Ozempic for Weight Loss: Risks, Side Effects and More

Written by: Jack Health Team
Reviewed by: Sarah Bento-De Sousa PharmD. RPh

Ozempic, known by its scientific name semaglutide and marketed by the company Novo Nordisk, is recognized for its effectiveness in treating type 2 diabetes in adults. But beyond its use for diabetes, it has also been found to have positive effects on weight management, particularly for those battling obesity. The benefits of this medicine extend to weight loss and the management of blood sugar levels.

Like all drugs and medications, Ozempic comes with its share of risks and side effects that need to be considered. These include potential risks to heart health, such as heart disease and heart attack, and even the risk of death in some cases. In addition, the FDA has provided specific guidelines and approvals for the use of Ozempic.

In this article, we will explore:

  • What Ozempic is
  • How Ozempic may contribute to weight management
  • Its safety profile
  • The prevalent side effects of this drug
  • Tips for handling common side effects
  • Whether or not Ozempic is suitable for aiding in weight management
  • Frequently asked questions


Whether you’re contemplating using Ozempic or simply want to know more, continue reading!

What Is Ozempic?

Ozempic, or semaglutide, belongs to a broader category of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. These receptor agonists mimic the function of the GLP-1 hormone in the body, a hormone that naturally assists the pancreas in maintaining balanced insulin levels, controlling blood sugar levels, and slowing down the digestive process.

Initially developed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, research and anecdotal evidence have revealed that Ozempic can also be a potent aid in weight management. Studies, including a specific study conducted in 2022, have proven effective in reducing the risk of severe cardiovascular events and heart disease, encompassing heart attack, stroke, hypertension, or even death.

Semaglutide is also marketed under brand names such as Wegovy or Rybelsus.

In Canada, Ozempic is available by prescription only and may be approved for treating type 2 diabetes or assisting with weight management in individuals with a BMI of 27 or higher.

Patients self-administer Ozempic with an Ozempic Pen, similar to an EpiPen, as a subcutaneous injection (i.e., under the skin into the fatty tissue layer). The dosage of Ozempic can vary based on personal factors such as body weight and medical history. For more information on what Ozempic is, you can visit this link.

How Does Ozempic for Weight Loss Work?

Health Canada has approved Ozempic for weight management only for those with a BMI of at least 27. If you don’t meet this criterion, you won’t have access to the drug.

For those struggling with traditional weight loss methods, data indicates that Ozempic, coupled with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, may be beneficial. In addition to its primary use, something that sets Ozempic apart is its ability to control hunger.

Ozempic’s primary ingredient, semaglutide, functions by enhancing the effects of the naturally occurring hormone GLP-1. This helps regulate the brain’s hunger centers, suppressing appetite, and slowing the stomach’s emptying rate.

These effects may lead to reduced caloric intake and a calorie deficit, aiding in weight loss. The way it works with meals and food intake is essential to its effectiveness.

However, it’s essential to note that health insurance will only cover treatment if Ozempic is prescribed for type 2 diabetes.

Is Ozempic Safe?

Medical professionals, including doctors, have found Ozempic to be generally safe, and most people tolerate it well. However, it does have known side effects and contraindications, so consultation with a medical team before starting the drug is vital.

You must provide all relevant details, such as your medical history, current prescription medications, and lifestyle habits, to your healthcare provider.

If you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), pancreatitis, or gallstones, it’s strongly advised to avoid Ozempic, as it may lead to problems and adverse complications, including kidney problems.

Clinical trials on mice with semaglutide resulted in thyroid cancer development. Although it’s unclear if similar reactions would occur in humans, it’s best to avoid Ozempic and other semaglutide prescriptions if you have an MTC history.

Other serious side effects may include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Kidney problems
  • Vision changes
  • Gallbladder issues
  • Allergic reactions (including swelling of the face, tongue, throat, or difficulty breathing after Ozempic administration)
  • Swelling or reaction at the injection site


If you notice any symptoms of these severe side effects, stop using Ozempic immediately and contact your medical team or visit your local hospital’s ER.

Common Side Effects of Ozempic for Weight Loss

Ozempic has some commonly reported side effects, especially when starting the drug or increasing the dose. These effects usually diminish with continued use as the body adjusts to the medication.

If symptoms persist or cause concern, contact your medical team.

Nausea and Vomiting

Ozempic may lead to nausea and vomiting, particularly during the initial weeks of use.


Diarrhea is another possible side effect of Ozempic. Consultation with a medical team or pharmacist may help in recommending over-the-counter medications to alleviate these effects.

Stomach Pain

Stomach pain or constipation is a frequent side effect of Ozempic. Drinking fluids and using common pain relievers may help.


Fatigue may occur but should subside after a few weeks as the body becomes accustomed to the medication.

Changes to Your Face

In rare instances, Ozempic may cause changes in the face’s shape or color. This is more common with high doses.

Rapid weight loss may result in sagging skin, especially around the face, known as “Ozempic Face.” This is not usually a cause for alarm. For more details on Ozempic Face, you can visit this link

Low Blood Sugar

Ozempic may lead to hypoglycemia, especially if taken with insulin or other diabetes medications. Consultation with your medical team can help prevent this.

Hair Loss

Hair loss is a potential but usually temporary side effect of Ozempic.

Tips to Manage Common Side Effects of Ozempic

To minimize Ozempic’s potential side effects, consider the following tips:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking fluids can help reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • Eat Balanced Meals: Regular, nutritious meals can help regulate metabolism and decrease side effects like nausea or heartburn.
  • Take with Food: Taking Ozempic with food can help absorb the medication and reduce nausea and vomiting.


Monitor Blood Sugar Levels: Regular monitoring is essential if you’re taking Ozempic with insulin or other diabetes medications.

Should I Use Ozempic for Weight Loss?

Ozempic can be an effective weight management tool when used cautiously and in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. It’s not a replacement for diet and exercise.

To optimize treatment benefits, follow a healthy diet and exercise routine while taking the medication, always under your medical team’s supervision and guidance. It’s also essential to monitor blood sugar levels and consult with your doctor if you have any history of heart disease or other health problems.

Key Takeaways

  • Ozempic (or semaglutide) has the potential to treat type 2 diabetes and aid in weight management.
  • It’s not suitable for everyone, and a full medical history discussion with your medical team is essential before starting the drug.
  • There are unpleasant side effects and contraindications associated with Ozempic. Anyone considering the drug should discuss the details with their medical team and be fully aware of the pros and cons.
  • In Canada, Ozempic is approved only for treating type 2 diabetes or assisting with weight management in those with a BMI of 27 or over.

Ozempic for Weight Loss Side Effects FAQs

Can Ozempic cause weight loss?

Yes, Ozempic can help with weight management goals, as demonstrated in clinical studies. Patients with a BMI of 30 or higher, or a BMI of 27 or higher with a weight-related condition, lost an average of 3.6–7.2% of their body weight after 24 weeks of Ozempic use.

Are there foods to avoid while taking Ozempic?

No specific foods need to be avoided with Ozempic, but a healthy diet and exercise regimen should be followed to maximize treatment benefits. Reducing high-fat and high-sugar foods may also help minimize some drug side effects, including nausea. For more information on the side effects of Ozempic for weight loss, you can visit this link.

How long do Ozempic side effects last?

Most Ozempic side effects are minor and resolve over time without intervention. If symptoms become severe or persistent, contacting your medical team is crucial.

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