Medical science and pharmaceutical innovation are constantly evolving. With this in mind, liraglutide and semaglutide are two drugs creating big waves in the weight loss industry. These two medications offer a multifaceted approach to address not only diabetes but also how your body loses weight.
Beyond their shared purpose, liraglutide and semaglutide belong to the same category of GLP-1 receptor agonists yet possess enough unique attributes to warrant a comprehensive exploration.
This article details what you can expect from taking liraglutide and semaglutide for weight loss and diabetes control. Moreover, we will examine the safety considerations surrounding their usage, dosages, and relative costs. The goal is to equip you with the insights to decide if one of these drugs is right for you.
Table of Contents:
- What Is Liraglutide?
- How Does Liraglutide Work?
- What Is Semaglutide?
- How Does Semaglutide Work?
- Semaglutide vs Liraglutide: What’s The Difference?
- Semaglutide vs Liraglutide: Dosing Schedules
- Liraglutide vs Semaglutide: Weight Loss
- Liraglutide vs Semaglutide: Diabetes
- Semaglutide vs Liraglutide: Side Effects
- Liraglutide vs Semaglutide: Cost
What Is Liraglutide?
Liraglutide is a medicine used to help people with type 2 diabetes stabilize their blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is when the blood sugar (glucose) level becomes abnormally high.
It happens because your body either doesn’t use insulin properly or doesn’t make enough of it. Insulin helps your body’s cells use sugar for energy. When sugar stays in your blood instead of entering your cells, it can lead to various health problems over time.
Liraglutide belongs to the category of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. These drugs mimic the effects of a natural hormone called GLP-1, which regulates blood sugar levels after meals. When you eat, GLP-1 stimulates insulin release from the pancreas, which helps lower blood sugar.
Liraglutide acts like GLP-1, encouraging the pancreas to release insulin when needed and reducing the amount of sugar produced by the liver. This results in better control of blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Additionally, liraglutide helps your weight loss journey by making you feel full and satisfied, leading to less eating. Weight loss is all about calories in and calories out. Liraglutide works by making it easier to limit how many calories you take in.
We discuss liraglutide’s role as an appetite suppressant in more detail in our article: Do Appetite Suppressants Work?
How Does Liraglutide Work?
As mentioned, liraglutide helps control the amount of sugar in our blood. It does this by telling our body to release insulin. It also slows down how quickly our stomach handles food and crushes our appetite.
Let’s break it down further:
- Blood Sugar Regulation: Liraglutide triggers insulin release from the pancreas, which helps transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells. This reduces blood sugar levels, improves overall glycemic control, and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Slowed Digestion: Liraglutide slows down the emptying of the stomach’s contents into the intestines. This helps in reducing the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream after meals, leading to more stable blood sugar levels.
- Appetite Control: By acting on the brain’s appetite-regulating centers, liraglutide helps individuals feel fuller and more satisfied after eating, reducing overeating and promoting weight loss.
- Liver Glucose Production: Liraglutide reduces the liver’s production of glucose, which is an essential factor in managing glucose levels, especially during periods of fasting. Early research has also shown improvement in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Weight Loss Promotion: Beyond its effects on diabetes management, liraglutide’s impact on appetite and digestion makes it an effective tool for weight loss and reducing body mass index. The slower stomach emptying and increased fullness contribute to reduced calorie intake and sizeable weight reduction.
It’s important to note that liraglutide is administered as a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) to ensure its direct entry into the bloodstream. An injection bypasses the digestive system, allowing for more controlled and efficient action.
What Is Semaglutide?
Semaglutide, like liraglutide, is a synthetic compound that belongs to a group of pharmaceuticals known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. These medicines are designed to help with type 2 diabetes and weight management.
Semaglutide also helps control glucose levels, insulin release, appetite, and how fast our stomach digests food, making it helpful in dealing with diabetes and chronic weight management issues.
You might have heard of semaglutide by its brand names, Ozempic and Wegovy. Ozempic is mainly used to manage diabetes, while Wegovy is designed to help with weight loss. Both versions are given through shots under the skin. The cool thing is that you only need to take them once a week, which makes things more convenient.
Semaglutide is currently one of the hottest drugs on the planet for its weight loss effects. Some have even called it a “miracle” weight loss drug. By controlling blood sugar, improving how insulin works, making you feel full, and slowing down digestion, semaglutide offers a comprehensive approach to weight loss.
As we dive into its features, perks, and things to think about, we’ll see how semaglutide has the potential to transform how we deal with diabetes and achieve lasting weight loss.
If you’re interested in learning more about two different forms of semaglutide, head to our article: Ozempic vs Rybelsus: Which One Is Better?
How Does Semaglutide Work?
Semaglutide works very similar to liraglutide. It is like an intelligent helper for your body, controlling blood sugar, appetite, and weight control.
Let’s take a simple look at how it works:
- Blood Sugar Control: When you have diabetes, your sugar levels can go haywire. Semaglutide steps in and tells your body to release more insulin. Insulin acts like a key, letting sugar into your cells, which helps lower sugar levels in your blood.
- Slow and Steady Digestion: Semaglutide helps slow down the speed at which your stomach empties. This means sugar enters your bloodstream more gradually, preventing those quick spikes in sugar levels.
- Fullness: Sometimes, our brains don’t get the message that we’re full, and we eat more. Semaglutide communicates with your brain to signal it’s full sooner so you don’t overeat.
- Weight Loss Support: By blunting appetite, semaglutide makes it easier to control your eating habits leading to weight loss and reducing body mass index.
In a nutshell, semaglutide is like a helper that talks to your body and brain to keep your sugar levels steady, make you feel full faster, and support your weight goals. It’s given as a shot and gets to work helping you manage diabetes and keep your weight in check.
Semaglutide vs Liraglutide: What’s The Difference?
Obviously, as we have already discussed, there are a ton of similarities between semaglutide and liraglutide. Most notably, both drugs help control blood sugar and can aid in weight loss.
The main difference is how often you take them. Semaglutide is usually taken once a week, while liraglutide is once daily. Also, semaglutide tends to be stronger, so you might need a lower dose than liraglutide.
Let’s take a closer look.
Both medications can have long-term benefits, so you may need to take them for quite a while – even for the rest of your life – to keep enjoying the positive effects. However, if you are taking them for weight loss, once you reach your goal, you can transition off of it.
For semaglutide: It’s usually taken once a week, which is nice because you only get a shot one time a week. You’ll likely keep taking it for as long as your doctor recommends to manage your diabetes or weight.
For liraglutide: It’s typically taken once daily, so you have to give yourself a shot every day. Just like with semaglutide, you’ll likely keep using it as long as your doctor suggests to control your diabetes or weight in check.
Here is a weekly breakdown of the standard dosing schedule. Please note that Saxenda is a form of liraglutide, while Wegovy and Ozempic are forms of semaglutide.
Liraglutide vs Semaglutide For Weight loss
Both liraglutide and semaglutide are very effective weight loss treatments, particularly if you have excess body weight. As mentioned, in addition to controlling blood glucose, they reduce appetite. Dieting is hard, and being unable to stick it out long-term derails most people’s fat loss efforts. Using liraglutide and semaglutide as an appetite suppressant makes them so effective for weight loss.
Although both are effective, the preliminary research tends to favor semaglutide. A 2022 study comparing the two drugs shows participants in the 2.4mg semaglutide treatment group have lost almost 16% of their body weight, compared to just over 6% in the 3mg liraglutide group1.
Here is one Reddit user’s experience with semaglutide:
“7 weeks and down 23 pounds. I workout 6 days a week and eat what I want for the most part… My portions are naturally much smaller. I was on .25 for 4 weeks then on .5 dose since then. I won’t be increasing the dose as the .5 is working so well. I’ve never ever ever lost weight this easily. Love this med. Starting weight 200 pounds and now at 177 pounds!” (source)
You can learn even more about the role semaglutide plays in weight loss in our article: How Much Weight Can You Lose on Semaglutide?
You can find plenty of satisfied people taking liraglutide as well. Here is a Reddit user who is thrilled: “I’m almost 8 weeks in. I started at 207 and I’ve lost 16 pounds so far. Not too fast, but still steady in terms of loss. I’m thrilled!” (source)
Interested in the appetite suppressant aspect of each weight loss medication? You can learn about more appetite suppressants by checking out our article: 7 Best Appetite Suppressants!
Liraglutide vs Semaglutide for Diabetes
Both semaglutide and liraglutide are effective medications for managing diabetes, but the choice between them depends on various factors, including your individual needs, preferences, and your doctor’s recommendation.
If you prefer fewer injections and are looking for a medication that helps with diabetes and weight management, semaglutide might be a good choice. However, if you’re comfortable with daily injections or prefer a slightly milder approach to weight management, liraglutide could be a suitable option.
