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Does semaglutide get rid of belly fat?

Robbie Puddick
Written by

Robbie Puddick

Medically reviewed by

Fiona Moncrieff

4 min read
Last updated May 2024

Jump to: How does semaglutide get rid of belly fat? | How much weight can I lose in a month on semaglutide? | How much weight can I lose on semaglutide? | Should I try semaglutide for weight loss?

High-quality randomised controlled trials have shown that semaglutide can reduce belly fat levels by 16% after 26 weeks of treatment. This fall in belly fat levels contributed to a reduction in waist circumference of 6%.

Another study found that semaglutide treatment significantly reduced liver fat levels in individuals living with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with over 70% of participants seeing benefit.

The technical term for belly fat levels is visceral fat. Visceral fat is the type of fat that the body stores in and around your internal organs. This differs from subcutaneous fat, which is stored beneath your skin.

Visceral fat is more detrimental to human health than subcutaneous fat. Research has shown that higher visceral fat levels are strongly associated with chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Semaglutide is approved for weight loss in the UK and is sold under the brand name Wegovy. Semaglutide in the form of Ozempic is no longer available off-label for weight loss and is only approved for patients living with type 2 diabetes.

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How does semaglutide get rid of belly fat?

Semaglutide may reduce belly fat levels through two main mechanisms:

  1. Weight loss (fat loss)
  2. Improved insulin sensitivity

Semaglutide supports weight loss by communicating with the brain’s appetite control centre, the hypothalamus, to reduce food-seeking behaviour and hunger. This helps you eat fewer calories, and you lose weight.

When we lose body fat, we typically see a fall in belly fat (visceral fat) levels first, as the body knows this is the more detrimental form of fat. It will specifically choose to burn more belly fat in the early stages of weight loss.

So, by losing weight, you’ll naturally see a fall in belly fat levels on semaglutide.

Additionally, one of the leading causes of high belly fat levels is a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that manages sugar and fat (energy) in the bloodstream by moving it into the cells for storage or to burn for energy.

When we’re insulin resistant, our subcutaneous fat (the fat beneath the skin) doesn’t respond as well to insulin as it should, and insulin struggles to move fat into these cells to be stored.

Instead, insulin has to move the fat in and around our internal organs as a last resort. This will lead to an increase in belly fat and waist circumference.

How much weight can I lose in a month on semaglutide?

Based on data from randomised controlled trials, you can expect to lose up to 5% of your weight in a month on semaglutide. After two months on semaglutide, you could lose up to 8%.

However, this will vary between individuals. Some may lose more, others less.

Interestingly, this initial weight loss is no different to other weight loss treatments or the impact of diet interventions on weight loss. The real effect of semaglutide is seen beyond 3 months.

Semaglutide is a long-acting medication that’s started at a lower dose to reduce the number and severity of side effects as it’s built up to a higher maintenance dose.

Semaglutide can take 4-5 weeks to reach a level in the body we call a steady state. A steady state is when the drug’s levels in the body remain consistent rather than spiking and falling.

How much weight can I lose with semaglutide?

Research has shown that semaglutide (semaglutide 2.4 mg) can lead to a weight loss of around 16% of your body weight, or 16-17 kg, after 68 weeks.

Most of this weight loss occurs in the first 32 weeks (9 months) and plateaus thereafter as the body adapts to the medication and patients find a sustainable way of eating.

Should I try semaglutide for weight loss?

Semaglutide is designed as an additional tool for weight management and shouldn’t be considered a lifelong medication.

Instead, it should be used to help you kickstart your weight loss and healthy journey while you commit to living a healthier lifestyle.

Ideally, we’d be able to lose weight without medication and lifestyle changes would be enough to support weight loss in the long term.

We’d generally recommend trying Second Nature’s weight-loss programme before considering a weight-loss jab.

Changing your habits is the most sustainable way to achieve long-term weight loss, and it’s also less expensive.

At Second Nature, we’ve been trusted by the NHS since 2017 to support people with type 2 diabetes and obesity to lose weight, manage their blood sugar levels, and lead healthier lifestyles for the long term.

In 2022, the NHS published data in the BMJ that compared the weight loss outcomes of five providers in the National Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Second Nature was more than twice as effective at supporting weight loss than the other four providers.

However, if you’ve decided to try semaglutide (when it’s available) but need support in making positive changes to your lifestyle, Second Nature could be an option for you. But it’s worth noting that we have strict eligibility criteria.

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