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What are Semaglutide and Tirzepatide—and How Do They Promote Weight Loss?

What are Semaglutide and Tirzepatide

Everyone’s talking about weight loss medications these days! If you’re on a weight loss journey, you’ve probably heard about these medications that have the impressive ability to help people safely lose weight.

In a nutshell, they are exciting new weight loss drugs that have skyrocketed in popularity since they were approved to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017.

Let’s learn a bit more about these drugs and how they work.

What is semaglutide (also known for its brand names Ozempic™ and Wegovy™)?

First, let’s break down the term “GLP-1 receptor agonist” (which is what semaglutide is).  

GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) is a naturally occurring hormone produced in the gut in response to food intake. It stimulates insulin release from the pancreas, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. It also suppresses glucagon secretion, slows gastric emptying, and promotes a feeling of fullness—making it a key player in maintaining metabolic balance.

Receptor agonists mimic the action of signaling molecules by binding to and activating a specific receptor.

So, GLP-1 receptor agonists are pharmaceutical compounds developed to mimic the action of GLP-1 in the body. They enhance insulin secretion, reduce blood sugar levels, and aid in weight management. 

Ultimately, they leverage the beneficial effects of GLP-1 for treating metabolic disorders, particularly type 2 diabetes and obesity—and, increasingly, for anyone who needs to lose weight.

The power of weekly dosing

Semaglutide has become a frontrunner weight loss medication due to its impressive results–and its once-weekly dosing schedule has made it a popular option in the marketplace for people who want to lose weight. (Not to be confused with tirzepatide (brand name: Mounjaro™), another weight loss medication with weekly dosing that we’ll discuss further down!)

The extended-release formulation of semaglutide makes for a more straightforward treatment plan and makes it easier for patients to stick to that plan.

Just about anyone would prefer a weekly dose over a daily one.

Weekly dosing also makes it easier to focus on implementing and sustaining healthy lifestyle habits across the board to support the weight loss process.

Semaglutide side effects to consider

As with any medication, understanding the potential side effects and safety profile of semaglutide is crucial. 

The most common side effects include nausea and vomiting, although these symptoms tend to diminish over time. 

Other side effects include hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if used with other medications like insulin or sulfonylureas, injection site reactions, and rare increased risks of thyroid tumors and pancreatitis. Allergic reactions are rare but possible.

Most people experience no discomfort or only minimal side effects, which is one feature that makes this weight loss medication so popular. 

Of course, it’s critically important to be regularly seen by your healthcare provider so they can assess your progress, adjust your dosage, and address side effects as needed.

What is the process for using semaglutide?

Semaglutide for weight loss is available as an injectable medication.

  • Semaglutide is administered as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection once a week, on the same day each week.
  • The initial dose is often lower to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. Depending on how the client responds, the dosage may then be gradually increased.
  • Injections are usually in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. Injections can be given at any time of the day, with or without meals. However, the time of day of the injection should be consistent.

What is tirzepatide and how does it compare to semaglutide?

Tirzepatide is another medication primarily used to manage type 2 diabetes and has been successful in promoting weight loss as well.

As another GLP-1 receptor agonist, tirzepatide acts similarly to semaglutide to suppress appetite. But while semaglutide primarily targets the GLP-1 pathway, tirzepatide has a dual action on both GIP and GLP-1 receptors.

The combined effects on insulin secretion, glucagon suppression, and appetite regulation contribute to the efficacy of tirzepatide in managing type 2 diabetes and promoting weight loss in some patients. As with any medication, individual responses may vary.

The process of weekly injections of tirzepatide is identical to the process for using semaglutide. Side effects can be similar, such as nausea, vomiting, hypoglycemia, increased heart rate—and, in rare cases, pancreatitis, thyroid tumors, and loss of kidney function.

While the two drugs work differently, their results are similar. So why would someone choose one of them over the other?

Cost and insurance coverage

The cost and insurance coverage of these drugs may vary, so it’s good to look into how your choice will affect financial considerations.

Side effects and tolerability

Individual tolerance and side effects may vary, so your healthcare provider may have you shift from one to the other depending how well or not well you tolerate the medication.

Patient preferences

You may have a sense about which drug may work best for you–and already know which one you’d like to try first. While taking into account the above considerations, your healthcare provider can guide you toward making health decisions you feel great about.

The success of semaglutide and tirzepatide have inspired ongoing research and development in the field of GLP-1 therapeutics, and it will be exciting to see new approaches emerge in the coming years!

In the meantime, check out the Weight Management page of the Synergy website to get information on our weight loss packages.

Our most popular option, the Premium Plus Weight Loss Package, provides 12 weeks of supervised medical weight loss, nutrition counseling, holistic health coaching, education, and support.

Give weight loss medications like semaglutide and tirzepatide a try with the support of a team that includes a licensed healthcare provider, dietitian, and holistic health coach as you progress toward your weight loss goals. With regular one-on-one appointments, each team member will evaluate your progress from their perspective and offer recommendations and resources.

In addition to one-on-one visits, you’ll get access to virtual group visits with the dietitian, curated video modules on nutrition, personalized exercise prescriptions, and unlimited support during business hours.

We’re here to support you and answer questions! Check out the testimonials on the weight management page–many clients who work with us get fantastic results.

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