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Trimming the scale: Do new weight loss medications really work? – Dr. Pat

Obesity is a global health concern affecting millions of people worldwide. As individuals seek solutions for effective weight loss, pharmaceutical advancements and dietary strategies have gained traction. Notably, three medications – Ozempic, Rybelsus, and Saxenda – have garnered popularity for aiding weight loss and adopting meal replacement strategies. We are frequently approached by patients who have heard about these “miracle cures” for weight loss and want to know whether they actually work. In this article, we aim to shed light on the science behind these approaches, addressing common questions and concerns that patients frequently have.


Do weight loss medications actually work?

Yes, they do! And their effectiveness extends beyond just weight loss. Ozempic, Rybelsus and Saxenda have all demonstrated their ability to lower blood sugar levels and reduce appetite in various research studies dating back to 2013!


How do these medications work? 

The key player in these medications is the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone secreted by the intestines. When we eat, natural GLP-1 is released, regulates food digestion and nutrient absorption and acts on the brain to suppress appetite. The medications mimic GLP-1’s actions by activating the same receptors in the body, leading to slower stomach emptying, decreased appetite, and improved blood sugar control – resulting in weight loss primarily through reduced caloric intake consistently.


What’s the difference between Ozempic, Rybelsus, and Saxenda? 

Medication Name Generic Name FDA-Approved for? Frequency of dose Max dose
Ozempic Semaglutide Type 2 Diabetes only Once weekly 1 or 2 mg
Rybelsus Semaglutide Type 2 Diabetes only Once daily 3mg, 7mg, 14mg


Saxenda Liraglutide Weight loss only Once daily 3.0mg



(Semaglutide) is FDA-approved for type 2 diabetes and has shown promise in promoting weight loss. It is available in a once-weekly injectable form and effectively improves blood sugar levels.


(Semaglutide oral tablets) is also used for type 2 diabetes management and has been found to contribute to significant weight loss. It comes in convenient oral tablet form, making it accessible to some individuals.


(Liraglutide) is FDA-approved explicitly for weight loss in individuals with obesity. It helps to reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness. It is administered through a once-daily subcutaneous injection.


What are the potential side effects of these medications?

While these medications have shown promising results, being aware of potential side effects is essential. Nausea, occasional vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating/gas and fatigue are among the most common complaints. However, most patients find that the benefits of the medications outweigh the negatives. We can provide personalized strategies to manage side effects effectively.

Is meal replacement better for weight loss? 

Meal replacement strategies involve substituting regular meals with nutritionally balanced, pre-packed shakes, bars, or soups, aiding weight loss through controlled calorie intake and portion control. Popular programs like Optavia, Slimfast and Herbalife have gained popularity. These strategies offer convenience and simplify calorie counting, but long-term sustainable results may require overall lifestyle changes. Some meal replacement products may contain artificial ingredients or lack dietary fibre, and they may not address emotional or psychological factors related to eating habits.


Weight loss medications like Ozempic, Rybelsus, and Saxenda, along with meal replacement strategies, offer potential solutions for individuals seeking to shed extra pounds. Understanding their mechanisms of action and weighing the pros and cons can help individuals make informed decisions about their weight loss journey. Remember, individualized medical advice is crucial.

You didn’t gain all your weight in one day; you won’t lose it in one day. Be patient with yourself. Let us give you the support you need for sustainable and successful weight loss results. Let us be part of your weight loss journey.


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