Most of us have experienced a time in our lives when we have felt pressure to lose weight. Those two words “lose weight” sound pretty simple, but in reality it can be an extremely daunting task that many people do not have the resources or education to tackle.
Some of us have tried every diet, exercise, meal plan, affirmation, meditation, and hypnosis under the sun with little to no effect. If you’re feeling frustrated with your weight loss journey, and your weight is becoming dangerous for your health, modern weight loss tools like injectable medication might help you get closer to your weight loss goals.
Weight loss injections have surged in popularity over the last few years, with celebrity endorsements encouraging their use. Luckily, it’s not all hype. These medications are research-backed, and in some cases FDA-approved specifically for weight loss, and there’s evidence that some can help patients lose up to 10% of their body weight. So if you need a little assistance getting your weight on track, this article will walk you through the best weight loss injections in 2023.
How Is Weight Measured?
Prescription injections for weight loss are generally approved by the FDA for patients who are either obese or overweight and have a weight-related medical condition. To determine if someone is overweight or obese, doctors measure what's called a Body Mass Index, normally referred to as a BMI. There are many online calculators you can use to check where your BMI falls.
What are Weight Loss Injections?
Weight loss injections are prescription-only medicines that are designed to help individuals lose weight and manage metabolic disorders like diabetes mellitus. They are generally injected into the belly or thigh fat every week.
How do Weight Loss Injections Work?
There are a range of weight loss injections that are designed to tackle different aspects of weight loss. The three main categories are appetite suppressants, lipolytic injections, and metabolic boosters. Each of these assists with weight loss in different ways. This article will provide a summary of each type of injectable weight loss product, as well as give you a list of the best weight loss injections available.
Appetite suppressants work as the name suggests, to decrease your appetite, making it easier to be in a calorie deficit and less likely for you to overeat. Appetite suppressants often improve metabolism, which is important in obese patients who typically have a dysfunctional metabolism compared to those at a healthy weight. They change how the body processes calories and stores fat, and they can also reduce the speed at which food empties from the stomach, making you feel fuller for longer.
The technical term for these types of weight loss injections is glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. It’s a mouthful, but it means that they target receptors in your body that are involved in your metabolism. When these bind to the GLP-1 receptor, they increase insulin secretion. Insulin is an important hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and helps your body break down carbohydrates to use as energy. These drugs are commonly prescribed for patients with type-2 diabetes to help control blood sugar levels. However, by releasing insulin, these medications also affect the body's response to food and have produced great results as weight loss treatments.
There is a wide range of injectable appetite suppressants available; some have been approved by the FDA for weight loss, whereas others are approved for treating type-2 diabetes but can be prescribed off-label to help reduce weight. These products are often sold under different brand names despite containing only slightly different concentrations of active ingredients. Some examples of these drugs are provided below:
Semaglutide (Wegovy® and Ozempic®) - When combined with a healthy diet and exercise, semaglutide has been found to help a third of patients lose up to 20% of their body weight. Wegovy® is FDA-approved for weight loss with a dose of 2.4 mg per injection while Ozempic® is approved for use in type-2 diabetes mellitus to lower blood sugar and has a dose between 0.5 and 2 mg per injection.
Liraglutide (Victoza® and Saxenda®) - Studies have shown that liraglutide can improve weight loss by 5-10% compared to placebo, with treatments typically helping patients lose 4-6 kg. Victoza® is approved for use in type-2 diabetes to reduce blood sugar at a dose of 1.2 mg or 1.8 mg, while Saxenda® is approved as a weight loss medication at a dose of 3 mg per injection.
Tirzepatide (Mounjaro®) - In a review of 10 studies (9,873 patients) tirzepatide helped patients lose an average of 9.8 kg more than placebo. Mounjaro® is FDA-approved to improve blood sugar (glucose) in adults with type-2 diabetes mellitus but is often prescribed off-label to help with weight loss.
Metabolic boosters contain thermogenic (heat-creating) compounds that cause the body to burn more calories without the need for exercise. Injectable metabolic boosters are referred to as lipotropic injections and normally contain vitamins and/or other substances like L-Carnitine to increase your metabolism. There are no lipolytic injections approved by the FDA for weight loss; however, some studies have shown these to be effective at improving weight loss and increasing lean muscle production in patients, so they are often prescribed off-label to help with weight loss.
