10 Biggest Myths about GLP-1 Weight Loss Drugs

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Weight loss can be incredibly frustrating, and when a new class of medications like GLP-1 weight loss drugs gains attention, misinformation can spread quickly. Examples of these drugs include semaglutide (marketed as Wegovy or Ozempic), liraglutide (Saxenda), and others. Let’s separate fact from fiction by busting some common myths.


Myth 1: GLP-1 drugs are a magic pill for instant weight loss.

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Fact: GLP-1 drugs, while incredibly effective, are not a “magic pill” that leads to instant weight loss. They work by supporting your body’s natural processes, but they don’t lead to overnight results. Here’s why this myth needs to be busted:

  • GLP-1 drugs work alongside lifestyle changes: These medications enhance your body’s ability to feel full and regulate blood sugar levels, but they’re most effective when combined with healthy eating habits and increased physical activity.
  • Weight loss is gradual: Even with GLP-1 drugs, weight loss takes time. While some people may see initial rapid loss, a slower, steadier pace is more typical and sustainable in the long run.
  • Individual variation: Everyone’s body responds differently to medication. The amount of weight you lose and how quickly it happens can be influenced by your starting weight, metabolism, and adherence to overall treatment plans.


Myth 2: GLP-1 drugs are only for people with extreme obesity.

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Fact: It’s not entirely true that GLP-1 drugs are only for people with extreme obesity. While they were initially approved for those with higher BMIs, the guidelines are evolving:

  • Obesity Treatment: GLP-1 drugs are FDA-approved for managing chronic obesity (generally with a BMI of 30 or greater). This helps people with a significant amount of weight to lose achieve better results.
  • Overweight with Complications: Some GLP-1 drugs are also prescribed for individuals with a BMI of 27 or greater who also have weight-related health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.
  • Evolving Uses: Researchers are actively investigating the potential benefits of GLP-1 drugs for broader populations, including those wanting to prevent weight gain or address smaller amounts of weight loss.

Myth 3: Everyone experiences harsh side effects with GLP-1 drugs.

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Fact: While GLP-1 drugs can cause side effects, it’s not accurate to say that everyone experiences harsh reactions. The most common side effects are mild to moderate and often subside with time. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. More serious side effects are possible but less common. It’s important to discuss potential side effects with your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits of GLP-1 therapy.


Myth 4: GLP-1 drugs are a new and untested fad.

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Fact: GLP-1 drugs are not a new, untested fad. While the latest generation of GLP-1 drugs offer significant weight loss benefits, the science behind GLP-1s has been studied for decades. The first GLP-1 receptor agonist was approved by the FDA in 2005. Since then, there has been extensive research and clinical trials demonstrating their safety and effectiveness for both diabetes management and weight loss.


Myth 5: Once I start GLP-1 drugs, I’ll be on them forever.

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Fact: It’s not necessarily true that you’ll need to be on GLP-1 drugs forever if you start them. While some people may benefit from long-term use, the duration of treatment depends on your individual goals and response. If you achieve significant weight loss and are able to maintain it through healthy lifestyle changes, you may be able to discontinue GLP-1 medication in consultation with your doctor. It’s important to remember that GLP-1 drugs are a tool to support weight loss, and sustainable success often involves a combination of medication and lasting changes to diet and exercise habits.


Myth 6: I’ll regain all the weight once I stop taking GLP-1 drugs.

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Fact: The fear that you’ll regain all the weight after stopping GLP-1 drugs is understandable, but the reality is more nuanced. While some weight regain is likely, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll return to your starting weight. The amount of weight you might regain depends on several factors, including how long you were on the medication and the lifestyle changes you’ve implemented. If you’ve made significant progress towards healthier eating and exercise habits during your treatment, the chances of maintaining a substantial portion of your weight loss improve.


Myth 7: GLP-1 drugs will completely eliminate my appetite.

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Fact: GLP-1 drugs work by influencing appetite and satiety signals, but they don’t completely eliminate your appetite. Their primary effect is to help you feel full sooner and stay feeling satisfied longer after meals. This can lead to a natural decrease in food intake because you’re less likely to feel hungry or experience cravings between meals. However, you will still feel the desire to eat, just with better control over portion sizes and food choices.


Myth 8: GLP-1 drugs are a replacement for surgery.

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Fact: GLP-1 drugs are not a direct replacement for weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery). Both can be powerful tools in managing obesity, but they work differently and have distinct considerations. GLP-1 drugs focus on regulating appetite and metabolism, while surgery physically alters your stomach’s size or digestive process. While some people achieve significant weight loss with GLP-1 drugs alone, others may find them beneficial in combination with surgery, either to prepare for the procedure or to support maintaining weight loss afterward. Choosing between medication or surgery is a complex decision best made in consultation with your doctor.


Myth 9: GLP-1 drugs are too expensive for the average person.

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Fact: It’s true that GLP-1 drugs can be expensive, with out-of-pocket costs often exceeding $1,000 per month. This high price tag can be a significant barrier for many people, making these medications seem inaccessible for the average person. However, there are a few things to consider:

  • Insurance Coverage: Insurance plans are increasingly covering GLP-1 drugs, though coverage may be limited to specific indications (like diabetes) or require prior authorizations. Checking your individual plan is essential.
  • Manufacturer Savings Programs: Pharmaceutical companies often offer financial assistance programs, coupons, or copay cards to reduce out-of-pocket costs for those who qualify.
  • Alternative Formulations: Some older GLP-1 drugs may have more affordable generic versions available.

While the cost is definitely a factor, don’t automatically assume GLP-1 drugs are completely out of reach. Explore your insurance coverage and research any available savings programs to get a better picture of your potential costs.

GoodRx: Provides cost comparisons and information on savings programs for GLP-1 medications. https://www.goodrx.com/

SingleCare: Another resource for medication pricing and potential discounts. https://www.singlecare.com/


Myth 10: GLP-1 drugs are suitable for everyone wanting to lose weight

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Fact: GLP-1 drugs are not suitable for everyone who simply wants to lose weight. These medications have specific guidelines and contraindications for safe and appropriate use:

  • BMI Requirements: GLP-1 drugs are generally prescribed for individuals with a BMI of 30 or greater (classified as obesity), or a BMI of 27 or greater alongside weight-related health conditions.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions might make GLP-1 drugs unsuitable. These include a history of pancreatitis, thyroid cancer, or gastrointestinal issues.
  • Not for Casual Weight Loss: These medications are intended for the management of chronic obesity, not for losing a few pounds due to vanity reasons.
  • Doctor’s Consultation Essential: A doctor’s assessment is crucial to determine if GLP-1 drugs are the right choice for you based on your health history, weight loss goals, and potential risks.


Important Note: If you’re considering GLP-1 weight loss drugs, consult with a qualified healthcare professional. This article is for informational purposes and not a substitute for medical advice.


For additional information, check out this article: ‘GLP-1 Weight Loss Medications: The Hype, The Hope, And What You Should Know’



This is an AI assisted collaborative article. Please feel free to add your insights and experiences to this list!



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