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Ozempic vs. Wegovy for Weight Loss What You Need to Know

Ozempic vs. Wegovy for Weight Loss What You Need to Know
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 7 min read

Weight loss or fat loss can be difficult, especially if traditional methods aren't helping decrease numbers on the scale. The body's resistance to expelling fat following controlled diet and exercise regimens is often attributed to medical issues/conditions like obesity. In cases where pre-existing conditions hinder weight loss, doctors prescribe medical interventions like weight loss drugs. Ozempic and Wegovy are two weight loss drugs that can accelerate fat loss, helping individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  

Below we give you an in-depth look into everything you need to know about Ozempic and Wegovy:

Basic Overview 

Ozempic

Indication for use:

  • Adults with type 2 diabetes

  • Adults with obesity (BMI ≥30) 

  • Overweight adults (excess weight) (BMI ≥27) who also have weight-related medical problems 

Ozempic is a prescription drug created by Novo Nordisk. The recently FDA-approved product was designed to manage blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. Although the treatment was created to manage this specific condition, its formula showed promise in supporting weight loss in individuals who are medically overweight. It is the second medication in its class (GLP-1 agonists) to be approved for weight loss and can be safely used in combination treatment plans that contain compatible medicines. 

Ozempic is a long-acting drug that comes in a liquid solution prefilled in injectable pens. The drug uses the active ingredient semaglutide to control blood sugar levels and mimics the function of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone that encourages the pancreas to release insulin to lower blood sugar levels after meals. Ozempic also promotes feelings of fullness, significantly reducing calorie consumption, leading to weight loss. 

In addition, it blocks a hormone that causes your liver to release sugar. The regulation of blood sugar levels provides a solid base for fat reduction. Balanced blood sugar levels also reduce cravings for sugary, high-fat food. This lowers the number of calories consumed and further supports fat loss and increased energy levels. The drug also reduces the risks of developing health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

Pros

  • Decreases appetites, cravings

  • Controls/manage blood sugar levels 

  • It only needs to be administered once weekly

  • Lower the risk of developing health conditions such as heart attacks and strokes

  • Injection days can be switched or changed 

  • Unlike regular insulin that needs to be stored in the fridge once opened, Ozempic can be stored at room temperature

Cons

  • Commonly causes mild nausea

  • It cannot be used for type 1 diabetes

  • Must be administered as an injection under the skin

  • If taken with certain diabetes medications, Ozempic can cause low blood sugar levels

Wegovy

Indication for use:

  • Adults with obesity (BMI ≥30) 

  • Overweight adults (excess weight-BMI ≥27) who also have weight-related medical issues

Another injectable drug created by Nova Nordisk is Wegovy. Wegovy is an FDA-approved drug specifically created for chronic weight management. It can be used in users who have obesity or weight-related medical conditions. Like Ozempic, Wegovy uses the active ingredient semaglutide to facilitate weight loss and mirrors the function of GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1), a hormone that occurs naturally in the body. 

By doing this, Wegovy regulates food intake and delays gastric emptying making users feel fuller for longer. This leads to decreased appetites and cravings, which induces weight loss. The drug also stimulates insulin release, which controls blood sugar spikes after meals. In conjunction with a controlled diet and increased exercise/activity, this approach is effective and safe. 

The approach doesn't force the body into burning fat. Rather, it manipulates natural body processes to encourage the body to eliminate fat stores. Users typically see visible results within the time frames specified by Nova, making it a reliable option.  

Pros 

  • Naturally decreases appetites, cravings

  • Doses need to be taken once weekly only 

  • Can be safely used long-term compared to other weight loss medications

Cons

  • It has to be injected 

  • The formula might cause stomach-related side effects

  • It cannot be taken with other medications containing semaglutide or other GLP-1 agonists

The Effectiveness of Ozempic and Wegovy 

When it comes to weight loss products, most expect to be scoffing down oral liquids or pills several times a day to induce thermogenesis or spike metabolisms. While this approach is quite effective, it isn't exactly ideal for those who suffer from weight-related medical conditions or obesity. This is because individuals with these issues are prone to a wider range of risks with precursors that fuel weight gain. 

