Semaglutide vs Liraglutide – Differences, Similarities, Working, and Effectiveness

Semaglutide vs Liraglutide: Which is Right for You?

Excessive weight gain and obesity are common issues that affect 70 million American adults. As a result, there has been an unending search for easy and effective weight loss solutions that can help shed extra pounds. Over the past years, multiple weight loss treatments have surfaced, claiming quick results. However, these treatments are not supported by medical research and are often detrimental to health

Semaglutide and Liraglutide are two popular weight-loss medicines with promising results and minimal side effects. FDA has approved both drugs for treating chronic obesity. Semaglutide and Liraglutide have been initially used to treat Type 2 Diabetes, but they have also shown promising results in reducing weight and treating chronic obesity. 

Let us explore how these medicines work, their effectiveness, and which is a better treatment option for you.

The Basics of Semaglutide

  • Semaglutide is the active ingredient found in Ozempic – which is a popular antidiabetic medicine. Semaglutide controls blood sugar levels and regulates insulin production, thereby helping individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Clinical trials and research have shown that Semaglutide’s interaction and effect on the body also make it an effective weight loss medication. 

Semaglutide works by imitating the function of GLP-1 – a naturally-occurring hormone. The body produces GLP-1 in response to food intake. GLP-1 curbs hunger and sends the body signals of satiation and fullness after having a meal. It also controls gastric emptying, i.e., how fast the food contents leave the stomach and enter the intestines. 

  • GLP-1 also stimulates insulin production when we eat something. Insulin controls blood sugar and directs glucose to cells, where it is utilized as energy rather than being accumulated as fat deposits. Semaglutide enhances the effect of GLP-1. It restricts calorie intake because the body does not feel hunger for extended periods. Fewer calorie intake results in gradual weight loss.

Semaglutide is administered via injection once per week. 

Who is Eligible for Using Semaglutide?

The use of semaglutide for weight loss is recommended for individuals who:

  • Are clinically obese, i.e., they have a BMI of 30 or above
  • Significantly overweight, i.e., they have a BMI of 27 or higher
  • Suffering from a medical condition that is caused by or exacerbated due to excess weight gain. 

The Basics of Liraglutide

  • Liraglutide is the active ingredient found in Saxenda – an antidiabetic medicine that treats Type-2 diabetes. Liraglutide is a glucogen-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. It is a prescription medicine that has shown promising results not only for treating diabetes but also for aiding sustained weight loss. 

Liraglutide works by slowing down gastric emptying, which promotes a feeling of fullness and suppresses appetite. As a result, the patient consumes fewer calories which can aid in gradual weight loss. 

  • Unlike Semaglutide, Liraglutide can be used as an anti-obesity medicine for children aged between 12 to 17. To get the best results, medical practitioners recommend regular exercise and eating healthier food along with the use of Liraglutide. 

Liraglutide is administered via injection on a daily basis. 

Who is Eligible for Using Liraglutide?

semaglutide vs liraglutide

The eligibility criteria for the use of Liraglutide are as follows:

  • Individuals with a BMI of 32 – 35 (moderately to severely obese).
  • Pre-diabetic patients with high blood sugar. 
  • Individuals who suffer from obesity-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease. 

GLP-1 receptors positively influence glycemic control and body weight. The intake of Semaglutide and Liraglutide reduces hunger, lowers blood sugar levels, and increases insulin production. While the working of both medicines is quite the same, there are some distinct differences between the two, which we have highlighted below.

Prescribed Dose

Both medicines are administered as injectables and prescribed at a low dosage initially. Doctors prescribe a gradual increase in the dosage of the drug. The dosage instructions for both medicines are as follows:

  • For Semaglutide, one injection of 0.25 mg is administered subcutaneously per week. The dosage remains the same for the first four weeks of the treatment. After that, the dosage is increased gradually. This allows the body to adjust to the medicine. A maximum dosage of 2.4 mg is recommended from week 17 and onwards. 
  • For the treatment of obesity in adults using Liraglutide, one injection of 0.6 mg is administered subcutaneously once a day. The dosage is gradually increased until it reaches the maximum dose of 3 mg from the 5th week of treatment. 
  • For the treatment of obesity in children, the same dosage schedule is applied. 

Effectiveness for Weight Loss

  • Semaglutide and Liraglutide are prescribed for safe and effective weight loss. For best results, medical practitioners recommend exercising regularly and eating a healthy balanced diet along with the intake of these medicines. Several studies and clinical trials have been conducted to determine which treatment is better for weight loss. 

While both drugs have shown promising results, Semaglutide is more effective in helping patients achieve their target goal. 

One such study was carried out in 2022 involving 300 obese adults. The participants were equally divided into two groups: A and B. Group A was treated using Semaglutide, while participants from Group B were injected with Liraglutide at the prescribed dose. After 68 weeks, both groups were examined to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. The results were as follows:

  • On average, group A participants lost up to 16% of their initial body weight. 
  • On the other hand, group B participants lost an average weight of 6%. 

Several other studies and clinical trials have indicated Semaglutide as a more effective treatment option. 

Side Effects 

Semaglutide and Liraglutide are both GLP-1 agonists. They interact with the human body in a similar fashion. The intake of these medicines causes some side effects – which are mild and usually subside as the body adjusts to the treatment. 

In most cases, the following side effects are expected during the nascent stage of the treatment:

  • Digestive system issues include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal cramps. 
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Temporary loss of hair

Semaglutide and Liraglutide are well-tolerated by most users, and more severe problems are less likely to occur. However, be mindful of the following serious side effects of these weight loss medicines:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Onset of depression 
  • Pancreatitis
  • Low blood sugar
  • Gallbladder issues

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