Weight loss efforts for individuals managing type 1 diabetes can be challenging. The potential for low blood sugar levels seems to lurk around every corner, adding possible danger to underlying frustration. Safety is paramount when considering weight loss strategies like dietary restrictions, medications, or supplements.
In recent years, glucagon-like peptide-1 or GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic have become increasingly popular among individuals interested in losing weight. Managing type 1 diabetes requires a specific treatment approach, and some medications affecting blood sugar control may not be appropriate.
So, how does Ozempic fit into the picture? You may wonder, “Can people with type 1 diabetes take Ozempic for weight loss?” We will discuss how Ozempic works in the context of type 1 diabetes and whether it is safe or effective for helping with weight management.
Can Those With Type 1 Diabetes Take Ozempic For Weight Loss?
Yes, but the decision to start a GLP-1 medication like Ozempic should be considered carefully with your doctor to ensure your individual needs are accounted for. It is important to remember that the potential for hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can vary between patients because of differences in natural insulin reserves.
There have been some promising studies on the benefits of GLP-1 medications for individuals managing type 1 diabetes that reach beyond weight loss. Future research will help determine whether medications like Ozempic may find their way into more routine use.
Can People With Type 1 Diabetes Take Ozempic For Weight Loss?
Featured Partner Offer
- Helps to burn fat
- Crushes food cravings
- Boosts energy and balances mood
- High-quality formula
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs when beta cells in the pancreas are damaged and become non-functional. Beta cells produce insulin, which is crucial for blood glucose control. As an essential hormone, insulin helps distribute glucose in the body so it can be stored or used as an energy source.
When the body has little or no insulin reserve, blood sugars are no longer properly processed, and levels begin to rise. Blood glucose levels define diabetes, so as blood sugar rises, diabetes develops.
This lack of insulin must be replaced, so basal insulin and mealtime insulin doses are required to maintain balance. Some strategies can make this process easier, like continuous glucose monitoring and an insulin pump.
How Ozempic Works
As a glucagon-like peptide-1 medication, Ozempic essentially acts by mimicking the activity of glucagon in the body. Ultimately, this results in increased insulin production by functioning beta cells, decreased glucagon release, and slower gastric motility.
Glucagon causes the body to break down energy stores and increase blood glucose, and Ozempic slows down this process. Slower gastric motility refers to meals staying in the stomach for a longer period of time, which can ultimately combat food cravings and promote weight loss.
What Studies Are Saying
Because the relationship between eating habits and insulin dosage can be a delicate balance, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar becomes a significant concern. When adding additional glucose-modifying medications, ensuring safety is paramount.
The primary side effects associated with Ozempic are gastrointestinal. These are the most common reasons patients have had difficulty increasing the dose or staying on the medication:
- Upset stomach.
Slowly increasing the dose of Ozempic over time can help reduce or prevent gastrointestinal symptoms.
When evaluated directly in research, the addition of GLP-1 medications has not been associated with a significant increase in the risk of hypoglycemia. It is important to remember that the loss of beta cell functionality and natural insulin production is not a process that occurs like flipping a switch, however. Insulin production can be reduced over time in individuals with type 1 diabetes, so the amount of insulin still being produced naturally can vary between patients.
For patients with some functioning beta cells, Ozempic may cause an increase in insulin production. In general, the precautions or potential reasons to avoid therapy with Ozempic include:
- Personal or family history of thyroid tumors.
- History of pancreatitis.
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding.
When discussing Ozempic, it is important to ensure your prescriber has a complete and accurate medical history.
A primary measure of glucose management is A1c. This is a helpful marker because it allows for more easily identifying trends over time rather than relying on snapshots of blood glucose.
Data related to A1c improvements associated with GLP-1 medications for individuals managing type 1 diabetes is fairly sparse. There does appear to be a slight improvement of about 0.1% to 0.2% on average when similar medications in the same class are considered.
Much of the research on weight loss associated with semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, has not been conducted specifically in individuals managing type 1 diabetes. Victoza has been associated with an average weight loss of about 11 pounds over 26 weeks in patients managing type 1 diabetes. This provides some supporting evidence that GLP-1 weight loss benefits may be applied to type 1 diabetes.
