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Weight loss injections are the next generation of ‘fat-busting drugs’, turning the heads of physicians and celebrities worldwide with claims of helping people lose significant body weight.
And call us skeptics… but if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
As New Year’s Resolutions come into full force, losing weight is one of the most popular goals year-on-year, with a Forbes poll showing that around 35% of people want to lose weight in 2024.
But while adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle, with some natural help, may seem like the obvious choice, there are many people looking for a quick fix that will help them keep the weight off.
So it’s easy to see why weight loss injections can be so tempting to some people with the claims that accompany them.
But with health warnings such as thyroid cancer accompanying some of the brands of weight loss injections—is it really a miracle cure or a potential health disaster?
Let’s dive into the world of weight loss injections to figure out what they are, how they work and if they really are a miracle weight loss drug or a myth…
What is the so-called “skinny injection?”
Ozempic, Wegovy, Trulicity, Mounjaro, Saxenda—you might have heard these names alongside semaglutide and tirzepatide.
Some are brand names, while others are the active ingredients in the injections that actually cause the results.
All these drugs were originally developed for obesity and blood sugar management for those with type 2 diabetes and have been effectively used since 2005.
But, an interesting side effect was discovered by those using them—they can lead to a reduction in body weight, which has led to a surge in off-label use—and they’re increasingly being prescribed to help manage chronic weight management in adult patients.
It’s causing quite the buzz in the weight loss community, with barely a day going by before a new weight loss injection is mentioned in the media—claiming to be the silver-bullet solution that everyone has been waiting for.
So much so that there has been a worldwide shortage of some of the brands, with people requiring them for diabetes weight management being able to get their hands on them.
But how exactly do they work?
How do weight loss injections work?
How these weight loss injections work differs depending on the active ingredient, of which there are…
Some, such as Ozempic and Wegovy, have the same active ingredient, while others, such as Mounjaro, use a different active mechanism to achieve the results.
But, ultimately, they all work by mimicking natural hormones (GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1 agonist)—essentially telling the body it’s more full or less hungry than it is—leading to consuming less and, ultimately, weight loss.
Tirzepatide has a dual function, and also mimics Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), which has an impact on blood sugar levels.
How do you take weight loss injections?
All the weight loss injections come in a single-use prefilled injection pen that can be injected into the body every week (usually into the upper arm, upper leg or stomach area).
The dosage people take depends on the active brand—but it’s usually an initial dose, followed by a maintenance dose that can be taken for years or indefinitely to help users lose weight and keep it off.
They are FDA-approved for long-term use. But, as we’ll discuss, for some, the side effects become so severe or unmanageable that they are forced to stop taking the injections.
Do you need a prescription for weight loss injections?
Yes, technically, weight loss injections are prescription drugs and should be taken under the instruction and guidance of a qualified healthcare provider.
There are specific criteria that apply to each different type of medication that allow it to be prescribed for people without diabetes.
These criteria usually involve the patient being over a set Body Mass Index (BMI), as well as having weight-related medical problems, such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
In other words, they’re not available to anyone looking to lose a few pounds, and there should be a real medical basis for these medications being prescribed over less intense options, like lifestyle changes.
But, it’s possible to get many of the injections via online telephone consultation, which is leading to many people who don’t fit the specific guidelines for the medication being able to get their hands on them for weight loss.
More worryingly, a Channel 4 Programme on the injection showed that the popularity of the weight loss injections was leading to many people obtaining them on the black market.
People are selling them through non-official channels, which at best is leading to people being scammed (sometimes out of thousands of dollars), while at worst, people are being supplied counterfeit products that have unidentifiable active ingredients in them.
This could not only be ineffective for weight loss—but could be dangerous to their health as they are not necessarily FDA-approved ingredients.
When it comes to health implications, you’re not only combatting the potential side effects from the approved drugs, but the potential dangers of counterfeit, not tested ingredients that could be detrimental to health.
A very worrying prospect…
So, while yes, prescriptions are necessary, there seems to be a way around it, which is concerning given the potential health impacts of the injections.
Do weight loss injections work?
This is the big question: do they work?
The answer, for the most part, is yes. Weight loss injections do help people achieve significant weight loss.
It will very much depend on which brand name and active ingredient you use, as they have different success rates.
But, it’s been shown that average weight loss is around 5%-10% of body weight with consistent use of weekly injections.
The higher dosage and dual action of tirzepatide (Mounjaro) may help users lose up to 20% of their body weight over a period of 72 weeks—resulting in significant weight loss.
