“Fasting and Wegovy”: Elon Musk uses a new weight loss drug

Elon Musk recently responded to a tweet questioning his own “fit, ripped and healthy” physique with a few tweets stating “Fasting…and Wegovy”. But what is Wegovy and how does it work?

Trigger Warning: Discusses weight loss and unhealthy

Wegovy, also called Ozempic, has traditionally been used as an injectable weight loss drug for type 2 diabetics or people with a BMI over 30 (also categorized as obese). While it has been proven to reduce patients’ weight by an average of 35 lbs, patients are also prescribed healthy diets and fitness plans. The goal of practicing healthy living alongside treatment is to get patients to maintain their weight independent of the drug.

Time for a science lesson…

The active ingredient in Wegovy is semaglutide, which is an artificial version of the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This hormone is produced by the proglucagon gene in L cells after eating and released into the small intestine. GLP-1 stimulates the glucose-dependent release of insulin from the pancreas, which takes the sugars into your cells.

At the same time, GLP-1 prevents the release of glucagon, which causes the body to break down the sugar and fats stored in your cells to raise blood sugar levels. It also suppresses the liver’s production of glucose, a process called gluconeogenesis. Through these mechanisms, GLP-1 plays a critical role in regulating blood sugar levels.

Diabetics have high blood sugar levels and in some type 2 diabetics the natural production of GLP-1 is reduced. This means that the patient’s blood sugar level must be closely monitored and adjusted with insulin injections. Taking Wegovy essentially means more GLP-1, which means more insulin, which allows the cells to open channels and remove sugar from the blood, while also reducing the amount of sugar released back into the blood.

In addition to its effects on hormone levels, GLP-1 has also been shown to slow gastric emptying. Therefore, patients taking Wegovy will feel full longer after eating, leading to a decreased appetite. This added effect has been targeted by the “dieting industry” as a way to lose weight with little effort beyond changing your diet and fitness routine.

How is Wegovy given?

Typical diabetic treatments include taking insulin by injection or, more recently, using an electronic tethered or patch pump. Type 2 diabetes treatments are inherently different, as the disease can be put into remission by losing weight. Current NHS options are healthy eating, weight loss surgery or drug treatments such as Wegovy.

Wegovy is given by self-injection once a week and the body’s tolerance to the drug is controlled by increasing the dose every few weeks for five months until the maximum amount is reached. This level is then maintained for the rest of the treatment. Wegovy patients lose most of their weight in the first 20 weeks of taking the drug, so it’s a long treatment process.

What does this mean for patients?

The use of slimming products against medical advice is of course unhealthy. In this case, Elon Musk was taking a drug intended for overweight type 2 diabetes while at a normal weight. Consequently, the recent media coverage of Wegovy (Ozempic) has led to a shortage of medicines in the NHS due to an increasing number of patients requesting them.

Wegovy is produced by only one company, Novo Nordisk, and they alone cannot meet the rising demand. Novo Nordisk released a public statement detailing a plan to use “contracted manufacturing organizations” to increase production, which will come online in the first half of 2023. this drug is left untreated.

Unhealthy eating habits in the media

Elon Musk is just one of many people in the public eye who have gone to great lengths in their quest to look good or are guilty of promoting unhealthy eating habits.

Kim Kardashian managed to lose an unhealthy 21 pounds in 2 weeks for the 2022 MET Gala. The Kardashian clan has previously participated in paid ads for weight loss teas and appetite suppressant lollipops. These ads were met with widespread criticism online, given the family’s influence on young women.

Kate Moss was quoted with her personal mantra in it Women’s clothing daily in 2009, “Nothing tastes as good as lean feels”. She has since tried to distance herself from this statement.

Zac Efron dropped to 5% body fat for his role as an ex-Olympic swimmer in Baywatch by “eating only organic protein and leafy greens and following a strict exercise regimen for months.” For reference, male athletes are said to have anywhere from 6-13% body fat, according to the American Council on Exercise.

For his role in the witcher, Henry Cavill chose to go on a dehydration diet in the days leading up to topless scenes. He described allowing himself a decreasing amount of water for three days to get his “skin really thin so that it sits on the muscles”.

On the more experimental side, celebrities like Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley openly discussed eating clay as part of a detox diet. There is no scientific evidence that taking clay removes toxins from the body.

There is a wealth of expensive personal trainers, dietitians, nutritionists and doctor’s prescriptions available, all selling the “on trend” bodies. While a focus on health and wellness is something to be celebrated, the pressure to look good can be incredibly damaging, especially if the ideal body type calls for a weight loss drug or photoshop.

To learn more about managing your weight through a healthy lifestyle, visit this NHS website.

“Fasting and Wegovy”: Elon Musk uses a new weight loss drug

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