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What is semaglutide? How this medication can support weight loss

Everything you need to know about Wegovy.

What Is Semaglutide? | Juniper

Semaglutide is an active ingredient that can help people lose weight. You might have heard of it, but what exactly is it and how does it work?

Think of this as your complete guide to semaglutide as we work to break down exactly what it is, how you use it, and how it assists with weight loss.

Semaglutide is also the main ingredient in Wegovy, which has already been approved for weight loss treatment in the UK, USA, European Union and Canada. Wegovy belongs to the glucagon-like peptide 1 agonists drug class.

What is semaglutide?

Semaglutide mimics a glucagon-like peptide 1 hormone from your lower gastrointestinal tract. This glucagon-like peptide 1 (or GLP-1 for short) is produced when you eat to stop hunger and lets your brain know you're full. It can also reduce your blood sugar levels by stimulating the rate of insulin secretion and slowing gastric emptying.

These GLP-1 receptors have also been found to be located in the brain regions that control your enjoyment of food and hunger [1]. Semaglutide works in a similar way by suppressing appetite and helping you feel fuller for longer, all while improving how your body regulates blood sugar levels and stores fat.

Semaglutide was initially created for use by diabetics to control blood sugar levels and treat diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic patients can fall into diabetic ketoacidosis if their body doesn't produce enough insulin and the body produces too many blood acids also known as ketones. This requires serious medical attention.

Ozempic, which also contains semaglutide, can be used to treat diabetes ketoacidosis, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Wegovy, on the other hand, also contains semaglutide and is used for weight management.

How does semaglutide work?

A semaglutide injection (often in the form of a Wegovy injection pen) helps to reduce the feeling of hunger, which in turn decreases your food intake. When combined with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise, people taking semaglutide injections experience weight loss.

What exactly does it do to your body? Semaglutide suppresses your appetite but also slows down what we call 'gastric mobility'.

This means that food stays in your stomach longer which keeps you feeling full and it also slows down when your stomach empties. All of this combined with lifestyle changes (less processed diet and increased exercise) helps you lose weight.

Semaglutide should be taken as a subcutaneous injection (injected under the skin) once a week. You do not need to time your semaglutide injection with food, but you should aim to take it at the same day and time each week.

Is semaglutide good for weight loss?

Semaglutide injections can be considered a lifestyle intervention to help with chronic weight management. To encourage weight loss, you begin a low dose and slowly increase it over time, which gives your body time to adjust.

Who can use semaglutide?

Generally speaking, semaglutide can be used by people who are clinically obese with a high body mass index (BMI) or significantly overweight.

To be eligible for Juniper's Weight Reset Programme, which uses semaglutide for weight reduction, requires the following:

  • You're aged between 18 and 75 years of age
  • You have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more or;
  • You have a body mass index of 27 or more and also have a medical condition that is often caused by excess body weight.

Semaglutide shouldn't be used if you have ever had an allergic reaction to the ingredients, or if you have a family history of thyroid cancer (including medullary thyroid carcinoma).

Before taking any medications, your clinician will need details of your medical history including any other drugs you may be taking to check for possible drug interactions with semaglutide.

You should also tell your doctor if you have ever had diabetes-induced eye problems, stomach disorders or kidney disease. If you experience side effects, be sure to contact your doctor immediately.

How much weight can you lose with semaglutide?

In recent years, clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of semaglutide for weight loss. A 2021 study looked at nearly 2,000 obese and overweight adults who were randomly assigned semaglutide injections or a placebo. After 68 weeks, those taking semaglutide lost an average of 15.3kg, while the placebo group lost an average of 2.6kg [2].

All bodies are different and your baseline body weight won't be the same as someone else's. Plus, each person responds differently to weight management interventions.

That said, most people will lose about 5% of their body weight when using an semaglutide injection as a weight loss drug. An estimated one-third of people will lose 10% or more of their baseline body weight.

How do you administer semaglutide?

Administering semaglutide injections is incredibly straightforward. In fact, it takes around 2 minutes and comes with full instructions [3]. There is also an oral semaglutide medication, called Rybelsus, available.

The GLP-1 medication we offer in our Weight Reset Programme only needs to be administered once a week under the skin into the subcutaneous fat. In our program, you'll receive extensive advice on how to use the injection and where it's best injected.

Your body needs time to adjust to semaglutide, so you'll also be given a dosing schedule that slowly increases the amount you inject over a period of weeks.

And finally, it's important to know that your semaglutide injections need to be kept in the fridge.

What happens if I miss a dose? Will it spike my blood sugar?

If you miss the scheduled dose of your GLP-1 medication, don't panic. Once you realise you have missed a dose, administer your next dose as soon as possible within 5 days of the missed dose date.

If there are more than 5 days since your missed dose, you should simply skip the missed dose. Take your next scheduled dose on your regularly scheduled day and continue on as usual.

Semaglutide works by mimicking the effects of GLP-1, which in turn lowers your blood sugar. It's important to try and follow a regular dosing schedule to keep your blood sugar levels within a normal range.

Semaglutide is a long-acting medication that stays in your system for around a week, so it's important to not take multiple doses within the same week.

If you want to change the date of your next scheduled dose, make sure your next dose is at least 3 days after your last dose, but not more than 5 days. If it is more than 5 days, simply skip the missed dose and commence on your new weekly scheduled dose day.

Remember to tell your clinician if you miss a dose or if you develop symptoms of low blood sugar like shakiness, dizziness, headache or vomiting.

Before you start taking semaglutide

Semaglutide is an extremely effective ingredient for weight loss and is a key component of our Weight Reset Programme. But, in order to help you achieve long-term weight loss, we take a holistic approach that includes 1:1 health tracking, lifestyle coaching and access to a private community of women on the same journey as you, alongside your medication.

If you need any assistance, be sure to reach out to our Juniper support team.