The Skinny on Peptides for Weight Loss (and More!)

Ozempic. Wegovy. Mounjaro. Oprah.

You’ve heard the hype and seen people who seem to be dropping pounds before your eyes. So what’s going on? Could peptides for weight loss – the hottest topic in the health and wellness world right now – be the key to unlocking a healthier you? What are these peptides, exactly, and how do they work? 

We’re here to break it all down for you. 

What are Peptides for Weight Loss?

Let's start with the basics. 

Peptides are made up of amino acids (yes, those same building blocks of protein you learned about in biology class), and they play crucial roles in all sorts of cellular functions, from regulating hormones to controlling appetite. Think of peptides as your body's little messengers, sending signals to different parts of your body to keep everything running smoothly. Insulin is one example of a peptide your body uses to control your blood sugar levels.

Meet Semaglutide and Tirzepatide, the New Weight-Loss Wonders

Now, let's talk about two peptides in particular called semaglutide and tirzepatide. They sound fancy, right? Well, they kind of are!

Semaglutide is a type of peptide called a GLP-1 receptor agonist, and it's been causing quite a stir in the weight loss world. Semaglutide is being sold under brand names like Ozempic and Wegovy – names you’ve probably heard recently. These drugs work by mimicking the effects of a hormone called GLP-1, which helps regulate your appetite and control your blood sugar levels. 

Tirzepatide – which you may have seen marketed as Mounjaro or Zepbound – is what is called a “dual agonist.” Just like semaglutide it binds GLP-1 receptors, but it also binds another receptor – GIP. This dual activity enhances what GLP-1 alone accomplishes, adding the benefits of speeding up weight loss and increasing bone density. 

The Good and Not So Good

Studies have shown that people who take these drugs can lose significant amounts of weight – with pounds melting away like snow in the springtime. Clinical trials have found that, with consistent use, people taking weight-loss peptides can lose nearly 20% of their body weight in about 15 months.

The best part is – peptides aren’t just about shedding pounds. Their therapeutic potential goes much deeper. Take a look at the other things they can do: 

  • Protect the brain from inflammation 
  • Promote cardiac function 
  • Decrease fatty liver
  • Decrease systemic inflammation 
  • Reduce gastrointestinal dysbiosis 

In other words, they offer support throughout the body in multiple ways, including the release of excess weight that results from blood sugar dysregulation, overeating, inflammation (or any combination of these).

Pretty impressive list, right? So, you’re probably asking, what are the drawbacks? 

GLP-1 peptide agonists were only recently FDA-approved in 2021 to treat weight management (as opposed to diabetes) in adults. GLP-1 peptide agonists need to be taken consistently over time for people to see results, and some people report experiencing a “plateau effect” that limits the amount of weight they’re able to lose overall. Of course, it probably goes without saying that apart from making healthy lifestyle changes, the benefits of taking any weight loss drug are probably short-lived.

Other potential downsides – side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation are commonly reported at recommended doses. (If this is you, your doctor may alter your prescribed dose or recommend a daily probiotic or other supplements to help ease your discomfort.) And as previously noted, GLP-1 agonists need to be taken for the long haul. Which, considering their hefty price tag (monthly injections can cost upwards of $1,000), can mean a serious financial commitment. 

Benefits Beyond Weight Loss

Regardless, peptide therapy holds enormous potential, and not just for diabetes and weight loss. These tiny molecules show great promise for a variety of health concerns, from wound healing and arthritis to memory and neurological disorders. Research in these areas is ongoing, but what we do know is that peptide drugs work best when used as part of a foundational strategy for whole-body health. In other words, they’re not intended to be a silver bullet. Seeing long-lasting, transformative health benefits really depends on whether you’re also making healthy lifestyle choices. And that’s where your microbiome comes into play. 

Peptides and the Microbiome

Your body makes GLP-1 naturally in the walls of your small intestine. A balanced gut microbiome sets the stage for healthy nutrient absorption, healthy immune function, and healthy digestive function – all of which help your body make more efficient use of peptides. Beneficial microbes in your gut help initiate the release of GLP-1 agonist peptides, which in turn help regulate your appetite and blood sugar levels, as well as support health through all the other ways already mentioned.  

A Promising Future

Whether you're looking to slim down, manage a chronic condition, or just feel your best every day, peptides could be one key to unlocking a healthier you. We’re digging into the research and listening to experts to keep you informed as peptide therapies for weight loss and other health conditions advance.

So, let's raise a glass (of sparkling water, of course) to the power of peptides and the possibilities they hold for our future. Here's to feeling fabulous, inside and out! 

  • For more on peptides, come to our Women’s Health Summit on Thursday, July 18, and hear Dr. Tyna Moore’s talk: “Semaglutide Secrets: Weight Loss, Wellness, and the Truth About Risks.” 
    Register here