Patients eager to lose weight are snatching up trending diabetes drugs Ozempic and Wegovy to speed up the process. Despite side effects like Ozempic face, the drug has become so popular that some high-end restaurants are offering Ozempic-sized meals to appease their customer base with newly suppressed appetites.
Ozempic and Wegovy are brand-name versions of semaglutide— a medicine that was originally manufactured for people with type 2 diabetes. But their ability to reduce appetite and to trick your brain into thinking you’re fuller has boosted their popularity for weight loss (1).
Physician and longevity expert Peter Attia, M.D. warns that they can also cause muscle loss in patients— this means that Ozempic could be making you metabolically “fatter,” according to your body composition.
What Happens to Your Body Composition?
Ozempic may prompt equal muscle-to-fat loss, says Attia. Meaning: even though you see the number on the scale drop, your fat-to-muscle percentage is skyrocketing. In an Instagram story, Attia notes that some muscle loss is expected in weight loss patients, but drugs like Ozempic can exacerbate the issue.
“Almost without exception, every patient we’ve put on this drug has lost muscle mass. And they have lost it at a rate that alarms me,” he says. “If you lost ten pounds of muscle and ten pounds of fat to go from 200 to 180, would that be good? Only if you were more than 50 percent body fat.”
Attia has “drawn a line in the sand” at his practice after observing these outcomes, telling patients that they “must have a DEXA scan first” to test their bone density and body composition before going on Ozempic.
How Can You Prevent Muscle Loss on Ozempic?
Getting enough protein is essential to avoid lean muscle loss while taking weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, says Attia.
“We work closely with patients to make sure that if they’re on these drugs, they understand that their protein requirements do not change,” he says on Instagram. “If you’re 200 lbs and your target weight is 180 lbs, you’re still going to be consuming 200 grams per day of protein.”
Simply put, you need to eat a 1:1 ratio of grams of protein to your starting weight in pounds.
Attia says if you maintain your exercise levels to continue building muscle mass, you can lower your fat percentage without disproportionately losing muscle while taking Ozempic.
“Ultimately, it’s not your weight so much that matters. It’s your body composition and your health,” he says.
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- Wilding, J.; et al. (2021). Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity.