Ozempic Patients Say It "Stops Working" for Weight Loss—How to Prevent That
Doctors discuss why the "Ozempic plateau" happens for some users.
Over the past year, Ozempic has become the top choice for weight-loss drugs—or at least the one we hear about the most often. The diabetes drug has found fame off-label for helping many people, including a number of A-list celebrities, shed more pounds than ever before. But its miraculous effects don't always last for as long as patients hope, with some saying that Ozempic stops working after a certain period of time. Read on to learn more about the "Ozempic plateau," and what doctors say people can do to continue losing weight on the medication.
The so-called plateau is a phenomenon that countless Ozempic users have taken to social media to document. For some, the drug's diminishing returns begin as early as two months after starting the medication.
"I've been on Ozempic for nine and a half weeks now, and have hit a plateau the last few weeks," one Reddit user wrote in a Sept. 2023 post, noting that they had lost around 17 pounds on it. "I've been losing and gaining the same one to two pounds for weeks now. Super discouraging."
But others have indicated that their plateau appeared after being on Ozempic for closer to half a year.
"Six months or so in. Lost about 17-ish pounds on semaglutide overall [but] haven't lost weight for a month or two," another Reddit user wrote in a July post.
In the comment section of that post, a different patient shared a similar experience.
"I haven't lost much weight since May, after 7 months on Ozempic," they responded. "It also seems that the appetite suppression effect went away. I'm not super full from a small portion anymore and I have some cravings that are back."
For their part, doctors have acknowledged the reality of the Ozempic plateau. They also note that some patients don't understand that it takes time and a higher dosage for the medication to really work.
"Very frequently, people—let's say on their first, second dosage—they literally feel nothing. And they start to wonder, what did my doctor give me?" Steven Batash, MD, a gastric sleeve and weight loss specialist who uses Ozempic in his practice, told Business Insider.
Ozempic triggers weight loss by mimicking a hormone that slows down how quickly the stomach empties to help keep people full longer. But not everyone's hormones work the same way, so different patients may need different dosages to feel the drug's full effects, according to the news outlet.
Even on an effective dosage, however, Batash said a plateau can still set in after several weeks or months on weight-loss medication. Patients will discover that "this dosage that used to really do its magic is no longer doing the trick. And I'm starting to revert to my old bad habits, and I find that the hunger suppression is not as effective," he explained.
For some, this type of habituation to a drug—which is referred to as tachyphylaxis—can be solved simply by increasing the dose. But there may be times in which a patient has already maxed out their dosage, or even cases where increasing the Ozempic dosage does not undo the plateau, according to Business Insider.
"We can only hypothesize why it doesn't work," Batash told the outlet. "It could be that a person's baseline emptying of food is so delayed that you're not going to get an incremental delay from this medication, or the brain has more than one satiety center in the brain, and perhaps the specific satiety center in the brain that Ozempic works on in this particular person may not be super sensitive."
Some doctors say that those who have hit a plateau on Ozempic may benefit from switching to a stronger weight-loss drug, such as Mounjaro or Zepbound, both of which mimic two hunger hormones instead of just one. But Ozempic is not the only weight-loss drug associated with a plateau, and these other medications have also been seen to "stop working" for some users.
"Pretty much all weight loss therapies that have been studied seem to have some kind of plateau," Sajad Zalzala, MD, chief medical officer at the telemedicine website AgelessRx, told Business Insider. "It highlights the fact that there's nothing miraculous about semaglutide at the end of the day. I think that's just kind of physiology, that your body's only willing to go so far to shed the weight."
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