June 14, 2023

GLP-1s Done Right: Lifeforce's Approach to Weight Loss

photo of Allie Baker

Written By

Allie Baker

photo of Renae Thomas, MD, MPH

Medically Reviewed By

Renae Thomas, MD, MPH

Lifeforce Physician

photo of Vinita Tandon, MD

Medically Reviewed By

Vinita Tandon, MD

Lifeforce Medical Director

GLP-1s Done Right: Lifeforce's Approach to Weight Loss

It’s the weighty topic that everyone’s been talking about: Ozempic®, the injectable diabetes medication now being widely talked about for weight loss. 

Jimmy Kimmel joked about it at the Oscars. Everyone from Elon Musk to Khloe Kardashian have commented on it. It’s all over social media with hashtags like #ozempic and #ozempicweightloss garnering more than 700 million views and counting on TikTok alone.

Even if you’re not part of the TikTok generation, you’ve likely heard about Ozempic® — and other drugs in its category, called GLP-1s —  from news stories or friends. You may even know people on these medications, or be curious about them for yourself. You’re certainly not alone. 

Ozempic® prescriptions in the United States reached an all-time high in February 2023, with over 373,000 prescriptions filled, according to a J.P. Morgan report published by CNN. That's a 111% increase in just one year. The drug is in such high demand that there have been temporary nationwide shortages. 

GLP-1s caught on for a reason. “This new class of drugs are an example of medical science at its best — a way for people to achieve dramatic results and, in doing so, have a chance at a much higher quality of life,” says Lifeforce Co-Founder Dugal Bain-Kim. “However, they shouldn't be treated like a quick fix. They should be a pillar in a personalized program that also addresses the lifestyle factors and other deficiencies that contribute to weight gain."

Lifeforce has built just the program to do GLP-1s right. Unlike some companies who are capitalizing on this craze, Lifeforce is committed to achieving sustainable weight loss results for those who need it most. 

But before we get to how Lifeforce specifically is approaching GLP-1s, let’s back up and talk about what they are, who they’re meant for, and the research-backed benefits. We’re breaking down what you need to know on these breakthrough medications.

What Are GLP-1s? 

What is GLP-1?GLP-1 — which stands for glucagon-like peptide 1 — is a gastrointestinal peptide made up of 30 amino acids. It’s produced in your gut and released naturally in response to food intake. Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic® and similar drugs, is a synthetic form of GLP-1, according to Dr. Vinita Tandon, Lifeforce’s Medical Director and a board certified endocrinologist.  

This type of medication was originally designed to treat patients with type 2 diabetes because of their impact on insulin and blood sugar. “It helps your pancreas make more insulin,” explains Dr. Tandon. “It also reduces your liver’s production of glucagon, which can spike blood sugar. Overall, it helps with glucose and insulin balance.” 

A “Breakthrough” Medication 

Very quickly, patients and doctors noticed another upside: weight loss. According to one study, participants who took a semaglutide injection weekly, combined with lifestyle intervention, saw a 14.9% decrease in body weight over the course of 68 weeks.

This happens for a few reasons: “GLP-1 delays gastric emptying, so food stays in your stomach and you feel full longer,” explains Dr. Tandon. GLP-1 also affects hunger hormones. “It upregulates the hormone pathway that makes you feel full and downregulates the pathway that makes you feel hungry.” 

Dr. Tandon says many doctors are considering semaglutide a “breakthrough” treatment. “Many diabetic medications make you gain weight because they promote insulin,” she says. “Semaglutide is different in that, even though it increases insulin levels, you lose weight. Most people with type 2 diabetes struggle with weight, so you get a two-for-one benefit.” 

In December 2017, the FDA approved Ozempic® as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. In June 2021, they approved Wegovy®, which contains semaglutide like Ozempic®, just with different dosing. According to an FDA press release, Wegovy® is approved for “chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight with at least one weight-related condition (such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol), for use in addition to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity.” 

Man Playing BasketballWho GLP-1s Are For

“At Lifeforce, we believe that GLP-1 pharmaceuticals are for those who have really struggled with their weight for a long time and have tried other treatments,” says Dr. Tandon. 

She explains that in some people, “miswiring” in the brain can make weight loss much more challenging. “Typically, when you’ve eaten enough, you should get a signal to the brain that you’re full. That process is dysregulated for some people,” she says. Research suggests that once you gain weight to a certain point, signals in your hypothalamus may become damaged, causing you to no longer sense the hormones linked to satiety. 

For people who experience this, “even if they try conventional diets, exercise, or other medications, their weight will just yo-yo,” Dr. Tandon says. “GLP-1s can be a long-term therapeutic tool to combat this.” 

Biomarkers for Critical Nutrients

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

MADE EASIER

Who They’re Not For

We want to put a major emphasis on “long term.” GLP-1s have been getting a lot of hype as a quick fix to lose a few pounds fast. Beware of that buzz. 

