Does Ozempic Cause Muscle Loss?

Does Ozempic cause muscle loss?

Has the popular new weight loss drug that's got everyone talking slowly killing your gains? Explore the truth behind the rumours

BY NOW, YOU’RE PROBABLY aware that drugs like Ozempic produce some impressive weight loss effects. But there’s talk that they are causing muscle loss, too.

Ozempic is a new-age weight loss drug that was originally developed to treat diabetes. It’s what is called a GLP-1 agonist, meaning it stimulates the glucagon-like peptide-1 hormone, MH advisor Fatima Cody Stanford, M.D., M.P.H., told Men’s Health. This hormone controls your body’s response to insulin and helps reduce appetite by slowing the emptying of the stomach, as well as acting on the appetite centre in the brain. This helps better manage blood sugar in people with diabetes.

It was also found to help people lose weight, which is why it’s now famous for that even above and beyond its benefits in managing diabetes. Its less famous counterparts, including Mounjaro and Wegovy, offer similar results. While all of these drugs have proved their effectiveness, the idea that they also cause a depletion of muscle mass may run some away from trying the life-saving drug.

So, is it true? We asked Dr Reshmi Srinath, director of the Mount Sinai Weight and Metabolism Management Program in NYC.

Does Ozempic (and other weight loss drugs) cause muscle loss?

There’s one thing we should point out before we dive deeper into this question: there’s typically some degree of muscle loss with any amount of weight loss, Srinath says. If the body doesn’t get sufficient energy from food (a.k.a., a calorie deficit), it will pull energy from other areas of the body. It will start with excess fat stores, but will eventually move into the muscle stores, especially with quick weight loss.

That all being said, there’s no evidence to support the idea that the mechanism of weight loss behind drugs like Ozempic and similar drugs specifically causes more muscle loss than traditional fat loss methods.

How to maintain muscle mass while on Ozempic

“There is growing interest in developing medications that can preserve muscle mass,” Srinath says. Until they arrive, to maintain muscle mass while on Ozempic or another weight loss drug, you have to do the same things you would do to maintain muscle mass without taking drugs: eat plenty of protein, and strength train.

Protein is a building block of muscle – and most people need a lot more than they think they do. It’s generally recommended for men to have at least 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of their body weight – and that’s just to sustain life. To sustain muscle mass, that number will be closer to 1 g. To build it: 1.2g to 1.6 g.

Aim to get at least 30 grams of lean protein at each meal, from sources including eggs, chicken, tofu, and protein supplements.

Your protein intake won’t matter without sufficient strength training, though. Placing the muscles under load creates small micro-tears in the muscle fibres, which grow back larger when they recover.

To maintain that muscle mass, Srinath suggests “incorporating two to 3 days of strengthening [per week].” Even 10- to 15-minute sessions can help.

This story originally appeared on Men’s Health U.S. 

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