Weight loss journeys are seldom linear. However, prescription weight loss drugs can help you get off to a good start, easing your path ahead.
Wegovy® has received high praise from weight loss experts not only within the United States, but around the globe. A New York Times article published in February 2021 declared Wegovy® a “game-changer” after clinical trials were completed: Nearly 2,000 participants who received the drug over a 68-week period had an average weight loss of just under 15% of their body weight.
These numbers are impressive—but what is Wegovy®? How does it work? And is it already available to the public? We’re answering those questions and more below.
Wegovy® is a once-weekly injectable glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) RA—a class of medicines known as glucagon-like peptide receptor agonists—that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a weight loss medication in June 2021.
The drug itself is called semaglutide; Wegovy® is the brand name. It is one of only six medications that currently has FDA approval for chronic weight management and obesity treatment. Others include orlistat (Xenical), phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia), naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave), liraglutide (Saxenda), and setmelanotide (the latter of which is only approved for individuals with one of three specific rare genetic disorders that cause severe weight gain during childhood).
Semaglutide isn’t brand new. The drug has been available in other forms since 2017 (when lower-dose injection Ozempic™ was approved) and 2019 (when the oral form Rybelsus™ was approved).
Then again, Wegovy®, Ozempic™, and Rybelsus™ have a common manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, a popular Danish global pharmaceutical company that is a member of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
Ozempic™ is available by prescription only and, per the manufacturer, is meant to be used with “a balanced diet and increased physical activity to help adults who have weight-related health problems lose weight and keep weight off.” The same is true of Rybelsus™.
The main difference between Wegovy® and the aforementioned weight loss medications is that Wegovy® provides a higher dose of semaglutide. In addition, Wegovy® may cross the blood-brain barrier – the key regulator of microorganism entry into the central nervous system – more effectively because it is delivered at a higher-dose.
Wegovy® is one of the medications prescribed by Calibrate doctors to work in conjunction with the Calibrate metabolic reset program. Successful and sustained weight loss with Wegovy® 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 and coaching that spans four key areas: Food intake, exercise, sleep, and emotional health. Since GLP-1prescription drugs like Wegovy® are meant to be used alongside lifestyle changes, the Calibrate program is uniquely positioned to help its members reach their weight loss and overall health goals.
The Wegovy® weight loss medication, like other GLP-1s, produces similar effects in the body to those of an incretin hormone: A type of hormone released naturally by your body when you eat food.
Incretin hormones signal the brain, endocrine, and gastrointestinal system that food has been consumed. This results in a complex cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters which effectively communicate feelings of satiety (feeling full). GLP-1 also plays a key role in the management of blood sugar levels and can improve blood sugar control 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:
So, how does it help you lose weight? As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, Wegovy® (semaglutide) works by imitating your body’s natural GLP-1 effects. In those with type-2 diabetes or those living with overweight or obesity, natural GLP-1 production may be lower than normal. By injecting Wegovy® once weekly, blood sugar levels are more easily controlled. This supports weight loss in a variety of ways, one of the most significant being that Wegovy® increases the feeling of fullness (or satiety) after meals.
In other words, Wegovy® weight loss medication makes it easier to lose weight and stick to healthy habits. However, it is not a “magic shot” that works in a vacuum. It 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 to help participants maximize their success with Wegovy®.
How self-injection works
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. Wegovy® must be injected; it isn’t available in pill form. The Wegovy® pen utilizes ultra-fine needle technology and the injection is typically painless. Your doctor will provide thorough instructions to make self-injection easy and stress-free.
Here’s how to use Wegovy® per the FDA:
Administer Wegovy® once weekly, on the same day each week, at any time of day, with or without meals. Inject subcutaneously in the abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. Initiate at 0.25 mg once weekly for 4 weeks. In 4-week intervals, increase the dose until a dose of 2.4 mg is reached. The maintenance dose of Wegovy® weight loss medication is 2.4 mg once weekly. In patients with type 2 diabetes, monitor blood glucose prior to starting and during Wegovy® treatment.
Now that we’ve explored how Wegovy® works within the body, let’s talk about how it fits into a comprehensive weight loss and metabolic reset plan.
Clinical trials of Wegovy® have shown that it is most effective when used in conjunction with a healthy, balanced diet and increased physical activity. Of course, both of these elements are easier in theory than they are in reality.
If you’ve been eating the same foods and adhering to the same daily routine for years, switching things up can feel overwhelming and next to impossible. 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.
Studies have shown, however, that this has nothing to do with a lack of willpower. As researchers concluded in a recent 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.”
Why is this? When you lose weight from calorie restriction, your basal metabolic rate and energy expenditure through exercise actually decreases. This happens concurrently with 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), the body is better able to remain at a new, lower set point long enough for the basal metabolic rate to adjust.
Wegovy® can serve as a medical catalyst for sustained weight loss—but support is critical. In addition, the right dietary and lifestyle choices must be made for you as an individual. What worked for a friend or family member might not work for you. That’s why Calibrate believes that the most sustainable path to weight loss is via comprehensive, 1:1 accountability coaching that takes into consideration details far beyond your body mass index (BMI).