“This shouldn’t be for cosmetic weight loss. It’s not short term,” Dr. Tandon says. “It's not just like, ‘Oh, use it for six months, get to your goal weight, and stop.’ If you stop it, there's a very high chance you will regain all of the weight you lost, if not more.” According to a 2022 study, most people gain back the majority of the weight they lost within one year of stopping semaglutide.

Research also shows that people have a tendency to lose a significant amount of fat-free mass or muscle mass while on a GLP-1. For already thin people, “you can lose healthy fat in your face, which makes you look gaunt,” says Dr. Tandon. (You may have heard of “Ozempic face”.) 

“You can also be at higher risk for nutrient deficiency and osteoporosis,” she says. “We would not prescribe it for thin people to get thinner.” 

Lifeforce's Take on GLP-1The Lifeforce Approach

So, who does Lifeforce prescribe GLP-1 to? “Our philosophy is aligned with the prescribing information,” says Dr. Tandon. In order to be eligible, you need to meet a certain BMI — 30 or above, or 27 with another specific medical condition such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, heart disease, or obstructive sleep apnea. Lifeforce requires that you must be over 18 years old, and you cannot have type 1 diabetes, poorly controlled diabetes, an eating disorder, a history of pancreatitis, or risk for medullary thyroid cancer, among other conditions that your Lifeforce clinician will review with you. 

With a GLP-1 prescription from Lifeforce, you will receive once-weekly, self-administered injections. Because it’s a long-term medication, we will typically adjust the dose monthly. “Once you hit your goal weight, you move to a maintenance dose and stay on that indefinitely,” says Dr. Tandon. 

A Team Behind You

This is all carefully monitored by your support team at Lifeforce. In addition to meeting with your Lifeforce clinician every three months as part of your Lifeforce Membership, you will also check in with a registered nurse even more frequently to manage your dosage and receive advice if you’re experiencing side effects.  

“The majority of side effects with GLP-1s revolve around the gut,” says Dr. Tandon. About 30% of patients experience abdominal issues such as nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. About 15% of people report headaches. (Very rare but serious side effects include gallstones and pancreatitis. For diabetics who are on insulin, blood sugar can drop with GLP-1s, so that needs to be carefully monitored.) 

If you're experiencing symptoms or have any concerns, your Lifeforce team has your back. “If you do feel nauseous, Lifeforce has Methylation to help with that. If you’re not getting enough dairy now that you’re on this medication, we can supplement you with Vitamin D + K,” says Dr. Tandon. “We can really help manage the patient’s experience. It’s such a comprehensive program.” 

A Holistic Look at Weight Loss

One of the key pieces of the program is working with your Lifeforce health coach on lifestyle shifts, in addition to pharmaceutical and nutraceutical support. “We don’t want to just treat you with medication,” says Dr. Tandon. “We also want to give you the tools and education on how to eat well, exercise, sleep well, manage your stress — all the things that interplay with metabolism and weight.” 

This holistic, data-driven, and personalized approach is what makes Lifeforce stand out — especially when it comes to GLP-1s. “What really sets us apart is that we check all your biomarkers every three months, so we’re constantly going to be monitoring your sugar, cholesterol, liver, and kidney as part of your Membership,” Dr. Tandon says. “That is the beauty of our program versus another program, where they may keep filling your prescription without ever seeing you, or touching base, or checking your labs. We’re on top of it, and we take a whole body approach.” 

For us, your health journey goes far beyond a fad. 

Interested in Learning More?

If you're a current Lifeforce member and think GLP-1 treatment might be right for you, your Lifeforce clinician can discuss your options during your next telehealth visit. Please note a prescription is required and the cost of this medicine through us is $270/month. If you have questions, we're happy to help at support@mylifeforce.com.Not a member yet? Learn more about the Lifeforce Membership here

Disclaimer: GLP-1 drugs carry risks and the information provided does not cover all safety information related to GLP-1 drugs. The only GLP-1 drug approved by the FDA for weight management is Wegovy®. Other GLP-1 drugs have been approved as diabetes medication and prescribed off-label for weight management. Learn more about the different GLP-1 medications by reviewing their prescribing information. Trademarks referenced herein held by their respective owners.

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=ee06186f-2aa3-4990-a760-757579d8f77b 

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=adec4fd2-6858-4c99-91d4-531f5f2a2d79

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=d2d7da5d-ad07-4228-955f-cf7e355c8cc0

This article was medically reviewed by: 

  • Renae Thomas, MD, MPH; ABFM Board Certified in Family Medicine, ABPM Board Certified in Public Health, & General Preventive Medicine; ABLM Board Certified in Lifestyle Medicine

  • Vinita Tandon, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Endocrinology and Metabolism 

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