Based on Wegovy studies, 2.4 mg of semaglutide has shown a significant reduction in weight as well when studied in other patient populations. Ozempic provides a smaller target dose of 2 mg. However, it does appear lower doses of semaglutide still provide significant weight loss.
How People With Type 1 Diabetes May Benefit From Ozempic
A primary function of GLP-1 medications like Ozempic is the stimulation of insulin secretion by beta cells, but there is also evidence of preserving existing beta cell functionality. There is speculation that if Ozempic is used in newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes, it may reduce the need for insulin replacement. In other words, it may have the potential to slow down the progression of the disease.
Further research in this area would be beneficial. There is conflicting evidence that highlights the need for answering the question, why can’t people with type 1 diabetes take Ozempic?
The benefits of weight loss have the potential to be significant:
- Lowering the risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
- Higher levels of high-density lipoprotein, beneficial cholesterol.
- Lower levels of low-density lipoprotein, bad cholesterol.
- Lower levels of triglycerides.
- Improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.
- Reductions in pain and improved mobility.
Tips For Managing Type 1 Diabetes
Consistently following up with your doctor will help you track your progress and maintain a healthy balance over time. It is also helpful to consider meeting with a certified diabetes educator and a dietitian. Identifying carbohydrate sources and their impact on blood sugar levels is crucial.
- Starchy vegetables containing higher levels of carbohydrates include corn and potatoes.
- Non-starchy vegetables with fewer carbohydrates, by comparison, include carrots, greens, and broccoli.
- Whole grains like brown rice, oats, and quinoa retain fiber content, which can help avoid blood sugar spikes.
Avoid or limit:
- Processed foods: These are particularly high in saturated fat, salt, and often include added sugars.
- Sweets and certain baked goods: Muffins, cupcakes, candy, and ice cream all have high sugar levels.
- Drinks with added sugars: Soft drinks, juice, and many alcoholic beverages have a high sugar content. Drinking plenty of water is important to maintain hydration.
However, adjustment to insulin dose or eating additional food may be needed. Establishing a balance and learning about your body’s response to exercise becomes easier over time.
Featured Partner Offer
Enjoy 10% Off & Free Shipping Code: “FIRST10“
Applied at checkout
Monitoring And Check-ups
The progression of diabetes can impact many different areas of the body. Nerves can be affected, leading to numbness or pain. Blood flow can be affected in certain areas within the body, and immune responses may be less able to respond to infection.
Maintaining consistent follow ups with your healthcare providers can help you stay ahead of potential complications.
- A1c provides a way of measuring your average blood glucose levels over three months. Monitoring changes in A1c provides crucial insight into how well your treatment efforts are working. Your A1c should be checked every three months.
- Diabetes raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, so make sure your cholesterol levels are checked at least once per year. A primary benefit of weight loss is its potential to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. When medications like Ozempic are considered, the potential benefits for cardiovascular risk are an important factor in determining whether the medication will be a good fit for you.
- The combination of a slower immune response and numbness leads to problematic sores or infections on your feet. It is important to check your feet daily. It is also recommended to have your feet examined by a doctor once a year.
- Diabetes progression can impact your kidneys, so your kidney function needs to be monitored at least once per year.
- Exposure to the flu or pneumonia can be more likely to cause more serious symptoms requiring hospitalization among individuals managing diabetes. Get your flu shot each year and check with your healthcare providers to ensure you are up to date on your pneumonia vaccine.
- Diabetes progression can affect your vision. Make sure you are scheduling a visit with an ophthalmologist at least once per year.
- Take stress and mental health seriously. Your mental well-being is central to your overall well-being. Developing effective strategies for recognizing and managing stress also enables you to manage your type 1 diabetes better.
While semaglutide studies related to weight loss in individuals managing type 1 diabetes are sparse, it would be reasonable to predict weight loss benefits will extend to this population. Side effects like nausea and upset stomach are the most common, but it is also crucial to maintain close monitoring of blood glucose. Insulin doses may need to be adjusted when starting Ozempic.
