<> <> <>
Health Hub

Unexpected side effects: What happens when you suddenly stop semaglutide

Plus, how to transition to natural weight management.

What Happens When You Suddenly Stop Semaglutide | Juniper

If you've been using semaglutide to lose weight and have achieved the significant weight loss you were hoping for, then you might be thinking about when it's time to come off the medication.

You might also have concerns after hearing about potential side effects, including weight gain, changes to your blood sugar and other health risks.

While stopping semaglutide suddenly isn't recommended, we're here to reassure you that there is a safe way to stop taking Ozempic or Wegovy, as well as explain exactly what happens when you stop abruptly.

What is Ozempic and Wegovy?

Ozempic and Wegovy are brand names for semaglutide, a class of medication known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. 

Ozempic helps to lower blood sugar levels and improve overall blood sugar control, and it is licensed for diabetes. Wegovy, on the other hand, has been licensed specifically for weight management in the UK.

Both medications contain semaglutide – the active ingredient in Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme – which helps regulate your appetite and slow down your gastric mobility. As a result, it helps you to consume fewer calories, reduce body fat and lose weight.

In our Weight Reset Programme, the medication comes as a pre-filled injection Wegovy pen that looks similar to an epi-pen and requires a weekly injection.

What happens when you decide to stop taking semaglutide differs depending on whether you've been using it as a weight loss drug or to treat diabetes.

How long can you take semaglutide?

Generally, there's no limit to how long you can take semaglutide to aid weight loss. If you're a part of Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme, ongoing medical consultations will monitor your progress closely and ensure the prescription medications are working as they should and you're not experiencing too many side effects.

However, based on the studies collected, you need to use it for at least 12 weeks to start seeing results and for your body to get used to it.

If you effectively lose weight at the 12-week mark and aren't experiencing any side effects, your clinician will give you the green light to continue for at least 9 months and up to 1 year [1]. According to clinical evidence, this time frame is considered the most effective for prolonged weight loss [2].

When should you stop semaglutide?

Our prescribers generally recommend that our members remain on Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme for at least a year.

You can work with your prescriber to find a duration that works for you. When you're satisfied with your weight loss, you can reduce your dose, gradually stop taking your GLP-1 medication and transition to natural weight management.

Remember that after you stop taking semaglutide, it can take your body around 4-5 weeks to clear the medication from your system fully. This means that if you've stopped taking Ozempic or Wegovy in order to relieve any side effects, you may still experience them during this period.

How should you stop taking semaglutide?

If you decide you want to stop taking semaglutide, your first point of call is talking to your clinician at Juniper or one of your healthcare providers. They can give you personalised care and ensure it's a safe transition.

If you're taking semaglutide for weight loss, it may make sense to reduce your dosage to see whether you can maintain the weight loss at a lower dose before committing to going off the medication. However, you don't necessarily need to taper the dose.

If you are living with diabetes, your healthcare provider is more likely to lower your dose gradually, or space out how often you take it, to avoid dangerous blood sugar spikes.

What happens if you stop taking semaglutide suddenly?

High demand for weight loss medications has led to some drug shortages. Unable to get their prescription, some people have had to stop taking the medication abruptly or fear they may have to.

If you are taking it for weight loss, there’s no evidence yet that stopping semaglutide abruptly causes harm.

However, if you are taking Ozempic to treat diabetes, more caution is advised. Ozempic stimulates the release of insulin and lowers blood sugar. So when you suddenly stop using it, the amount of glucose in your body can spike, especially if you have diabetes.

Some may end up in hospital due to exhaustion from the blood sugar spikes and crashes. This happens when you stop suddenly and without proper medical supervision.

What happens if you slowly stop taking semaglutide?

If you've been using semaglutide for weight loss

Stopping slowly lets you focus on your lifestyle changes, helping you maintain your body weight once you stop medication.

As you transition off semaglutide, you'll slowly and gradually begin to regain your appetite and food cravings. You'll have time to get used to them while establishing a healthy diet and good exercise routine. This should stop you from regaining weight when you stop semaglutide completely.

Just keep in mind that if you do stop slowly, any adverse side effects you may have been experiencing, like nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhoea, will ease equally slowly.

If you've been using semaglutide to treat diabetes

For people who take Ozempic to manage their blood sugar and treat diabetes, even stopping treatment slowly may cause blood sugar to rebound. The reasons are twofold.

Firstly, because Ozempic helps people eat less, halting treatment may see them consuming more calories and larger portions, increasing their blood sugar. Secondly, without the drug boosting the production of insulin, their blood sugar levels could still spike.

However, reducing Ozempic slowly will give you and healthcare providers more time to monitor your blood sugar levels and mitigate against sudden spikes. This is why a healthcare professional should always oversee the reduction or quitting of Ozempic and Wegovy.

How much weight will I gain when I stop taking semaglutide?

When you've worked hard on losing weight, concerns about weight gain are natural and warranted. A large study found that people who stopped taking semaglutide after regular use gained back an average of two-thirds of the weight they lost in a year [3].

While semaglutide is an effective weight loss treatment, it only works while it's being used. So, if you want to maintain your new body weight and avoid rebound weight gain, you'll need to maintain the healthy nutritional and lifestyle habits you developed with the help of our medical team during your time on the Juniper Weight Reset Programme.

If you're looking to stop semaglutide, approach the process prioritising both weight management and overall health and take advice from healthcare professionals.

How can I maintain my weight loss after I stop taking semaglutide

Establishing healthy habits you maintain for the long term is the secret to making your weight loss stick and ensuring it continues into the future, even after you stop your medication.

Healthy eating habits

When your cravings return, remember it's still important to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. If you're eating more calories than you expend, you'll regain weight.

Reducing the number of processed foods in your diet whilst increasing fibre-rich whole foods can help lower your overall calorie intake.

A good exercise routine

Finding an activity we enjoy not only has amazing mental health benefits but means we're more likely to stick at it in the long term.

When it comes to exercise, the UK Chief Medical Officers' Guidelines recommend adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate activity and 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week [4].

Good sleep hygiene

Sleeping at least 8 hours a night helps your body lose weight. Try to practice good sleep hygiene to give yourself the best opportunity for a good night's sleep.

Tweaks like establishing a consistent sleep schedule (by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day) and creating a relaxing bedtime routine without screens can help improve the quality of your sleep.

Start your weight loss journey with medication and specialist guidance

Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme is a weight loss programme that helps you achieve your healthy weight alongside consultation and guidance. These ongoing medical consultations will monitor your progress closely, ensuring the medication (Wegovy) is working as well as transitioning you off it safely when the time comes.

As part of the Weight Reset Programme, you'll also receive advice about nutrition, movement, stress, and sleep from our health coaches. This gives you the best chance of making and maintaining healthy habits that'll help you lose weight even after your medication.