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What are GLP-1 Agonists?

Originally approved by the FDA in 2008 to treat Type 2 Diabetes, GLP-1 medications have made great strides in the treatment of insulin resistant metabolisms & obesity, as well. 

GLP-1 stands for glucagon-like peptide-1. GLP1 is an intestinal hormone that your body releases after eating to increase insulin secretion. GLP-1 meds, also known as GLP-1 receptor agonists or GLP-1 Inhibitors, stimulate the release of insulin, which keep blood sugar levels normal . A notable side effect of GLP-1s is weight loss, which led to GLP-1s being tested as an anti-obesity drug. 

Why do GLP-1s lead to weight loss?

GLP-1s controls appetite and weight through a complex series of brain-gut reactions. GLP-1s work by activating GLP-1 receptors, which leads to the following effects:

  • Increased insulin production
  • Reduced glucagon release
  • Reduced appetite
  • Delayed gastric emptying

The increase in GLP-1 receptor activity makes the stomach empty slower and assists in regulating the brain’s hunger signals. This helps you feel more satisfied with fewer calories consumed, resulting in weight loss.  While taking GLP-1s, it is still recommended and encouraged to keep a healthy diet and consistent exercise routine.

The FDA approved two long-acting GLP-1s as anti-obesity medications:

  • Liraglutide (Saxenda)
  • Semaglutide (Wegovy™)

Even though semaglutide and liraglutide both treat type 2 diabetes, additional studies found that liraglutide and semaglutide can also reduce weight, regardless if you have type 2 diabetes or not! 

1/3 of Americans are overweight, according to the body mass index (BMI). Overweight individuals are those with a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25, while obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher . Obesity increases the risk of nerve and kidney damage due to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, and more.

You can reduce your risk of heart disease by losing 5% to 10% of your body weight if you are overweight.

In addition to promoting weight loss, both of these long-acting GLP-1s improved A1C test results more than short-acting GLP-1s .

Are GLP-1s covered by my insurance

Some insurance companies do offer coverage for GLP-1s. We encourage every new patient to call their insurance company and inquire if they cover any GLP-1s. Some insurances do require a PA. 

Some companies have resources available to check coverage: