According to Dr. Quint, GLP-1 drugs do four things: increase insulin secretion, reduce glucagon secretion, slow the emptying of the stomach and reduce appetite.
“It doesn’t affect your metabolism,” he clarifies. “It just makes you feel full, so you eat less.” Dr. Halim adds that because it slows digestion, people taking the drug will usually feel satisfied with smaller portions of food.
In the weight loss conversation, Dr. Quint notes that what the drug is really doing is helping people alter behaviors. Often times, he says, those struggling with obesity will continue to eat despite feeling full. Being on Ozempic or a similar drug will make doing so uncomfortable and using it in the long term can train people to change their eating habits in a way that sticks. However, it’s worth noting that semaglutide products aren’t a magical “fix.” Once someone stops the medication, any weight loss could come back if the person doesn’t maintain the eating habits that they developed while taking the product (as shown in this 2022 study where patients who stopped taking the medication regained about two-thirds of the weight they’d lost).
Though Ozempic is lauded for the rapidity at which it helps patients lose weight, Dr. Halim underlines the fact that ultimately, weight loss is about lifestyle modification, and that the best results come from doing so slowly and consistently.