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Find out how Ozempic® (semaglutide) works and why it’s making headlines

Medically reviewed by: Calibrate doctor Kristin Baier, MD

Starting in early 2022, one formerly little-known drug started to go viral across social media platforms: Ozempic® (semaglutide). This GLP-1 medication isn’t brand new, but it has seen unprecedented demand in recent months thanks to buzz that originated on the feeds of TikTok influencers and celebrities. 

How does Ozempic® work? And can it be used for weight loss? We’re answering those questions and more below.

What is Ozempic® (semaglutide)?

Ozempic® (semaglutide) is a once-weekly injectable GLP-1 RA—a class of medicines more formally known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists. It is one of the medications prescribed by Calibrate doctors (when clinically appropriate) for the treatment of obesity, working in conjunction with the Calibrate Metabolic Reset

Ozempic® is manufactured by Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company based in Denmark that also manufactures Wegovy®. It has been FDA-approved since 2017. 

Both Ozempic® and Wegovy® contain the same active ingredient. Wegovy® provides a dose that titrates up to 2.4 mg of semaglutide, whereas Ozempic® dosing is available in a maximum of 2.0 mg of semaglutide. Learn more about the new 2.0 mg dose here

While Ozempic® is currently FDA-approved for use in patients with type-2 diabetes, clinical studies show that its active ingredient, semaglutide, is safe and effective in treating overweight or obesity. Just as it does in adults with type-2 diabetes, Ozempic® can improve blood sugar levels in adults with insulin resistance or prediabetes—and is an effective tool for weight loss among both groups. 

How much weight can you lose with Ozempic®? According to Novo Nordisk, a one-year study found that adults with an average starting weight of 197 pounds lost around:

- 4.6% of their body weight on 0.5 mg Ozempic®

- 6.1% of their body weight on 1 mg Ozempic®

Ozempic® is one of the medications prescribed by Calibrate doctors, if clinically appropriate, to work in conjunction with the Calibrate Metabolic Reset. Our program combines 1:1 video coaching, medication, and lifestyle changes for 10%+ weight loss or your money back (see terms).

Successful and sustained weight loss with Ozempic® requires more than just the injection of the drug itself—it also involves intensive lifestyle interventions, many of which are difficult to manage alone. 

With Calibrate, members benefit from comprehensive, one-on-one support that spans four key areas: Food intake, exercise, sleep, and emotional health.

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Join thousands of members who have already achieved 15%+ weight loss.

How does Ozempic® (semaglutide) work?

Ozempic®—a brand name for the medication semaglutide—works by mimicking the incretin hormones that your body naturally produces when you eat food.

Incretin hormones signal to the brain, endocrine, and gastrointestinal systems that food has been consumed. This results in a complex cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters which effectively communicate feelings of satiety, or feeling full.

These hormones also play a key role in the management of blood sugar levels and can improve blood sugar levels in people living with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes. 

To get a little more granular, the GLP-1 hormone, in a healthy person, sends signals to the brain, muscles, stomach, liver, and pancreas whenever nutrients are taken in (i.e. when eating). 

Here’s how it works in each of those different organ systems:

- In the brain, GLP-1 receptors in the  hypothalamus—the part of the brain responsible for appetite and thirst—tell us we can stop eating

- In the muscles, GLP-1 kickstarts your gluconeogenesis process: The conversion of protein and fats into the glucose (sugar) that fuels your muscles

- In the stomach, GLP-1 slows down the rate at which food is digested and is cleared from the stomach; this helps to prolong the sensation of fullness after a meal and creates fullness even with smaller portions

- In the liver, GLP-1 suppresses hepatic glucose output (gluconeogenesis), which helps to lower blood sugars in people with impaired blood sugar metabolism

- In the pancreas, GLP-1 both triggers the production of insulin and suppresses the secretion of glucagon resulting in improved blood sugar control and utilization of sugar for energy and storage in the body; this is particularly important in people who have impaired glucose tolerance, pre-diabertes, or diabetes

As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, Ozempic® (semaglutide) works by imitating your body’s natural GLP-1 effects

In people with type-2 diabetes or those living with overweight or obesity, natural GLP-1 production may be lower than normal. By injecting Ozempic®, blood sugar levels are more easily controlled. 

This supports weight loss in a variety of ways, one of the most significant being that Ozempic® increases the feeling of fullness (or satiety) after meals.  

In other words, Ozempic® is a medication that makes it easier to lose weight and stick to healthy habits. However, it is not a “magic shot” that works in a vacuum

All GLP-1 medications, including Ozempic®,  must be used in combination with other tactics to support metabolic health and avoid weight regain. The Calibrate program has integrated evidence-based lifestyle recommendations as the Four Pillars of Metabolic Health to help participants maximize their success with Ozempic®. 

These pillars are: 

- Food

- Sleep

- Exercise

- Emotional health

By learning to eat more mindfully, participating in exercise that you actually enjoy, managing stressors, and improving sleep quality, both your mind and body are set up for real results. With this foundation in place, Ozempic® can work even more effectively. 

When you join the Calibrate program, you’ll work closely with a licensed physician who will determine the appropriate dose for you as an individual. 

Ozempic® must be injected; it isn’t available in pill form. However, the injection is typically painless and your medical team will provide thorough instructions to make self-injection easy and stress-free. 

Here’s how to use Ozempic® per the FDA:

Administer OZEMPIC® once weekly, on the same day each week, at any time of the day, with or without meals. The day of weekly administration can be changed if necessary as long as the time between two doses is at least 2 days (>48 hours). If a dose is missed, administer OZEMPIC® as soon as possible within 5 days after the missed dose. 

