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  • Writer's pictureWill

The Easy "Fix" Isn't So Easy...Muscle Loss Associated with Semaglutide

“Our prayers have been answered!” “Semaglutide! Yes!” “Finally, a pill that burns fat! No more diet! No more gym! Yeah!” Slow your roll player! Not so fast!

Let’s first learn exactly what Semaglutide is and what it can do.

Semaglutide is a drug used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and to aid weight loss in persons who are classed as Super, and Super, Super Obese (Class 3). Semaglutide was initially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 to help control blood glucose levels in persons with type 2 diabetes; the drug was approved under the trade name Ozempic.[i]

Semaglutide is a synthetic peptide with a complex chemical structure. Its chemical formula is C₁₈₇H₂₉₁N₄₅O₅₉, and it has a molecular weight of 4113.64 g/mol1. It is a modified analogue of the human Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is a hormone involved in the regulation of blood sugar levels.

The structure of semaglutide includes several modifications from the natural GLP-1.

These modifications enhance its therapeutic properties, including increased stability and a longer half-life, making it effective for once-weekly dosing in the management of type 2 diabetes.[ii]

It’s Approved!

Semaglutide has now been approved for weight management and fat loss. It is being sold under brand names such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus. There are potential risks and side effects associated with its use. Here are some of the dangers and serious adverse effects that have been reported:

Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas is a serious condition that can occur with semaglutide use.

Changes in Vision: Some users may experience vision changes, alterations.

Low Blood Sugar: Particularly in people with type 2 diabetes, semaglutide can cause hypoglycemia.

Kidney Problems or Kidney Failure: There is a risk of kidney-related issues, including kidney failure.

Serious Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may have severe allergic reactions to semaglutide including shock.

Gallbladder Problems: Gallstones and other gallbladder issues have been reported.

Additionally, there have been discussions about the potential for semaglutide to be linked to self-harm and suicidality, although this is still a matter of ongoing research.

So, what does this mean?

If you have decided to start taking semaglutide for weight loss here’s what you should know. There are concerns about potential muscle loss associated with its use. While weight loss typically involves some loss of muscle along with fat, there’s a rising concern that semaglutide may cause an excessive loss of muscle mass. People have reported losing muscle and still holding on to excess fat.

A 2021 meta-analysis indicated that GLP-1 receptor agonists like semaglutide can lead to significant drops in “fat-free mass,” which includes muscle. This is particularly important as muscle mass, physical function, and strength are crucial for health, especially as we age. Maintaining lean muscle is also vital for people with diabetes.

Experts suggest that while muscle loss is a part of weight loss, the proportion of muscle loss with semaglutide might be higher than desired. It’s important to note that rapid weight loss can lead to sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass, strength, and function, which is usually associated with aging but can be exacerbated by medications like semaglutide. In simpler terms you may begin to look older than your chronological age.

Let’s be fair, this may be the right path for some, especially the Super-Super Obese and those with diabetes. If you do decide to go this route to lose weight (fat) I highly recommend following a proficiently developed and lead healthy eating plan and professionally created and directed strength & hypertrophy training program. Combining these with the medication may lead to better results.

It’s crucial to follow the prescribed dosage and consult with a healthcare provider about any concerns or side effects experienced during treatment. If you’re considering semaglutide, it’s important to weigh the benefits against these potential risks and to monitor for any adverse effects during its use. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting or stopping any medication.

BUT…

Exercise and a proper diet are irreplaceable components that lead to increased muscle mass and fat loss. They are the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle because they work synergistically to improve overall health and well-being. Here’s why they are so crucial:

Exercise:

Strengthens muscles and bones: Regular physical activity helps build and maintain strong muscles and bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Improves cardiovascular health: It enhances heart function, lowers blood pressure, and improves circulation, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Boosts mental health: Exercise releases endorphins, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Aids weight management: Physical activity burns calories, helping to control weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related conditions.

Proper Diet:

Provides essential nutrients: A balanced diet supplies the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary for the body to function optimally.

Supports immune function: Adequate nutrition can bolster the immune system, making the body more resilient against infections and diseases.

Regulates energy levels: Eating the right foods ensures a steady supply of energy throughout the day, which is especially important for sustaining exercise routines.

Promotes long-term health: A healthy diet can prevent or manage many health issues, including diabetes, high cholesterol, and certain cancers.

Together, exercise and diet complement each other: Nutrition provides the energy needed for exercise, and exercise, in turn, can help in better nutrient absorption and metabolism.

Balance energy: To maintain a healthy weight, the energy intake from food must be balanced with the energy expended through physical activity.

In essence, while supplements and other interventions might offer temporary benefits, they cannot fully replicate the comprehensive advantages that exercise, and a proper diet provide for long-term health and vitality.

If you would like guidance while taking Semaglutide to achieve your goals please contact us anytime. Do not hesitate!

 

~Will

 


[i] Brodsky, Isabel. "semaglutide". Encyclopedia Britannica, 10 Jun. 2024, https://www.britannica.com/science/semaglutide. Accessed 12 June 2024.

[ii] Royal Society of Chemistry. (2024). Semaglutide. The Merick Index. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from https://merckindex.rsc.org/monographs/m12052


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