Liraglutide and Semaglutide for Weight Loss – Liraglutide and semaglutide are two medications that have been trending due to their use in off-label obesity prescriptions. This has become significant due to the high number of obese individuals, which has even been deemed a local epidemic in the US. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 states have around a 35% obesity rate. This is troubling given that obesity can cause serious health issues like poor mobility, depression, and chronic physical ailments like heart disease.
However, while liraglutide and semaglutide are well-talked about online, these two drugs are often mixed up due to similarities in both their names and functions. This mix-up can lead to confusion and potentially dangerous consequences for patients, as each medication has different uses and dosages.
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How liraglutide and semaglutide are used for weight loss
Before we discuss what differentiates the two, it’s important to understand the basic nature of these drugs. Semaglutide and liraglutide are in the class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, which work by mimicking the effects of a hormone that regulates appetite and food intake. This means that both medications increase feelings of fullness, reduce appetite, and slow down the emptying of the stomach, which can lead to a decrease in food intake. As a result, they are useful for obese individuals as they are able to penetrate biological barriers to weight loss.
However, it is important to note that these medications are not magical weight loss solutions. They should be used in conjunction with behavioral lifestyle changes, regular aerobic exercise or strength training, and a balanced diet that can be learned about through our post entitled Healthy Eating Expert Advice. More importantly, these drugs are not readily available for just anyone. They can only be prescribed by healthcare experts who’ve deemed a patient eligible for this approach. Typically, this means a person’s BMI falls over 30 or is close to it with comorbidities.
The differences between liraglutide and semaglutide
While both medications have similar mechanisms of action, there are some significant differences between liraglutide and semaglutide that should be considered when choosing the appropriate treatment for patients.
Varying methods of administration
The primary difference between the two is their dosing frequency. Typically, liraglutide is a once-daily injection that is also approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults. Case in point, many doctors prescribe Saxenda for weight loss. This is a branded version of liraglutide that stimulates the release of insulin and inhibits the release of glucagon, leading to lower blood sugar levels.
Meanwhile, semaglutide comes in injectable and tablet formats. Specifically, using Rybelsus tablets against obesity is a popular option for those who are sensitive to needles. That said, there are injectable forms of semaglutide, too. Under the brand name Ozempic, for example, patients can take a weekly shot to regulate their blood sugar and weight.
Efficacy and side effects
Another important distinction between semaglutide and liraglutide is their efficacy in lowering blood sugar levels. A Journal of Diabetes Investigation study on switching from liraglutide to semaglutide stated that the latter is more effective at reducing HbA1c levels compared to the former. In addition, semaglutide has been shown to help patients achieve greater weight loss compared to liraglutide, which is extremely beneficial for patients who are overweight or obese.
On the flip side, this display of strength in the medications also has implications for their side effects. While both medications have similar side effects of nausea, vomiting, or constipation, there is a higher risk of experiencing them with semaglutide than with its milder counterpart of liraglutide.
Which is the better medication?
In conclusion, both semaglutide and liraglutide are effective medications for both weight loss and the treatment of type 2 diabetes. They both work by mimicking the effects of GLP-1 and can help lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. However, there are differences in factors such as dosing frequency, effectiveness, side effects risk, and others. Ultimately, the answer to which is considered the better medication is subjective and will depend on the individual patient’s needs and preferences, along with their doctor’s recommendations.