Considering GLP-1 medications? What they are and why lifestyle change is key to sustained weight loss

There's a healthier way to lose weight with weight-loss medication. Discover the Mayo Clinic Diet for Weight-Loss Medications.

What are GLP-1 medications?

In 2005, GLP-1 medications were initially developed to help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels. Recent studies of these medications further revealed that they had the potential to help with weight loss. Popular brands of the GLP-1 receptor agonist semaglutide — including Ozempic and Rybelsus —are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating diabetes, while Wegovy is FDA-approved for obesity management. The difference between these particular medications is dosage and the formulation. Wegovy is a semaglutide 2.4 mg. injectable, while Ozempic is a 2 mg. injectable and Rybelsus is a 14 mg. oral pill. The multiple names, dosages, and formulations may create confusion, not to mention  “off-label prescribing.” An example of this would be if a doctor prescribes medications that are approved for one condition to treat another condition. This is legal and there is usually evidence of how the medication can successfully treat the other condition. For example, a doctor may prescribe Ozempic — which is approved for type 2 diabetes — to instead treat obesity.

How do GLP-1 medications work?

We all have GLP-1s in our bodies. These are naturally-occurring hormones which are released from our gut after we eat. The function of GLP-1s is to boost the amount of insulin our bodies make to keep our blood sugar within a normal range, as well as provide the sensation of fullness after a meal. The same effect on insulin regulation and appetite happens when GLP-1 receptor agonists come into play. People who take GLP-1 agonists will:

  • Feel fuller after and between meals
  • Have improved glucose levels
  • Experience reduced thoughts about food

Does this sound like something you’ve been searching for? Read on to find out if you qualify for these medications.

Am I a candidate for GLP-1 medications?

In order for your doctor to prescribe a GLP-1 agonist, you must meet certain criteria. These medications are designed to treat obesity. To qualify for Wegovy, you must meet the following FDA requirements:

  • Body mass index of 30 or more, or…
  • Body mass index of 27 or more with a weight-related complication, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Are unable to lose weight after making lifestyle changes
  • Have a history of high and low weight change fluctuations

Speak to your doctor to discuss if taking GLP-1 medications is right for you.

Do I need to change my eating habits?

The answer is “yes.” As with any weight-loss program, lifestyle changes are necessary for long-term weight management. This applies even if you haven’t lost weight through lifestyle changes alone. Experts agree that making healthy dietary changes and increasing your daily physical activity while taking GLP-1 medications is an ideal combination that can lead to greater weight loss, improved overall health, and reduced risk of weight regain once taking the medication is discontinued. Additionally, by following a healthy eating plan and drinking enough water, the initial common side effects — such as nausea, headaches, and fatigue, which are often experienced when starting these drugs — can be either avoided or minimized.

How partnering with the Mayo Clinic Diet can result in sustained, healthy weight loss

Following a healthy lifestyle program such as the  Mayo Clinic Diet is a great way to support your weight-loss journey when taking GLP-1 medications. The program offers a range of meal plans, tools, and exercise plans, thus making it the perfect companion to weight-loss medications.

By improving your habits from the start, you’ll learn how to eat well, move more, and refocus your mindset, which will help to ensure a lifetime of health and well-being. And most importantly, these changes will help to prevent weight regain once you stop taking the medication.

Need a prescription for GLP-1s? The Mayo Clinic Diet platform now offers access to clinical care for members seeking a prescription to weight-loss medication such as GLP-1s. Check if you're eligible for weight-loss medication.

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