Calibrate is a One-Year Metabolic Reset that uses proven methods for long-term results—the latest science, FDA-approved medication, one-on-one doctor visits, and accountability coaching on food, exercise, sleep, and emotional health—for weight loss of 15% or more. The Calibrate program was designed by world-renowned obesity experts and is vetted and approved by a Clinical Advisory Board.
When you join Calibrate, you’ll complete a comprehensive health intake, including blood work, that your Calibrate doctor will carefully review before customizing your treatment plan and prescribing your medication. If we determine that Wegovy® is the right fit for you, we’ll walk you through all of the details on dosage, how to administer the medication, when to take it, and how it will work alongside your metabolic reset plan.
Keep in mind that Wegovy® is not the right weight loss drug for everyone. Calibrate doctors may prescribe other medications based on your unique needs and health insurance coverage. Learn more about patient eligibility below.
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 One-Year 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.
The most common side effects of Wegovy® are:
- - Nausea
- - Diarrhea
- - Vomiting
- - Constipation
- - Stomach (abdomen) pain
- - Headache
- - Tiredness (fatigue)
- - Upset stomach
- - Dizziness
- - Bloated, belching, or gas
- - Stomach flu
- - Heartburn
Talk to your health care provider about any side effects of Wegovy® that become bothersome or that don’t go away. The medical team can offer recommendations and supportive care for any issues that arise. If you experience any allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis or shortness of breath, please seek immediate medical care.
Wegovy® is FDA-approved and is safe when used as prescribed. As with all prescription medications, there are warnings and contraindications to keep in mind prior to starting treatment with Wegovy®. Your Calibrate doctor will discuss these with you and can answer any specific questions you might have about the risks of Wegovy® as it pertains to your own health and medical history.
The below limitations, contraindications, and warnings are sourced directly from the FDA.
Limitations of use
Wegovy® should not be used in combination with other semaglutide-containing products or any other GLP-1 receptor agonist.
The safety and efficacy of drug interactions, including co-administration with other products for weight loss have not been established.
Wegovy® has not been studied in patients with a history of pancreatitis.
Personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or in patients with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2.
Known hypersensitivity to semaglutide or any of the excipients in Wegovy®.
Black Box Warning:
In rodents, semaglutide causes dose-dependent and treatment-duration-dependent thyroid C-cell tumors including medullary thyroid cancer, at clinically relevant exposures. In humans, the relevance of semaglutide-induced rodent thyroid C-cell tumors has not been determined.
Contraindicated in patients with a personal or family history of MTC or in patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2.
Advise patients of the potential risk for MTC with semaglutide and the possible symptoms of thyroid tumors (eg, a mass in the neck, dysphagia, dyspnea, persistent hoarseness).
Thyroid C-cell Tumors: See above.
Acute Pancreatitis: Has occurred in clinical trials. Discontinue promptly if pancreatitis is suspected. Do not restart if pancreatitis is confirmed.
Acute Gallbladder Disease: Has occurred in clinical trials. If cholelithiasis is suspected, gallbladder studies and clinical follow-up are indicated. Other gallbladder problems, including but not limited to, gallstones may also surface.
Hypoglycemia: Concomitant use with an insulin secretagogue, such as sulfonylureas, or insulin may increase the risk of hypoglycemia, including severe hypoglycemia. Reducing the dose of insulin secretagogue or insulin may be necessary. Inform all patients of the risk of hypoglycemia and educate them on the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Acute Kidney Injury: Has occurred, typically due to dehydration. Monitor renal function when initiating or escalating doses of Wegovy® in patients reporting severe adverse gastrointestinal reactions or in those with renal impairment reporting severe adverse gastrointestinal reactions.
Hypersensitivity: Anaphylactic reactions and angioedema have been reported postmarketing. Discontinue Wegovy® if suspected and promptly seek medical advice.
Diabetic Retinopathy Complications in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: Has been reported in trials with semaglutide. Patients with a history of diabetic retinopathy should be monitored.
Heart Rate Increase: Monitor heart rate at regular intervals.
Suicidal Behavior and Ideation: Monitor for depression or suicidal thoughts. Discontinue Wegovy® in case of unusual changes in mood or behavior.
- Wegovy™ (semaglutide) is an FDA-approved GLP-1 medication that is prescribed for weight loss
- Wegovy™ works by stabilizing blood glucose levels—and can improve hemoglobin A1C levels
- Wegovy™ is intended for use in adults with obesity (BMI ≥30) or overweight (excess weight) (BMI ≥27) who also have weight-related medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension (also known as high blood pressure), or high cholesterol
- Studies have found that Wegovy™ is most effective for weight loss when taken in conjunction with healthy lifestyle changes including a reduced calorie diet, increased physical activity, adequate sleep, and mental wellness coaching
- Wegovy™ is one of several GLP-1s prescribed by Calibrate doctors to members of the Calibrate program; the specific medication you are prescribed will depend on your unique health history and insurance coverage
- Wegovy™ is FDA-approved and is safe when used as prescribed—but, as with all prescription medications, there are warnings and contraindications to keep in mind prior to starting treatment with Wegovy™