Ozempic and Wegovy take a completely different approach to accommodate these precursors. This approach is one of the most noticeable features of these products. As mentioned previously, Ozempic and Wegovy belong to a class of medication called glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists (GLP-1RAs). This class of medicines has been extensively researched over the past decade, with studies presenting evidence of consistent weight loss in obese patients with and without diabetes. 

While the approach these drugs take to facilitate weight loss may sound confusing, it is actually quite easy to understand. Agonists are substances that copy the function of naturally occurring hormones/chemicals in the body. According to a study on PubMed, these medications can effectively do the following by mimicking the function of the GLP-1 hormone:

  • Slowing stomach emptying (release of food from the stomach)

  • Reduce the appetite and feelings of hunger

  • Increase feelings of fullness after eating

The study also showed that GLP-1RAs are well tolerated in long and short-term treatment plans, making them a viable choice for all patients in this category. They proved effective in helping prevent weight regain as well, lowering patients' chances of serious health problems. This is ideal for those who are obese or have weight-related medical conditions as they face challenges in these aspects. 

The Safety of Ozempic and Wegovy 

Ozempic and Wegovy are both FDA-approved products, meaning their safety and quality are on par with industry standards. Although they have their FDA stamp of approval, users often still question their safety and efficacy in carrying out their function—weight reduction. Assurance in this aspect is often gained through evidence from a clinical trial. 

clinical trial measuring the efficacy and safety of semaglutide (active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy) for weight loss found the following:

  • Participants who received recommended amounts of semaglutide experienced weight/fat loss in stipulated timeframes 

  • Health risk factors decreased, and physical capabilities increased 

  • The most common adverse events experienced with semaglutide use were nausea and diarrhea. These adverse effects were transient and mild-to-moderate in severity and subsided with time.

This concludes that these products are both safe and well tolerated. Health risks were also significantly reduced while use led to a clinically relevant reduction in body weight. The regulation of blood sugar levels and reduced cravings (unhealthy eating) left users with more energy, making them physically more capable of tasks and intense exercise.

Dosage and Strenght of Ozempic and Wegovy Explained  

The Ozempic and Wegovy formula contains the same active ingredient, which means they belong to the same class of medication. They are also administered using the same delivery method. These similarities lead some to believe that the dosage and strength variation of these products are the same, but they are not. 

Below we take a look at the dosage and usage recommendations of each: 

Name of Drug

Medication class

Active compound

Starting dose

Highest dose available

Dose Frequency

Ozempic

GLP-1

Semaglutide

0.25 mg/week

1.0 mg/week

Once weekly

Wegovy

GLP-1

Semaglutide

0.25 mg/week

2.4 mg/week

Once weekly

As seen above, Wegovy comes in a slightly higher strength than Ozempic. This is because Ozempic's original purpose was to manage Type 2 diabetes, which means the volume of the active ingredient in the product is suited to its primary purpose (Type 2 diabetes) rather than its secondary one (weight loss).

Usage of Ozempic and Wegovy Explained 

Although Ozempic and Wegovy were made by the same company and indicated for the same use—weight management, their usage instructions are not the same. This is because they differ in strength and dosage. 

Below we look at the usage instructions for both these weight loss drugs:

  • Ozempic

Ozempic should be injected under the skin once weekly only. The recommended dose should be administered on the same day each week at any time of the day, with or without meals. Weekly administration days can be changed, if necessary, as long as the time between 2 doses is at least 48 hours (2 days) apart.

  • Wegovy

Wegovy must be injected under the skin once weekly only. The prescribed dose must be consumed on the same day every week. It can be taken with or without food, at any time of day. The drug is available in 5 doses ranging from 0.25mg to 2.4mg. Each dose comes in a different color pen to help users identify them more easily. All Wegovy doses carry the same usage instruction. Weekly administration days can be changed if needed, provided the time between 2 doses is at least 2 days apart (48 hours).

