Ever since the weight-loss medicine Ozempic hit the news, we’ve been hearing about “natural” Ozempic.
After all, if your insurance doesn’t cover Ozempic, the medication can cost an average of $892.06 per month. If you can’t afford private health insurance, you probably can’t afford nearly $900 per month either.
There are ways to reduce the expense, but the point is, maybe there are ways to lose weight without taking a prescription medicine.
After all, the history of medicines manufactured and prescribed for weight loss is not encouraging.
Remember fen-phen (a combination of fenfluramine and phentermine) in the 90’s?
The FDA ordered it and a similar medicine removed from the market in 1997, after discovering they damaged heart valves.
And many people have completely forgotten that as far back as the 1920’s it was SOP for doctors to prescribe amphetamine for weight loss. That stopped only after the government saw hippies taking speed for recreation.
According to Dr. Pieter Cohen, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the problem is with the FDA. It normally approves weight-loss medicines after they successfully produce short-term weight-loss. But the FDA doesn’t consider the long-term effects, or whether the medicine-induced loss of weight actually results in overall improved health.
Anyway, Ozempic has become highly popular with celebrities.
What is Ozempic and How Does It Work
It’s a semaglutide pharmaceutical. That means it increases your levels of Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 (GLP-1).
GLP-1 is a hormone which suppresses your appetite.
It can help do that by slowing down the movement of food through your stomach. That blunts the normal post-meal spike of sugar into your bloodstream.
GLP-1 also reduces cravings for high-fat foods. Remember – fat is the most calorie-dense food available. It has 9 calories per gram, compared to only 4 calories per gram in both protein and carbohydrate.
The class of semaglutide medicines is pretty new. The first one went on the market in 2017, approved for use by patients with Type II diabetes.
That, by the way, is what Ozempic is officially supposed to be used to treat – diabetes. Weight loss alone is an off-label use of the medicine.
Other brands of semaglutide include Wegovy and Rybelsus.
Semaglutide medicines are also called incretin mimetics. That means they help your pancreas to secrete the correct amount of insulin when your blood sugar levels go too high – exactly what diabetics need.
Semaglutides also help move sugar from your blood into your cells, where it’s burned for energy.
They also slow down the rate at which food moves through your digestive system. This reduces and delays hunger, so you eat less.
Ozempic is a medicine you must inject – once per week into your thigh or arm. That probably discourages many people.
Does Ozempic Work?
Apparently, yes. In one study lasting 16 months, participants dropped their calorie intake by 24%, which is a lot. At least 85% of them lost at least 5% of their body weight.
That’s significant, but not overly dramatic. If someone started out at 300 pounds, losing 5% means they lost 15 pounds – probably far less than their goal.
However, the average loss was 15%, which isn’t bad, but still . . . if you just want to look better at a wedding next month, that won’t satisfy you.
Actually, nothing will if you just want a quick fix. That’s the trouble. Long-term, healthy weight loss requires significant long-term effort, and most people give up too soon.
And even if you’re dedicated, it’s difficult. Your body has many ways to foil your attempts to lose large amounts of weight. It boosts your food cravings to the stars and slows down your metabolism – and probably does other things we haven’t discovered yet.
I must also point out that around 1/3 of the weight lost by patients in that study was not fat, but lean body mass – muscles.
Losing excess stored fat is terrific. Losing muscle mass is not unless you start out with a bodybuilder’s physique.
Potential Side-Effects of Semaglutide medicines Include:
* Abdominal pain
Amy Schumer said Ozempic made her feel too sick to play with her son.
I haven’t yet mentioned the rare but possibly serious side effects such as pancreatitis, gallstones, diabetic damage to your retinas and kidney failure.
Lab mice injected with semaglutide medicines had higher rates of tumors of the thyroid gland. That hasn’t been proven to happen to people, but do you really want to take the risk?
Authorities in Europe are investigating the possibility semaglutide medicines are increasing people’s thoughts of suicide.
Therefore, if you are depressed or have a history of that, consult with your mental health professional before taking Ozempic.
If Ozempic works for you, great, but clearly most of us would prefer an alternative that both costs less and doesn’t come with harmful side effects.
Of course, fiber isn’t a medicine or even a supplement. It’s the undigestible material found in relatively unprocessed plant foods. (It’s not in animal foods or highly processed plant foods such as white flour.)
Fiber feeds the bacteria in your microbiome, and they . . . ta da! . . . increase your levels of GLP-1.
Just like the GLP-1 semaglutide medicines trigger your body to release more insulin, fiber-triggered GLP-1 stimulates your pancreas to do the same, to remove sugar from your blood.
By increasing bulk in your meals, fiber slows the movement of food through your digestive system. That reduces and slows down your hunger pangs.
By increasing the bulk of the food in your stomach, fiber activates the abdominal stretch receptors so you feel full faster, and remain satiated longer. Therefore, you consume fewer calories.
The medical journal the Lancet published the result of a meta-analysis of 58 clinical trials involving 4,650 subjects. The studies focused on various other health risks, so subjects were NOT told to eat less food or exercise more.
Yet the subjects who ate the highest levels of fiber-rich plant foods also lost the most weight.
To increase your GLP-1, you don’t need a prescription or to inject yourself.
Just reduce the fatty processed foods you eat and eat more unprocessed whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit.