Best 10 Semaglutide Natural Alternatives for Weight Loss to Consider

Obesity and overweight affect increasing numbers of people, and for some, diet and exercise aren’t enough. A broad range of drug interventions can help.

The 2023 report from the World Obesity Federation estimates that the economic impact of overweight and obesity will surpass $4.3 trillion annually by 2035. In the U.S., the CDC reports the prevalence of obesity in adults was 41.9% measured from 2017 to March 2020. This represented an increase from 30.5% from 1999 to 2000. The estimated annual medical costs were roughly $173 billion in 2019 dollars.


Prescriptions for semaglutide have doubled since mid-2021, rising to more than 1.2 million. In April 2023, a spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, maker of semaglutide, said the drugs are now available in pharmacies nationwide. Semaglutide is sold under the name Ozempic as a diabetes drug and under the name Wegovy as a weight loss prescription drug.

Wegovy has recently boomed in popularity for its use to help people lose weight... fast. Celebrities and public figures have admitted they're taking it. Instagram influencers are showing off remarkable before and after photos. It's been called "TikTok's favorite weight loss drug." As one doctor said, "we haven't seen a prescription drug with this much cocktail and dinner chatter since Viagra came to the market."

If you’re wondering what Semaglutide is and its potential natural alternatives, then we have you covered.  

What is Semaglutide?

Semaglutide (Wegovy, Ozempic, Rybelsus) is a medicine used for weight loss in specific patients, and to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke in type two diabetes patients. Semaglutide is a GLP-1 agonist and works by increasing insulin release, lowering the amount of glucagon released, delaying gastric emptying and reducing appetite.

Ozempic is a brand name for the generic medication called semaglutide, which the FDA approved in 2017. Ozempic is in a class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists. Ozempic and Wegovy are both semaglutide, but Wegovy, which is approved for weight management, is a higher dose.

GLP-1 receptors in your pancreas help increase insulin secretion while reducing the secretion of glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar levels. GLP-1 receptor agonists activate these receptors to help lower blood sugar levels.

Ozempic is a non-insulin injectable medication for type 2 diabetes. The typical starting dose of Ozempic is 0.25 milligrams once weekly for four weeks, then 0.5 milligrams weekly for at least four weeks. If blood sugar targets aren’t being met with 0.5 milligrams weekly, the dose can gradually be increased to a maximum of 2 milligrams weekly.

Ozempic may promote weight loss because it helps reduce hunger and promotes fullness by slowing stomach emptying (2). Slowed stomach emptying can also reduce spikes in blood sugar levels.

Semaglutide is sold under the name Ozempic as a diabetes drug and under the name Wegovy as a weight loss prescription drug.

According to GoodRx, a month's prescription of Wegovy costs from $1,300 to $1,500, depending on where you purchase it.

Natural alternatives to Semaglutide (Ozempic)

1. Berberine

Berberine is a compound we can find in some plants like European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, Phellodendron, and tree turmeric. Berberine is a natural alternative for treating insulin resistance and high blood sugar.

Berberine has received a lot of media attention as it gains momentum on social media as a weight loss supplement. Berberine is a compound that's extracted from goldenseal, barberry, Oregon grape and tree turmeric. It has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine for nearly 2,000 years.

2022 systematic review of the literature evaluated randomized controlled trials of adults who were given berberine supplementation. The pooled results demonstrated that berberine did reduce insulin levels and the optimal dose given in these studies was 1 gram per day. The data from the systematic review in 2022 showed that berberine could help improve insulin sensitivity and may therefore influence weight loss.

According to another small study on people with metabolic syndrome (a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes), berberine improved insulin sensitivity and reduced participants’ waist circumference (5). 

Waist circumference is associated with insulin resistance. Therefore, reducing waist size can indicate improving insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

A pilot study directly compared berberine and metformin (a popular pill used to treat diabetes) for their ability to help treat symptoms of type 2 diabetes (6).

