The current generation of weight loss medications has revolutionized weight loss and weight maintenance. Patients who’ve struggled with their weight for years are finally losing weight and keeping it off! Paired with personalized health and lifestyle changes the impact goes far beyond the scale. In the excitement of finally being able to treat their obesity, many aren’t addressing the potential side effect of Semaglutide muscle loss, which may occur with any GLP-1 medications.
Below we explore why muscle mass is lost along with weight and how to minimize or prevent the loss of lean muscle.

How Does Rapid Weight Loss Lead to Lost Muscle Mass?

Currently, Semaglutide, Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and other rapid weight loss medications don’t list muscle mass loss as a side effect. But anytime you lose weight fast or lose a significant amount of weight, you’re likely to lose some muscle along with it. This is known as sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia is a term originally coined to define the age-related progressive loss of muscle mass (and strength) in older adults. While age is the top cause of sarcopenia, it can also occur if weight reduction is activated without providing the body with adequate support. When speaking of Semaglutide muscle mass loss, increased protein intake, and strength training are suggested.

Why Does Sarcopenia Occur When Taking Weight Loss Medications?

As reported in NBC News, anytime you lose weight, approximately one-third of the weight lost is lean mass—and two-thirds is fat. So, the more weight you have to lose, the greater your risk of sarcopenia. If you only have 10 or 20 pounds of fat to lose, the amount of muscle lost may not be concerning. The more fat you have to lose, the greater the need for proactive muscle maintenance and reactive muscle building.   
Sarcopenia puts you at risk for:

#1 Lost Lean Muscle Mass
Muscles aren’t just for physical and athletic strength, as they support a variety of essential functions in the body, including:

  • Mobility
  • Stability
  • Posture
  • Circulation
  • Digestion
  • Respiration
  • And more 

If you’ve lost weight and feel weaker when working out or engaging in daily activities—it may be sarcopenia.

#2 Decreased Resting Metabolic Rate

Lean muscle is essential for achieving and maintaining an ideal resting metabolic rate. Your resting metabolic rate refers to the number of calories you burn when you aren’t engaging in physical activity. When you lose lean muscle mass, your resting metabolic rate decreases. While you may only count the calories you burn while working out, most of the calories you burn during the day are burned as you go about your day.
This means that even though you’re losing weight, your resting metabolic rate may be lower than it was before you began losing weight. In other words, in addition to preventing Semaglutide muscle loss—you’ll lose weight faster and have an easier time sustaining your weight loss if you proactively address your sarcopenia risk!
#3 Premature Bone Density Loss

Muscle mass is directly linked to bone density, yet another reason to strength train. When your muscles contract during physical activity, it activates a process known as mechanical loading. Mechanical loading naturally stimulates bones to become stronger and denser.
Lean muscle also stimulates your body to produce growth factors and other bone-healthy hormones that keep your bones strong. These growth factors and bone-healthy hormones are essential for preventing the bone loss most common in aging adults with sarcopenia. However, there are a variety of health factors that can lead to premature bone density loss.

Combined, the factors above can lead to a premature loss of muscle mass, strength, and function that negatively impact your quality of life.

How to Minimize or Prevent Semaglutide Muscle Loss?

An informed, proactive, and personalized approach is the best way to keep lean mass loss to a minimum. Yet another reason to obtain and take your Semaglutide or GPL-1 medications with medical supervision!
Healthline suggests that the top 3 ways to minimize or prevent lean mass loss are:
Increase your protein intake to 25 to 30 grams per day, or as medically advised.
Complete strength/resistance training 2 to 3 days per week with or without weights.
Promote muscle recovery and a healthy body composition with quality sleep.
The 3 risks above can be achieved by a personalized and medically supervised combination of the following nutritional and lifestyle changes.

