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Debunking the Semaglutide and Lean Muscle Mass Myth

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Charles Mok

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Misinformation in the Media 

There’s a lot of misinformation circulating about semaglutide (Wegovy, Ozempic) and its impact on lean muscle mass. Scientific evidence shows that semaglutide does not lead to a significant loss of lean muscle mass. 

Semaglutide has been shown to result in substantial weight loss—up to 15–17% of body weight over a year in major studies.

However, these studies didn’t specifically investigate changes in lean body mass. To address this, researchers have used advanced methods like scans and tests to measure changes in fat and lean muscle mass. 

What Do The Studies Show 

A 2020 study revealed that participants experienced reductions in visceral fat and fat mass without any notable decrease in lean muscle mass after 26 weeks of weekly semaglutide administration.

Importantly, although some lean muscle mass may decrease during overall weight loss, the ratio of lean muscle mass to fat mass improves, leading to a favorable health outcome. 

Another 2020 study of 178 people over nearly a year found that fat-free mass (a measure of lean body mass) increased as a proportion of weight, even as patients lost weight over the study period. The loss of lean muscle mass was insignificant and comparable to what is typically expected with weight reduction. 

A third study replicated these findings, with total and visceral fat mass decreasing and the proportion of lean body mass increasing. 

Key Takeaways 

The key takeaway is that while there may be a decrease in lean muscle mass during weight loss (as the need to support excess weight diminishes), the ratio of lean muscle mass to fat mass is enhanced. This is a marker of better health. 

Despite the overwhelming evidence, certain prominent experts assert that semaglutide induces excessive loss of lean muscle mass, based on unfounded beliefs that individuals become “fatter” during weight reduction, which is not supported by data. There is no study data to support these claims.

This misinformation could discourage individuals from using semaglutide for significant weight loss and to reduce the risks associated with cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and other health issues. 

The benefits of semaglutide are firmly established. It results in significant weight loss, reduces addictive behaviors, and improves cardiovascular health so much that the FDA approved it for the primary prevention of cardiac events. Do not allow unfounded fears about lean muscle mass to hinder you from experiencing potentially transformative weight loss and improved health. 

Want to learn more? Listen to Dr. Mok’s Inside the Cure Episode on debunking semaglutide myths

Charles Mok

Dr. Charles Mok

About Charles Mok

Dr. Charles Mok received his medical degree from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Chicago, Illinois in 1989. He completed his medical residency at Mount Clemens General Hospital, Mt. Clemens, Michigan. He has worked with laser manufacturing companies to improve their technologies; he has performed clinical research studies and has taught physicians from numerous other states. His professionalism and personal attention to detail have contributed to the success of one of the first medical spas in Michigan.

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