Health & Wellness

GLP-1 Agonists

By: Brett A. Osborn, DO, FAANS, CSCS

Board Certified Neurosurgeon (ABNS) • Board Certified Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), • Acclaimed Author; Get Serious

Chief of Neurosurgery at St. Mary’s Medical Center – West Palm Beach, FL

CEO of Senolytix, LLC – West Palm Beach, Fl

Brett A. Osborn, DO, FAANS, CSCS

With a flood of new medications hitting the market leading to weight loss, as well as diabetes management, popularity is soaring. But, is there any downside that is not being seen? An expert offers his opinion on the safety of this class of medications.

GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic have taken the spotlight in the modern narrative of weight management and diabetes care, becoming as pivotal as antibiotics once were in the realm of infectious diseases. That’s not a typo. The reason is compelling: with over 70% of Americans categorized as overweight or obese, and obesity being the gateway to the nation’s major killers—coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer—it’s a call to action for a solution.

The positive effects of GLP-1 agonists are irrefutable. These medications have been shown to reduce appetite and induce significant weight loss, which is why they’re making waves in the healthcare industry. Take, for instance, the publicized case of Oprah Winfrey, whose experience with weight management has often been in the limelight. From IV-based diets to modified starvation, her lifelong weight loss journey has been marred by serial failures. Until now. Because Ozempic is now doing the work for her, namely squelching her appetite. And that’s nearly the whole battle. Distilled down, weight loss is simply a matter of calories in vs. calories out. Burn more than you eat, and your waistline melts away.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Sharon Osbourne’s experience brings forth the other side of the coin, highlighting the potential negative effects and the need for a cautious approach. Every medication has its pros and cons, and GLP-1 agonists are no exception. Side effects can range from mild gastrointestinal issues and hair loss to more severe ones if not used under strict medical supervision – and that means prescribed by experienced physicians. 

And while the weight loss effects can be remarkable, an overlooked downside is muscle loss. Muscle isn’t just for show; it’s the cornerstone of our resilience, a vital player in disease prevention and glucose regulation. Yet, medications like Ozempic can induce significant muscle loss along with fat loss due to their appetite-suppressive effects, which put patients into a caloric deficit. 

To counteract this, keeping a vigilant eye on muscle mass is crucial. A male’s body weight ideally should be comprised of 50% muscle and a female’s 45%. These are not just arbitrary numbers but benchmarks that, if met, can bolster biochemical health and ward off age-related diseases. And that’s why we measure these anthropometry benchmarks in our clinic.

Senolytix Team | West Palm Beach, Fl

So, how do you navigate these waters? The key is balance. Patients should aim to consume enough calories to match their sedentary basal metabolic rate, even while on Ozempic. This allows the medication to assist with weight loss without leading to muscle wasting. Strength training is also critical in this context. It’s a strategic tool to maintain muscle mass and stimulate appetite despite the medication-induced satiety. Remember, Ozempic is “injectable appetite suppression.” 

And let’s remember the importance of personalized care. Not everyone will respond to medications in the same way, which is why the stories of Oprah Winfrey and Sharon Osbourne, the latter of whom should find a new doctor – are so instructive. They remind us that while GLP-1 agonists can be a powerful ally in our health journey, they require a tailored approach, with careful monitoring and an integrated lifestyle strategy that includes diet, exercise, and possibly hormone replacement therapy to temper muscle loss. 

GLP-1 agonists are a beacon of hope in a sea of health concerns related to obesity. They offer a promising path to weight loss and better health, provided they are used responsibly and with a holistic view of the individual’s health needs. With the right approach, these medications can indeed be the ally we need in the ongoing battle against obesity and its related diseases. In my opinion, they are modern medicine’s holy grail.

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