Ultimately, your doctor is the best person to guide you. They will consider your medical history, any chronic disease, health status, insulin sensitivity analysis, and other factors to recommend the medication that aligns with your needs and goals.
It’s important to discuss your options and any concerns with your healthcare provider to make the right decision for you.
Semaglutide vs Liraglutide: Side Effects
As with any drug, both liraglutide and semaglutide have some side effects. Most are minor, like nausea, bloating, cramping, and constipation. However, in rare cases, there is an increased risk of thyroid cancer while taking liraglutide2.
These medications are generally considered safe for managing diabetes and weight loss. They can and have helped many people, but like all medicines, they are only suitable for some.
Talking to your doctor before starting any new medication is really important. They’ll help you understand if semaglutide or liraglutide is a good choice, considering your health, needs, and any other medications you might be taking.
They’ll also monitor how you’re doing and help manage any side effects you might experience. Your safety and well-being are their top priority.
Liraglutide vs Semaglutide: Cost
Regarding cost, here’s a general overview, though remember that medication prices can change and vary based on location, insurance coverage, and pharmacy discounts.
- Semaglutide (Ozempic): In the US, Ozempic costs about $800 to $1000 per month without insurance. But many people have insurance that helps pay for it.
- Liraglutide (Victoza): In the US, Victoza might be around $1000 to $1500 per month without insurance. Insurance can lower this cost.
In the US, most insurance plans cover these meds if needed. But how much they cover can be different. Some plans pay a lot, while others might require you to pay more.
Prices and coverage can be really different outside the US. Some countries have cheaper meds because of their healthcare systems. The names of the meds might be different too.
Ask your doctor and insurance about costs. They’ll know the details. If the price worries you, your doctor might have other options to suggest. It’s always good to talk with them to determine your best plan.
Here are a few answers to common questions about liraglutide and semaglutide.
Can you lose weight in one month of semaglutide?
Many people have experienced significant weight loss in only one month of using semaglutide.
Do you gain weight back after stopping semaglutide?
Weight regain is possible after stopping semaglutide if healthy lifestyle habits aren’t maintained; however, if you continue dieting and exercising, you can maintain your reduced baseline body weight after stopping the drug. To ensure the weight stays off, follow one of these workout splits and this weight loss meal plan.
Does semaglutide get rid of belly fat?
Semaglutide does not explicitly target belly fat but can contribute to weight loss, possibly reducing belly fat.
Is liraglutide better than Ozempic for weight loss?
Liraglutide (Saxenda) and semaglutide (Ozempic) are effective for weight loss, but individual responses may vary. Research shows semaglutide is better than liraglutide for weight loss.
Can you take Ozempic and Victoza at the same time?
Due to potential interactions, combining Ozempic (Semaglutide) and Victoza (Liraglutide) is not recommended.
Is Victoza insulin?
No, Victoza (liraglutide) is not insulin. It’s a GLP-1 receptor agonist that helps manage glucose levels.
Can you take Wegovy and Saxenda together?
Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) are not recommended to be taken together since they are similar.
Semaglutide vs Liraglutide: Final Thoughts
To sum it up, both semaglutide and liraglutide help manage diabetes and even weight loss. They work slightly differently, like how often you take them and how strong they are for controlling blood sugar and appetite.
But the best choice depends on what you and your doctor think is right for you.
Talking to your doctor is crucial to help you select the one that fits your needs. Regardless of your choice, both offer plenty of benefits to help you live a healthier and happier life.
Interested in learning more about the role semaglutide plays in weight loss? Check out our article: How Much Weight Can You Lose on Semaglutide?
- Rubino, D. M., Greenway, F. L., Khalid, U., O’Neil, P. M., Rosenstock, J., Sørrig, R., Wadden, T. A., Wizert, A., Garvey, W. T., & STEP 8 Investigators (2022). Effect of Weekly Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Daily Liraglutide on Body Weight in Adults With Overweight or Obesity Without Diabetes: The STEP 8 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA.
- Funch, D., Mortimer, K., Ziyadeh, N. J., D Seeger, J., Zhou, L., Ng, E., Ross, D., Major-Pedersen, A., Bosch-Traberg, H., Gydesen, H., & Dore, D. D. (2021). Risk of Thyroid Cancer Associated with Use of Liraglutide and Other Antidiabetic Drugs in a US Commercially Insured Population. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity : targets and therapy.