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Rybelsus guide: Weight loss effectiveness, dosage and how to use

Exploring how this medication works for weight loss.

What Is Rybelsus? Weight Loss Effectiveness, Dosage and How to Use

By now, you've probably heard about Ozempic, Saxenda, and Wegovy, but there's another medication in the UK that can help with weight loss, and it's called Rybelsus.

So, what exactly is it? How does it work for weight management and what's the right way to take it? We're here to answer these and other questions you may have about Rybelsus and help you figure out if this is the weight loss medication for you.

What is Rybelsus?

Rybelsus is a once-daily prescription medication that contains the same active ingredient as Wegovy and Ozempic — semaglutide. Commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes (along with a healthy diet and exercise routine), research has shown that Rybelsus can also help with weight loss.

In a 6-month study performed in the U.S., participants weighing 194-196 pounds were split into 3 groups [1]. One group took 7 mg of Rybelsus, while another was on 14 mg and the final one took a placebo.

By the end of the study:

  • Those on a lower dose of Rybelsus had lost an average of 5 pounds
  • Those on a higher dose had lost an average of 9 pounds
  • The placebo group had lost about 2 pounds

It's also been suggested that people who start with a higher body weight or struggle with more digestive issues are more likely to lose weight when they start taking Rybelsus.

What are the benefits of taking Rybelsus?

Rybelsus was originally developed as a diabetes medication for adults, so its main advantage is that it can help treat type 2 diabetes. It is often recommended as a first-line medication to control blood sugar levels and it does so by increasing insulin production and suppressing glucagon secretion.

Another benefit of Rybelsus is that comes in tablets, which are convenient and easy to take, especially when compared with other prescription medications, which are often administered subcutaneously.

Clinical trials have also suggested that Rybelsus can help preserve heart health — which is particularly beneficial when we consider that people with type 2 diabetes face a higher risk of heart disease [2].

Finally, and as we mentioned before, taking Rybelsus tablets can support your weight loss journey — but how? Let's dive into the science.

How does Rybelsus work for weight loss?

There is one main reason why Rybelsus can help you lose weight and that's its active ingredient, semaglutide.

Semaglutide mimics a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1, for short), which your digestive system naturally produces to let your brain know that you're full and it's time to stop eating.

It suppresses your appetite and makes you feel fuller for longer, preventing you from overeating and snacking between meals. It also slows down the emptying of your stomach and reduces glucose absorption by the intestines to decrease your blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

All of this, combined with a balanced diet and increased exercise, can effectively help you lose weight.

How long can you use Rybelsus?

Rybelsus is a long-term treatment and in most cases, it can be taken for months.

As with any other medication, you should speak to your doctor to determine how safe and effective the drug is for you and make decisions accordingly.

If you're thinking about growing your family, it is recommended that you stop taking Rybelsus at least 2 months before you plan on getting pregnant, and only restart after you stop breastfeeding. While it isn't confirmed whether or not Rybelsus can harm your baby, it's best to be on the safe side.

What's the dosage of Rybelsus?

For adults with type 2 diabetes, Rybelsus is prescribed at a starting dose of 3 mg, to be taken by mouth once a day for 30 days. During this initial period, your body has time to get used to the medicine.

After that, the dosage is typically increased to 7 mg, also taken orally and once daily which should result in lower blood sugar levels.

If after 30 more days, the results aren't as expected — and assuming your body reacted well to the medication — your doctor may raise your dosage again to 14 mg once daily.

Keep in mind, however, that your recommended dosage will depend on your health status, as well as other medication you may be taking, and you should always stick to the dosage your doctor prescribes to you.

How is Rybelsus taken?

Rybelsus tablets are taken orally, once a day. They should be taken on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before your first meal of the day and with no more than 4 ounces of water.

Can Rybelsus be crushed, split or chewed?