So, yes, significant results are possible. To put that into perspective, someone who weighed 100kg could lose between 5-20kg over a period of a couple of years.
So, for those that fit the criteria, it’s easy to see why it might be suggested by medical professionals.
That said, it is worth noting that all these injections rely on you following a reduced-calorie meal plan for them to work.
What they will do is make it easier to follow this (by making you feel more full). But despite this, if you continue to eat a lot of high-calorie foods, you’ll struggle to reduce your body weight.
These solutions also require consistency, and a missed dose can impact the success of your weight loss journey.
It’s also worth considering the sustainability of this weight loss if a healthy lifestyle is not adopted alongside them.
Many users have found that once their appetite returns when not using pens, the weight creeps black up.
So whether or not patients maintained weight loss after they stopped the injections is up for debate and is dependent on eating fewer calories and moving more.
So, it’s not the silver-bullet solution, some claim—there’s still a level of lifestyle change that has to be made in order to lose weight and keep it off.
Although there is no doubt that it does help most people lose weight, hence why it’s gained such popularity for its off-label use.
What are the side effects of weight loss injections?
Like many medications, the results might be significant, but so too can the side effects.
The exact side effects will very much depend on what brand name, active ingredient and dosage you and your healthcare provider decide is right for you.
But, some of the most common side effects across the board include…
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. diarrhea, vomiting, nausea)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Injection site reactions of pain
Many people experience these symptoms at varying levels. Sometimes, they’re manageable, while other times, they cause discontinuation of the medication.
There are also some more severe side effects, which, again, will vary depending on which active ingredient and brand you opt for—but they include…
- Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (a.k.a thyroid cancer)
- Gallstones and gallbladder problems
- Kidney disease (or full kidney failure)
- Stomach paralysis
- Depressive or suicidal thoughts
- Allergic reactions
- Trouble breathing
- Swallowing issues
Studies show that even though Mounjaro might be more effective with its higher dose than those with semaglutide, it also has more potent side effects, which result in higher rates of discontinuation.
So, side effects are definitely something that you should consider, as they can be mild but impactful as well as serious and life-threatening.
What is the alternative to weight loss injections?
So what can you do instead?
If weight-related medical problems are impacting your health, or if you just don’t feel like yourself, then how can you reduce your body weight sustainably and healthily?
Weight loss injections are not the only prescription drugs available for those looking to drop some body weight.
Prescription medication, in some form or another, has been used for years to help those struggling most reach their weight loss goals.
Options such as Orlistat or Phentermine have traditionally been used to help users lose weight, and again, these are usually only prescribed to people over a certain body mass index or with personal or family history or health conditions.
However, the associated side effects can be quite severe, and they are only usually prescribed for 12 weeks as they are not designed for long-term use.
So, although effective, they might not be a long-term solution for those looking to lose weight and can be uncomfortable to take.
It’s likely that over-the-counter medicines and natural supplements will have a positive impact on your weight as long as they work in different ways, usually helping to suppress appetite and boost metabolism.
PhenQ is a natural weight loss supplement that can help minimize appetite and boost fat burning—helping you control your calorie intake and drop some stubborn pounds in the process.
This trusted weight loss supplement only uses natural, effective ingredients, so you aren’t risking any of the complications that weight loss injections can come with.
Of course, it also has to be implemented alongside a healthy lifestyle, including a reduced-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity. But the supplements will help support you and make this easier with improved energy levels and reduced cravings.
Weight loss injections…are they worth the risk?
It will depend on your personal circumstances and this is something you should talk to your healthcare professional about.
Yes, they can help you with significant weight loss if they are administered correctly over a period of time—and this can help those struggling with weight-related health issues that impact their life significantly.
But, is it worth it? That’s the real question.
At best, they will have mild side effects that could be life-limiting—no one wants to constantly have a headache and nausea.
But they also have the potential to have real long-term health implications that are serious and life-threatening, like thyroid cancer.
So it’s something you need to weigh up with your health care provider to decide if they are worth it. And it’s recommended that this is the channel you go through rather than trying to obtain it online.
You’ll also have to follow a reduced-calorie diet and stick to this even after you stop taking the injections. Otherwise, the weight will pile back on.
So, it’s not the miracle cure it claims to be.
There are other ways to help boost your weight loss if you are not keen on the potential side effects of weight loss injections, including natural weight loss supplements like PhenQ.
If you want to try a natural weight loss supplement, try PhenQ today.