How Do GLP-1 Agonists Work? - Levity

There are many types of medicinal treatments used to help with weight loss, and one of the most well-known types are GLP-1 agonists. These drugs behave like natural molecules in your body to help you lose weight for good. Our experts break down what GLP-1 agonists are, what they do, and how they can be used as a weight management treatment.

What are GLP-1s?

GLP-1 stands for glucagon-like peptide-1, and despite its complex name, its function can be summarised into a simple yet crucial task: regulating blood sugar. It's part of the incretin system, a group of metabolic hormones you produce naturally in your gut that influence the amount of insulin released after eating.

How do GLP-1s affect insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to take in glucose from the bloodstream. When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, causing a rise in blood sugar levels. When food enters your digestive tract, GLP-1 sends a signal to your pancreas, triggering it to release insulin. This helps your cells absorb and use glucose for energy, bringing your blood sugar levels back to a normal level.

GLP-1 is more than just a messenger for insulin release. It also slows down the rate your stomach empties, which reduces the post-meal surge in blood sugar levels and helps you feel full quicker.

How can GLP-1s be used for weight loss?

Scientists have developed a synthetic version of GLP-1s called GLP-1 agonists. These drugs mimic the action of natural GLP-1, helping to manage blood sugar levels and make you feel full when you’ve eaten. They’re often used to regulate blood sugar if you have diabetes, but they’re also effective as a medical weight loss treatment. Examples of GLP-1 agonists are dulaglutide (Trulicity) and semaglutide (Ozempic). 

Here’s how they work: 

  1. You inject your medication either daily or weekly, under your skin (subcutaneously). 
  2. When you eat, the drug slows the rate your stomach empties. 
  3. This makes you feel full faster and for longer. It also helps prevent a spike in your blood sugar after you’ve eaten.

Injectable weight loss medications like GLP-1 agonists are effective for many people, but results come from a combination of treatment and lifestyle changes. They can be used to boost and support your weight loss alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise. 

Learn more about non-surgical weight loss solutions at Levity.

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