The researchers found that berberine produced identical results as metformin in improving blood glucose metabolism. Berberine may help promote weight loss by improving insulin resistance.

You can take berberine in supplement form at a dose of up to 1.5 grams daily. However, the studies on berberine tend to be six months or less, so it’s not as clear how safe it is to take the maximum dose indefinitely.

According to many studies, berberine is well-tolerated. However, it can interfere with some medications, including oral chemotherapy, high blood pressure medications, blood thinners, cholesterol medications, immunosuppressive drugs, and pharmaceutical diabetes treatments (US News). Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid berberine. Other side effects can include constipation, diarrhea, low blood sugar, nausea and vomiting.

Related: Best Berberine Supplements

2. Glucomannan

Glucomannan is a type of fiber derived from an Asian plant called Konjac.

How it works: Glucomannan absorbs water and becomes gel-like. It "sits" in your gut and promotes a feeling of fullness, helping you eat fewer calories (source).

Effectiveness: Three human studies showed that glucomannan, combined with a healthy diet, can help people lose 8-10 pounds (3.6-4.5 kg) of weight in 5 weeks (Source).

Other benefits: Glucomannan is a fiber that can feed the friendly bacteria in the intestine. It can also lower blood sugar, blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and is very effective against constipation (SourceSourceSource).

Side effects: It can cause bloating, flatulence and soft stools, and can interfere with some oral medications if taken at the same time.

3. Caffeine and Slimming Coffee Products

Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world (Source).

It is found naturally in coffee, green tea and dark chocolate, and added to many processed foods and beverages.

Caffeine is a well known metabolism booster, and is often added to commercial weight loss supplements.

How it works: Short-term studies have shown that caffeine can boost metabolism by 3-11%, and increase fat burning by up to 29% (SourceSourcesourcesource).

Effectiveness: There are also some studies showing that caffeine can cause modest weight loss in humans (SourceSource).

Side effects: In some people, high amounts of caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, jitteriness, irritability, nausea, diarrhea and other symptoms. Caffeine is also addictive and can reduce the quality of your sleep.

The best sources of caffeine are quality coffee and green tea, which also have antioxidants and other health benefits.

The coffee diet is a relatively new diet plan that’s rapidly gaining popularity. It involves drinking several cups of coffee per day while restricting your calorie intake. Some people have reported short-term weight loss success with the diet. However, it has some significant downsides.

The coffee diet encourages you to drink at least 3 cups (720 ml) of coffee per day while restricting calorie intake.

Though it may result in short-term weight loss, it’s not a healthy diet in the long run.

It can lead to weight regain and adverse effects from excessive caffeine intake. For safe and healthy weight loss, you should avoid restrictive programs, such as the coffee diet, in favor of more sustainable plans.

What about caffeine supplements and slimming coffee products? There are many coffee supplements and coffee slimming products available online. If you are already drinking a cup or two cups of coffee a day, it may not be necessary for you to take caffeine supplements or slimming coffee products. However, if you do intend to take them, do not go overboard as they may lead to side effects if taken excessively.

As mentioned above, it could be useful in the short term but the long term solution is to have a sustainable and healthy weight loss program.

4. Green Tea Extract

Green tea extract is a popular ingredient in many weight loss supplements.

This is because numerous studies have shown the main antioxidant in it, EGCG, to aid fat burning.

How it works: Green tea extract is believed to increase the activity of norepinephrine, a hormone that helps you burn fat (source).

Effectiveness: Many human studies have shown that green tea extract can increase fat burning and cause fat loss, especially in the belly area (SourceSourceSourcesource).

