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Natural Alternatives to Ozempic for Weight Loss

Since the Ultimate Nutrition Bible came out, we have been getting numerous questions on the new blockbuster GLP-1 agonist medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy. Popularized by the many celebrities who have reported taking them, they have taken the world by storm and have changed the dialogue on how we lose and maintain our weight….


Since the Ultimate Nutrition Bible came out, we have been getting numerous questions on the new blockbuster GLP-1 agonist medications such as Ozempic and Wegovy. Popularized by the many celebrities who have reported taking them, they have taken the world by storm and have changed the dialogue on how we lose and maintain our weight.

Before we dive in, this article is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice. We are all unique, and it is critical to speak with your healthcare provider prior to taking, or discontinuing, any medication. There are also no supplements that replace these specific medications. Our aim is to give you as much evidence-based and real-life context as possible. 

Because this is a new class of medications, we are still learning a lot about how they might help a variety of different conditions – not just weight loss. Keep reading to learn what you can do – either instead of, or alongside your prescribed medication – for life-long weight loss.

What Are Semaglutide Medications Like Ozempic and Wegovy?

While its popularity has exploded recently, Ozempic, which is produced by Novo Nordisk, has been on the market since 2017. In 2021, the same company gained FDA approval for Wegovy. Both Ozempic and Wegovy contain the same active ingredient – semaglutide. These medications belong to a growing class of drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 (or GLP-1 for short) receptor agonists.

Semaglutide and other GLP-1 agonists mimic the GLP-1, a small protein that your pancreas (the same organ that releases insulin) naturally produces. GLP-1 and this class of drugs help with:

  • Regulating blood sugar levels
  • Traveling to your brain and triggering feelings of fullness 
  • Stimulating the production of insulin
  • Inhibiting glucagon production
  • Slowing down the stomach’s emptying of content into the small intestine, which reduces appetite
  • Reducing food cravings to prevent overeating .

Insulin signals your cells to take up sugar from the bloodstream and bring it inside . Glucagon, a lesser-known hormone, opposes insulin and helps raise blood sugar levels when secreted . Normally, in diabetics, it’s beneficial to inhibit glucagon.

How Much Weight Can You Lose With Ozempic?

A study in JAMA looked at 408 patients who were prescribed semaglutide and found that these medications are very effective for lowering body weight . After 3 months of treatment with weekly injections of 1.7 mg or 2.4 mg, the average amount of weight lost was 14.8 pounds (5.9% of their initial body weight). 

After 6 months, weight loss increased to an average of 27.1 pounds (10.9% of their initial body weight) . Those with diabetes had slightly lower weight loss compared to those without, which is similar to findings from other studies.

A review study of over 4,000 participants found that, on average, those who took semaglutide experienced about a 10% drop in body weight, a 3.71 kg/m2 reduction in BMI, and around an 8 cm reduction in waist circumference .

So, there is no question about it – these medications are effective for reducing body weight. The bigger benefits seem to come from having higher baseline body weights. However, the drugs seem to be effective for weight loss regardless of the initial number on the scale.

Pros and Cons of Ozempic and Wegovy?

As with any prescribed medication, there are positives and negatives that come along with using them. Both medications have the big benefit of working on the brain to reduce food cravings, food addiction, and anxiety around food. But, they are not for everyone. 

Just Like Any Other Diet?

Wegovy and Ozempic are not magic injections, even though they can be very beneficial and sometimes necessary.

Remember, GLP-1 agonists work and fail just like any other diet–by creating a caloric deficit. You could still plateau and lose muscles without the right nutrition and exercise strategies. After you achieve your goals, if you revert to the same habits or don’t have a plan to keep the weight off, you’re still highly likely to regain the weight.

If you decide to take either medication for weight loss, you will likely need to continue taking them to keep the weight off – most people find that weight gain occurs relatively quickly once they stop . And, because of their widespread popularity, there have been medication shortages that could impact your ability to continue taking them.

Despite Ozempic and Wegovy being the same compound, there are differences when it comes to the pros and cons of taking them. Let’s break these down individually:


The Pros: 

Ozempic gained FDA approval in 2017 as a tool for managing diabetes, with an average weight loss of about 15 lbs in those who take it . Its benefits extend beyond weight loss, including :

  • Improving blood sugar markers 
  • Improving heart health
  • Reducing obesity-inducing inflammation by targeting the brain
  • Reducing food-related anxiety and obsession

Because it is a weekly injection, it can help keep people on track and prevent the need to remember to take medications daily. It can also be used in combination with other medications to help manage diabetes .

The Cons:

  1. Ozempic is expensive, costing around $1,029 per month without insurance
  2. It has side effects, many of which can be serious or long-lasting.

Mild side effects include :

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation 
  • Malnutrition
  • Ozempic face or skin sagging due to rapid fat loss

More severe, but rare, side effects include :

  • Pancreatitis
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Gastroparesis or paralyzed stomach that cannot move food through the digestive tract
  1. It also requires regular monitoring of blood sugar levels, with dose adjustments as needed, and is not allowed to be taken if you want to get pregnant .

Probably one of its biggest downsides though, is regaining the weight back once you stop taking it . This is the same caveat that exists with any diet or lifestyle program.


Wegovy is the newer semaglutide on the market, gaining FDA approval in 2021. Unlike Ozempic, Wegovy is indicated specifically to manage weight (not just managing diabetes). 


Compared to Ozempic, those who take it lose more weight – on average 35 pounds.


Wegovy is more expensive, costing on average $1,430 without insurance

It has similar side effects to Ozempic, with the most common being nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and headaches . It also requires regular monitoring, of body weight, to adjust the dose as needed. 

We are still studying the long-term safety and effectiveness of Wegovy, as it is still new, and is not allowed to be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding .

When Do the Pros Outweigh the Cons for These Medications?

Obesity and extra weight can be a really stubborn problem, and for some people, these medications can provide the breakthrough they need. Despite some of their downsides, they can help people with obesity lose weight, and this can have a big impact on their health. 

Beyond appearance, those with obesity and other related co-morbidities taking these medications can drastically improve their quality of life and increase their health span . These comorbidities include

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressures
  • Mobility issues related to heavier weights
  • Metabolic syndrome. 

By reducing their weight and helping to control food intake, the medication can drastically reduce their risk for complications from these conditions .

As with any medication, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to help better understand the factors that drive your weight. In the context of these medications, the benefits over other interventions can outweigh the side effects associated with them and help you live longer.

But, for those who are just looking to shed a few stubborn pounds, they may not be appropriate. This is especially true given the shortages, cost, side effects, and access issues facing many people who need them to help manage their health conditions.

Can You Lose Weight Without Ozempic and Wegovy?

Absolutely! It is possible to lose weight without medications like Ozempic and Wegovy. 

In fact, with or without these medications, it is critical to set healthy habits to help you maintain your weight loss over time. Studies find that lifestyle interventions, in combination with weight loss medications, set you up for long-term success

And, if you decide to try a more natural approach, you can achieve your goals and maintain your weight without the side effects that come along with these prescriptions.

What to Consider to Safely Reduce Appetite – A Natural Alternative to Ozempic for Weight Loss

Managing hunger and food cravings is crucial for weight loss success and keeping the weight off. While there are no natural solutions out there that deliver the exact same results as Ozempic and Wegovy, there are some things you can implement to help support weight loss. 

Often, they feel like more work but can have impacts that can extend beyond weight loss and help overall health. Some of these can also be used alongside GLP-1 agonists, helping set you up for healthy habits long term.

Find the Best Diet for You and Plan to Stay on It for Life

Everybody is different, and that means there is no “one size fits all” nutrition plan that will work for everyone. Finding a nutrition program that suits your lifestyle, preferences, and health needs is crucial for successful weight loss.

Losing weight fundamentally relies on consuming fewer calories than you expend. This might be easiest when you choose the best diet for you based on all of these factors.

In our Ultimate Nutrition Bible book and app, we help you determine your calorie needs and portions specific to you to ensure you are hitting appropriate calorie targets. 

Consider, also, working with an expert like a nutritionist to keep your plans reasonable and keep you accountable, especially if you’re taking medication.  

Many Western diets tend to be nutrient-sparse, and adopting a more well-rounded plan can help ensure you are getting all of the important vitamins and minerals to help support your efforts. Macronutrients are also important, and finding the right balance for you can make a big impact when it comes to sustainable weight loss.  

Optimizing Sleep and Treating Sleep Disorders

Something that deserves more attention when it comes to weight is the importance of proper sleep. Less than 6 hours of sleep per night is linked to higher BMI and other health conditions .

Sleep deprivation naturally makes people hungry and gain weight . Leptin (the fullness hormone) decreases and ghrelin (the hunger hormone) increases when you have poor sleep. 

This can lead to overeating and weight gain . But, by improving sleep quality and how long you can sleep, these hormone levels can balance out and promote better appetite control.