If more than 5 days have passed, skip the missed dose and administer the next dose on the regularly scheduled day. In each case, patients can then resume their regular once weekly dosing schedule. Administer OZEMPIC® subcutaneously to the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. Instruct patients to use a different injection site each week when injecting in the same body region.


Ozempic® (semaglutide) is a medication that has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. However, clinical trials have shown that it can also be effective for weight loss in people with or without diabetes.

Like all medications, Ozempic® can cause side effects, and it is important to talk to your doctor about whether it is a safe and appropriate option for you based on your individual health status, medical history, and any medications you are taking.

Learn more about Ozempic® side effects and contraindications below.


Now that we’ve explored how Ozempic® works within the body, let’s talk about how it fits into a comprehensive weight loss and metabolic reset plan. 

Clinical trials of Ozempic® have shown that it is most effective when used in conjunction with a healthy, balanced diet and exercise.  Of course, these requirements are easier in theory than they are in reality. 

If you’ve been eating the same foods and adhering to the same routine for years, switching things up can feel overwhelming. Without professional support and guidance, many efforts to lose weight will fail. 

Maybe you’ve heard the (demoralizing) statistic that, on average, 95% of lost weight is regained after five years.

The reason for this is twofold. First, weight loss from calorie restriction alone can have negative effects on metabolism: 

When you lose weight via calorie restriction, your basal metabolic rate and energy expenditure through exercise actually decreases. This happens at the same time as your body releases a cascade of hunger and stress hormones (including ghrelin and cortisol), resulting in initial weight loss but quick weight regain. This phenomenon is known as your body’s set point defense.

However, when hunger signals are suppressed—as when using a GLP-1 like Ozempic®—the body is better able to remain at a new, lower set point long enough for the basal metabolic rate to adjust.

Second, as researchers concluded in a study published in the Medical Clinics of North America, “Treatment of obesity requires ongoing attention and support, and weight maintenance-specific counseling, to improve long-term weight management.” 

Most dieters go it alone—and struggle to keep the weight off. With Calibrate, you can fall back on a support system comprised of medical professionals, an accountability coach, and a community of fellow members to keep you engaged and motivated as you work towards better metabolic health. 

Calibrate believes that the most sustainable path to weight loss is via comprehensive, 1:1 coaching that accounts for details far beyond your BMI. 

Calibrate’s Metabolic Reset uses proven methods for long-term, sustainable results:

- The latest science

- FDA-approved medication

- Doctor visits and medical team support

- Accountability coaching on food, exercise, sleep, and emotional health

Our program was designed by world-renowned obesity experts and is vetted and approved by a Clinical Advisory Board. Learn more about how it works


Most people taking Ozempic® experience few side effects. However, some side effects are normal and do not pose a serious risk to your health. The most common side effects of Ozempic® include:

- Nausea

- Diarrhea

- Vomiting

- Constipation

- Stomach (abdomen) pain 

- Headache

- Tiredness (fatigue)

- Upset stomach

- Dizziness

- Bloated, belching, or gas

- Heartburn

- Loss of appetite

Talk to your healthcare provider about any side effects that become bothersome or that don’t go away. The medical team can offer recommendations and supportive care for any issues that arise. 

There are no specific foods that you need to avoid when taking semaglutide, but some find it helpful to avoid fried or fatty foods in order to minimize side effects. 

If you experience any severe side effects, such as anaphylaxis or shortness of breath, please seek immediate medical care. 


Traditional weight loss programs don’t work because sustainable weight loss doesn’t come from yo-yo dieting or calorie counting. It comes from improving your metabolic health. Calibrate’s Metabolic Reset helps you do just that, through a unique combination of doctor-prescribed medication, 1:1 video coaching, and lifestyle tweaks tailored to you. The result? Improved metabolic health and sustained weight loss.

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Ozempic® is FDA-approved. As with all prescription medications, there are warnings and contraindications to keep in mind prior to starting treatment. Your Calibrate doctor will discuss these with you and can answer any specific questions you might have about the risks of Ozempic® as it pertains to your own health and medical history. 

The below limitations, contraindications, and warnings are sourced directly from the FDA.

Ozempic® is not recommended as a first-line therapy for patients who have inadequate glycemic control. 

Ozempic® has not been studied in patients with a history of pancreatitis. 

Ozempic® is not a substitute for insulin. Ozempic® is not indicated for use in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus for blood sugar control but can be used off-label for weight loss and insulin resistance. Please talk with your provider about insulin changes before starting Ozempic® therapy. 

Personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2.

Known hypersensitivity to semaglutide

In rodents, semaglutide has been associated with an increased risk of thyroid C-cell tumors including medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). However, there is no known increased risk for thyroid cancer in humans taking semaglutide.

Semaglutide is contraindicated in patients with a personal or family history of MTC or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2), an endocrine tumor syndrome that can involve the adrenal, parathyroid gland and thyroid glands.

Discontinue Ozempic® promptly if pancreatitis is suspected or if you have severe abdominal pain requiring immediate medical attention. Do not restart if pancreatitis is confirmed by a medical professional.

Ozempic® has been associated with progression of diabetic retinopathy complications. If you have a history of diabetes mellitus please make sure you are up to date on your diabetic eye exams and are monitored closely if you have diabetic retinopathy findings. 

Never share an Ozempic® pen between patients, even if the needle is changed.

Hypoglycemia can occur when Ozempic® is used with other diabetes medications such as insulin secretagogues (ie: glipizide, glyburide, Prandin or Starlix) or insulin. Discuss adjusting these medications with your medical provider when starting Ozempic®.

Kidney Injury can result from dehydration related to severe diarrhea. Please stop Ozempic® and talk to your medical team if you are experiencing significant gastrointestinal side effects.

Allergic Reactions: Discontinue Ozempic® if suspected (shortness of breath, rash, severe itching, mouth swelling) and promptly seek medical advice.