Mya Care Blogger 22 Feb 2024

In recent years, weight loss injections have become increasingly popular to manage weight and improve overall health for those struggling to lose weight through traditional methods such as diet and exercise.

Weight loss shots target specific hormones and cell receptors that control appetite, metabolism, and fat storage. They are typically used with a diet and exercise program to assist individuals in losing weight and improving their overall health.

There are several types of FDA-approved weight loss injections available on the market. Each active ingredient is uniquely prepared and administered in various formulas changing their dose, potency, and administration frequency. Some weight loss injections treat diabetics, while others are better suited for non-diabetics.

Some of the most common include:

  • Liraglutide (Saxenda and Victoza)
  • Semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus)
  • Tirzepatide (Zepbound and Mounjaro)
  • Dulaglutide (Trulicity)
  • Exenatide (Byetta and Bydureon bcise)
  • Lixisenatide (Adlyxin)

Each of these injections works in a slightly different way, but they all have the same goal of helping individuals lose weight and improve their health.

This article compares the differences between three popular weight loss injections for non-diabetics:

  1. Semaglutide (Wegovy)
  2. Liraglutide (Saxenda)
  3. Tirzepatide (Zepbound)

How these three weight loss injections work, their benefits, side effects, and other considerations, such as eligibility and preparation are discussed below.

How Do Weight Loss Injections Work?

Most weight loss shots work by targeting GLP-1 receptors in the body. They initially helped diabetic patients with blood glucose control, yet their potential for weight loss expanded their applications shortly after the first clinical trials.

The GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) hormone is released after eating. It stimulates insulin secretion and regulates blood glucose. GLP-1 receptor agonists imitate the effects of GLP-1. Receiving a GLP-1 receptor agonist increases insulin levels, decreases appetite, and facilitates the feeling of fullness.

Although all three weight loss injections target GLP-1 receptors, there are some differences in their mechanism of action:

  • Semaglutide (Wegovy) and Liraglutide (Saxenda) both work by mimicking GLP-1. The difference lies in their duration and dosage frequency. A Wegovy injection is given once a week and the effects last for 165 hours after an injection. Saxenda injections form a daily regimen, with effects diminishing after 13-15 hours.
  • Tirzepatide (Zepbound) targets glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptors and GLP-1 receptors[1]. GIP is another hormone released after eating and helps regulate blood sugar levels. By targeting both GLP-1 and GIP receptors, Tirzepatide proves more effective than the other two weight loss injections. Like Wegovy, it is administered weekly with a long-lasting potency.

These injections are available as tablets, yet the injections are more effective. The injection  sites are under the skin in the stomach area, thigh, or upper arm.

Who Can Benefit from Weight Loss Injections?

For individuals who have tried all the conventional methods yet have been unsuccessful in losing weight, the doctor might prescribe weight-loss injections such as Wegovy, Saxenda, and Zepbound. However, for these injections to be administered, they have to be over 12 years old with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30.

Other versions of these injections are available for individuals with type 2 diabetes who need to lose weight and control blood glucose levels. Examples include Semaglutide (Ozempic) and Tirzepatide (Mounjaro).

Weight loss injections are not appropriate for all people.

They are contraindicated in the following instances[2]:

  • You are phobic of needles or injections
  • You or someone in your family has pancreatitis or is at a high risk
  • You have a medical condition that impedes upon peristalsis (digestive motion), such as gastroparesis
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding

It is not advisable to drink alcohol while using  weight loss injections.[3]

There is some evidence to suggest that GLP-1 agonists can raise the risk of thyroid cancer in diabetic patients when using them for 1-3 years. There is no evidence to suggest the same for short-term use (3 months or less) of weight loss injections for non-diabetics.

If you or your child have a medical condition or are taking other prescription medications, it is necessary to speak with a healthcare professional to decide if weight loss injections are a practical option.[4]

How Do Weight Loss Injections Compare?

