What to Expect When You Stop Taking Semaglutide Medications for Weight Loss

While semaglutide is not addictive, there are some withdrawal symptoms to keep in mind once you stop taking it

Semaglutide is the active ingredient in popular weight loss medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy. Semaglutide medications have also helped patients with type 2 diabetes get their HbA1c values within normal range. While semaglutide is not addictive, there are some withdrawal symptoms to keep in mind once you stop taking it. Once semaglutide is stopped, you should expect your appetite and food cravings to return, weight gain, and possibly the re-emergence of pre-semaglutide HbA1c values.

Semaglutide is a synthetic form of a naturally occurring hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1, sometimes shortened to GLP-1. The GLP-1 hormone serves double duty; it sends a signal to your brain saying that you are full and can stop eating, and it also slows digestion, which makes you feel fuller longer. Like most prescription medications, once you stop taking it, you will no longer reap its benefits. This may lead many to wonder how to keep weight off after semaglutide or how long semaglutide stays in your system.

How to Keep Weight off After Semaglutide

To keep weight off after semaglutide, you should talk with your health care provider about how to implement a healthy eating plan once your appetite returns. Semaglutide medications should be paired with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and physical activity. Because semaglutide decreases appetite, eating nutrient dense foods while on it is important to ensure each calorie you consume is contributing to nutritional requirements for protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It will be important to continue this lifestyle change after stopping the medication, though you will likely be consuming more calories post-semaglutide. An increased appetite and food cravings do not need to lead to weight rebound. To prepare for your conversation with your health care provider, review Dietary Guidelines for Americans to review what healthy eating options are for you.

In addition to dietary changes, be sure to engage in daily physical activity. Talk with your health care provider about how an exercise program can be safely integrated into your daily routine. Exercises that involve weight training, resistance training, yoga, Pilates, cycling, swimming, hiking, and walking can help preserve lean mass, which in turn will help you keep weight off. Lean mass is metabolically active, so the more lean mass you have, the more energy you will expend, even while at rest.

How Long Does Semaglutide Stay in Your System?

Semaglutide medications have a long half-life. A medication’s half-life refers to the amount of time for the active ingredient in a drug to be reduced by half in your body. This measure will depend on your dosage. In general, in could take up to five weeks for your body to remove semaglutide from your system.

Can You Stop Semaglutide Cold Turkey?

When you and your health care provider decide it’s time to stop taking semaglutide, you can stop the medication immediately. However, because semaglutide works so well to control blood sugar, patients with diabetes may experience spikes in blood sugar. Whether you should taper off semaglutide is something you should discuss with your health care provider. For some patients, tapering off semaglutide may be a better clinical strategy than stopping cold turkey. Your health care provider can guide you through this process.

Coupling semaglutide medications with lifestyle changes in diet and exercise is advised. Semaglutide medications can be effective to jumpstart weight loss, but once the medication is stopped, you can expect your appetite and food cravings to return. Some patients may also return to pre-semaglutide HbA1c values. Be sure to keep the lines of communication with your health care provider open and to work collaboratively on developing a post-semaglutide eating and exercise plan to mitigate the risks of weight rebound.

Before beginning any weight loss program, whether it includes anti-obesity medication or not, be sure to consult with your health care provider to make sure your desired weight loss strategy is right for you.



About the Author: Dr. Dawn M. Sweet has over 20 years of experience in the field of communication. Dr. Sweet has given several invited talks to and workshops for academic and private sector audiences on the role of nonverbal and verbal communication in achieving positive outcomes and mitigating bias. Her research has been published in several top ranked peer-review journals, and it has been featured on NPR’s River to River / All Things Considered, Buzzfeed, and Science Daily. Her research has also been used to inform expert testimony.

* Wegovy® and Ozempic® are registered trademarks of Novo Nordisk A/S. Novo Nordisk is a registered trademark of Novo Nordisk A/S.

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