Nov 9, 2023 • 12 min read

How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight on Ozempic? 

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Ozempic is a diabetes medication that has become well-known for its ability to help people lose weight. It is also known by its generic name, semaglutide, and as Wegovy, which is a higher-dose version of the medication approved specifically for weight loss.

This medication mimics the glucagon-like peptide one (GLP-1) hormone that is naturally produced in the gut. This hormone helps the body produce more insulin when needed while preventing the liver from releasing too much sugar into the bloodstream. 

Ozempic improves blood sugar and works to reduce hunger and slow digestion, creating a feeling of fullness. Research studies have shown significant weight loss results in obese and overweight patients taking this medication. 

But how long does it take to lose weight on Ozempic?

An average weight loss of about 11% was seen after six months of semaglutide use in one study. Based on a handful of studies (detailed below) where semaglutide was combined with diet and exercise, the average weight loss over time was:

  • At 3 months, an average of 10 pounds 
  • At 6 months, an average of 15 pounds in total
  • At 10 months, an average of 15 pounds in total
  • At 17 months, an average of 35 pounds in total
  • At 24 months, an average of 35 pounds in total

This guide goes over how long it takes to lose weight on Ozempic including what a typical timeline looks like, how to safely lose weight while taking semaglutide, and how to manage any stalls in weight loss. 

What the studies say: How long it takes to lose weight on Ozempic

Several studies have looked at the rate of weight loss using semaglutide in combination with lifestyle changes. Although, none give a full picture of the rate of weight loss you should expect to see week by week. 

We know that Ozempic can improve blood sugar in type 2 diabetics within the first week, but it can take much longer, even up to eight weeks, for some to start seeing weight loss.  

In a 2022 cohort study, it took three months for participants to lose about 5.9% of body weight and six months to lose about 10.9% of body weight. 

In Novo Nordisk’s clinical trials, study participants lost an average of 15 pounds in 40 weeks (10 months) on a 2mg weekly dose of semaglutide.

This phase one study using Wegovy found that at 68 weeks (17 months) as well as at two years, participants taking 2.4mg semaglutide weekly injections lost an average of about 15% of body weight or roughly 35 pounds. 

In further phases of the study above, one in three participants achieved a weight loss greater than 20% of their body weight (or 47 pounds) at two years. And 77% of participants were able to sustain a 5% or greater weight loss (about 12 pounds) at two years. 

As more research is conducted, we will begin to see a clearer picture of how much weight loss can be expected. 

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Reasons for variations in weight loss results on Ozempic

1) Dosing

The dose of semaglutide you are taking can impact the amount of weight you might lose. One study showed that participants on the 1mg dose of Ozempic lost about 13 pounds over 40 weeks, while those on the 2mg dose lost slightly more, 15 pounds.

It’s also worth noting that it takes a while to get to the full dose. Typically, the medication is started at .25mg weekly for the first four weeks then increased to .5mg weekly for another four weeks before moving up to 1mg weekly and finally to the full dose of 2.4mgs. 

Ozempic side effects like nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting can delay the ability to increase dosing, which in turn can slightly slow down the rate of weight loss compared to others who are at the full dose. Overall, it could take about four months to get to the full maintenance dose. 

2) Lifestyle interventions

Most studies pair the use of semaglutide with lifestyle interventions such as a calorie-restricted diet and increased exercise. Variability in weight loss results can be due to differences in exercise or caloric intake. 

3) Uniqueness

Everyone’s body will react differently to medications. While one person may lose weight rapidly in the first couple of weeks, another may find the process to be a little slower. A person’s starting weight may also factor into the rate of weight loss. 

How Ozempic helps with weight loss

The effects of Ozempic are similar to those of someone who has undergone bariatric surgery. It mimics your body’s naturally occurring hormone, GLP1, which slows digestion and tells your brain that you are full. This can reduce overeating and help aid in weight loss.

Additionally, Ozempic users have claimed to experience a decrease in “food noise” while taking this medication. Food noise is the constant flow of thoughts and desires around food. While it’s not well-known why this happens, it’s likely related to the decrease in appetite while on it.

No longer thinking about food can decrease unnecessary snacking and/or overeating during meals. However, sometimes Ozempic can decrease your appetite too much. Whether this happens or not depends on the person and the dose delivered.

Those who are experiencing a very low appetite while on Ozempic should be mindful to ensure they are eating enough to support their metabolic health. Eating adequate calories is essential for sustainable weight loss.

Additionally, it is necessary to avoid potential nutrient deficiencies and losses in muscle mass that can accompany undereating. If you are struggling to eat enough while on Ozempic, be sure to speak with your doctor to discuss a plan that may include lowering your medication dose.

