How Fast Does Semaglutide Work For Weight Loss? Exploring The Timeline

Written by Elizabeth Brown
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Semaglutide is a relatively newer way of achieving weight loss. Semaglutide was first introduced as a medication for type 2 diabetes. This realization that it can also support weight loss led to the use of semaglutide medications like Ozempic as an off-label weight-loss medication. In the year 2021, the FDA approved a higher-dose semaglutide variant under the label “Wegovy” as an anti-obesity and long-term weight management medication for adults.

Understandably, the popularity of semaglutide multiplied after the FDA approval. According to CNN, about 1.7% of the US population has been prescribed semaglutide medications in 2023, which is 40 times higher than the past 5 years. Even though semaglutide has been found effective in weight loss, many still wonder - “how fast does semaglutide work for weight loss”. In this article, we will explore what semaglutide is and how fast can it work for weight loss. 

What is Semaglutide?

Working Of Semaglutide For Weight Loss

Semaglutide is a medication that is either taken orally or injected subcutaneously for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, overweight, or obesity. It has a structure that is similar to the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) hormone. The semaglutide medication for weight loss is sold under the brand name Wegovy, and anti-diabetic medication comes under the brand names Ozemoic, and Rybelsus. 

So what is semaglutide's mechanism of action? Semaglutide mimics the GLP-1 hormone that is usually secreted into your body in response to eating. One of the major roles of the GLP-1 hormone is to interact with the pancreas to release more insulin which reduces blood sugar levels. Additionally, the GLP-1 hormone can also help to suppress your appetite. This means that semaglutide injection combined with a healthy diet and exercise can significantly help you lose weight. 

How Fast Does Semaglutide Work for Weight Loss?

Semaglutides are not a magic serum that will give you overnight results. It is a GLP-1 agonist that helps to reduce your blood sugar levels and make you feel a sense of fullness. This reduced appetite may help you eat less, which can lead to weight loss. This means that it would take at least a couple of months to see satisfying weight loss results. Here is a timeline, to explore how fast semaglutide works for weight loss.

The First Few Weeks on Semaglutide

It would take up to two weeks for the medication to start working in the body. So, you might not experience much visible changes during this period. 

Typical Weight Loss After 1-3 Months

Many people have reported seeing results after 4 - 8 weeks of starting the medication. According to some controlled trials, people taking Wegovy can expect to lose 5% - 8% of their body weight within the first couple of months. 

Long-Term Weight Loss Expectations

According to studies and research Wegovy semaglutide injection would take up to 9 - 15 months to show maximum results. You can expect to lose about 16% of your body weight during this period. 

When to Expect Peak Weight Loss?

Semaglutide for weight loss (Wegovy) is recommended to start with small doses of 0.25 mg and gradually increase in a 4-week interval till you reach a dose of 2.4 mg a week. So, it is not surprising that you can expect peak results in the later stages. As aforementioned, some studies suggest that it would take up to 32 weeks (9 months) to show maximum results. There are many risks associated with drinking alcohol while on semaglutide for weight loss.

However, some factors can influence the pace of your weight loss journey with semaglutide medication. Factors influencing weight loss speed include: 

  1. Your food intake: The medication can give you a feeling of fullness with far less food. But at the end of the day, you should change your eating habits to see results.
  1. Dietary restrictions: According to health experts, high-fat foods, processed foods, foods with added sugar, and alcohol may cause side effects while taking semaglutide medication. 
  1. Body Movement: Exercise can help you burn fat and lose weight anyway. So, keeping a regular exercise of at least two hours a day while on semaglutide medication can significantly increase the results.

Implementing the above tips may help you maximize semaglutide's effectiveness. Remember to keep yourself hydrated and follow the instructions of your healthcare provider to avoid any GI complications.

Maintaining Weight Loss Long-Term

Weight regaining is always a concern for many people who have taken any medication for weight loss. You can continue taking semaglutide medication even after achieving the desired result to maintain your body weight. However, some ways will let you stop taking the medication and continue enjoying a lighter body weight.

The optimal Semaglutide diet plan includes lean, whole-food proteins, high-fiber carbohydrates with low glycemic load, and a variety of micronutrient-rich plants and vegetables. Tips for maintaining weight loss long-term: 

  1. Limit carbs in your diet.
  2. Make exercises a part of your lifestyle.
  3. Consider intermittent fasting.
  4. Include fiber, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet.

A well-balanced diet along with a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain weight-loss long term. However, it is important to consult your doctor before stopping semaglutide medication.

Semaglutide vs Other Weight Loss Medications

Semaglutide is an effective medication for treating obesity and overweight. However, they are not the only weight loss medications available. In comparison to older medications, semaglutide seems more effective and it does not usually cause severe side effects. New medications such as tirzepatide, and CagriSema have shown more weight loss than semaglutide. However, tripeptide is only approved for type 2 diabetes, and CagriSema is still in the research phase. More research and studies are needed to conclude the complete effects of these new medications. 

Summary

Semaglutides are used to treat type 2 diabetes, obesity, and overweight. They are GLP-1 receptor agonist that works by increasing insulin production and suppressing your appetite. Semaglutide, approved for weight loss comes under the brand name Wegovy. In this article, we have examined how fast semaglutide works for weight loss. 

Semaglutide may take at least a couple of weeks to start acting on your body and you might not see any visible changes in your body weight during this period. According to studies, the medication shows the most results after 9 months of taking it. You may lose 15.8% of your body weight during this period. 

Some factors such as your food intake, exercise, and lifestyle choices can influence the pace and longevity of weight loss. Reduce carbs, limit alcohol, and avoid highly processed foods from your diet while taking semaglutide to maximize weight loss.

Some new emerging medications are showing more weight loss than semaglutide. However, it requires more rigorous studies to determine the complete effects of these new medications. Have you taken semaglutide for weight loss? How long did it take to show the results you desired?

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Elizabeth Brown is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 10 years of experience helping clients successfully achieve their weight loss and nutrition goals. She received her Master of Science in Nutrition from the University of Washington and completed her dietetic internship at Harborview Medical Center. Elizabeth specializes in bariatric patient care, working closely with bariatric surgery teams to provide pre- and post-operative nutrition counseling. She has supported hundreds of patients in preparing for weight loss surgery, adopting the required dietary changes, and making lifestyle adjustments for long-term success. She stays up-to-date on the latest research and best practices in bariatric surgery aftercare through her membership in the Obesity Society (TOS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC). She is an avid speaker and educator, presenting regularly at local and national conferences on topics related to post-bariatric nutrition and weight maintenance.

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