Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a peptide hormone that plays an important role in controlling appetite, glucose levels, and body weight. But can a simple pill be a solution to winning the battle of the bulge?
It has become increasingly popular as a potential weight loss tool, especially among celebrities as it’s still relatively pricey and not covered by insurance, so not within easy reach. On top of that demand has created a shortage, which isn’t helpful for those who need it for type 2 diabetes. Yet, the fact remains this is an effective treatment for weight loss.
But the mechanisms of action behind it remain largely mysterious. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of GLP-1, how it works in the body, and why it may be a game-changer for weight loss. Living a long healthy life should be on everyone’s game plan and maintaining a healthy weight is a good start.
What Exactly is GLP-1?
GLP-1, or glucagon-like peptide-1, is a hormone that plays an important role in regulating blood sugar levels. It is secreted by the L-cells located in the lower gastrointestinal system and stimulates insulin secretion from beta cells in the pancreas.
This all happens while inhibiting glucagon release from alpha cells, leading to improved glycemic control. GLP-1 receptors are found throughout the body, including in the pancreas, gastrointestinal system, central nervous system, heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and peripheral nervous system.
GLP-1 is a special kind of hormone that helps your body control how much sugar is in your blood after you eat. It’s a hormone that is made in your intestines, and GLP-1 receptors are found throughout the body, including in the pancreas, gastrointestinal system, central nervous system, heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and peripheral nervous system.
When you eat something, GLP-1 gets released into your blood and travels to your pancreas, which is another part of your body that helps control your blood sugar levels.
When GLP-1 gets to your pancreas, it tells it to make more insulin. Insulin is another hormone that helps your body use the sugar from the food you eat for energy. If you’re interested in getting into the weeds with this, you’ll want to follow these top online nutritionists.
So when GLP-1 tells your pancreas to make more insulin, it helps your body keep the right amount of sugar in your blood.
Scientists have found that some medicines can mimic the effects of GLP-1 in your body, which can be helpful for people who have diabetes, a condition where their body has trouble controlling its blood sugar levels.
These medicines can help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels under control and stay healthy, and now we know this also expedites weight loss.
GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) are a class of medications that activate GLP-1 receptors and have been approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, as well as for weight loss in adults with obesity without diabetes.
There are both short-acting and long-acting GLP-1RAs available. Short-acting agents circulate for a few hours, followed by periods of inactivity, while long-acting agents produce a long-lasting drug concentration with little fluctuation in drug levels.
GLP-1RAs access specific brain areas important for appetite regulation, resulting in reduced appetite and food cravings and better control of eating. Oddly, in some countries, this just comes naturally due to their culture of eating healthy.
Some studies suggest that liraglutide and semaglutide are effective agents for weight loss in patients with obesity without diabetes, with semaglutide data providing a more significant weight loss in clinical trials.
The GLP-1RAs have the power to unlock the gates of certain brain regions that play a critical role in governing our appetite, leading to a remarkable drop in our hunger pangs and food yearnings, and an enhanced ability to manage our consumption.
According to various scientific investigations, liraglutide and semaglutide have emerged as top-notch weapons in the battle against obesity in non-diabetic patients, with semaglutide displaying a greater potency for shedding extra pounds in clinical trials.
GLP-1RAs have been shown to significantly improve glycemic parameters and reduce body weight. These agents work by activating GLP-1 receptors in the pancreas, leading to enhanced insulin release and reduced glucagon release responses that are both glucose-dependent-with a consequent low risk for hypoglycemia.
Indications for GLP-1 Use:
According to the American Diabetes Association, GLP-1 analogs should be considered in patients with a contraindication or intolerance to metformin, in patients with a hemoglobin A1c greater than 1.5% over target, or in patients who do not reach their target A1c in three months, particularly in patients with atherosclerosis, heart failure, or chronic kidney disease.
Furthermore, semaglutide and high-dose liraglutide are FDA approved as pharmacologic treatments for obesity or can be prescribed to overweight patients with comorbidities.
Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy – The 3 Musketeers of Semaglutides
These are the top brands for GLP-1RAs and celebrities have been more than willing to be the guinea pigs giving them a run for their money. Although just a rumor that Kim and Khloé Kardashian have been on an Ozempic journey, they attribute sudden weight loss to their daily regimental workouts.
Sometimes the Kardashians are just trying to keep up with themselves. Others such as Chelsea Handler, Elon Musk, and Rosie O’Donnell are more open about their use of semaglutides.
In a Twitter post, Elon stated his secret is fasting and Wegovy. Others who are more open about their use are Dolores Catania, Patti Stranger, and Remi Bader. Fasting might also lead to the fountain of youth.
And Wegovy— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 2, 2022
Is GLP-1 the same as Ozempic? Let’s take a closer look.
Firstly, it’s worth noting that Ozempic is just one example of a GLP-1 agonist used to treat type 2 diabetes. Other examples include Mounjaro and Wegovy, both of which work in a similar way to Ozempic by triggering insulin release, blocking sugar production in the liver, and making you feel full.
