Ozempic for Menopause Weight Gain: A Promising Solution?
Menopause is a natural phase in every woman’s life. However, it also comes with various uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and, usually, weight gain.
During menopause, women find it harder to burn calories as fast or as effectively as they did before. As a result, they often turn to alternative treatments.
There has been a lot of buzz around using Ozempic to fight the tendency to store fat during this stage of life. In today’s blog, we will explore if Ozempic is the answer to combat menopause weight gain.
Understanding Menopause and Weight Gain
Weight gain during menopause is a common challenge for many women. Let’s examine some of the reasons why it’s easier to gain weight in the transition to menopause.
As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down. This decrease in metabolic rate thwarts weight loss, as it means that you burn fewer calories throughout the day. Loss of muscle mass and hormonal changes contribute to this slow-down.
Women going through menopause experience hormonal fluctuations that can impact weight loss efforts. Estrogen levels decrease, leading to an increase in abdominal fat and a decline in lean muscle mass. These changes can also affect energy levels, making it harder to maintain an active lifestyle.
In menopause, many women face lifestyle challenges that can hinder weight loss.
Middle-aged women are frequently part of what’s known as the sandwich generation. They are still taking care of their kids or grandchildren while also caring for aging parents. This often leads to increased stress, less time to care for themselves, and a decreased sense of well-being.
Many also have thriving professional careers that demand long hours. Not only does this contribute to their sense of tension, but their job might also mean that they spend a lot of time sitting down.
Last, some women have health issues that hinder their ability to exercise.
Sleep problems are common among women over 40. Poor sleep quality can disrupt hormone regulation, leading to increased hunger and cravings, reduced satiety, and decreased motivation for physical activity.
Difficulty sleeping can also affect mood and hinder the body’s ability to recover from exercise.
Is Ozempic the Answer?
Many people consider Ozempic, a drug for type 2 diabetes, as a potential treatment for weight gain during menopause.
But does it hold up to the hype? Let’s dive in and analyze the potential benefits and drawbacks of Ozempic for managing menopause weight gain.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is an injectable prescription medicine that improves blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.
It works by mimicking the function of a hormone in your body that helps control blood sugar, slows digestion, and reduces appetite. As a result, it can have a positive effect on body weight.
Is Ozempic Approved for Weight Loss?
Ozempic is used without official approval for weight loss (off-label).
However, in 2021 the FDA approved a version of this medication, Wegovy, for weight loss. This version of the medication is only available with a doctor’s prescription. You must use it along with exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes.
Is it Effective?
Yes, it is. It has been shown that when people started taking this medication, they lost weight.
As a result, Ozempic was studied for weight loss with positive results.
For example, a review of 8 studies found that compared to a placebo, injections of semaglutide (the active ingredient in Ozempic) reduced:
- Body weight by 10.09% (10.54kg or 23.23 lbs)
- BMI by 3.71 kg/m2
- Waist circumference by 8.28 cm
When it comes to side effects, the most common ones are gastrointestinal-related. These include nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. Side effects are more noticeable when starting treatment or increasing the dose.
It’s worth noting that many women in menopause are already experiencing GI issues. Therefore, they should discuss with their doctor whether Ozempic will be right for them.
Other common side effects include injection-site reactions, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. Some people schedule the injections on a day when they can take time out of their normal schedule because of how tired they feel afterward.
This medication is not recommended for individuals diagnosed with thyroid cancer or those with a family history of thyroid cancer.
The Importance of a Holistic Approach to Weight Management
Ozempic helps with menopausal weight gain, but it’s important to take a holistic approach to managing weight.
The hormonal shifts during menopause can make weight loss more challenging, regardless of the steps you take, so a single solution like Ozempic might not be sufficient.
Integrating a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep together with the prescribed medication can lead to more sustainable weight loss.
This comprehensive approach considers the complexities of the menopausal phase and respects the unique needs of each individual. More importantly, it creates an environment for sustained weight loss instead of the quick fix achieved through medication alone.
Remember, it’s not just about shedding pounds but also about improving overall health and wellness.
Can You Take Ozempic if You Are Not Diabetic?
Yes. In the United States, the FDA approved this injection for weight loss treatment in 2021 (Wegovy).
The approved dose is 2.4mg once weekly for adults with obesity or overweight and at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol).
Does Ozempic help balance hormones?
Ozempic stimulates the release of GLP-1, a hormone that regulates appetite and food intake. In turn, this can aid in weight management.
Furthermore, this medication can also help reduce insulin resistance. In a study, semaglutide at 0.5 mg and 1.0 mg reduced insulin by 36% and 46%.
Insulin resistance can occur during menopause due to hormonal and metabolic changes. By decreasing this resistance, it might be easier to lose weight.
Do you need to eat healthy and exercise?
Healthy eating and exercise are strongly recommended with both Ozempic and Wegovy.
Increasing physical activity and reducing your calorie intake can help you achieve better weight-loss results.
It’s important to make sustainable lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Doing this will create an environment that supports the long-term maintenance of healthy body weight. Having a positive attitude and setting realistic goals will also benefit the journey to successful weight loss.
How long can you take Ozempic?
Ozempic is part of a long-term weight management plan. Unfortunately, it’s common to regain weight back after stopping the medication. This is especially true when healthy eating and exercise are not part of the weight loss plan.
Is it right for you?
Ozempic and Wegovy can be a great way to manage your menopause-related weight gain. But it’s always important to talk to your healthcare provider. Your doctor will review your medical history and determine if this medication will bring a good result for you.
My Expert Opinion
As a doctor in clinical nutrition and registered dietitian working with people taking semaglutide, I have seen patients achieve significant weight loss. Research also backs up the effectiveness of this GLP-1 medication.
Also, as a menopause expert, I know how incredibly frustrating it is to try and lose weight. Willpower, diet, and exercise are simply not enough for some women.
It’s important to note that while Ozempic can be an effective tool for menopausal weight loss, it should be part of a comprehensive plan. This includes healthy eating, physical activity, and other lifestyle changes affecting weight.
Weight-loss medication is just a tool, not a magic solution. Unfortunately, research shows that the weight will return when the drug stops.
Side effects of this medication should also be considered before starting on Ozempic for weight loss. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and feeling extremely tired are very common.
In addition, weight loss medications are rarely covered by insurance and can be extremely expensive.
That said, if you’re considering taking Ozempic to help with menopausal weight loss, I recommend that you talk to your healthcare provider. They can assess your risk factors and discuss the benefits and possible side effects to be aware of. Ultimately, they can best advise whether or not this is the best decision for you. Good luck!
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL, is dedicated to empowering women in perimenopause and menopause to live healthier, more satisfying lives.
With a doctorate in clinical nutrition from the University of North Florida, she has expertise in menopause and weight loss, including the unique challenges faced by those on weight loss medications.
Su-Nui’s passion for her field is evident in her previous role as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.