Rybelsus tablets shouldn't be crushed, split or chewed, because this can impact the way your body absorbs the medicine (though this hasn't been confirmed).

Instead, you should swallow the pill whole. If you have trouble doing so, be sure to speak to your doctor for advice.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you forgot to take Rybelsus, you should skip the missed dose, take your next one the following day, and from there, go back to your regular schedule.

Do not take 2 tablets at once to make up for the one you missed.

How is Rybelsus different from Metformin?

Similarly to Rybelsus, Metformin is a prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. There are, however, a few key differences between the two.

For one, Rybelsus can only be taken by adults, while Metformin is approved for both adults and children that meet certain criteria.

The medications are prescribed at different dosages and although they're both taken by mouth, Rybelsus is only available in tablets, while Metformin is available in tablets and extended-release oral tablets (meaning they last longer in the body).

Finally, side effects differ between the drugs. Metformin can lower your vitamin B12 levels, while Rybelsus can cause constipation and a decreased appetite — but we'll dive into that in a bit.

Taking Rybelsus with other drugs

Rybelsus is known to interact with a number of medications, including [3]:

  • Estrogens
  • Antipsychotics, like clozapine and olanzapine
  • Hepatitis C antivirals
  • Testosterone
  • Other diabetes medicines, including insulin
  • Progestins
  • HIV protease inhibitors
  • Diuretics
  • Sulfonamide antibiotics

For this reason, you should tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medications you're already on, including over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbal products. This way, they can check for potential drug interactions that you may want to avoid.

Are there any side effects?

Some people may experience mild side effects while on Rybelsus, particularly when they first start their treatment or after a dosage increase. These include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating/gas
  • Heartburn

These symptoms should be temporary and, for the most part, easy to manage. If they haven't subsided after a while of being on Rybelsus, you should speak to your doctor.

In much rarer cases, Rybelsus can lead to more serious side effects, including:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Kidney failure
  • Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar
  • Risk of thyroid tumours (which is why doctors don't recommend Rybelsus for people with a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma, a type of thyroid cancer)

If you experience symptoms that point to any of the conditions listed above, stop taking Rybelsus and reach out to your doctor as soon as you can (in the case of an allergic reaction, do so immediately).

What foods to avoid when taking Rybelsus

For the best results, there are certain foods that you should avoid while on Rybelsus.

Fatty foods

Eating foods that are high in fats can enhance side effects like vomiting and nausea, and it can also impact the glucose-lowering properties of Rybelsus.

This is not to say that you shouldn't have fats at all — it's just a matter of making healthy choices. Opt for olive oil instead of butter, chicken instead of high-fat meats, and low-fat dairy products instead of higher-fat alternatives.

Sugary foods and drinks

Foods and beverages that are high in sugar can cause your blood sugar levels to spike and dip, which can end up making Rybelsus less effective.

Plus, we all know that sugary drinks, lollies, biscuits, and cake aren't the best foods to have when you're on a weight loss journey. Try to find alternative options that will help curb your sugar cravings without raising your blood sugar, like fruit, dark chocolate almonds, and Greek yoghurt.

Alcoholic drinks

Although there is no known interaction between Rybelsus and alcohol, drinking can increase your chances of hypoglycemia (which, if you remember, is already a potential side effect of the medication).

Spicy foods

Eating spicy foods can enhance some uncomfortable symptoms that may come with taking Rybelsus, like nausea, indigestion, and belly pain.

How to approach weight loss holistically

Juniper's Weight Reset Programme gives you access to weight loss drugs, but also to 1:1 health tracking and lifestyle coaching around nutrition, sleep, and movement.

Plus, you'll join a private community of like-minded women who are on the same journey, there to help you stay motivated and celebrate your wins with you. Simply take our online quiz to confirm your eligibility.

When it comes to losing weight (and keeping it off), having the right set of tools on hand is key to success. That's why we take a holistic approach to weight loss — so you can reach your goal weight, once and for all.