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How GLP-1s Affect Your Insulin to Help You Lose Weight


by Dr. Nancy Rahnama

Director of Health & Nurition

GLP-1s are a class of medications that are given to patients struggling with obesity. They are commonly known as glucagon-like peptide 1, mimic a hormone naturally produced in the body to cue fullness.

Today, GLP-1s are being used to great success for helping patients have long-term success with their weight loss efforts. In normal circumstances, 80% of people who lose weight regain it within the following 2 years - a sobering statistic. GLP-1s help make losing weight a little easier and make this typical weight regain much less likely.

GLP-1s and how they interact with insulin

GLP-1 helps the pancreas release appropriate amounts of insulin. 

Insulin helps transport glucose to the tissues to be converted into energy. At the same time, the GLP-1 also helps to slow down the progression of food from the stomach to the intestine, which can also control blood sugar levels.

The slow progression of food creates a feeling of fullness, often resulting in the patient feeling less of an urge to overeat.

Additionally, when the GLP-1 comes into contact with glucose, it signals the pancreas to secrete insulin. This process lowers the amount of sugar in the blood after a meal.

Excess blood sugar is usually stored as fat, and by reducing the blood sugar levels, it encourages weight loss and promotes better hemoglobin A1C levels as well.

GLP-1s also lower hepatic glucose output, helping lower blood sugar in the bloodstream. Lower blood sugar levels improve insulin resistance and facilitate fat burning.

By improving blood sugar levels, there can be an improvement in symptoms of fatigue, drowsiness, aches, pains, headaches, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, and even memory loss.

Is there anyone who should not be taking GLP-1 medication?

Doctors usually advise against taking GLP-1s if you’ve ever had pancreatitis, are pregnant or breast feeding.

How much weight do people usually lose on GLP-1s?

Weight loss figures depend on which GLP-1 medication you take and how much you ingest, but most people can expect to lose approximately 1.5 to 2.5 kilograms (3-5lbs) when taking these medications.

GLP-1s also reduce the speed at which food travels from the stomach to the small intestine, increasing satiety and resulting in fewer daily calories ingested. This is where GLP-1s shine when it comes to long-term weight loss.

 

If you’re struggling to lose weight, talk to your doctor about GLP-1s and whether they may be beneficial and safe for you to use as a part of your weight loss journey.

 


Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease. In addition to her private practice in Beverly Hills, she is also the co-founder and Director of Nutrition for Dr Nancy MD.

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