May 2, 2024 • 5 min read

What Happens When You Stop Ozempic, Wegovy, & Other Weight Loss Drugs (& How to Not Gain Weight)

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If you’re finding success taking Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, or another weight loss drug, you may be wondering what will happen if you stop taking it. Will you gain the weight back? Is it possible to keep the weight off even if you’re not taking the drug anymore?

Rebound weight gain can happen when stopping weight loss medications as many of these, including Ozempic and Mounjaro, were meant to be used as a lifelong treatment for chronic obesity. Stopping them can make managing your hunger more difficult. 

recent study found that those who stopped the popular weight loss drugs containing semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus) gained two-thirds of the weight back within a year.

Continuing a healthy diet and exercise plan makes it possible to keep the weight off. Working with a dietitian when stopping weight loss drugs is a great way to make sure you don’t regain the weight you’ve worked so hard to lose.

This guide goes over what happens when you stop taking weight loss medications, what causes post-medication rebound weight gain, and how to keep the weight off once you stop.

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What happens when you stop taking Ozempic, Wegovy, & other weight loss medications?

There are several reasons why someone might stop taking weight loss medications including cost, availability, presence of side effects, or personal preference. But what happens to your body when you stop taking them?

Popular weight loss medications such as Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, Saxenda, and Zepbound are a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1s). They mimic your body’s natural GLP-1 hormone which helps regulate appetite.

Taking GLP-1 medications can aid in weight loss through several mechanisms. An increase in GLP-1 levels slows gastric emptying, causing early satiety. You will find that you get full sooner and stay full for longer, which can reduce total calorie intake. 

Many also note a decrease in food noise while taking these medications which can reduce cravings and unnecessary snacking. 

However, once you stop taking these medications, your GLP-1 levels will return to their normal state, and you may experience a resurgence of symptoms. This means your appetite will likely return to what it was before, along with your cravings and the presence of food noise.

This is why many who suddenly stop taking GLP-1 medications experience rebound weight gain, particularly when lifestyle interventions have not become habits. 

Relying solely on the medication for weight loss leaves little room for success when the medication is no longer there to help.

Will I regain weight after stopping weight loss medications?

Weight regain after stopping weight loss medications is common. 

A 2022 study found that those who stopped taking semaglutide (the active ingredient found in popular weight loss medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus) gained back two-thirds of the weight they had lost within the first year.

Another study found that those who stopped taking Tirzepatide (the active ingredient found in the weight loss medications Mounjaro and Zepbound) gained more than half the weight they lost back within the first year.

While it is common to experience rebound weight gain after stopping weight loss medications due to a resurgence of appetite, food noise, and cravings, not everyone will gain the weight back.

Those who took weight loss medications in combination with a healthy diet and regular physical activity are more likely to keep the weight off long-term. 

This is why it’s important to work on diet and lifestyle while taking these medications instead of just relying on the medication itself for weight loss. 

However, it’s important to note that successful weight maintenance post weight loss medication depends on a variety of factors. The presence of certain conditions, medications, and other factors can make weight maintenance more difficult.

How to keep the weight off after stopping weight loss medications

If you’re currently taking a GLP-1 medication for weight loss or planning to start, below are some tips to help you be successful in keeping the weight off once you get to your goal. 

  • Maintain your diet. While taking GLP-1s, you should be making healthy diet changes to support weight loss. Once stopping the medication, it’s important to keep up with these changes to avoid weight regain. Always make sure the changes you make are sustainable so you can more easily continue with them once the medication is stopped.
  • Track your food intake. Tracking your food intake, whether on a medication or off, can help you make healthy changes and be mindful of your diet. It can also ensure you are meeting your needs for important nutrients such as protein, which helps to reduce the chances of experiencing muscle loss while losing weight on GLP-1s.
  • Drink plenty of water. Maintaining adequate hydration is essential for optimal health, but it can also help to maintain a healthy weight and potentially boost weight loss effects whether you are on GLP-1 medications or not.
  • Workout regularly. Regular exercise is an important factor in weight loss and weight maintenance. Incorporating a mixture of cardio and strength-based exercise into your routine can help to increase your metabolic function and reduce muscle loss during weight loss.
  • Weigh in weekly. Weekly weigh-ins can help you assess your progress and hold you accountable once stopping weight loss medication, especially if you haven’t reached your goal weight yet. Remember that a healthy rate of weight loss is about one to two pounds per week regardless of whether you are taking weight loss medication or not.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep may also play a role in your weight loss efforts, or ability to maintain a healthy weight. Sleep deprivation can cause an increase in appetite due to the increase in the hormone cortisol which can inhibit weight loss efforts. Aim for seven to nine hours of high-quality sleep per night.
  • Work with a dietitian. Working with a dietitian while on weight loss medication and after can help you avoid weight regain. Dietitians can provide personalized recommendations and encouragement, so you know exactly what to do to keep the weight off in a way that works for you and your lifestyle.

We have some guides that go over what a healthy diet looks like on popular weight loss medications. Even if you’re stopping your medicine, we recommend checking these articles as they have a lot of tips that will help you keep the weight off:

Why you should consider working with a dietitian after stopping weight loss medications

If you are planning to stop taking GLP-1 medications for weight loss, or you’ve already stopped and are worried about weight regain, consider getting some help. Ensure your long-term success by working with a registered dietitian (RD).

If you’ve already met your goal, RDs are nutrition professionals who can provide tailored recommendations for further weight loss or weight maintenance. 

RDs can help you address the resurgence of symptoms and provide guidance on habit change and lifestyle adjustments based on your preferences and limitations. They can help take the guesswork out of managing your symptoms and get you back in control of your diet.

Don’t try to figure it out on your own. Work with a professional who understands your challenges and is specialized in helping you meet your weight loss goals and maintain them.

You can use Zaya Care’s free Dietitian Search Tool to take the first step toward weight maintenance with an RD on your side. 

When you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians here at Zaya Care, 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.

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Meghan is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist from San Jose, California. She received her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University in 2015. Following an unexpected cross-country trip that landed her in Florida, she completed her didactic training through AdventHealth Orlando. Meghan has extensive experience in multiple aspects of dietetics including critical care, motivational interviewing, writing, and research. She is passionate about health and wellness and has dedicated her free time to breaking down complicated nutrition topics and disseminating them to the public through the arena of writing.