Side effects: Green tea extract is generally well tolerated. It does contain some caffeine, and may cause symptoms in people who are caffeine sensitive. However, Green tea extract supplements have been linked to rare cases of liver damage. Green tea extracts might make liver disease worse. Talk to your doctor before taking a green tea extract. Tell your doctor if you have signs of liver damage such as yellowing skin, dark urine, or abdominal pain. Keep in mind that drinking green tea as a beverage is normal amounts is still probably safe. But despite all the health perks that come with that cup, downing too many in a day can actually make some people sick. This is exactly what happened to one 16-year-old girl after she started slurping down three cups of Chinese herbal green tea a day over three months as part of a weight loss plan. She showed up at the hospital with what she thought was a severe UTI, only to find it was actual this type of herb-induced hepatitis. 

Additionally, all of the health benefits of drinking green tea should apply to green tea extract as well.

5. Garcinia Cambogia

Garcinia cambogia is a tropical fruit from South-East Asia which is also known as Malabar Tamarind or Brindleberry. 

The fruit became hugely popular after its premiere on The Dr Oz Show; naming garcinia cambogia as the “the newest breakthrough in weight management”. However, in June 2014, Dr. Oz was chided for making unwarranted claims about garcinia cambogia and other products in an appearance before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security.

Recommended dosages can vary between brands. When it comes to a recommended dose, most sources provide the recommended dose of HCA rather than garcinia cambogia itself. According to ConsumerLab.com, the recommended dose of garcinia cambogia is 900 mg to 1,500 mg of HCA a day. This is consistent with doses used in a number of studies.

It is always best to follow the dosage instructions on the label.

Studies have only tested these supplements for up to 12 weeks at a time. Therefore, it may be a good idea to take a few weeks off every three months or so.

6. Magnesium

Magnesium is a well-studied mineral in terms of blood sugar metabolism. Many people can benefit from magnesium supplementation, not just those with diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes stems from insulin resistance, which is when your body doesn’t use insulin effectively. Magnesium supplementation can help improve insulin sensitivity, which means it can help lower blood sugar levels (7).

People with diabetes tend to have lower levels of magnesium in their blood compared to people without diabetes, which suggests that magnesium may play a role in the development of diabetes.According to a study, magnesium helps improve insulin sensitivity and boosts insulin secretion. Ozempic also promotes insulin secretion, so they have that in common (8).

7. Quercetin with Bromelain for Weight Loss

Some people believe that consuming quercetin, whether in foods or as a natural supplement, can help promote weight loss. However, there have been mixed reviews and conclusions on the effects of quercetin for weight loss and its effect on the expression of certain genes. 

These inconsistent findings from the studies maybe are due to the difference in the range of fitness of the subjects, differences in research design, different methods in the preparation of quercetin extract, etc. In order to assist you in doing your own research, let's dive into some relevant studies and reviews.

Matthew Solan, author of Doctor’s Detox Diet reports that quercetin can mimic the effect of calorie restriction. However, it shows to have a greater effect on weight loss when combined with other fat-fighting phytochemicals such as resveratrol and genistein.

Another interesting side effect of quercetin, as reported by MuscularDevelopment.com, is that quercetin may offer some of the same psychostimulant properties of caffeine. Therefore, consuming it may help people increase their activity throughout the day and delay fatigue. Plus, this can lead to expending more energy during workouts, thus burning more calories.

Dr Josh Axe also adds that some athletic supplements contain quercetin because some people believe that is increases endurance and athletic performance.

In another study, a combination of Quercetin along with Resveratrol inhibited the formation of mature fat cells, which subsequently resulted in weight loss. Quercetin increases the secretion of the enzyme, triglyceride lipase that breaks down fat, thus aiding in weight loss.

It was also discovered that consumption of 500 mg of quercetin twice a day increased the VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen that is utilised by an individual) in untrained individuals as a result of an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis. This enhancement in fitness without exercise training can be used in disease prevention such as obesity.

Since bromelain can help to improve the absorption of quercetin, there should be greater benefit when quercetin and bromelain are taken together.

8. Lactobacillus Gasseri (Probiotic) for Weight Loss

Lactobacillus gasseri, of all the probiotic bacteria examined so far, shows some of the most promising weight-loss effects. It has been shown in numerous animal experiments that it has anti-obesity properties.

