What Happens if You Stop Taking Ozempic? Ozempic Withdrawal Explained

What are the risks of stopping Ozempic? Learn everything you need to know before you stop taking this medication.

by
Rebecca Washuta
— Signos
MS, CNS, LDN
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Reviewed by

Rebecca Washuta
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
April 23, 2024
February 23, 2024
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Ozempic (also known as semaglutide) is one of the hottest weight loss drugs on the market. While it’s intended for people with type 2 diabetes, it’s frequently prescribed off-label for its dramatic weight loss effects. (Ozempic has been so effective at reducing weight that another version of semaglutide, called Wegovy, was created specifically to treat obesity.) This injectable medication can not only help you lose weight, but it can also reduce your blood sugar and lower your risk of cardiovascular events like stroke or heart attack.1  

While the benefits of Ozempic are widely known, the side effects are less talked about. Side effects of Ozempic range from unpleasant (nausea and constipation) to life-threatening (pancreatitis and thyroid cancer) and often cause patients to stop taking their injections altogether. But what happens when you do decide to stop taking this weight-loss medication? We’re breaking down everything you need to know before you stop taking Ozempic.

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Can You Stop Taking Ozempic?

Most people assume that they can try Ozempic, use it until they reach their goal weight, and then stop the medication. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. To maintain their weight loss, patients typically need to continue taking the weight loss drug. In people who choose to stop the injections, weight gain is common. One study found that within a year of stopping the drug, the average patient gained back 66% of the lost weight.2 Improvements in A1C while taking Ozempic have also been shown to diminish once patients stop the medication.2

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

man-holding-two-burguers

To better understand the problems that can arise when you stop these injections, let’s walk through how this drug works. Semaglutide is in a class of drugs called glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. It’s been FDA-approved (to be used along with diet and exercise) to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes. This medication binds to the GLP-1 receptor cells in your body and lowers blood glucose in the following ways:

  • Triggers your pancreas to release more insulin when your blood sugar is high 
  • Slows down digestion in the stomach (also called gastric emptying), so food is absorbed more slowly, and you feel fuller longer
  • Prevents your liver from releasing glucose into the bloodstream

When you initially stop taking Ozempic, you may still feel the effects as it stays in your system for about five weeks after the last dose.3 Once semaglutide has been eliminated from your body, however, many of the health benefits will be reversed. Here’s what you may experience after stopping Ozempic:2

  • Blood sugar spikes and poor glycemic control
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased inflammatory markers (like hs-CRP)
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular events

Why is it so hard to maintain weight loss and cardiometabolic improvements after stopping the drug? It’s been shown that when patients taking Ozempic lose body weight, they not only lose fat, but they lose muscle as well.4 Muscle tissue burns calories (even at rest), which helps with weight management. Muscles also utilize glucose, which supports blood sugar control. Loss of muscle mass is one of the reasons patients quickly put the weight back on once they stop semaglutide. 

Ozempic Withdrawal: Immediate Symptoms

As if losing the weight loss progress you’ve made wasn’t enough, some patients with type 2 diabetes may experience withdrawal-like symptoms shortly after stopping. These symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive thirst/urge to urinate

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="ozempic-foods-to-avoid">7 Foods to Avoid to Manage Ozempic Side Effects</a>.</p>

5 Tips to Avoid Gaining Weight After Ozempic

Approximately one-third of patients can maintain their weight loss after stopping the medication, so it is possible to achieve long-term results.2 In order to set yourself up for success, you’ll need to put some good habits in place and make some healthy lifestyle changes. 

Here are our top five tips for keeping the weight off after you stop Ozempic:

  1. Ask You Doctor About Alternative Medications: If you’re stopping Ozempic due to the harsh side effects, ask your doctor if there is another diabetes drug option (like metformin) to help you control your blood sugar and manage your weight. 
  2. Eat a Healthy Diet: Semaglutide significantly lowers your appetite and increases satiety, making it easier to make healthy choices and eat less. When you stop the medication and the food cravings come back, it can be harder to make healthy food choices. Get in the practice of eating a nutrient-dense diet while you’re on Ozempic so you can stay on track once you’ve stopped.
  3. Stay Active: While cardio is important, it’s equally essential to focus on lifting weights and resistance training. Building muscle is one of the best ways to achieve long-term results. 
  4. Manage Your Stress: Chronic stress can raise your blood sugar and wreak havoc on your metabolism. Find ways to actively and intentionally relax, like meditation, yoga, or breathwork. 
  5. Get Enough Sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for weight loss and overall health. When you’re overtired, your hormones can get thrown off, and your decision making skills will be impaired, causing you to reach for all the wrong foods.

Preparing Yourself for Stopping Ozempic

man-cleaning-strawberries

If you’re thinking about stopping your semaglutide injections, there is much to consider. To maintain the weight you’ve lost and the benefits you’ve gained, like lower A1C, you have to be intentional about making healthy choices and leading a healthy lifestyle. It’s important you talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and possible alternatives. If you have type 2 diabetes, ask your doctor about serious signs and symptoms to watch out for when stopping this prescription medication. 

Here are the best things you can do to prepare for stopping Ozempic:

Build Your Team

Losing weight and improving your health are team sports, and the more people you have in your corner, the better. Try working with a nutritionist and personal trainer so they can help keep you motivated and provide extra accountability. Tell your loved ones about the potential side effects so they can support you when times get tough. 

Clean Up Your Kitchen

Ozempic helps you feel fuller longer and reduces cravings, making it easy to say no to snacks and sweets. However, making healthy choices may prove much harder once you stop the medication. Before stopping, go through your pantry and toss the junk food. Stock your fridge with healthy options so it’s easier to make good decisions.

Leverage Technology

There are dozens of fitness and health tracking devices and apps that can support you on your journey. Consider exercise and meditation apps or items like a smart scale, step counter, or continuous glucose monitor (like Signos offers).

Learn How to Improve Your Nutrition and Monitor Your Glycemic Index Levels With Signos’ Expert Advice

Signos incorporates cutting-edge research and the proven power of continuous glucose monitoring to help you lose weight and reach your health goals. Not sure if Signos is right for you? Take this quiz to find out! Interested in learning more about nutrition and healthy eating habits? Check out more articles on our blog.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="wegovy-vs-ozempic">Wegovy vs. Ozempic: Differences and Which Is Better</a>.</p>

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References

About the author

Rebecca Washuta is a licensed dietitian with degrees in neuroscience and nutrition and helped individuals develop long-term health habits and achieve various wellness goals.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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