The latest diet culture craze is stirring up concern. Ozempic, originally a diabetes medicine for insulin resistance, is now hailed as a “miracle weight loss drug” by celebrities and social media influencers. This buzz has sparked high demand for the drug and similar ones in doctors’ offices worldwide. Many popular diet programs incorporate them as supplements to boost weight loss.
In this article, we’ll delve into the world of Ozempic and its natural alternative, berberine. We’ll also discuss the potential risks of using these compounds for weight loss and explore healthier ways to achieve your weight loss goals through lifestyle changes.
What Exactly Is Ozempic?
Adults with type 2 diabetes primarily use Ozempic, or semaglutide, to manage their condition and lower the risk of heart disease. Recently, non-diabetics have started using it in higher doses for weight loss. This trend has sometimes made the drug difficult for those needing it for diabetes treatment.
Studies show that more than half of the people taking 1.7 mg to 2.4 mg of Ozempic weekly lost over 10% of their body weight in about six months. However, most participants regained about two-thirds of their weight loss a year after stopping the medication. This rebound is thought to be due to a return to pre-treatment eating habits, suggesting continuous treatment may be necessary for sustained weight loss. Maintaining weight loss after discontinuing the drug could be challenging, particularly for those who didn’t make lifestyle changes while on the medication.
Additionally, Ozempic can cause side effects, including digestive issues, low blood sugar, and an increased risk of gallbladder problems. Those with certain preexisting conditions, such as pancreatitis, tachyarrhythmias, or a history of medullary thyroid cancer, should avoid taking this type of medication.
Alternative To Ozempic: Berberine
Berberine, a natural alternative to semaglutide, is gaining popularity for weight loss. Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years, berberine is derived from the barberry shrub’s berry and has been used to treat diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders. A 2008 study found it as effective as prescription medication in lowering blood glucose levels.
However, it can interact with other medications, so caution is advised.
Side effects may include abdominal discomfort like gas, constipation, and diarrhea. Therefore, discussing with your healthcare provider before starting berberine supplements is recommended to avoid any interference with existing medications.
What Are The Most Effective Weight Loss Methods?
According to a 2021 review, there’s no one-size-fits-all diet for weight loss. The most effective diet is one tailored to an individual’s schedule, food preferences, allergies, and budget and can be maintained long-term.
While internet fad diets may promise weight loss through fasting, eliminating food groups, or eating based on your genotype, research doesn’t consistently support these claims for all individuals. Instead, the most promising methods for lasting weight loss are the classics: a balanced diet and regular exercise.
How To Safely Support Weight Loss
Now that we’ve examined the potential risks and benefits of Ozempic and Berberine let’s look at how you can safely practice weight loss without shortcuts.
A 2021 review of 149 studies and 12 systematic reviews shows that exercise training can help with weight loss and visceral fat loss in overweight and obese adults. You can burn calories and maintain a healthy weight by incorporating 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Examples of moderate exercise include:
- Brisk walking
- Easy jogging
- Using an elliptical trainer
- Walking or jogging on a treadmill
- Water aerobics
- Swimming leisurely
- Housework like vacuuming
For effective weight loss, a long-term sustainable diet combined with regular exercise is key. While low-carb and intermittent fasting diets can jump-start weight loss, they are often restrictive. This may not be practical for long-term adherence.
The Mediterranean diet, rich in lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables, is a balanced meal plan that shows promise for reducing chronic disease risk, improving mood, and enhancing longevity. Its weight loss effects are comparable to a healthy Western or vegetarian diet, but it also offers anti-inflammatory benefits that can further lower chronic disease risk.
The diet primarily includes heart-healthy plant-based proteins, poultry, and fish, with minimal red meat. Some examples of meals and snacks in this diet include:
Breakfast meal ideas
- Scrambled eggs cooked in olive oil, a cup of diced fresh fruit, and whole-grain toast
- Oatmeal with chopped pecans or slivered almonds with berries
- Yogurt parfait with plain Greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, granola, and fresh fruit
Lunch meal ideas
- Romaine or baby spinach salad with diced chicken breast, sliced strawberries, grape tomatoes, and a vinaigrette dressing; whole-grain croutons on top (optional)
- Whole-grain bread sandwich with turkey breast or tuna fish with mashed avocado spread and tomato slices; fresh fruit or raw baby carrots on the side
- Garden vegetable soup with legumes or lentils, diced sweet potatoes or squash, corn, carrots, etc., with whole-grain bread/croutons on the side (optional)
Dinner meal ideas
- Grilled/baked salmon/other fish with whole-grain rice and roasted vegetables drizzled in olive oil
- Whole-grain or legume/lentil-based pasta dressed with marinara sauce and steamed vegetables
- Baked/grilled chicken/tofu with steamed vegetables and baked/roasted potatoes drizzled in olive oil or dressed with olive-oil-based margarine spread
- Baby carrots or sliced bell pepper with ¼ cup hummus
- Sliced apples or pears with a few tablespoons of nut butter
- 1-ounce part-skim mozzarella with cherry tomatoes
You can adapt this diet plan to suit individual needs. For example, if you don’t eat seafood, consider consuming plant-based proteins. Some great plant-based proteins include beans, lentils, tofu, and tempeh instead of fish or poultry. The emphasis is on nutrient-dense foods low in saturated and trans fats and added sugars.
In conclusion, there’s no magic pill for effortless weight loss, even though Ozempic does offer some promise. However, maintaining the results typically requires lifelong injections, and there’s a lack of long-term studies on its effects in adults without diabetes beyond six months.
If weight loss is your goal, it’s advised to stick to the fundamentals: a balanced diet and regular exercise. If these don’t yield results, consult your doctor to investigate any potential health issues or medication side effects that may be impacting your weight management. A registered dietitian can also provide guidance on incorporating nutritious meals into your daily routine without causing significant disruptions.