We also know that good sleep quality is key for optimal metabolic function. Poor sleep impairs glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which can cause more fat storage, and increased risks for obesity and type 2 diabetes. We see this in people who work shift work, which impacts their sleep regulation . By regulating sleep, we can promote efficient energy utilization and metabolic regulation.

Even after one night of poor sleep, stress and cortisol levels in the body rise . This is mediated by a hormone called cortisol, which increases with stress. High cortisol causes weight gain, especially in the midsection. Getting proper sleep can help balance out this response and help regulate weight.  

When it comes to the brain, quality sleep is key for good cognitive function, decision-making, and impulse control. This can help you make better food-related choices. And, we need sleep for our mental and emotional well-being. If you tend to be an emotional eater, sleeping well can be very helpful for your mental health and overall stress levels .

Finally, we need sleep to give us the energy we need to get through the day – and to stick to healthy habits like exercising and eating well. When you are well-rested, you are much more likely to feel motivated to get in those workouts and prepare nutritious meals .

Optimizing sleep quality and treating sleep disorders can have big impacts on weight loss success. The risk for sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, increases with body weight and can impede your success

If you struggle with sleep or often wake up tired, talking to a sleep specialist to diagnose and treat the sleep disorder can result in better weight loss and overall health.

A Lower-Carb or Ketogenic Diet

Following a low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diet can help promote weight loss independent of weight loss medications, by shifting the body’s primary fuel source from carbohydrates to fats . 

Ketosis naturally suppresses appetite, so you tend to eat less . People also tend to feel fuller when following these types of diets, because of the higher intake of protein and fat. Some people find that low-carb, high protein and some fat (but not ketosis) are enough to manage their appetite. 

Reducing carbohydrates, or ketogenic diets, tend to also help with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, as long as you’re in a caloric deficit  .

And, the fat that you burn can be visceral fat – the type of fat that tends to come along with increased risks for health conditions. Research suggests ketogenic diets target this deep abdominal fat, and improve overall body composition and metabolic health .

When it comes to metabolism, ketogenic diets seem to improve “metabolic flexibility”, which allows your body to switch between using carbs and fats for fuel

This adaptation helps enhance energy expenditure and promote fat loss, especially with lower calorie intakes and more exercise. This makes it a good adjunct to other lifestyle interventions for managing weight.  

Ketogenic diets might also help regulate hormones like leptin and peptide YY. Following a ketogenic diet pattern has been shown to help control hunger, reduce cravings, and improve appetite regulation. Participants in studies report feeling less hungry despite consuming fewer calories .

It can be challenging to stick to these types of diets, so working with a nutritionist or dietician can help keep you on track.

Increasing Dietary Fibers

We know how important fiber is for gut health, but it can also play key roles in weight regulation. Fiber-rich foods help with fat loss by:

  • By occupying your stomach, fibers can help you feel fuller for longer and make it easier to stick to lower-calorie diets .
  • Improving blood sugar control by slowing down carbohydrate absorption, gut movement, and stomach emptying. This promotes a more gradual release of nutrients into your bloodstream
  • Increasing leptin, the satiety hormone 
  • Feeding the growth of leanness-promoting bacteria and a less inflammatory gut flora
  • Certain types of fiber, called soluble fiber, can help lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and support heart health .

Many high-fiber foods are low in calories but high in volume and nutrient density. When you focus on these foods, you can increase how much food you are actually eating, without increasing your overall calories

Unlike fad diets or extreme calorie restriction, increasing fiber is a sustainable approach for supporting weight. Start small, gradually increase your intake to avoid digestive discomfort and remember to drink plenty of water when working to increase fiber in your diet.

Berberine vs Ozempic

Often touted as “nature’s Ozempic”, berberine also has newfound popularity in the weight loss community, even though it doesn’t provide all the benefits of Ozempic. 

Berberine is a compound that can be found in several different plants, like goldenseal barberry and Oregon grape, and has a long use in Eastern medicine. Outside of its traditional uses, there is emerging evidence that it might help support weight loss .

Key Similarities

In studies, berberine seems to help enhance insulin sensitivity. One study using 500 mg of berberine before each meal found remission of metabolic syndrome, reduced waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, and increased insulin sensitivity after three months

By helping better facilitate glucose into cells and reducing blood sugar, it can help promote better energy utilization and be especially helpful in restoring insulin sensitivity.

It also seems to impact fat metabolism, helping reduce fatty acid and cholesterol production in the liver and promoting fat breakdown for energy

Human studies have found this to be the case, with helping to regulate genes involved in absorbing cholesterol which can help maintain a healthy balance. It activates certain proteins, like PPAR- α, which increases the breakdown of fatty acids and helps improve cholesterol levels .

