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Will I gain weight if I stop using Wegovy?

Robbie Puddick
Written by

Robbie Puddick

Medically reviewed by

Fiona Moncrieff

4 min read
Last updated December 2023

Jump to: Why do you regain weight after stopping Wegovy? | Can you keep weight off after stopping semaglutide? | How long can you stay on semaglutide for weight loss? | Should I try semaglutide to lose weight?

Based on data from randomised controlled trials, you’ll likely gain weight once you stop using Wegovy. The greater the initial weight loss, the more significant the weight regained.

In this post-analysis of 327 participants on semaglutide or placebo, the average weight loss after 68 weeks was 17.3% with semaglutide and 2% with placebo.

After 52 weeks of follow-up, after the medication was withdrawn, the average weight loss was 5.6% with semaglutide and 0.1% with placebo.

A weight regain of 11.6% in the semaglutide group and 1.9% in the placebo.

Those who lose more weight initially maintain more significant weight loss compared to baseline than those who lose less before the medication is withdrawn.

Why do you regain weight after stopping Wegovy?

Weight regain after stopping Wegovy might occur for various reasons, the primary one being that the high levels of GLP-1 maintained in the body to reduce hunger will decrease.

When GLP-1 levels fall after stopping Wegovy, our hunger levels will likely increase, and we’ll find it harder to manage our portion sizes, which could lead to an increase in calorie intake.

Here are three more reasons why you might regain weight after stopping Wegovy:

  1. You haven’t changed the quality of your diet: Semaglutide naturally leads to lower hunger levels and helps us eat less. If you’re still eating a diet based on ultra-processed foods but simply eating less – you’ll lose weight while on the medication. But, when you stop taking Wegovy, you no longer have the medication to help you eat less, and a diet rich in ultra-processed foods inherently leads to excess calorie intake and weight gain.
  2. You haven’t introduced exercise into your routine: Sedentary lifestyles are a vital contributor to the development of obesity, and good research suggests that those who exercise more are more likely to keep weight off in the long run.
  3. You haven’t changed your underlying habits and behaviours: If we haven’t addressed the underlying causes of our overeating, we’ll unlikely be able to keep weight off in the long run. Psychological factors like mood, emotional health, and stress can all contribute to our eating choices. If we don’t address these whilst on Wegovy, we’ll struggle to keep the weight off when we stop the medication.

Can you keep weight off after stopping semaglutide?

You can keep weight off when you stop semaglutide, weight regain isn’t inevitable. However, this is the most challenging aspect of a weight loss journey, with or without medication.

Weight maintenance is extremely challenging, but there are a few things you can do to help avoid weight regain after stopping semaglutide:

  1. Improve the quality of your diet: Eating a diet based on whole foods and minimising the consumption of ultra-processed foods will help your body regulate your appetite naturally.
  2. Exercise: Research has shown that people who exercise more after weight loss are more likely to avoid weight regain in the long term.
  3. Address the underlying causes of overeating: Weight loss is as much about developing an understanding of why we eat, as much as it is about how and what. If we can identify the underlying causes of our overeating, we’ll be more able to address them. This could be emotional eating, environmental triggers, or other psychological-related causes like previous trauma.

How long can you stay on semaglutide for weight loss?

In the UK, NICE guidelines restrict semaglutide (Wegovy) for weight loss to a maximum of two years.

However, in the U.S. and other countries, these restrictions don’t apply, and many people may stay on semaglutide for much longer.

Some obesity researchers believe that in complex cases, semaglutide might need to be a lifelong treatment to ensure people keep the weight off in the long term.

However, we don’t yet have data on semaglutide beyond 68 weeks, so it’s unclear whether there would be any adverse effects of staying on the medication for this length of time.

Should I try semaglutide to lose weight?

Semaglutide is designed as an additional tool for weight management and, in most cases, 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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