Here is a comparison between Wegovy, Saxenda, and Zepbound regarding their effectiveness, cost, and side effects.


When it comes to effectiveness, all three weight loss injections are effective in helping individuals lose weight. Findings reveal differences in the efficacy of the three types:

  • Tirzepatide (Zepbound) may be the most effective, with individuals losing an average of 15-22% of their body weight in clinical trials across 72 weeks. The results reflect that higher doses provide more rapid weight loss.
  • Semaglutide (Wegovy) and Liraglutide (Saxenda) are also effective, with individuals losing an average of 5-15% of their body weight across studies. Wegovy is twice as effective as Saxenda in this regard.[5]


Cost is another factor to consider when comparing weight loss injections.

  • Liraglutide (Saxenda) and Semaglutide (Wegovy) are more expensive, with a monthly list price of $1350 each.
  • Tirzepatide (Zepbound) is only slightly cheaper, with a monthly cost of $1,060.

With an insurance plan, all treatments can cost as little as $25 per month each for 1-3 months.

Your doctor or insurance broker can help you to assess the exact cost of weight loss injections.

Other Considerations and Tips

Managing weight loss injections requires careful attention and adherence to a few essential precautions.

It is standard practice for a doctor prescribing weight loss injections to place the client on a special low-calorie diet and an exercise routine. This lifestyle change maximizes the efficacy of the injections while minimizing the potential for side effects.

Here are some more tips to help you effectively manage weight loss injections:

  1. Follow your prescribed schedule for weight loss injections to maintain consistent medication levels and optimize effectiveness.
  2. Store weight loss injections as instructed by your healthcare professional or on the packaging. Follow temperature and storage guidelines for medication efficacy.
  3. Follow proper injection techniques as shown by your healthcare professional, such as appropriate needle selection, handling medication, and choosing the right injection site. It ensures accurate dosage and reduces risks.
  4. Rotate injection sites to prevent reactions or discomfort. Move within the stomach area and alternate between sites to avoid irritation, inflammation, or scar tissue buildup.
  5. Ensure an ample medication supply to avoid treatment disruptions. Plan and refill prescriptions promptly to maintain a sufficient stock.
  6. Keep a medication journal to track injections, noting the date, time, site, side effects, and symptoms. Use it for discussions with healthcare providers and to monitor progress.

Always confer with a healthcare specialist for personalized advice and guidance specific to your situation. They can provide comprehensive instructions on managing weight loss injections and help you achieve the best possible results.

Potential Side Effects and Complications

All three weight loss injections are generally safe. Yet, as with any therapy, they can cause side effects.

Side effects of weight loss injection can include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Headaches
  • Burping and nausea
  • Abdominal discomfort and pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Painful urination
  • Fatigue
  • Allergic reactions (typically fever and rash)
  • Hair loss
  • Acid reflux

Another potential downside of any injection is the possibility of injection site reactions.

These reactions can include redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site.[6] While all three injections may cause these reactions, they are typically mild and go away on their own.

Speaking with your healthcare professional is vital if you experience severe or persistent reactions.

Other Weight Loss Options

Setting realistic expectations when starting any weight loss journey, including using weight loss injections, is beneficial.

While these injections can be effective in helping people lose inches, they are only a partial solution on their own. Experts agree that lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet and regularly exercising, are still necessary for weight loss.

Some individuals battle to lose weight for reasons unrelated to blood glucose control. Other weight loss options are available for those struggling to lose weight or who did not benefit from weight loss injections and lifestyle changes. Examples include body contouring procedures, cryolipolysis, and bariatric surgery.

Before opting for alternatives, it is crucial to consult with a specialist who can review your case and tailor a treatment program to suit your needs.


Weight loss injections are effective tools for managing weight and improving overall health. By targeting specific hormones and receptors in the body, these injections can help individuals lose weight and improve their overall well-being. It is essential to speak with your healthcare professional to determine if weight loss injections can meet your needs and to discuss any potential risks or side effects.

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