However, Ozempic is unique in that it has been shown to lower the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with known heart disease.
So, what about Wegovy? This higher-dose version of Ozempic is specifically approved for weight loss, whereas Ozempic is not. However, both medications contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide, and work in the same way by mimicking the GLP-1 gut hormone.
During clinical trials, those taking Ozempic lost an average of 8 to 10 lbs, while those taking Wegovy lost even more weight. Source
Mechanism of Action:
GLP-1 agonists stimulate insulin secretion after an oral glucose load via the incretin effect. It is also commonly referred to as a GLP-1 receptor agonist due to its ability to activate the GLP-1 receptor.
They can delay gastric emptying, inhibiting the production of glucagon from pancreatic alpha cells if blood sugar levels are high. Furthermore, GLP-1 receptor agonists can decrease pancreatic beta-cell apoptosis while promoting their proliferation.
This class of medications has also been shown to improve left ventricular ejection fraction, myocardial contractility, coronary blood flow, cardiac output, and endothelial function while reducing infarction size and overall risks for a cardiovascular event.
This mechanism gets a little into the weeds, but the takeaway is all positive. So, what are the negatives?
The most frequently exhibited side effects (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551568/) from GLP-1 agonists include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that could lead to an acute kidney injury due to volume contraction.
Dizziness, mild tachycardia, infections, headaches, and dyspepsia may also occur. Patients should receive counseling that this class of drugs increases satiety, and transient, mild nausea may occur if they attempt to eat while feeling full.
Increasing the dosage of these medications should occur slowly if nausea is present. Injection-site pruritus and erythema are also common, most notably with the longer-acting medications in this class.
Administration of Semaglutides:
Many formulations of GLP-1 agonists can be prescribed in the United States. Lixisenatide and liraglutide dosing are once-daily, albiglutide, dulaglutide, semaglutide dosing is once weekly, and exenatide can be dosed either as a twice-daily or a once-weekly injection.
Recently, the FDA approved an oral formulation of semaglutide, which is the first and only oral GLP-1 agonist available in the United States. This new formulation provides an alternative option for patients who may prefer not to receive injections or have difficulty administering them.
The oral semaglutide has been shown to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels and improving glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.
It is important to note, however, that this medication should not be used in patients with type 1 diabetes or diabetic ketoacidosis.
As with any medication, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about whether oral semaglutide is right for you.
How does GLP-1 work for weight loss?
GLP-1 has been found to play a significant role in weight loss. GLP-1 works by stimulating glucose-dependent insulin release from pancreatic islets, slowing gastric emptying, inhibiting post-meal glucagon release, and reducing food intake.
Liraglutide and semaglutide, two remarkable GLP-1 receptor agonists, have emerged as powerful tools in the battle against diabetes, harnessing their ability to incite insulin secretion, curtail glucagon secretion, delay gastric emptying, and facilitate weight loss by quashing hunger and reigning in food consumption. Source
GLP-1RAs are generally well-tolerated, and most people can tolerate them well. GLP-1RA therapy has been shown to have beneficial effects in the management of obesity, owing to the actions of GLP-1 on appetite and energy intake.
The exact mechanism underlying the weight-losing effect of liraglutide is still being researched, but changes in gut microbiota are believed to play a role.
Embarking on a grand global quest to tackle the plight of obesity, a remarkable Phase III double-blind trial enlisted nearly 2,000 brave individuals across 16 diverse countries, all eager to join the weight-loss revolution.
Over the course of 68 challenging weeks, these valiant participants received weekly doses of either the revolutionary semaglutide or a placebo, while adhering to rigorous weight-loss programs designed to slash calories, ramp up physical activity, and connect with expert dietitians for counseling sessions.
In the realm of weight loss, the placebo group could only muster a mediocre average loss of 2.6kg (5.7 lb) and a measly body mass index (BMI) reduction of 0.92. But those lucky enough to receive semaglutide experienced a weight loss of a whopping 15.3 kg (33.7 lb) and a BMI reduction of 5.54!
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the semaglutide group also showcased improvements in risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, from their blood sugar levels and blood pressure, all the way down to their waist circumference. Source
In summary, GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic are effective treatments for type 2 diabetes, and some are also approved for weight loss. Ozempic and Wegovy contain the same active ingredient, semaglutide, and work by mimicking the GLP-1 gut hormone.
While Ozempic isn’t approved for weight loss, it can lead to weight loss as a side effect. Ultimately, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine which GLP-1 agonist medication is right for you.
Of course, exercise always will be part of staying healthy, and should be part of your daily habits in one form or another. You’d be surprised how little exercise you might actually need for the benefits. You might even try some of these celebrity jump rope exercises.
In fact, the NHS states A brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your 150 minutes of weekly exercise, as recommended in the physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64.