A popular metabolic booster is L-Carnitine which helps your body convert fat into energy. It is naturally produced by the body; however, while most people produce enough naturally, those deficient in L-Carnitine may struggle with weight loss. L-Carnitine has also been shown to help with fatigue, improve sleep, and improve overall mood.
Like all weight loss treatments, metabolic boosters should be used in combination with reduced calorie diets and exercise for the best results.
Lipolytic (fat rupturing) injections rely on a process called lipolysis which is where triglycerols (fat) break down into their primary molecules (glycerol and fatty acids). These primary compounds are then used in other biological functions. Lipolysis occurs naturally in the body; however, lipolytic injections can be used to stimulate lipolysis in a localized area. This makes these injections great for localized weight loss. These weight loss injections have been approved for use under the chin (i.e., double chin), however, they are also popular for targeting other specific areas like the hips, back, and triceps.
Some lipolytic injections cause fat to break down by essentially freezing the fat tissue and are referred to as cryolipolysis. Research into this technique began in 2008, and a device was created to chill targeted areas to -50 °C in a controlled process. This causes fat cells to freeze, breaking cell walls and causing cell death (apoptosis). These dead cells are then cleared by the body in a natural removal process.
One cryolipolysis treatment approved by the FDA is CoolSculpting. However, this is not administered via injection. Injectable cryolipolysis treatments are likely to be available in the future with initial in-human trials conducted in 2021 demonstrating that these injections are feasible.
There is a range of lipolytic injections on the market; however, their availability may vary based on location. Aqualyx and Cincelar+ are examples of commonly used lipolytic injections. Kybella® is another option that has been approved by the FDA to improve the appearance of moderate to severe fat under the chin (i.e., to treat double chin). This contains the active ingredient deoxycholic acid and treatment generally lasts 4 - 6 weeks.
How to Get Weight Loss Injections
Weight loss injections are prescription-only medications, which means you need to have a prescription from a doctor. Some medicines like semaglutide (Wegovy®), liraglutide (Saxenda®), and deoxycholic acid (Kybella®) are approved by the FDA for weight/fat loss. However, doctors can also provide alternative options off-label, such as Ozempic® which has the same active ingredient as Wegovy®. Weight loss injections can have severe side effects so patients should only use these medicines under the advice of a doctor.
The Best Weight Loss Injections
As with everything, there are a range of options available if you are seeking weight loss injections in 2023. This can make it difficult to know what your options are and what product may be the best fit for you. One company, Third Avenue, has a wide range of weight loss injections available that contain many of the active ingredients below. Third Avenue can also provide branded prescriptions like Wegovy®, Mounjaro®, and Ozempic®.
See the list below for the top weight loss injections of 2023!
1. Personalized Liraglutide (Third Avenue) – Best Overall & Editor’s Choice
Third Avenue is an up-and-coming authority in men’s health products including effective and affordable weight loss medications. Third Avenue specializes in providing modern and convenient healthcare that is accessible online.
This personalized treatment combines the FDA-approved ingredient liraglutide with citrulline, an amino acid that helps with metabolism and fat storage. This product works by targeting weight loss from multiple angles. Liraglutide works as a GLP-1 receptor agonist, to release insulin. It reduces appetite and helps restrict calorie intake by regulating your desire for food while promoting feelings of fullness. Third Avenue makes prescription medicines easy through free online consultations with board-certified US-based doctors who specialize in obesity and cardiovascular disease. By using Third Avenue’s platform, you can receive a customized weight loss treatment plan, with medications that are specifically designed for you and your circumstances.
Not only do you receive your personalized healthcare straight to your door, but you will also have support from their physicians throughout your treatment. As this prescription medicine is administered using an injection, it is important to receive proper training before self-administration. But don't worry, this is also included as part of Third Avenue’s services.
For optimal results, this medicine should be used in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise. If that still seems challenging, liraglutide helps reduce cravings and control appetite, making a reduced-calorie diet much easier to follow.
2. Semaglutide (Wegovy® and Ozempic®)
Some of the most well-known brands of injectable weight loss medications are Wegovy and Ozempic. Numerous celebrities have cast these brands into the spotlight after revealing that they use them to help trim fat.
Wegovy® is approved for weight loss at BMI >30 (or 27 with weight-related health conditions). Ozempic® is approved to lower blood sugar in patients with type-2 diabetes but can be prescribed off-label for weight loss.
Wegovy and Ozempic work as an appetite suppressant and use semaglutide as their active ingredient. They work best when taken alongside a low-calorie diet and regular exercise.