In addition, studies in adults have also shown encouraging results. According to a study, probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri showed lowering effects on abdominal adiposity, body weight and other measures in adults with obese tendencies.

Another study was conducted using 210 healthy Japanese adults with significant amounts of belly fat who were asked to consume Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks.

As result, BMI, waist and hip circumferences, and body fat mass were significantly decreased. Moreover, belly fat was also reduced by 8.5%. However, this study also suggest that constant consumption might be needed to maintain the effect.

9. Aloe vera

Aloe vera has been studied for its potential ability to help lower blood glucose levels. Bear in mind that some of the studies were done on animal subjects like mice and rats.

You can take aloe vera in capsule form to gain the potential benefits.

  • According to a 2015 review of studies (9), aloe vera gel complex may help lower blood sugar, promote healthy cholesterol levels, reduce body fat and weight, and reduce insulin resistance in obese subjects with prediabetes (borderline diabetes).
  • One study used aloe vera on diabetic mice to see if it could improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The mice received aloe vera gel extract at a dose of 300 milligrams per kilogram of body weight for 21 days. The result was a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides (10).

10. Vitamin D

A 2011 study in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology revealed a remarkable fact of metabolism: The exposure of human skin to UV light results in increased subcutaneous fat metabolism. While subcutaneous fat, unlike visceral fat, is not considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it is known that a deficiency of one of sunlight's best known beneficial byproducts, vitamin D, is associated with greater visceral fat (Seo 2012). 

Also, there is a solid body of research showing that vitamin D deficiency is linked to obesity, with 9 such studies on GreenMedInfo obesity research page. One of them, titled "Association of plasma vitamin D levels with adiposity in Hispanic and African Americans," and which was published in the journal Anticancer Research in 2005, found that vitamin D levels were inversely associated with adiposity in Hispanics and African-Americans, including abdominal obesity (Young 2009).

What are the side effects of Ozempic?

Some of the most common Ozempic side effects include:
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like upset stomach (nausea or vomiting), stomach pain, loss of appetite, heartburn, burping, gas, and bloating
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Ozempic-related tiredness (fatigue)
  • Injection site pain
  • Low blood sugar (especially if you’re taking another diabetes medication like insulin or sulfonylureas)
According to Dr. Peter Attia, “Not all weight loss is healthy.” Shedding excess fat mass is certainly a positive, but “shedding lean mass—which includes muscle and bone—is associated with poorer health trajectories and reduced lifespan.” Ozempic, a once-weekly injectable medication, appears to result in the shedding of lean mass, according to the respected medical professional. Moreover, this is an injection that needs to be taken for the entirety of one’s life. If an individual stops taking the medication, there is a very high chance that they will put all the weight back on.

Diet and Exercise: Lower Your Blood Sugar

Patients may want to look at over-the-counter (OTC) drugs or vitamins for a solution to help lower their blood sugar. However, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), when considering a vitamin or supplement, there is a possibility of drug interactions and potential effects on blood sugar (for example, causing blood sugar to get too low or too high). Some supplements can have drug interactions or cause troublesome side effects. The ADA notes that “research on many supplements is inconclusive.” Consult your healthcare provider before adding any vitamins or supplements to your regimen.

Making some diet and lifestyle modifications can help control blood sugar. However, dietary and lifestyle changes are not a replacement for your prescription medication. Ask your healthcare provider which diet plan is best for you.

A healthy diet should include a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

Exercise can help to control blood sugar as well. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need help determining what type of exercise will be safe and effective for you. Be sure to discuss when to test blood sugar in relation to exercise—and how to avoid and treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). You can use this chart as a guideline but show it to your healthcare provider to make sure it is appropriate for you.


