While weight loss medication has been around for a very longtime, few have succeeded in promoting healthy, long-term weight management with added health benefits beyond shedding pounds.
There are several new classes of weight loss medications currently in use but by far the new generation of hormone-based weight management medications, which mimic a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a protein that is secreted in the gut and targets receptors throughout the body and brain, show great promise in providing an effective option between restrictive dieting and weight loss surgery.
But what are GLP-1 agonists?
GLP-1 receptor agonists mimic a protein that our intestines make when we consume food. When we eat, this GLP-1 protein sends the brain the “I’m full and satisfied” signal. GLP-1 also slows down the speed at which food exits the stomach which can help us eat less and also think less about food. We can feel not only full but also satisfied with smaller portions.
Here is an overview of the 2 ways GLP-1 receptor agonists can help with weight:
- Pump the brakes!
By making the stomach empty slower – we can feel satisfied and happy with smaller portions. This helps us eat less and attain the calorie deficit we need for weight loss.
- Communication is key!
By signaling the brain that our tummies are full, we will naturally have a decreased appetite and less cravings without all the side effects of traditional appetite suppressants that cause insomnia, tremors, and agitation. The GLP-1 helps us maintain more consistent food choices that can align with our body’s individualized dietary and nutritional needs.
Does it really work?
Yes! For example, the GLP-1 medication Wegovy, in addition to healthy lifestyle modifications, helped study participants lose 15 percent of their body weight on average. And more than half the people who used Wegovy lost more than 15 percent of their starting weight. That’s about 45 lbs. for a 300-pound patient and up to five times of the average weight loss achieved with diet and exercise alone! A bonus is that this medication can also make intermittent fasting a reality! Yes, you can safely add or maintain IF with a GLP-1! In fact, GLP-1 agonists can have a positive effect on blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Who should take a GLP-1 Receptor Agonist?
Anyone who has a BMI over 30 or BMI over 27 with associated co-morbidites like hypertension, insulin resistance, or cardiovascular disease and has failed diet and exercise to achieve a healthier weight. GLP-1 Receptor Agonist can even be a healthier option than traditional weight loss medication. For example, in people with chronic obesity and cardiovascular complications, GLP-1 receptor agonists are preferred to amphetamine-based therapies like phentermine, which can worsen hypertension, increase heart rate, cause anxiety, and insomnia.
Who should NOT take a GLP-1 Receptor Agonist?
Do not take a GLP-1 if:
- you or any of your family have ever had MTC (thyroid cancer) or if you have MEN 2 (endocrine cancer)
- you have had a serious allergic reaction to a GLP-1 in the past
- you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant because these medications may harm your unborn baby
- are taking certain medicines called GLP-1 receptor agonists or are using insulin
- have severe problems with your stomach, such as slowed emptying of your stomach or problems digesting food
- have or have had problems with your pancreas, kidneys or liver
- have or have had depression or suicidal thoughts, or other mental health issues
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed as it is not known if GLP-1 agonists pass into your breast milk
What about insurance?
While this medication can be expensive, many health plans will cover a portion of GLP-1 medications. There are now a number of brands available for those who qualify and those brands offer various savings coupons too! Check out their websites:
If you think starting a GLP-1 Receptor Agonist might be right for you, please schedule an appointment with a Thrive Wellness provider to explore your options.
PS - find the recipe for that gorgeous brunch board at The Hip Foodie Mom Brunch Board