As women explore graceful aging, many factors including hormonal changes and metabolic health can impact the journey; specifically pertaining to weight. In the pursuit of optimal wellness, the use of semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist has hit center stage, especially in the media. Just recently the Wall Street Journal published a piece about the mechanism of action while the New York Times has been publishing many pieces about efficacy and projected utilization in the medical space for a while now. I take my role very seriously as as your scientific simplicity strategist.
So let's delve into how semaglutides work, explore the potential benefits, and illuminate the considerations to keep in mind when contemplating your personal decisions around long-term use. Additionally, let's discuss custom-tailored nutrition and lifestyle strategies that complement the use of semaglutides if they are being utilized.
Semaglutides 101: Semaglutides work by mimicking the effects of GLP-1 and GIP hormones, which work collectively to enhance insulin secretion, suppress glucagon release, and promote feelings of fullness. This mechanism not only helps regulate blood sugar levels but also aids in reducing appetite and promoting weight loss.
GLP-1: stands for glucagon-like peptide 1. It is secreted in the GI tract when we eat. This mighty hormone hero helps to keep our blood sugar levels in check by doing two big things: first, it tells our pancreas to produce insulin, informing cells to absorb the sugar in our blood; and second, it tells our liver to slow down the release of glucagon, another hormone hero that does the opposite of insulin by breaking down protein to increase sugar levels in our blood. Collectively, GLP-1 is our body's natural built-in blood sugar regulator.
GIP: stands for glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide. Similar to GLP-1, GIP also activates in our GI tract when we eat signaling the pancreas to release insulin and helping our body manage the blood sugar levels.
GLP-1 and GIP are especially important for people with type 2 diabetes who have trouble managing their blood sugar. And semaglutides mimic these hormones not only helping with blood sugar regulation but also with weight loss. Research is also illuminating these hormone "twins" as appetite suppressors, so people on these drugs feel less hungry, eat less, and subsequently lose weight.
Semaglutide's attractive qualities
Knowing how semaglutides work, it's no surprise they boast the following qualities:
Weight Management: Semaglutide has demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in promoting weight loss.
Blood Sugar Regulation: Improved glycemic control can be particularly beneficial for women entering perimenopause and menopause, as hormonal fluctuations may impact insulin sensitivity.
Cardiovascular Health: Some studies suggest that semaglutide may have positive effects on cardiovascular health markers such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Appetite Control: Semaglutide's appetite-suppressing effects can support portion control and healthier eating habits, contributing to long-term weight management.
Cons to Consider
Drugs are never without their side-effects and semaglutides are no exception. As you consider whether or not to put a semaglutide in your "toolbox" make sure to have other tools on board for the following:
Loss of lean muscle mass: Long-term use of semaglutide may be associated with the loss of lean mass which is important for overall strength and bone health. Special attention should be given to preserving lean muscle through targeted dietary choices and exercise. Dr. Peter Attia commented on this 2021 study recently illuminating that patients lost more than 34 lbs in total, including 25.6 lbs of lean mass and just 8.4 lbs of fat. This may be due to appetite suppression preventing optimal protein intake for muscle maintenance.
Inhibited nutrient absorption: Semaglutide may affect nutrient absorption, potentially leading to deficiencies over time. Regular monitoring of nutrient levels and a nutrient-dense diet are essential.
Gastrointestinal distress: Some individuals may experience gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea or diarrhea when initiating semaglutide. This can impact dietary choices and overall well-being.
Supporting the Body Through Food and Lifestyle Design
As you navigate whether or not to weave a semaglutide into your life, marinate in these very approachable ways to support your body comprehensively.
Protein Intake: Adequate protein intake is essential for maintaining lean mass. Incorporate sources like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and plant-based proteins into your meals. Striving for at least 25 g of protein per plate for women is a wonderful trailhead to adequate protein intake.
Resistance Training: Engaging in regular resistance and strength training exercises to preserve muscle mass and support bone health is a non-negotiable. It will always be a very important facet of aging gracefully, semaglutide on board or not.
Mindful Eating: Practice mindful eating techniques to enhance awareness of hunger and fullness cues, promoting healthier eating patterns.
While the potential benefits of semaglutides are compelling, it's essential to weigh them thoughtfully against these targeted considerations and adopt a comprehensive approach to support the body's needs. By combining the targeted use of semaglutide with mindful nutrition, regular resistance training, and deep body awareness, you can optimize your well-being with or without a drug-driven catalyst. You are powerful and strong. Know that!
Disclaimer: Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication or making significant changes to your health regimen.
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