Benefits of losing weight while taking Ozempic

People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk for various diseases and health conditions. Additionally, quality of life tends to be lower, and mental illnesses (depression and anxiety) tend to be higher when compared to those that fall in the healthy weight category. 

Losing weight on Ozempic can mitigate the following health effects caused by being overweight or obese:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Low LDL cholesterol
  • Elevated triglycerides 
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Various cancers
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Should I take Ozempic for weight loss?

It can be challenging to lose weight and keep it off, especially on your own. The use of medications like Ozempic can provide another tool to those who need additional support in managing their weight.  

How to determine if Ozempic is a good fit for you

Although Ozempic and other semaglutide medications are very popular right now, you need to determine if they would be a good fit for you. The following criteria can help you make a smart decision:

1) You struggle to lose weight 

Do you feel like you’re putting forth a ton of effort in changing your eating habits and increasing exercise with little result on the scale? Or perhaps you’re at a weight loss plateau? Ozempic can be a helpful tool to kickstart weight loss or get past weight loss plateaus. 

2) You struggle to maintain weight loss

You’ve done the diet and exercise thing before and maybe you’ve lost some weight, but it was difficult to maintain the weight loss. The added effects of a semaglutide medication (reduced hunger, improved insulin sensitivity) could be the keys to sustaining your weight loss. 

3) You are able and willing to make lifestyle changes

You will still have to put in the work to improve the quality of your diet, reduce your calorie intake, and get adequate exercise to reap the full benefits of Ozempic. Therefore, you should be willing to make changes before starting this type of medication. 

4) Your current diabetes medication isn’t working

Suppose you’re already on a diabetes medication and are finding it isn’t all that effective at managing your blood sugar. In that case, it may be time to try Ozempic. Research results show it to be effective at lowering Hemoglobin A1C by 1% – 2%. 

Ozempic may not be right for everyone—questions to consider

There are a few more things to consider when deciding whether Ozempic is a good fit for you. Before starting Ozempic or any semaglutide, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions: 

1) How’s your current digestion?

The most common side effects of these medications include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you already struggle with these digestive issues, then worsening symptoms with the use of this medication could lead to malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies. 

2) Do you struggle to eat enough during the day?

Ozempic works to slow digestion and help improve satiety or feeling full. Along with an increased risk for nausea, taking this medication can make it difficult to take in enough food. 

If you already have a hard time remembering meals or eating enough food, then this could be a problem leading to protein and nutrient deficiencies. 

3) Do you have type 2 diabetes? 

Since Ozempic is only FDA-approved for managing type 2 diabetes, your insurance may not cover this medication solely for weight loss. 

In this case, you may want to consider a similar medication, such as Wegovy. It is the same active ingredient as Ozempic and has been approved by the FDA solely as a weight loss medication. Nearly half of people in clinical trials lost 15% or more of their body weight after a year while taking Wegovy.

Alternatively, talk with your doctor to see if they would recommend and prescribe any other medications that could help with weight loss: Rybelsus, Mounjaro, Trulicity, Saxenda, Buproprion/Naltrexone, Phentermine/Topiramate, or Orlistat to name a few.  

4) Do you have or have you had any of the following health issues? 

It’s advised you do not take Ozempic if you have any of the following: 

  • Pancreas or kidney problems
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Medullary thyroid cancer (either you or a family member)
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 
  • Currently pregnant, planning to become pregnant in the next two months, or breastfeeding
  • Allergy to semaglutide or any of the other ingredients in Ozempic

How to make sure you’re losing a safe amount of weight on Ozempic

While typical weight loss recommendations suggest losing one to two pounds per week, on Ozempic, three to four pounds per week could still be considered normal. It’s important to have a way to monitor your weight loss at home, like a scale. 

While on any weight loss medication, you should be seeing your doctor or dietitian regularly to monitor your health and assess your current diet. With the lack of hunger and nausea caused by this medication, it can be difficult to meet your daily calorie needs. 

A dietitian can help you learn the best foods to eat while taking Ozempic. Provide your dietitian with a food diary of everything you eat for a couple of days. You can go through it together to make sure you’re meeting your nutrition needs or come up with a plan on how to do so.  

Although you may lose weight rapidly in the initial stages of taking the medication, the rate of weight loss typically starts to slow over time. 

If you are losing at a rapid rate (three to five pounds per week), this could still be in a normal range while taking the medication. But if you continue to lose at this rate for more than two weeks, you will need to check in with your doctor. 

Be sure to notify your doctor if you notice any of the following signs that you may be losing weight too quickly:

  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Fatigue
  • Nutrient deficiencies 
  • Gall stones 

On the other hand, don’t be discouraged if you are losing close to three pounds one week and then the next week you only lose one pound. It’s normal to see a rapid weight loss one week followed by a slower rate of weight loss the following week. 

Any progress is great progress. Just continue to be mindful of your food and lifestyle choices and provide your body with sufficient nourishment.

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Why you may not be losing weight on Ozempic & what to do

While a majority of people using semaglutide will lose weight, some have difficulty getting the scale to budge. There are several possible reasons why you may not be losing weight on Ozempic. The following list gives some direction on where to look when searching for explanations:

  • You’re not adjusting your diet
  • You may need a higher dose
  • You may have to wait longer
  • You may need to exercise more 
  • You’re stressed out
  • You’re not getting enough sleep
  • You have an underlying health condition
  • You are inconsistent with dosing
  • You’ve hit a plateau
  • You’re not eating enough protein 

There are likely still some lifestyle habits that need tweaking. Just be sure to keep an open mind to making the recommended changes. Here’s how you can take action:

  • Talk to your doctor about your dosage
  • Ask your doctor what other changes you can make
  • Make sure you’re not eating too many calories
  • Work with a dietitian
  • Make sure you’ve given Ozempic enough time to start working
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Make sure you’re hydrated
  • Reduce stress, if possible
  • Cut out alcohol (learn more about drinking alcohol on Ozempic here)

It can be extremely frustrating not to see the weight loss you were hoping for. Your priority should be to talk with your doctor and dietitian. A health professional can help assess for possible causes for your lack of weight loss. 

How Zaya Care helps you book registered dietitians covered by your insurance

Here at Zaya Care, we’re dedicated to helping people find dietitians based on their preferences, needs, and insurance.

When you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians, we’ll check your insurance so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all.

It’s worth noting that 90% of Zaya Care patients pay $0 for nutrition care with a registered dietitian as we are in-network with many major carriers.

Losing weight with Ozempic FAQs

How can I make sure I’m losing weight on Ozempic?
Following a healthy eating pattern and exercising regularly can help ensure that you will lose weight on Ozempic. You may even want to visit with a dietitian who can assess your nutrition needs and make sure you are eating the proper amount. 

What should I do if I’m not losing weight on Ozempic?
If you have been on Ozempic for several months and you have not seen any weight loss, you may want to look at some other lifestyle factors such as your eating habits, exercise routine, stress management, and alcohol consumption. It is also a good idea to speak with your doctor about other changes you can make or seek help with your nutrition from a dietitian. 

Why isn’t Ozempic working for me?
A common reason why Ozempic does not work for some people is because they have not made any lifestyle changes. Also, keep in mind that weight loss can take time, and you may just need to wait a bit longer. 

Are there drugs other than Ozempic that can help with weight loss?
The medication Wegovy has the same active ingredient as Ozempic, but it is used for weight management. You can learn more about the cost of Wegovy here. Saxenda is another injectable medication for weight loss that works in the same way and is suitable for both adults and children between the ages of 12 and 17. 

Do people always lose weight on Ozempic?
Not everyone loses weight on Ozempic. Ozempic is specifically prescribed to help those with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar and reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events. Those who do not make any lifestyle changes while taking Ozempic will most likely not lose weight. 

What if I overeat while taking Ozempic?
If you overeat while taking Ozempic, it may cause or worsen the possible side effects, which include stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. 

Why am I still hungry on Ozempic?
Everyone’s body is different, and your appetite may be affected by different factors like your activity level. If you recently started taking Ozempic and you are still hungry, it may be because your body needs some time to adjust to the medication. In some cases, you may also need a larger dose, which should be discussed with your doctor. 

Why am I gaining weight on Ozempic?
If you are not losing weight while on Ozempic, there’s a variety of factors that may be the reason. As mentioned above, sleep, stress, diet, exercise, and underlying medical conditions all play a part in weight changes. 

How much does Ozempic cost?
For those who are lucky enough to have insurance coverage for Ozempic, which typically requires a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, the cost could be as little as $25 a month. However, those who aren’t covered may be looking at a monthly cost of upwards of $900 or more. Learn more in our guide to the cost of Ozempic with insurance and out-of-pocket.

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Vanessa Imus is a Registered Dietitian of 12 years, a mom of 3, and a travel enthusiast born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She specializes in weight management and bariatrics but has extensive dietitian experience in nutrition writing, media work for brands, and corporate wellness. She runs Integrated Nutrition for Weight Loss offering nutrition coaching programs and personalized meal plans for weight loss. Vanessa is passionate about helping others optimize their health and lose weight by using evidence-based nutrition strategies.