Liraglutide vs. Semaglutide: Which is Right for You?
Liraglutide (Victoza and Saxenda) and semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus) are both great prescription weight-loss drugs. Obesity is a serious chronic health condition that affects about 42% of U.S. adults. About two out of every three adults meet the criteria for either overweight or obese.
Why is this such a concern? Obesity, like any other serious health condition, shortens your lifespan and puts you at risk for other conditions.
Liraglutide and semaglutide were both initially developed to treat type 2 diabetes. Weight loss was a positive medication side effect. This led Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceutical developer of both medications, to begin testing them for safety and efficacy in inducing weight loss.
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How do semaglutide and liraglutide compare?
Semaglutide and liraglutide are both GLP-1 agonists. GLP-1 is a naturally occurring incretin hormone that is released after eating. Both liraglutide and semaglutide:
- Stimulate insulin release
- Inhibit glucagon release
- Slow stomach emptying
- Increase satiety after eating
Both medications are intended to be used in conjunction with a low-calorie diet and exercise program to facilitate weight loss.
Who can take semaglutide and liraglutide?
Semaglutide and liraglutide are intended for adults with an initial body mass index (BMI) that indicates overweight or obesity.
- Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher.
- Overweight is defined as a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or greater with at least one weight-related medical condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or abnormal blood lipids.
How are semaglutide and liraglutide dosed?
Liraglutide and semaglutide are both injectables. They also both have an incrementally increasing dose. When you get your prescription, verify the dosing schedule and instructions for administering subcutaneous injections.
Liraglutide comes in a prefilled, multidose pen for subcutaneous injection.
- 1st week: Take 0.6 mg daily
- 2nd week: Take 1.2 mg daily
- 3rd week: Take 1.8 mg daily
- 4th week: Take 2.4 mg daily
- 5th week and thereafter: Take 3.0 mg daily
Semaglutide comes in a prefilled, single-dose pen for subcutaneous injection.
Following your healthcare provider’s instructions, Wegovy (semaglutide) dosing is according to the following schedule:
- Month 1: (weeks 1-4): take 0.25 mg each week
- Month 2: (weeks 5-8): take 0.5 mg each week
- Month 3: (weeks 9-12): take 1 mg each week
- Month 4: (weeks 13-16): take 1.7 mg each week
- Month 5: (weeks 17 and onward): 2.4 mg each week (full dose)
Which is better for weight loss, semaglutide or liraglutide?
Liraglutide was evaluated in two double-blind studies that enrolled over 3,000 participants. The average weight loss over one year was 8.9 to 13.3 pounds. Over half of the participants treated with liraglutide lost at least 5% of their body weight (the standard cut-off for an effective weight-loss medication), and between 25% and 33% lost 10% of their body weight.
The STEP clinical trials were a series of four 68-week randomized, double-blind clinical trials that enrolled over 4,500 participants who had obesity or were overweight with a weight-induced medical condition.
Participants taking semaglutide in the clinical trials lost between 15% and 17% of their body weight. A 17% weight loss equals about 41 pounds.
How do I switch from liraglutide to semaglutide?
Switching between liraglutide and semaglutide is possible. Talk to your doctor about why you want to switch. The two medications work similarly, and if you have side effects with one, you may experience the same side effects with another GLP-1 agonist. With that said, people respond better to different medications. You may find that one medication option works better for you.
Who should not use semaglutide?
People with a history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) or a family history of thyroid cancer should not take liraglutide or semaglutide. In animal studies, liraglutide and semaglutide were found to increase the risk of thyroid cancer. It is unknown whether this risk would increase in humans. You shouldn’t use liraglutide or semaglutide if you have/are:
- A known allergy to liraglutide/semaglutide or any of the medication’s components
- A history of depression or thoughts of suicide
- Taking insulin or another medication with liraglutide in it
More common side effects associated with liraglutide or semaglutide use include:
- Abdominal pain
- Acid reflux
- Dry mouth
- Intestinal infections
- Low blood sugar
Rare side effects include:
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Gallbladder disease (infection or gallstones)
In most cases, gastrointestinal side effects decrease over time.
How long do you stay on semaglutide or liraglutide for weight loss?
Studies indicate that obesity should be treated as any other chronic disease. Participants who stopped taking liraglutide or semaglutide (depending on the study) regained some of their lost weight.
Talk to your doctor about your prescription weight loss medications options and ask them whether they anticipate that you will need to take your medication long-term.
A summary of the treatment options and weight loss found:
- Most people can expect a weight loss of 3% to 5% using a low-calorie, portion-controlled diet.
- If you take liraglutide, you can expect a 3% to 5% weight loss in addition to the weight loss from your diet.
- If you take semaglutide, you can expect a 6% to 13% weight loss in addition to the 3% to 5% you can achieve with a low-calorie diet.
If you want to lose excess weight, contact the healthcare professionals at Invigor Medical to learn more about your treatment options using semaglutide or another prescription medication for weight management.
Looking to purchase a weight loss treatment? Shop Invigor Medical today!
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.
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