If you’re using Ozempic or a similar GLP-1 medicine for weight control, you might worry about losing muscle along with fat. Many people want to shed extra pounds but keep their muscles strong and intact. In a study about Ozempic, it was found that after 68 weeks, a lot of users saw a significant weight drop. Over 86% of people taking it dropped at least 5% of their body weight, and nearly 69% lost 10% or more. This raises a question: does losing weight with Ozempic also mean your muscles get smaller?

In this article, we will explore the common concern about Ozempic and muscle loss. We will discuss what Ozempic is, how it works, and whether muscle loss is a common side effect. We will also provide tips on maintaining muscle mass while taking Ozempic or other GLP-1 medications. So, if you are considering taking Ozempic or already taking it, keep reading to learn more about its potential effects on muscle mass.

Key Takeaways

  • Ozempic is a GLP-1 medication used for weight loss that can cause muscle loss due to rapid weight loss caused by the drug.
  • Studies indicate that most weight loss on Ozempic is related to a loss of visceral fat and overall fat mass, with skeletal muscle and muscle strength minimally affected.
  • GLP-1 medications like Ozempic should be accompanied by lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to achieve optimal results and minimize muscle loss.
  • Ozempic can help control eating habits and reduce cravings for high-fat foods, potentially leading to further weight loss.
  • Over 86% of people taking Ozempic dropped at least 5% of their body weight, and nearly 69% lost 10% or more after 68 weeks of use.
  • Losing weight too quickly can lead to a progressive loss of muscle mass and strength, which is usually a concern for older adults aged 60 and above.
  • While Ozempic may cause muscle loss, studies of other GLP-1 medications containing a higher dosage of semaglutide have found that the proportion of lean body mass relative to total body mass increased, which is good.

How Does Ozempic Work For Weight Loss?

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a drug used for weight loss and is classified as a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. Semaglutide, the drug’s active ingredient, imitates GLP-1, a hormone produced in the gut that interacts with GLP-1 receptors throughout the body. GLP-1 helps control blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release from the pancreas. It also slows digestion, reduces appetite, and informs the brain when full, potentially altering food preferences.

Semaglutide has been observed to help people control their eating habits and reduce cravings for high-fat foods. As high-fat foods are typically more calorie-dense, this change in food preferences may lead to further weight loss. Ozempic should be accompanied by lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise to achieve optimal results.

Ozempic, like several GLP-1 medications, was initially created to treat type 2 diabetes by enhancing blood sugar control. Researchers observed that many of the participants in clinical trials, many of whom were overweight or obese, experienced significant weight loss. Some GLP-1 medications, such as Saxenda and Wegovy, have now been approved by the FDA for obesity, while off-label prescriptions for weight loss, such as Ozempic, may be prescribed by physicians.

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Can Ozempic Cause Muscle Loss?

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When it comes to Ozempic and muscle loss, this medication can cause muscle loss. The reason behind this is that losing weight too quickly can lead to a loss of muscle mass, and GLP-1 medications like Ozenpic are known to cause rapid weight loss in people who take it. In fact, individuals who consume 2.4 mg of Ozempic can typically expect to lose an average of 6% of their body weight within the 12 weeks of treatment.

Although losing weight can benefit overall health, it’s important to remember that losing weight rapidly can also lead to decreased muscle mass, reducing bone density and resulting in sarcopenia. This condition causes a progressive loss of muscle mass and strength, which is usually a concern for older adults aged 60 and above. Moreover, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns at rest. Therefore, when you lose muscle mass, your resting metabolic rate also decreases.

Studies have shown that semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic) can significantly decrease fat-free mass (muscle mass) compared to a placebo. However, other studies have found that most weight loss due to semaglutide is related to a loss of visceral fat and overall fat mass. Skeletal muscle, fat-free mass, and muscle strength are minimally affected.

On the other hand, studies of Wegovy (a medication containing a higher dosage of semaglutide) have found that although lean body mass decreased by nearly 10%, it made up a higher percentage of the individual’s overall body weight. This means that the proportion of lean body mass relative to total body mass increased, which is good. Additionally, as individuals lost more weight, their lean muscle mass to fat mass ratio improved.

But should you be worried about muscle mass loss while taking Ozempic? It’s essential to remember that Ozempic is not the only variable affecting your weight loss journey. People may follow different diets and exercise routines and have unique differences in their baseline body weight and health conditions.

Furthermore, weight loss of 5%–10% can offer numerous health benefits for individuals with overweight or obesity, including improved blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, as well as a reduced risk of diabetes. Losing weight can also improve mental health, mobility, and sexual function.

Losing 10%–20% of their body weight may alleviate other obesity-related conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea. However, losing more than 5% of body weight and maintaining it can be challenging using diet and exercise alone. That’s where medications like Ozempic can help. The key is to ensure you lose weight safely without losing your muscles.

How Can You Prevent Muscle Loss on Ozempic?

To prevent muscle loss on Ozempic, it is essential to maintain a consistent exercise routine and ensure adequate protein intake to support muscle growth and repair. Studies have shown that consuming enough protein while aiming to lose weight helps protect against excessive breakdown within muscular tissues.

Higher-protein diets have been found to preserve lean body mass better than lower-protein alternatives during caloric restriction. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound. However, some studies suggest higher protein intake may benefit muscle preservation, especially in older adults. Additionally, engaging in regular resistance training exercises, such as bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, lunges, and planks, can help maintain and potentially increase muscle mass while on Ozempic.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrated that combining aerobic exercise, such as yoga, with strength-building exercises better preserves lean tissue during weight loss efforts than cardio alone. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week and two or more days of strength training exercises. This indicates the importance of incorporating various exercises into your routine to mitigate muscle loss while taking Ozempic.

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Final Thoughts

Ozempic can cause muscle loss, but the degree of muscle loss varies from person to person. While some studies have shown that it can decrease fat-free mass, others have found that skeletal muscle, fat-free mass, and muscle strength are minimally affected. The key takeaway is that Ozempic is not the only factor affecting your weight loss journey, and it’s crucial to combine it with healthy lifestyle habits such as exercise and a balanced diet. It’s also essential to monitor your muscle mass and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

FAQs About Ozempic And Muscle Loss

Can you build muscle while on semaglutide (Ozempic)?

Given semaglutide’s strong appetite-suppressing effects, individuals using it may find it challenging to consume sufficient food for muscle growth or maintenance.

Are there other antidiabetic drugs that cause muscle loss? 

Yes, besides Ozempic, dapagliflozin and canagliflozin have also shown a significant decrease in fat-free mass (FFM).

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