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Ozempic vs Saxenda: Comparing the weekly and daily medications

Laying out the cards on the effectiveness, frequency and side effects for each weight loss solution.

Ozempic vs Saxenda for Weight Loss | Juniper

Carrying excess weight can lead to major cardiovascular events, heart disease, depression and type 2 diabetes. But we get it: weight management is tedious, exhausting and highly difficult.

In the western world, there is an increasing prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, even though we have more information on weight loss at our fingertips than ever. This shows that knowledge of healthy eating and increasing activity alone will not do the trick. For some people, medication is also needed.

Semaglutide, present in Ozempic, and liraglutide, present in Saxenda, are 2 active ingredients commonly used in prescription medications. 

But what exactly is the difference between Ozempic and Saxenda? And what’s the deal with using these medications for weight management? Let’s dive into it.

What is Ozempic?

Ozempic is a simple, once-a-week injection that contains the active ingredient semaglutide. It's a pharmaceutical drug licensed for the treatment of diabetes, which helps patients control and lower blood sugar levels.

It reduces blood glucose levels by stimulating insulin secretion, which means it only works when blood glucose is high. It also lowers glucagon secretion — a hormone that increases blood glucose — when blood glucose is high.

Can Ozempic be used for weight loss?

In the UK, Ozempic is used for the treatment of diabetes. However, Wegovy, which also contains semaglutide, is licensed for weight management — and that’s the medication we offer in our Weight Reset Programme.

Semaglutide mimics a natural hormone in your body called GLP-1, which is produced by your digestive system in response to eating food [1]. It acts on both the brain and the digestive system to regulate how full you feel after a meal. 

And, as a GLP-1 agonist, it slows down the emptying of your stomach into the rest of your digestive system.

Semaglutide acts in the same way as GLP-1 to make you feel fuller for longer and enhances your body's blood sugar levels and the storage of fat. Taking a GLP-1 medication, combined with a healthy, reduced-calorie diet and exercise plan, will lead to weight loss.

Clinical trials have shown that semaglutide is incredibly effective for weight loss and management. One 2021 study, for instance, split 2000 obese patients into 2 groups [2]. One group used semaglutide alongside a diet and exercise plan, while the other made the same lifestyle changes but didn’t take semaglutide.

After 68 weeks, those in the semaglutide group had lost 15% of their weight and nearly a third had lost 20%, versus the second group, which only lost 2.4%.

The Juniper Weight Reset Programme prescribes Wegovy — check your eligibility here.

Are there any side effects of Ozempic?

Like all medications, Ozempic is not immune to side effects. The most common side effects of Ozempic are nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach (abdominal) pain, and constipation.

Although not everyone will experience all of these reactions, it is likely you will experience at least one, especially when you begin the treatment.

There are other less common side effects that can occur due to Ozempic. If you are experiencing any of the following while taking Ozempic, contact your healthcare provider immediately:

  • Inflammation of your pancreas
  • Changes in vision
  • Hypoglycemia (dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, anxiety, irritability, mood changes, sweating and jitteriness are some examples of having low blood sugar)
  • Kidney problems
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Suicidal thoughts

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is another self-injectable weight loss medication that is steadily becoming a popular weight loss solution. Like Ozempic, it comes as a prefilled pen for injecting. But, while Ozempic only requires a once weekly injection, Saxenda requires daily injections.

Instead of semaglutide, Saxenda's main active ingredient is liraglutide, which works to emulate the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1 by regulating your appetite and blood sugar levels, which can lead to eating fewer calories and weight loss.

Saxenda is generally prescribed to people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, or people with a BMI of 27–29 with weight-related conditions, such as pre-diabetes.

Are there any side effects of Saxenda?

Similarly, consuming Saxenda can also have the side effects of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, and constipation. It also depends on whether or not you are taking other prescription drugs, as not all medications will sit nicely with Saxenda.

Overall, the possible side effects of Saxenda and Ozempic are similar.

What's the difference between Ozempic and Saxenda?

One of the main differences between the medications is that in the UK, Ozempic is licensed for diabetes, while Saxenda is approved to support weight loss.

As we know, the active ingredients in these medications are different. Although both semaglutide and liraglutide are part of a category of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists, and both are used in obesity management, research around semaglutide is particularly promising — a big reason why we use Wegovy in our Weight Reset Programme.

Semaglutide was tested in 6 key trials (SUSTAIN 1) which involved 7,215 patients. 4,107 patients were treated with semaglutide and the others were in a placebo group with no active drug — or sometimes taking another diabetes treatment.

Treatment with semaglutide demonstrated meaningful weight loss for up to 2 years compared to a placebo or other diabetes treatments. Results were similar across different ages, genders, races and ethnicities. In these trials, after 1 year of treatment, up to 63% of patients lost 5% or more of their body weight and up to 27% of patients lost 10% or more of their body weight.

In one particular trial, conducted over 2 years, using 1mg of semaglutide with lifestyle interventions — such as diet changes and exercise — was compared with patients who only had lifestyle interventions [3]. Patients lost an average of 4.9kg with semaglutide compared to losing only 0.5kg without the drug.

Finally, the frequency of injections is different as well. While Ozempic only needs to be taken once a week, Saxenda requires a daily injection. 

The reason there is a difference in the regularity of injections is because semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, acts for longer than liraglutide, which is the ingredient in Saxenda. Like Ozempic, Wegovy only requires a weekly injection. 

Can you take Ozempic and Saxenda together?

No. Doctors do not recommend you take both medications at the same time. Both Saxenda and Ozempic work to regulate your blood sugar levels and doubling up on this type of medication can lead to complications if your blood sugar drops too low.

Taking Saxenda and Ozempic together can result in a spike in serious side effects, and increase your risk of rare complications. If you are thinking about switching between medications, do so under the careful guidance of your doctor.

Juniper's Weight Reset Programme uses Wegovy as its tool for weight management along with a carefully tailored support team to help you meet your goals.

This means you'll only need to inject the medication once a week, and you'll be able to access 1:1 health tracking, and lifestyle coaching and interact with Juniper's private community of women who are on the same journey as you.