GLP-1 Agonists: The Risks and Benefits and How to Achieve EffectiveWeight Loss



Whether it’s Ozempic,® Rybelsus® or Wegovy,® you’ve heard the hype. People are losing weight and losing it fast by taking these GLP-1 agonists. There’s no question, GLP-1 agonists are a game changer when it comes to managing insulin resistance and promoting weight loss, but are they right for you?

Healthcare practitioners initially prescribed GLP-1 agonists for the treatment of type 2 diabetes (T2D). For many patients, taking GLP-1 agonists came with an unexpected benefit: weight loss. In fact, research has shown that GLP-1 agonists like semaglutide can help control T2D and promote weight loss.

Could a GLP-1 agonist be a good option for you? Before you decide, it’s important to consider:

  • How GLP-1s work and why they should only be used as a temporary solution.
  • The potential health benefits, risks and side effects of GLP-1s.
  • Common mistakes people make when using GLP-1s.
  • Why proper diet and exercise regimens are critical to maintain weight loss and avoid muscle loss.
  • How EVEXIAS can support your journey to optimum health with GLP-1s.

What are GLP-1 agonists and how do they work?

Our bodies naturally produce a hormone known as glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1), which targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake. The GLP-1 hormone, which is made in the small intestine, performs many vital functions, including:

  • Triggering insulin release from the pancreas.
  • Blocking the release of glucagon, a hormone the body uses to increase blood sugar levels.
  • Slowing digestion so the body releases less glucose into the bloodstream.
  • Making you feel full (satiated).

By mimicking natural GLP-1 hormones, GLP-1 agonists like semaglutide—which are available in injectable and oral formulations—help stave off hunger pains and reduce insulin resistance. The body uses food as fuel instead of storing it as fat.

Plain and simple, the loss of appetite associated with semaglutide results in people eating less. In our experience, patients typically consume about one third of the food they normally would. While that sounds great, there are downsides to drastically reducing caloric intake and losing weight fast, which we’ll discuss later in this blog.

What are the potential benefits of GLP-1 agonists?

We know GLP-1 agonists can help people lose weight, research supports this assertion. It’s also commonly known that being overweight or obese can lead to a number of health problems. Most people who are overweight either have or are at high risk for pre-diabetes—the precursor to type-2 diabetes—and cardiovascular disease.

GLP-1 agonists are among the treatments recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to help manage T2D. We’ve even seen patients in our clinics finally able to manage their A1C levels with GLP-1s, after struggling to do so for years. As the ADA explains, GLP-1s helps improve blood glucose management, potentially resulting in “large benefits on lowering blood glucose and body weight.”

In addition, a recent study out of Denmark concluded that certain dosages of semaglutide can reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events by as much as 20 percent. These health benefits are all terrific but that doesn’t mean everyone should hop on the GLP-1 agonist bandwagon.

What are the potential risks and side effects of GLP-1 agonists?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common side effects of GLP-1 agonists include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Some patients also experience indigestion, dizziness, increased heart rate, infections, hypoglycemia (mild, low blood pressure) and headaches, among other issues.

Nausea is so common with GLP-1 agonists that EVEXIAS worked with its compounding pharmacy to create a formulation that uses the same form of semaglutide found in brand name drugs in combination with B vitamins and other nutrients to quell nausea.

While rare, some patients can experience serious medical issues after taking GLP-1s. These conditions include pancreatitis (which can result due to excessive alcohol intake), medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), acute or sudden kidney issues and acceleration of diabetic retinopathy.

Consequently, patients at risk for or who have had MTC or kidney disease, drink excessively or suffer from diabetic retinopathy should avoid GLP-1 agonists for weight loss. It is also recommended that patients who are pregnant or have suffered with eating disorders do not take GLP-1 agonists.

What is the most common mistake people make when using GLP-1 agonists for weight loss?

They don’t have a long-term strategy to manage their weight and overall health. Sure, brand name semaglutide drugs like Ozempic,® Rybelsus® and Wegovy® continue to make headlines in viral stories about celebrities shedding pounds fast. However, what you rarely hear people talking about is the fact that once you stop taking GLP-1 agonists, the weight can come right back on if you don’t make healthy, long-term, lifestyle changes.

Even worse, many people who take GLP-1 agonists lose a lot of muscle weight, and when they gain the weight back, that weight comes back in the form of fat not muscle. You have to move your body and do the hard work, like lifting weights, to get that muscle back. (Getting the fat back is easy.)

GLP-1 agonists are not intended to be used on a long-term basis. They should only be used as a temporary stopgap to kickstart weight loss, while the patient makes healthy lifestyle changes. It’s also critical to work closely with a healthcare practitioner to map out a plan to wean off of semaglutide and take other steps to achieve and maintain optimum health. The body is a complex system, and getting healthy should never be based on losing weight alone.

How EVEXIAS can help you achieve optimal health with GLP-1 agonists

At EVEXIAS Medical Centers, our goal is to help patients achieve the best health outcomes possible. That means when we prescribe a GLP-1 agonist (a semaglutide formulation that includes B vitamins to deter nausea), we don’t just write you a prescription and send you on your way.

Various imbalances and nutrient deficiencies in the body can play a role in weight gain and precluding weight loss. Our practitioners look closely at patient history and lab results to prescribe a comprehensive health plan designed to achieve the patient’s health and weight loss goals. For example, low testosterone levels and poor gut health can both impede weight loss, so along with prescribing a GLP-1 agonist, we may also recommend hormone optimization, nutraceuticals or gut health therapy.

As a patient of EVEXIAS, you can expect:

  • Comprehensive health exam and lab tests.
  • Prescription for GLP-1 agonist formulation and recommendation for other therapies and nutrients as warranted.
  • Instructions on how to inject the semaglutide formulation (once weekly or as prescribed) or in-office injection by an EVEXIAS practitioner (your preference). (A daily oral prescription is also available.)
  • Regular “weigh-ins” with our medical grade body composition scale to monitor fat and muscle loss, along with other critical health data.
  • Guidance on diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes, such as recommendations for increased protein intake and weight training to prevent muscle loss, alcohol restrictions and more. (VERY IMPORTANT!)
  • A weaning protocol to help you transition from GLP-1s to a new healthy lifestyle plan.

Are you a good candidate for GLP-1 agonists for weight loss?

If you’d like to find out if GLP-1 agonists may be a good option for you, contact the EVEXIAS location nearest you today. We will listen closely to your concerns and expectations, discuss your health history, perform lab work as needed and provide recommendations for achieving the health goals you desire.


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