GLP-1 Agonists: The Basics Behind Weight Loss Injections

July 3, 2024
weight loss injections

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Have you heard about the latest buzz in weight loss? It’s all about GLP-1 agonists, a group of medications making waves in the world of weight management. These injectable drugs have been gaining popularity, and for good reason—they’re showing promising results in helping people shed those stubborn pounds.


Let’s dive into the basics of these weight loss injections and see what all the excitement is about!

What are GLP-1 Agonists?

GLP-1 agonists are like the body’s own weight-loss helpers. They mimic a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that our bodies naturally produce to stimulate insulin and inhibit glucagon secretion. Originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, researchers discovered an exciting bonus—these medications also led to significant weight loss in many patients. 


Talk about a happy accident!


How does it work?

How Do GLP-1 Injections Work for Weight Loss?

Let’s break down how these popular injectable weight-loss drugs work.

Mechanism of Action

GLP-1 agonists are like multitasking superheroes in your body, working in several ways to help you lose weight:

  • They boost insulin production: This helps your body manage blood sugar levels more effectively.
  • They decrease glucagon: This hormone usually raises blood sugar, so less of it means better blood sugar control.
  • They slow down digestion: You feel full longer after eating.
  • They increase feelings of fullness: You’ll feel satisfied with smaller portions.


The result? You naturally eat less without feeling like you’re “starving.” It’s like having a built-in portion control system!


Effects on Appetite and Food Intake

One of the most noticeable effects of GLP-1 agonists is how they impact your relationship with food. Many users report feeling less hungry throughout the day and more satisfied with smaller meals. It’s not about willpower anymore—your body actually sends fewer “I’m hungry!” signals to your brain. This can lead to reduced portion sizes and less frequent snacking, making sticking to a healthy eating plan easier.1

Which GLP-1 Agonists are Approved for Weight Loss?

As of now, the FDA has given the green light to a couple of GLP-1 agonists specifically for weight loss:

  • Wegovy (semaglutide): A once-weekly injection has shown impressive results in clinical trials.
  • Saxenda (liraglutide): A daily injection helping people lose weight since 2014.


These medications are prescribed for adults with a BMI of 30 or higher (or 27+ with at least one weight-related health condition). Remember, they’re not magic—they work best when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Administration and Dosing

GLP-1 agonists are typically taken at home as subcutaneous injections—just under the skin, not into a muscle. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of needles—the injections use very thin needles and are usually painless. Most people inject these medications into their abdomen, thigh, or upper arm. These medications are injected in these areas because they allow for slower absorption than into a muscle.


Dosing schedules vary depending on the specific medication. Wegovy, for example, is taken once a week, while Saxenda is a daily injection. Your healthcare provider will likely start you on a low dose and gradually increase it to minimize side effects and help your body adjust.

What are the Benefits of GLP-1 Agonists for Weight Loss?

The potential benefits of these medications go beyond just dropping a few pounds. Many users experience:


  • Significant weight loss: Some studies show people lose up to 15% of their body weight.
  • Improved cardiovascular health: Lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Better blood sugar control: Especially beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduced risk of obesity-related conditions: Sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer (breast, colorectal, and liver, for example).


What Side Effects Do GLP-1s Cause?

Like all medications, GLP-1 agonists can have side effects. The most common ones include:


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headache


These side effects are usually mild and tend to improve over time as your body adjusts to the medication. However, it’s important to be aware of more serious potential risks, such as inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) or potential thyroid tumors. Always discuss any concerns and active symptoms with your healthcare provider.e

Who are GLP-1s Indicated For?

GLP-1 agonists aren’t for everyone. They’re typically recommended for adults who have:


  • A BMI of 30 or higher (considered obese), or
  • A BMI of 27 or higher with at least one weight-related health condition (like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes)


These medications aren’t suitable for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer, or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. Talk to your doctor to find out if you’re a good candidate.

GLP-1s are Only One Step of Your Weight Management Journey

GLP-1 agonists represent an exciting development in the field of weight management. They offer a new tool for those struggling with obesity, working with your body’s natural processes to help you eat less and, ultimately, lose weight. However, it’s important to remember that these medications are not a quick fix or a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. They work best when combined with a nutritious diet and regular physical activity.


If you’re considering GLP-1 agonists for weight loss, the first step is to talk with your healthcare provider. They can help determine if these medications are right for you, considering your health status, weight loss goals, and potential risks and benefits.


Remember, your weight loss journey is unique to you. Whether or not GLP-1 agonists are part of your plan, the most important thing is to find a sustainable approach that helps you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. 


The Fresh Tri app is a great companion for building sustainable, healthy habits. Here’s to your health and happiness on your weight loss journey!



  1. Aldawsari, M., Almadani, F. A., Almuhammadi, N., Algabsani, S., Alamro, Y., & Aldhwayan, M. (2023). The Efficacy of GLP-1 Analogues on Appetite Parameters, Gastric Emptying, Food Preference and Taste Among Adults with Obesity: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, 16, 575-595. 


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