Berberine may help regulate mood through dopamine and serotonin . Some studies also find appetite-suppressing effects, which might translate to lower food intake and calorie consumption .

Berberine also works through gut health and the immune system. Berberine promotes good gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium and inhibits suboptimal ones . It can also help boost the production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids, which help metabolism and balance inflammatory response .

Key Differences:

Unlike Ozempic, Berberine improves the activation of an enzyme called AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) like exercise and caloric deficits . AMPK activation helps increase glucose uptake into cells, fat breakdown, and supports the mitochondria . This can all help increase energy expenditure and promote weight loss.

While there are many overlapping benefits, berberine is not the same as semaglutide medications like Ozempic and Wegovy. Berberine doesn’t have the same side effects and doesn’t suppress appetite or food anxiety to the same degree. If you consider taking Berberine, you will likely need to work a little harder to get similar benefits. 

Oftentimes, berberine is used in conjunction with other interventions to help get the best effect . While not a replacement for healthy lifestyle habits, it can be a useful complementary strategy to support your weight loss efforts.

Correcting Nutrient Deficiencies That Can Contribute to Increased Appetite

Your body requires essential nutrients to function properly, and deficiencies can make you hungrier and slow down your metabolism. 

Briefly, here are the most common deficiencies that might be hindering your weight loss:

  • Omega-3s : These healthy fats have key roles in regulating appetite and reducing inflammation. When you don’t get enough, they can dysregulate appetite hormones and increase hunger.
  • Vitamin D : Low levels of vitamin D are linked to larger appetites and unhealthy food cravings. Because vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body, it might play a role in regulating appetite hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • Magnesium : This trace element helps regulate insulin and glucose levels, which can influence hunger and appetite. When deficient, it might increase appetite and cravings for calorie-dense, sugary foods.
  • Protein : Protein helps to keep you feeling full and reduce appetite. When intake is low, it can lead to more hunger and cravings.
  • Zinc : Zinc plays roles in numerous metabolic processes, including appetite regulation. When deficient, it can disrupt appetite pathways and increase hunger.

For more in-depth information, click here to read our article on how nutrient deficiencies can impact the effectiveness of your weight loss efforts.

Address Traumas That Cause Food Obsession or Emotional Eating

Traumas remain one of the under-discussed issues for inability to lose weight, yo-yo dieting, and emotional eating. Adverse childhood experiences can significantly increase the risk of obesity by 46% .

Emotional eating can be a coping tool for dealing with negative emotions or triggers . Oftentimes, the foods that provide the most comfort are energy-dense and palatable (such as chips and sweets) . Over the long term, these can have negative impacts on body weight and other health-related factors.

Even sticking to a diet or exercise program itself can be triggering for some people, especially those with obesity. 

For many people with weight to lose, addressing these traumas and making their bodies feel safe may just be the one piece of the puzzle they need for weight loss . Even if you are using weight loss medications or other interventions, failing to address these things can impair your long-term success or lead to rebound weight gain.

There are things that can help and provide sustainable results! 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) interventions have led to an average 9% reduction in weight, making it one of the most effective psychological tools for weight management. 

CBT focuses on addressing dysfunctional thought patterns and behaviors related to eating and exercise, and helps develop healthier habits and coping mechanisms .

Emotional Freedom Techniques (or EFT) can also help. Like CBT, it is a psychological intervention that helps deal with emotional triggers related to food

A one-year study of 76 people found EFT helped lower weight, reduced depressive symptoms and restraint around food, and improved their sense of willpower over food choices . They lost, on average, 1 pound per week during the course, and even after the course was over they continued to lose about 2 pounds per month .

A newer modality, called neurofeedback, has also shown some promise when it comes to targeting food addiction behaviors. 

One study found neurofeedback helped reduce food cravings by making you more aware of appetite signals . This bottom-up approach can help address the root cause driving food behaviors, compared to relying on willpower and controlling food intake.  

We have an entire article devoted to how stress and trauma can impact health, which you can access here.


When it comes to losing weight, you have options outside of medications. It is possible to lose weight (and might even be more sustainable) when you focus on adopting healthier habits and targeting the root cause. 

Supplements and medications like semaglutide can help, but you still need to change your nutrition and lifestyle and have a long-term strategy. 

If you want a more in-depth understanding of a more holistic approach to weight loss, check out our Ultimate Nutrition Bible, which dives deep into how you can implement changes in your daily life that can support your weight loss journey and improve long-term health. 

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