Wegovy® contains semaglutide at 0.25, 0.5, 1, 1.7, and 2.4 mg per dose, which makes it a good option for dose escalation and monitoring side effects. Take once a week and increase the dose each month or as advised by your doctor.
Ozempic® dose includes 0.25 0.5, 1, or 2 mg per dose. This lower concentration makes Ozempic a good option for slow dose escalation and monitoring side effects, which is important as semaglutide can have serious side effects in some people.
Ozempic is approved for adults 18+, and Wegovy has been approved for children over 12 years old who are overweight and obese.
3. Deoxycholic acid (Kybella®)
Kybella® is a lipolytic weight loss injection that is used to remove fat in targeted areas. In fact, Kybella® is the only medicine approved by the FDA to treat the area under your chin, aka the dreaded double chin. Its popularity isn’t surprising when over 65% of Americans struggle with a double chin. Doctors may also prescribe this medicine “off label,” meaning it can be prescribed to eliminate fat in other areas of your body.
Deoxycholic acid is technically a bile acid that the body naturally creates to help break down and absorb fats in our diet. In an injectable form, this acid has localized effects of weight loss and reducing the amount of fat cells in specific areas of the body. Once these fat cells are broken down, they don’t come back - making Kybella’s® effects permanent. Kybella® is generally administered in a clinical setting by a trained nurse or doctor.
Although it is an injection, Kybella® is a less invasive treatment than alternatives like liposuction or face and neck lifts. Patients do not need to go under anesthesia and in most cases, there is little to no swelling or bruising.
Kybella provides similar results to both men and women. In one study, 83.4% of patients reported moderate or significant improvement after 12 weeks of treatment (18.6% for placebo) and 87% reported moderate or significant improvement after 6 treatments (24% for placebo).
As with other weight loss injections, Kybella does come with some potential side effects. At the injection site, there is a chance for patients to experience bruising, blood clots under the skin, tissue damage, and damage to blood vessels (if administered incorrectly). More common side effects include swelling, pain, numbness, redness, and hardness in the treatment area.
4. Liraglutide (Victoza® and Saxenda®)
Liraglutide (a GLP-1 receptor agonist) is a powerful appetite suppressant that reduces cravings and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Both Victoza® and Saxenda® contain liraglutide as the active ingredient.
Victoza® is the lower dose (up to 1.8 mg) option and has been approved by the FDA to lower blood sugar. Victoza® is also known to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in adults including strokes and heart attacks. Victoza® is injected once daily and comes in an easy-to-use pen with a metered dose.
Saxenda® has a higher dose (up to 3 mg) and has been specifically approved by the FDA to help with weight loss in patients who are either obese or overweight and have a weight-related medical condition. Saxenda comes in a metered injection pen that should be administered once weekly. A recent review on Saxenda® showed that a 3 mg dose helped patients lose around 8.4 kg on average, and in another study, a quarter of patients lost over 10% of their body weight.
To get the best results, Victoza® or Saxenda® should be taken alongside a weight loss plan that incorporates a healthy calorie-restricted diet and exercise.
These medications are not suitable for those with a history of low mood or depression, as it is a potential side effect.
5. Tirzepatide (Mounjaro®)
Mounjaro® is another prescription injectable medicine that is approved to lower blood sugar in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus. However, patients also tend to lose a significant amount of weight during treatment, so doctors often prescribe this off-label to treat weight loss. Mounjaro works by stimulating insulin output, reducing hunger, and making you feel fuller for longer after a meal. These effects make it easier for patients to stick to a diet and avoid overeating.
Mounjaro is typically only approved in patients who are obese (BMI of at least 30), or overweight (BMI of at least 27) and have a weight-related medical condition such as type-2 diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol levels.
These injections are designed to be a part of a comprehensive weight loss plan and patients will get the best results if Mounjaro is combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
L-Carnitine is a naturally produced amino acid that plays a key role in converting fatty acids into energy. Predominantly produced in the liver and kidneys, L-Carnitine is quickly shipped to the energy-hungry areas of the body like your muscles, brain, and heart.
L-Carnitine helps to speed up your metabolism, meaning you process your calories more effectively. It can also help increase your lean muscle mass. During the digestion process, fats migrate into the bloodstream where the L-Carnitine transfers the fatty acids to the mitochondria. The mitochondria are then able to convert the fatty acids to energy.