#1 Protein and Nutrition

Balanced nutrition and adequate hydration are essential for whole-body health, but when it comes to Semaglutide muscle loss—you need to prioritize your protein intake. Protein aids the body in a variety of functions, including feeding and fueling your muscles. Proteins contain amino acids that work together to maintain muscle mass and prevent muscle breakdown.
Protein also plays a role in helping your body burn calories more efficiently when working out, regulating a variety of hormones, including the hormone ghrelin which regulates your appetite. GLP-1 medications also regulate your appetite, but even when you aren’t on a weight loss medication—increased protein intake may reduce hunger pangs. If you’ve eaten but still feel hungry, it may be your body letting you know it needs more protein. Dehydration can also feel like hunger pangs.
Try to spread your protein out between your meals and snacks, with a diverse range of protein-rich foods. This is because different proteins contain different amino acids.

  • Lean meat
  • Lean dairy
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado

Need help personalizing your diet? Many of Valley Medical’s patients use Semaglutide in combination with our Weight Loss Programs. This provides you with (amongst many other scientifically proven tools) personalized meal plans. Our meal plans accelerate weight loss and ensure adequate protein intake. We also have High-Protein Meal Replacement Shakes. Just mix with water, shake, and drink!

#2 Strength and Resistance Training

No need to worry if weights aren’t your thing, as there are a variety of strength and resistance training exercises to choose from. You might even be incorporating strength training into your weekly routine without knowing it!
If you choose to use weights, they don’t have to be super heavy. They can even be hand weights. However, many cardio activities incorporate strength and resistance training. For example, when you tighten the resistance on a stationary bike you’re strength-training your body from the glutes down. You can also use your body weight as resistance.
To minimize your risk for Semaglutide muscle loss, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of strength training per week, spread out over 3 or more days. Be sure to train from head to toe.

A few exercises to consider include:

  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Pushups
  • Resistance bands
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Hiking uphill
  • Wall workouts
  • Cycling with resistance
  • Handheld weights
  • Wrist and ankle weights
  • And more

#3 Sleep

Sleep is a restorative process. It’s when your body heals, repairs, and performs the internal maintenance that ensures you thrive.

When speaking of muscle mass, getting enough sleep helps to regulate cortisol and growth hormones that contribute to a healthier body composition.

Alternately, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body can’t regulate your hunger hormone ghrelin. This increases the likelihood of increased daily caloric intake.

When speaking of sleep, quality is everything. The average adult requires between 7 and 9 hours of deep sleep per evening. Listen to your body to determine what you need and try to go to bed and wake up within the same 30-minute window each morning and evening.

How Can I Tell If I’ve Lost Muscle Mass?

If you’ve been on Semaglutide for at least a few months but aren’t sure if you’re losing muscle mass, you need to know what to look for.
Signs of Semaglutide muscle loss include:

  • Decreased stamina—you’re losing weight, so you should be feeling increased energy and range of motion, not decreased stamina.
  • Balance—if your balance is off lately or has changed in any way, it could be because you don’t have enough muscles for stability and control.
  • Muscle fatigue—if your legs feel tired walking up the same number of stairs you used to be able to walk without fatigue, it could be a sign of muscle wasting.
  • Decreased BIA—Unlike a BMI that measures body fat, BIA measures both muscle mass and body fat. Ideal body composition should be between 60 and 75 percent muscle.

There are many factors that contribute to the symptoms above, but it could be that you’re losing muscle.

What If I’ve Already Lost Muscle Mass?

Although a proactive approach is the best approach, the sooner you address your sarcopenia the better. The tips above don’t just prevent muscle wasting, as they help you increase your lean muscle.

That said, sarcopenia must be diagnosed and managed by a medical professional. Health is not a one-size-fits-all equation, so your treatment plan should be personalized to your individual needs.

Again, this is one of many reasons to purchase and use your Semaglutide under close medical supervision.

Need Help Personalizing Your Weight Loss Plan?

Valley Medical Weight Loss and Med Spa has 3 locations in Phoenix, Tempe, and Glendale. Our weight loss strategies are based on scientifically proven methods that prevent Semaglutide muscle loss.

If we determine that Semaglutide isn’t the right fit for you, we have a variety of options to explore.

Reach out today to learn more!

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