As per new findings, the new celebrated weight loss drug, Semaglutide shrinks muscle mass. The hype of this drug has made people go crazy to try it. And surprisingly, this is equally true for people who carry a good load of pounds & also for those who wish to take a few pounds off, merely for cosmetic reasons.
What is Semaglutide?
Semaglutide has been described as a “game changer” for treating obesity & got FDA-approved for weight loss in 2021 under the brand name Wegovy. It’s also available under the brand name Ozempic, which happens to be same medication in a lower dose than wegovy, but is intended to treat type 2 diabetes (although doctors can and do prescribe it for weight loss as well).
The semaglutide was meant to be used alongside lifestyle changes, including exercise. Along with similar drugs like liraglutide, it was deemed a “game-changer” & literally became popular overnight which made its supplies fall short of the rising demands.
Semaglutide works by mimicking our hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), that helps regulate blood sugar, digestion & hunger.
How true is the new finding that “Semaglutide Shrinks Muscle”?
This new weight-loss medication is indeed helping people shed pounds realistically, however this medication also holds tendency to cause a major loss in muscle mass, warn doctors.
Patients on semaglutide are losing lean muscle, which could worsen their health in the long run.
Loss of muscle mass can undermine the health benefit of semaglutide. Hence it is recommended trying other weight loss strategies wholeheartedly first & always ensuring to eat enough protein religiously while on weight loss, to maintain muscle.
Patients who have used semaglutide did lose weight effectively, but not all of the lost weight was body fat, some was protein too. This happens to be a matter of concern. What most people ignore while being on weight loss is their protein intake.
While some muscle mass is naturally expected during weight loss, losing too much can backfire. Muscle mass is important for maintaining a healthy metabolism & preventing injury. This becomes even more important as we age because aging naturally causes muscle loss & this begins after 35.
While prescribing this medication, doctors try to ensure two key points. First is that Semaglutide should be given to patients who have already tried other weight loss strategies without medication & they failed badly.
Second is to ensure that a patient eats a good required amount of protein with exercise in coordination to preserve muscle.
While opting to try this medication for weight loss, patients must remember the following checklist to maintain health:
- People should ensure to maintain muscle while taking semaglutide for weight loss.
- Strength training is a key component too, as is the case with fat loss not involving medication.
- Having more muscle mass ensures myriad health benefits.
The target while losing weight should be to change your body composition which is the ratio of fat to muscle, not just become a smaller skinny version of yourself.
Body composition is a better & more meaningful measure of weight loss results & the subsequent health improvements than purely the number of pounds lost.
Semaglutide is not a ‘magic bullet’
Though there’ve only been a few studies of muscle loss with semaglutide so far, but Japanese researchers reported that people lost half a kilo of muscle mass after taking semaglutide for three months. It’s a quite common problem with interventions to lose fat.
This makes it imperative to ensure prescribing resistance training simultaneously to prevent muscle loss.
All medications registered to manage obesity are intended to be used in conjunction with diet and exercise, and prescribers know that. However, it’s very common that people fail badly here.
There’s little understanding that a healthy balance of muscle & fat is a key to keep away chronic disease & frailty over the long run. Most chronic diseases aren’t driven by fat mass but by low levels of muscle mass and inactivity.
But the concern is that semaglutide is seen as a magic bullet by people and isn’t always used in combination with exercise.
Having more muscle mass creates a “toned” physique & is also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes & dementia, while having excess fat & low muscle mass has been linked to a range of health issues.
Sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss) begins around 35, so it’s important to counteract this. Eating a high protein diet with resistance training in coordination, can help minimize muscle loss.
Muscle helps maintain weight loss
Having a good muscle mass aids weight loss maintenance.
Muscle loss caused by repeated dieting without exercise is one reason why it can be hard to maintain long-term weight loss.
Muscle is active tissue & one of our body’s main energy expenditures. Our muscles use calories even when we’re resting.
There’s some promising evidence that a similar medication called tirzepatide could be more effective, however this drug is still awaiting FDA approval for weight loss.
Semaglutide does promote weight loss but it must be used with a combination of protein & strength training. “Ultimately, it’s not just the weight that matters, it’s your body composition & your health,” Semaglutide shrinks muscle if not used with diet and lifestyle changes.
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