Ozempic and Wegovy must be injected into the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. Users can change between these injection sites each week if preferred. Alongside behavioral modifications like diet and exercise, those using Ozempic and Wegovy will experience changes in their appetites in just 3 weeks, with significant changes in their appearance following thereafter. 

Possible Side effects Associated with Ozempic and Wegovy Use

Due to the minimally invasive approach used to deliver Ozempic and Wegovy (Injection under the skin —subcutaneous injection), there are some possible side effects that can occur with use. These side effects are no more serious than those experienced with any other medicinal treatment. 

Below we look at the most common side effects that can be experienced when using either of these products:

Common side effects linked to Ozempic use:

  • Constipation

  • General sick feeling

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Stomach/abdominal pain

Common side effects linked to Wegovy use:

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Dyspepsia, eructation

  • Flatulence or gastroenteritis

  • Fatigue, headache, dizziness

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease

  • Hypoglycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes

  • Abdominal pain/distension, constipation, or diarrhea

The mentioned side effects typically appear at the beginning of treatment plans to signal a new substance being introduced into the body. Once the body is familiar with the substances, the side effects disappear except in cases of an allergic reaction, interaction, or contraindication. In these cases, the side effects often linger and grow in intensity.

Ozempic and Wegovy Interactions and Contraindications  

Interactions and contraindications are usually the final deciders of whether an individual should take a certain drug or not. Interactions refer to substances (other medications) that may interact with a chosen treatment, while contraindications refer to health conditions that may do the same. The interactions and contraindications that come with Ozempic and Wegovy are the same.

Let's have a look at them below:

Contraindications:

  • MEN-2 (Multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2) 

  • Past suicidal behavior and ideation

  • Gi adverse events

  • Thyroid cancer

  • Hypoglycemia

  • Retinopathy 

  • Pancreatitis

Interactions: 

  • Furosemide

  • Levothyroxine

  • Hydrochlorothiazide

  • Tresiba (insulin degludec)

  • Other GLP-1 weight loss drug

  • Any pharmaceutical or herbal treatments used for weight loss

In addition to the above, users are asked to disclose all information about their current medication intake, pre-existing conditions, and allergies to ensure they do not experience any adversities.

The Bottom Line

Wegovy and Ozempic are two of the most effective injectables available for weight management. Their efficacy, safety, and quality are on par with each other, making them both viable options. The similarities between them are quite extensive, ranging from the basics like manufacturer design and active ingredients to the more complex things like possible interactions and contraindications, but there are a few differentiating factors between them. The differentiating factors do not rule out one choice being better than the other, but it does clearly indicate which patients each of these products better cater to.

Below is a timeline of quick facts that show these differences:

  • The active ingredient, semaglutide, was first formulated as a diabetes management substance in 2017 and sold under the brand name Ozempic. 

  • In 2021, Novo Nordisk introduced Wegovy to the market, a drug that contained higher volumes of semaglutide than Ozempic.

  • Shortly after the release of Wegovy in 2021, Ozempic was approved by the FDA for its secondary use in weight loss.

In essence, Wegovy contains a higher amount of the active ingredient—semaglutide, compared to Ozempic. Even though there is a difference in semaglutide volume between the two, clinical evidence shows various strengths of the ingredient to be effective in lowering body fat percentages, providing weight/centimeter loss, and improving overall health. In addition, Wegovy was developed for weight management only, while Ozempic can be used for type 2 diabetes and obesity management. So, individuals who have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition but need to lose weight would benefit from Ozempic use. While those who are overweight or have weight-related medical conditions without diabetes are better suited for Wegovy use. 

 

5 Sources

Nu Image Medical has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8717485/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33977495/#:~:text=prevent%20weight%20regain.-,Glucagon%2Dlike%20peptide%201%20receptor%20agonists%20(GLP%2D1RAs),helping%20people%20to%20lose%20weight.

https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/89/6/2583/2870290

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2032183

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03548935


This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.