 
Key Takeaways

If you have tried all of the aforementioned strategies and haven't seen any progress, it may be time to consider seeking assistance from a medical professional. Consulting with a medical doctor can provide you with valuable insights and personalized guidance tailored to your specific weight loss problem.

It's important to evaluate whether your weight loss goals are realistic and attainable within a healthy timeframe. Rapid weight loss expectations can often be unrealistic and may lead to disappointment or adopting unhealthy practices. A medical doctor can help you set realistic goals and create a sustainable weight loss plan that aligns with your individual needs and health conditions.

Engaging in a conversation with a doctor about your weight loss challenges can help identify any underlying medical conditions that may be affecting your progress. Medical professionals can conduct assessments, perform necessary tests, and provide expert advice on how to proceed with your weight loss journey.

Remember, weight loss is a gradual process that requires patience, consistency, and a balanced approach. Slimming products alone might work to a certain extent, but it's best to combine them with other methods such as cutting carbs and sugar and staying active. If you are taking a slimming product, please do so according to the recommended dosage. Taking more does not mean it will be more effective, and it might do more harm instead.

Instead of focusing on ambitious goals over a short period of time, it's more practical to consider setting small goals over a longer period. Seeking support from a registered dietitian, a personal trainer, or a support group can be beneficial. They can provide you with guidance, motivation, and accountability to help you achieve your goals in a sustainable way.

Remember to approach your weight loss journey with a positive mindset, be patient with yourself, and celebrate even the small victories along the way. With the right support and a well-rounded approach, you can make progress towards achieving your weight loss goals in a healthy and sustainable manner.


Sources and References:

  1. Shaefer CF Jr, Kushner P, Aguilar R. User’s guide to mechanism of action and clinical use of GLP-1 receptor agonists. Postgrad Med. 2015. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26371721/
  2. Marathe CS, Rayner CK, Jones KL, Horowitz M. Relationships between gastric emptying, postprandial glycemia, and incretin hormones. Diabetes Care. 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3631884/
  3. Brunton S. GLP-1 receptor agonists vs. DPP-4 inhibitors for type 2 diabetes: is one approach more successful or preferable than the other? Int J Clin Pract. 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4238422/
  4. Tsampasian V, Baral R, Chattopadhyay R, Debski M, Joshi SS, Reinhold J, Dweck MR, Garg P, Vassiliou VS. The Role of SGLT2 Inhibitors in Heart Failure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Cardiol Res Pract. 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8397556/
  5. Pérez-Rubio KG, González-Ortiz M, Martínez-Abundis E, Robles-Cervantes JA, Espinel-Bermúdez MC. Effect of berberine administration on metabolic syndrome, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2013. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23808999/
  6. Yin J, Xing H, Ye J. Efficacy of berberine in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2410097/
  7. Veronese N, Watutantrige-Fernando S, Luchini C, Solmi M, Sartore G, Sergi G, Manzato E, Barbagallo M, Maggi S, Stubbs B. Effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism in people with or at risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27530471/
  8. de Valk HW. Magnesium in diabetes mellitus. Neth J Med. 1999. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10218382/
  9. Radha MH, Laxmipriya NP. Evaluation of biological properties and clinical effectiveness of Aloe vera: A systematic review. J Tradit Complement Med. 2015. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411014000078 
  10. Rajasekaran S, Ravi K, Sivagnanam K, Subramanian S. Beneficial effects of aloe vera leaf gel extract on lipid profile status in rats with streptozotocin diabetes. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2006. ​​https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16487267/ 

Related: 

Kidney and Gastro Issues Linked to Ozempic


Thyroid Cancer Concerns Raised Regarding Active Ingredient in Popular Drugs Ozempic and Wegovy

Over 200 Cases of Suicidal Thoughts After Taking Weight Loss Drugs: Reuters Analysis


Compounded versions of Ozempic and Wegovy under federal scrutiny

Wegovy and Ozempic: Effective Short Term, but Risks of Muscle and Nutrient Loss and Other Serious Side Effects

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