L-Carnitine deficiency can slow down this fat transfer causing increased fat storage. This is where injectable L-Carnitine comes in. This medicine allows you to inject extra L-Carnitine directly into the body where it can begin transferring fat to the mitochondria immediately. This helps burn fat and often increases physical performance.
L-Carnitine is also available in oral dose forms as a tablet or powder. This may be a beneficial option for those considering alternatives to weight loss injections.
Alternative Weight Loss Options
Weight loss injections should only be considered in extreme cases and are only approved in people with a BMI of >30 (or in some cases >27 with weight-related health issues). These medicines can have many side effects as listed above and may not be appropriate for everyone. For those seeking assistance with weight loss who do not qualify for prescription injectable medicines, there is a range of less intrusive options. Alternative non-injection weight loss options include:
Thermogenic supplements that boost metabolism
Appetite-suppressing tablets that help reduce calorie intake
Products like PhenQ with natural ingredients
An achievable diet and exercise plan
How to Use Weight Loss Injections
Weight loss injections come in a convenient, dose-controlled pen, so you don’t have to worry about measuring out an exact amount. They are administered under consultation and supervision with your doctor, who will determine your starting dose. It’s common to start on a low dose and slowly increase weekly to the target dose to avoid side effects.
Generally, these medicines are injected once a week into the subcutaneous fat below the skin in areas like the belly and upper thigh. It's important that if you are taking insulin you do not use weight loss injections near the same site that you administer insulin.
Some weight loss injections, like lipolytic injections, should be administered to the specific area where you are targeting weight loss. For example, they would be commonly injected below your chin to help eliminate the double chin.
Side Effects of Weight Loss Injections
Weight loss injections can be an effective tool to help you on your weight loss journey; however, they are not without side effects, some of which can be serious.
Serious but rare side effects of weight loss injections can include:
Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas): In some individuals, appetite-suppressing medications can cause pancreatitis because the GLP-1 receptors on which they act are located in the pancreas.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar): Many of the ingredients used for weight loss injections cause an increase in insulin. This can increase the risk of low blood sugar in some individuals.
Increased heart rate
Severe allergic reactions
Depression/thoughts of suicide
More common and mild side effects include:
Reaction at the injection site
All side effects should be reported to your doctor during treatment.
Who Should Avoid Weight Loss Injections?
Weight loss injections should be a last resort for weight loss and are only tried once weight gain has started to cause health issues such as diabetes or obesity. Anyone with a BMI of <27 should avoid weight loss injections and seek alternative treatment to help lose weight. Due to the active ingredients used in weight loss injections, people who meet any of the following criteria should also avoid weight loss injections:
Family history of thyroid cancer
Family history of gallbladder disease
History of pancreatitis
Multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type-2 (MEN2)
The active ingredients used in weight loss injections can alter the body’s natural processes and can be dangerous for anyone who meets the above criteria. Ensure your doctors are aware of your medical history before starting weight loss injections.
The Bottom Line
Weight loss is never easy, but those struggling with their weight loss journey should not feel discouraged. As technology has advanced, it has equipped us with new tools to help achieve our weight loss goals and put our health first.
Uncontrolled weight gain can become a burden on our mental health, as well as our body. Some who have struggled with their weight for a long period of time find that it seems impossible to overcome this hurdle without assistance. Weight loss injections have quickly become a new tool to help patients shed extra pounds. Though injections may sound scary, they are quite hassle-free and come in easy-to-administer pens that patients can use in the comfort of their own homes. These medicines are only available under prescription from a doctor but they are backed by science and clinical research.
The two main types of injectable weight loss medicines are referred to as appetite suppressants and lipolytic injections. Appetite suppressants normally contain an active compound that mimics hormones involved in insulin release to help reduce food cravings and hunger. Lipolytic injections work directly on the fat cells, effectively dissolving them for the body to then remove as waste.
For the best effects, your weight loss medication should be tailored to you specifically. Everyone has different circumstances, weight loss goals, health concerns, and medical histories which all play a part in deciding which weight loss treatment plan is right for them. By consulting with a healthcare clinic such as Third Avenue, you can ensure that you will receive a personalized care plan and support during your weight loss journey.
The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It is not intended to replace consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. You should always consult with your doctor or a licensed healthcare provider before taking any medication or making decisions regarding your health.
Medications discussed herein are prescription medications, and it should only be used under the guidance and supervision of a qualified healthcare professional. You should not use prescription medications without a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.
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