(BPT) - There has been a sensational rise in the number of celebrities making headlines for their use of GLP-1 medications, like Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro, for weight loss. The constant media buzz surrounding influential figures may make it more difficult for people to zero in on key components of a healthy medically supported weight loss journey.
According to the CDC, 73.6% of U.S. adults over age 20 are overweight or have obesity1. It is estimated that the number of patients taking GLP-1 drugs could reach 24 million, or nearly 7% of the U.S. population, by 20352. While GLP-1s have been deemed a safe and effective breakthrough treatment for obesity, is medication alone enough to support your health?
If you’ve started or plan to embark on a medically supported weight loss journey, consider what components you may need to be successful. Dr. Satya Jonnalagadda, PhD, MBA, RDN, Vice President of Scientific and Clinical Affairs at OPTAVIA, the habit-based, coach-guided lifestyle solution, says there are five critical things to know about medically supported weight loss.
1. Prioritize nutrition and support muscle health
Losing weight can also mean losing lean muscle, which is critical for important functions that affect your quality of life, everything from blood sugar regulation to bone density and strength. Research suggests that the loss of lean body mass can range from 20-50% of total weight loss for those on weight loss medications3.
Help support muscle health while achieving a healthy weight by following a scientifically designed nutrition plan, which can ensure adequate intake of high-quality protein and other key vitamins and minerals daily to give your body what it needs — even though your appetite may be decreased.
"When working toward achieving a healthy weight, loss of muscle that typically accompanies a fat burn phase can impact your strength, daily activities and overall long-term quality of life," said Jonnalagadda. "It’s important to make healthy eating second nature while on a medical weight loss journey. For instance, our newly launched nutrition and muscle health product bundles are designed specifically for medically supported weight loss."
2. Get support beyond prescriptions
Support holistic health rather than weight loss alone. Independent research4 revealed that most individuals interested in weight loss medications are looking for support beyond prescriptions, including clarity on how to incorporate components of healthy living, such as proper nutrition and exercise, into their lifestyles while utilizing these medical solutions.
Taking a holistic approach from the start will keep the focus on lifelong health, not just the number on the scale.
To help people do just that, OPTAVIA has announced a collaboration with leading virtual primary care provider LifeMD to create a comprehensive health solution to address the escalating obesity public health crisis, including addressing the growing demand for medically supported weight loss by integrating clinician care with one-on-one coach support, community support, lifestyle plans, nutrition products, and a healthy habits system.
3. Assemble a strong support network
In addition to your clinician, one-on-one support from a coach makes a difference, especially if they have their own weight loss experience. Arm yourself with a strong support network you can rely on for guidance, motivation and monitoring while also providing accountability to help you achieve your individual health goals.
According to Jonnalagadda, "Research5 shows that structured programs that include one-on-one coach support are more effective than a self-directed, reduced-calorie diet alone for weight loss. Because about 90% of our Independent OPTAVIA Coaches were clients first, they understand what you're going through and can provide personalized, empathetic guidance."
4. Surround yourself with a like-minded community
“A growing body of scientific evidence identifies the importance of support from others to help facilitate creation of healthy habits and promote lifestyle changes,” notes Dr. Jessica Unick, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Rhode Island and a member of OPTAVIA’s Scientific Advisory Board.
If you're working to transform your health, it can make all the difference to have the support of a nurturing community that can empathize with you, speak from personal experience and encourage your efforts. It can be validating to have support from someone who not only acknowledges the challenges you’re facing but has been in a similar situation themselves.
"Being surrounded by others who are going through similar journeys can be a game-changer," Jonnalagadda explained. "People are more successful when they have a community of like-hearted people so they can share experiences and encouragement with one another."
5. Work to establish healthy habits
While your appetite is reduced and you're seeing results from your GLP-1 medication, this is the perfect time to begin creating healthy habits to help you maintain your new lifestyle for the long haul. Creating new habits, including healthy eating but also practicing mindfulness, such as meditation or deep breathing, and creating more opportunities for movement throughout your day, can help you create an overall healthy lifestyle.
"A holistic nutrition and lifestyle solution that encourages healthy habit creation can contribute to lower stress as well as better sleep and nutrition," Jonnalagadda noted. "These habits can last a lifetime – and this is true whether you are on weight loss medication or not."
Learn more about how to begin your heathier lifestyle and sign up for a coach at OPTAVIA.com.
1. Fryar CD, Carroll MD, Afful J. Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and severe obesity among adults aged 20 and over: United States, 1960–1962 through 2017–2018. NCHS Health E-Stats. 2020. Accessed January 11, 2024. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity-adult-17-18/obesity-adult.htm.
2. Obesity Medicines & Food Industry Impact | Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley. Published 2023. Accessed January 11, 2024. https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/obesity-drugs-food-industry.
3. Sargeant JA, Henson J, King JA, Yates T, Khunti K, Davies MJ. A Review of the Effects of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists and Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter 2 Inhibitors on Lean Body Mass in Humans. Endocrinol Metab. 2019;34(3):247-262. doi: 10.3803/EnM.2019.34.3.247.
5. Arterburn LM, Coleman CD, Kiel J, Kelley K, Mantilla L, Frye N, et al. Randomized controlled trial assessing two commercial weight loss programs in adults with overweight or obesity. Obes Sci Pract. 2019;5:3–14. https://doi.org/10.1002/osp4.312.