there is a potential for the body to regain weight if the underlying habits and behaviors that contributed to weight gain in the first place are not addressed. Maintaining long-term weight loss requires ongoing lifestyle changes and behavior modifications.
Our Expert-Guided Approach
Effective management of GLP-1 agonist therapy involves personalized treatment plans, typically starting with lower doses and gradually increasing them based on tolerance. Regular medical reviews are crucial to monitor the effectiveness and tolerability of these medications and to identify potential adverse effects early.
Our clinic is dedicated to providing the right care for our 100+ members whether you are considering or currently using GLP-1 agonist medications. As a member of our 100+ longevity program, you have a professional team behind you to carefully assess the safety and suitability of medications for you, taking into account your medical history, your specific health conditions, medications, and preferences.
If you would like to explore if you are a candidate for one of these medications, your HLI clinician can meet with you to discuss. If your HLI clinician determines that you are a good candidate, a care plan will be developed. With the benefit of our state-of-the-art equipment on metabolic imaging and blood markers, we can closely monitor your progress, ensuring that you receive effective and safe management of these drugs while minimizing potential side-effects throughout your journey.
* This article has been medically reviewed by our physician team.