Ozempic (semaglutide), the miracle weight loss drug, has been gaining attention in the medical community for its ability to reduce appetite and promote a feeling of fullness in users. But how does this drug achieve its effects, and are there natural ways to get similar benefits? Let's look into the science.
How Ozempic Works
Ozempic stimulates the release of insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar, from the pancreas in a glucose-dependent manner. This means it increases insulin secretion when blood sugar levels are high but not when they are low, effectively reducing the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Ozempic mimics a hormone in our body called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 has several functions:
- Appetite and Gastric Emptying: GLP-1 slows down the movement of food through the stomach, leading to a prolonged feeling of fullness. Consequently, this reduces appetite, which can be beneficial for weight management.
- Suppression of Glucagon: Beyond insulin secretion, GLP-1 also suppresses the release of glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar levels. By suppressing glucagon, Ozempic further helps to lower blood sugar levels.
When you take Ozempic, it activates the GLP-1 receptors in the body, effectively mimicking the hormone's actions.
Potential Side Effects of Ozempic
While Ozempic and other GLP-1 receptor agonists provide benefits, they have potential drawbacks. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or discomfort, and constipation.
The more serious potential side effects involve pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), diabetic retinopathy complications, kidney problems or kidney failure, hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., rash, itching, severe swelling), and thyroid tumours, including cancer.
Some reports suggest that using Ozempic leads to muscle loss. This is concerning because muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning its loss could result in a slower metabolism. Additionally, muscle loss could have deleterious effects on the body, including reduced testosterone and growth hormone levels, decreased bone density, and functional decline.
The aesthetic impact is also worth mentioning. Who wants to be ‘skinny fat’ or have the ‘Ozempic face’?
- 'Skinny fat' refers to being small in size but flabby with high percentage of body fat and no muscle tone and definition.
- 'Ozempic face' is a term used to describe the facial sagging common after rapid weight loss.
The Natural 'Ozempic' Solution
Fibre, Protein, and Natural Appetite Suppression
It's worth noting that certain dietary choices can also promote feelings of fullness and satiety, reducing the need for external medications. Consuming foods high in FIBRE and PROTEIN can naturally suppress appetite. How?
When we consume fibrous foods, our gut microbes break down these fibres. During this process, they produce compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs have been shown to increase the release of appetite-reducing hormones like GLP-1 and peptide YY (PYY). The presence of these hormones naturally curbs our desire to eat more, making us feel satisfied faster.
SCFA: The Key to Fat Metabolism
But there's more to the story of SCFAs. They play a crucial role in fat metabolism. These fatty acids stimulate the production of brown fat, a type of fat that's metabolically active.
Unlike white fat, which primarily stores energy, brown fat burns calories, generating heat in the process. This phenomenon is comparable to the effects of cold-water exposure on brown fat production.
Furthermore, SCFAs can inhibit the uptake of fats into cells, which means that they can potentially prevent fat gain, further amplifying their weight management benefits.
The nutrients that trigger GLP-1 secretion are peptides and amino acids (from proteins) and short-chain fatty acids (produced by gut bacteria from fibre). There’s evidence that by choosing foods high in these nutrients, GLP-1 levels can be increased.
Such foods include whole food protein sources (lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts) and foods high in fermentable fibre (vegetables and nuts). In a nutshell, eating lots of vegetables and nuts and covering your protein requirements can yield the same results as Ozempic without the nasty side effects and saggy face.
Already on Ozempic?
If you're on Ozempic then chances are the diet that made you overweight needs an overhaul too. And if you mix lower appetite with a less than optimal diet, there's a good chance you're going to be depleted in the nutrients your body really needs to be healthy.
Our dried meat bars are a great way to get a lot of those nutrients without having a full meal, and our real food supplements are also going to be a great source of vitamins and minerals (far better than the 90% of vitamin supplements that are synthetic).
Tune up your nutrition
Ozempic certainly has its place in the medical world, especially for those with type 2 diabetes. However, it's essential to weigh the benefits against potential side effects. For those looking for natural ways to manage appetite and weight, increasing the intake of fibrous and protein-rich foods could offer a scientifically backed method to achieve similar results.
Co-Founder, Registered Nutritionist, Exercise Physiologist
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1. Insulin Secretion and Glucose-Dependent Action:
• Marso, S. P., Bain, S. C., Consoli, A., Eliaschewitz, F. G., Jódar, E., Leiter, L. A., ... & Seufert, J. (2016). Semaglutide and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(19), 1834-1844.
• This study found that semaglutide effectively reduced glycated hemoglobin levels and had a glucose-dependent action on insulin secretion.
2. Mimicking GLP-1 and Effects on Appetite:
• Aroda, V. R., & Ahmann, A. (2016). A review of GLP-1 receptor agonists: Evolution and advancement, through the lens of randomised controlled trials. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 20, 22-33.
• This review covers various GLP-1 receptor agonists, including semaglutide, and their effects on glycemic control and weight loss.
3. Suppression of Glucagon:
• Nauck, M., Frid, A., Hermansen, K., Shah, N. S., Tankova, T., Mitha, I. H., ... & Matthews, D. (2009). Efficacy and safety comparison of liraglutide, glimepiride, and placebo, all in combination with metformin, in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care, 32(1), 84-90.
• Although this study is primarily on liraglutide (another GLP-1 agonist), it does detail the mechanism of GLP-1 agonists in suppressing glucagon, which is also applicable to semaglutide.
4. General Mechanism of Action and Efficacy of Semaglutide:
• Pratley, R., Amod, A., Hoff, S. T., Kadowaki, T., Lingvay, I., Nauck, M., ... & Viljoen, A. (2018). Oral semaglutide versus subcutaneous liraglutide and placebo in type 2 diabetes (PIONEER 4): a randomised, double-blind, phase 3a trial. The Lancet, 394(10192), 39-50.
• This study compares the efficacy of oral semaglutide with other forms and touches upon its mechanism of action.
Peptide YY : https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30678628/
SCFA and lipid metabolism: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7503625/
SCFA and appetite suppression: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25497601/
The health benefits of dietary fibre: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7589116/
If you have any questions or concerns about your health, medications, or any information provided on this blog, please seek professional medical advice promptly.