Defeat Diabetes

From quick-fix to lasting success: A new approach to Ozempic

4 mins read

Ozempic is everywhere—from splashy headlines to buzzing social media feeds. It's touted as the latest miracle drug. But does it truly live up to the hype? We explore the effects of Ozempic - good and bad - and the latest science to separate fact from fiction. 

What is GLP-1?

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is a natural substance made in the liver that helps control hunger and keeps blood glucose levels stable. Usually, when you start eating, your body releases GLP-1 within about 10 to 15 minutes, and it can last for several hours. 

Besides eating, things like nerve signals and other body chemicals can also trigger the release of GLP-1.

What are GLP-1 agonists?

GLP-1s are a new class of medications. They work by mimicking the action of the body’s GLP-1 hormone and can help regulate blood glucose levels and manage appetite. It does this in three ways:

  1. Increasing the release of insulin from the pancreas helps lower blood glucose levels. 
  2. Slowing down glucose absorption from the gut.
  3. Lowering glucose production by the liver. 

While Ozempic is only approved for treating type 2 diabetes in Australia, it is also marketed overseas for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy. Other variations exist, including Mounjaro and Rybelsus.

The short-term benefits of GLP-1 drugs

Ozempic and other GLP-1 agonists can help manage blood glucose levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer, which may reduce overall calorie intake and lead to weight loss. 

However, that may be where the benefits end!

Apart from being very expensive (currently, a non-PBS script for Ozempic costs around $130 a month) and having to give weekly injections, the reported side effects are lengthy… 

Pull up a chair as we look at the impact Ozempic can have on overall health, which ranges from mild to extremely serious. 

More common side effects include:

  • Gastrointestinal disorders. A recent study reported that 3 in 4 participants had gastrointestinal side effects, 44% reported nausea, 32% diarrhoea and 25% reported vomiting. 
  • Gas and bloating
  • Gallstones
  • Reflux and heartburn
  • Hair loss

More serious outcomes include: 

  • Pancreatitis. Studies have shown an increased risk of pancreatitis after taking a GLP-1.
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Retinopathy (diabetic eye disease). Recent studies have shown GLP-1s were “significantly associated” with diabetic retinopathy.
  • The associated gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach) means that food is retained in the stomach for days, causing problems for people undergoing surgery with general anaesthetics.
  • Thyroid cancer – this has been shown to occur in animal models.

New side effects continue to be reported, the most recent being mental health issues, including depression and even suicidal tendencies.

Recent research also suggests that GLP-1s might need to be used indefinitely, though long-term side effects are still unknown.

A 2022 study showed that one year after stopping GLP-1, people had regained two-thirds of the weight they had lost while taking the drug.

Defeat Diabetes Chief Medical Officer Dr Paul Mason also highlights an important aspect of the weight loss associated with GLP-1 use.

"A good proportion of weight loss is healthy lean tissue, like muscle and bone, which does not recover, even after stopping the drug." 

Muscle strength and function are vital for maintaining mobility, metabolic health, and overall quality of life, especially as we age. Muscles are crucial for day-to-day activities and are significant in metabolic processes. They act like sponges for glucose in the bloodstream. The less muscle we have, the higher blood glucose levels can be.

So, while GLP-1s may result in weight loss, it’s important to question what this weight consists of. Is it fat or—more likely—muscle?

A new approach to Ozempic and weight loss

So, with all we know about Ozempic, can it contribute to a successful weight loss approach and help someone achieve remission from type 2 diabetes?

We believe that while these drugs can be effective in the short-term, they should be used as a stepping stone towards a long-term solution, as there are still many unknowns about their long-term effects and potential risks.

“We believe in a hybrid approach that is sustainable in the long term,” said Dr Peter Brukner OAM, Defeat Diabetes founder.

“If someone can tolerate Ozempic, stay on it for three months. During those three months, they should transition to a low carb dietary approach, which hopefully will maintain or even continue to lose weight, as well as improve their blood glucose levels after they stop taking the drug.”

The Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program allows for fat loss while preserving muscle and bone health. In fact, 30% of members following the Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program reported losing 10% of their body weight, compared to only 15% of those taking GLP-1.

With a focus on protein and filling fats like butter, cream and nuts, the program has seen 92% of members achieve weight loss

Better still, 41% of program members were able to stop or reduce glucose-lowering medication altogether by lowering the amount of carbohydrates eaten and focusing on whole, unprocessed foods.

The Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program provides guidance and support to people looking to adopt a low carb lifestyle. Our program emphasises education, meal planning, and support from an expert team of dietitians and medical professionals to ensure long-term success. By addressing the root causes of type 2 diabetes and promoting sustainable lifestyle changes, we empower people to take control of their health and defeat diabetes. 

Summary

While GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic can offer short-term benefits in weight loss and blood glucose management, the Defeat Diabetes stance is that they should be used as a stepping stone towards a long-term solution. 

Transitioning to a low carb lifestyle, such as the Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program, provides a sustainable approach to managing type 2 diabetes. People can achieve lasting weight loss, improved blood glucose levels, and overall better health by focusing on whole, unprocessed foods low in carbs - foods that needn’t cost the earth. 

For more insights into Ozempic, check out our webinar with Dr Paul Mason:

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