The Top 6 Ozempic Alternatives Worth Trying, According to a Weight Loss Expert

In the past couple of years, Ozempic has become synonymous with weight loss. Though the prescription medication has only been approved for managing type 2 diabetes, it is often taken for weight loss—and the popularity has caused a nationwide shortage.

It’s important to know that Ozempic—and similar medications—are not a good fit for everyone. They are not meant for quick weight loss, such as when you want to shed a few pounds before swimsuit season or a special event. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about whether a prescription weight loss drug benefits your overall health.

If you are interested in taking Ozempic but are having difficulty getting it due to the shortage, there are alternatives you can consider. Here, a bariatric surgeon shares alternatives to Ozempic for weight loss and type 2 diabetes, including what you need to know about each one.

Related: These Ozempic Before and After Photos Give a Real-Life Glimpse of What Life is Like on Weight Loss Medication 

What Is Similar to Ozempic? 6 Alternatives to Consider

When it comes to finding an alternative to Ozempic that’s best for you, it’s important to consider how you’re hoping it will improve your health. Are you looking for a medication to help you manage type 2 diabetes? One that will help you lose weight? Both? As you read about the following six medications, keep these questions in mind.

1. Acarbose

If you are looking for an Ozempic dupe for managing type 2 diabetes, Dr. Andre Teixeira, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Orlando Health, says acarbose could be a good fit. “Acarbose works to help your body break down starchy foods and table sugar. This effect lowers your blood sugar levels,” he explains. Typically, it is taken orally three times a day, at each meal.

2. Metformin

Another drug Dr. Teixeira says can be an Ozempic alternative for managing type 2 diabetes is metformin. “Metformin decreases how much glucose your liver makes. It also decreases how much glucose your intestines absorb, helps your muscles absorb glucose and makes your body more sensitive to insulin,” he says. For it to work properly, the dosage must match the type of food you eat and amount of exercise you do, so if your diet and exercise habits change, it’s important to keep your doctor informed so they can adjust the dose.

Related: How Much Weight Can You Expect to Lose on Ozempic?

3. Wegovy

Wegovy and Ozempic are both injectables that contain semaglutide. While Ozempic is FDA-approved to manage type 2 diabetes, Wegovy is a higher-dose version of the drug that is approved for weight loss, making it a good alternative to Ozempic if you were hoping to take the drug for weight loss. Dr. Teixeira says that some people experience negative side effects from semaglutide-containing drugs, which can include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain, headaches and fatigue.

3. Orlistat

Another drug that Dr. Teixeira says can be considered for weight loss is orlistat, which is often prescribed to people with obesity who may have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or are at high risk for heart disease. “You need to follow a low-fat diet when taking this medicine,” Dr. Teixeira explains. He adds that side effects can include excessive gas and loose stools.

4. Setmelanotide

“The FDA has approved setmelanotide only for people age 6 and older who have obesity due to one of these rare inherited conditions: pro-opiomelanocortin deficiency, proprotein subtilisin-kexin type 1 deficiency or leptin receptor deficiency,” Dr. Teixeira says. These genetic conditions affect how the body processes energy, responds to food and stores fat. Setmelanotide works by activating pathways in the brain that decrease appetite and calorie intake while increasing energy expenditure.

“To take the drug, you'll need to have test results that show you have one of these conditions. Setmelanotide doesn't treat any of the gene problems that cause these conditions, but it can help you lose weight,” Dr. Teixeira explains.

Related: What Happens When You Stop Taking Ozempic?

5. Liraglutide

Liraglutide is used to manage diabetes and is given as a daily shot,” Dr. Teixeira says. Similar to semaglutide, liraglutide mimics a hormone that signals insulin creation, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Scientific research points to semaglutide being more effective than liraglutide for weight loss, but liraglutide has still been shown to be effective for weight loss and help with diabetes, making it a good alternative to Ozempic to consider.

6. Phentermine-topiramate

Dr. Teixeira explains that phentermine and topiramate are two extended release capsules that work together to help with weight loss by decreasing appetite. “Phentermine has the potential to be misused because it acts like a stimulant drug called an amphetamine,” he says. He adds that possible side effects include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, constipation and nervousness. According to Dr. Teixeira, topiramate increases the risk of birth defects.

It bears repeating that when considering any of these medications as an alternative to Ozempic, it’s important to think about how you are hoping to use medication to improve your health. If you have any questions about what type of medication is right for you, talk to your healthcare provider. Together, you can find the solution that’s the perfect fit for you.

Next up, find out what it's like to take Ozempic week by week.