If you are wondering, “Can people with type 1 diabetes take Ozempic for weight loss?” be sure to speak to your provider. Consulting with your doctor can help you determine whether Ozempic would be a safe and effective option for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
No weight loss medications have been approved specifically for type 1 diabetes. Treatment options need to be evaluated on an individual basis to establish whether any potential benefits are likely to outweigh the risks of therapy.
Yes, individuals managing type 1 diabetes may be able to use semaglutide. It is important to consult your doctor to ensure it will be appropriate for your individual needs. If started, careful monitoring of blood glucose is needed.
Yes, Ozempic can be effective for weight loss regardless of whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Wegovy may also specifically be considered, as it is approved directly for weight management.
Studies need to explore potential benefits and risks before broad recommendations will be made. Over time, Ozempic may be more routinely recommended for type 1 diabetes management.
+ 12 Sources
EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
- DiMeglio, L.A., Evans‐Molina, C. and Oram, R.A. (2018). Type 1 diabetes. The Lancet, [online] 391(10138), pp.2449–2462. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(18)31320-5.
- Rowlands, J., Julian Ik‐Tsen Heng, Newsholme, P. and Carlessi, R. (2018). Pleiotropic Effects of GLP-1 and Analogs on Cell Signaling, Metabolism, and Function. Frontiers in Endocrinology, [online] 9. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2018.00672.
- Guyton, J., Jeon, M.M. and Brooks, A.D. (2019). Glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists in type 1 diabetes mellitus. American Journal of Health-system Pharmacy, [online] 76(21), pp.1739–1748. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/ajhp/zxz179.
- Janzen, K.M. (2016). GLP-1 Agonists in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus – Kristin M. Janzen, Taylor D. Steuber, Sarah A. Nisly, 2016. [online] Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1060028016651279?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%20%200pubmed.
- Nih.gov. (2023). DailyMed – OZEMPIC- semaglutide injection, solution. [online] Available at: https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=adec4fd2-6858-4c99-91d4-531f5f2a2d79 [Accessed 12 Nov. 2023].
- Dejgaard, T.F., Scholten, von, Christiansen, E., Frederik Flindt Kreiner, Lars Bardtrum, Matthias von Herrath, Mathieu, C., Sten Madsbad, one and Two Investigators (2021). Efficacy and safety of liraglutide in type 1 diabetes by baseline characteristics in the ADJUNCT ONE and ADJUNCT TWO randomized controlled trials. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, [online] 23(12), pp.2752–2762. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.14532.
- Marso, S.P., Bain, S.C., Consoli, A., Freddy Goldberg Eliaschewitz, Jódar, E., Leiter, L.A., Ildiko Lingvay, Rosenstock, J., Seufert, J., Warren, M., Woo, V., Ole Paaske Hansen, Holst, A.G., Pettersson, J. and Vilsbøll, T. (2016). Semaglutide and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. The New England Journal of Medicine, [online] 375(19), pp.1834–1844. doi:https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa1607141.
- Harris, E. (2023). Semaglutide Associated With Less Insulin Need in Early Type 1 Diabetes. JAMA, [online] 330(14), pp.1318–1318. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2023.17818.
- Redondo, M.J. and Bacha, F. (2020). GLP-1 Receptor Agonist as Adjuvant Therapy in Type 1 Diabetes: No Apparent Benefit for Beta-Cell Function or Glycemia. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, [online] 105(8), pp.e3000–e3002. doi:https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgaa314.
- What is clinically relevant weight loss for your patients and how can it be achieved? A narrative review. (2022). Postgraduate Medicine. [online] doi:https://doi.org/10.1080//00325481.2022.2051366.
- Colberg, S.R., Sigal, R.J., Yardley, J.E., Riddell, M.C., Dunstan, D.W., Dempsey, P.C., Horton, E.S., Castorino, K. and Tate, D.F. (2016). Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes Care, [online] 39(11), pp.2065–2079. doi:https://doi.org/10.2337/dc16-1728.
- CDC (2023). Your Diabetes Care Schedule. [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/care-schedule.html.