Blog/The Effects of Semaglutide On Visceral (Bad) Fat
Jennie Sanford, MD | 5/22/2024 | 3 min read

The Effects of Semaglutide On Visceral (Bad) Fat

How semaglutide helps reduce visceral (belly) fat

A man and woman sitting on a bed pinching their stomach fat

If you are looking to lose weight, you may have considered semaglutide as a treatment option. Given its revolutionary success, it is important to understand how semaglutide promotes weight loss and the types of weight it helps you to lose. How does semaglutide burn fat? Can semaglutide target specific areas of fat? Can it get rid of belly fat? Does semaglutide make you lose muscle? We will outline the answers to all these questions and more.

How do semaglutide injections work?

Semaglutide is a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist approved to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. GLP-1 receptor agonists increase the effects of a GLP-1, a neuroendocrine hormone made in the gut that helps reduce blood glucose and lessen appetite by slowing gastric emptying. This leads to less overall calorie intake and weight loss. 

Semaglutide for weight loss demonstrates impressive results in both clinical trials and real-world experiences. Many studies estimate semaglutide at a dose of 2.4 mg weekly to produce about a 15% weight loss. Semaglutide injections are given on a convenient weekly schedule in a range of doses, depending on individual factors.

Semaglutide and its effect on body composition?

How does semaglutide burn fat?

While semaglutide promotes overall weight loss, its mechanism of action allows it to target adipose tissue (fat). Evidence suggests that as treatment with semaglutide reduces body weight by 15%, it reduces total body fat by about 15% and regional visceral fat by > 25%. More on why this is and important differentiator later on.

How does semaglutide affect lean body mass

In this same study, while lean body mass decreased by 9-10%, the lean mass to fat mass ratio improved after 68 weeks of treatment. Other studies have actually noted an increase in muscle mass as a result of treatment with semaglutide. Additional evidence suggests no reduction in bone density in patients who lost weight with semaglutide.

Does semaglutide get rid of belly fat?

Subcutaneous fat

Subcutaneous fat is the visible fat below the skin. Two main types of adipose (fat) tissue exist: white adipose tissue and brown adipose tissue. 

White adipose tissue is more likely to have negative metabolic effects, promoting insulin resistance, more fat storage, and increased inflammation. Brown adipose tissue is more metabolically active. It secretes adiponectin, which is an adipokine (compound made by fat tissue) that suppresses appetite, improves insulin sensitivity, increases lipid metabolism, enhances metabolism, and modulates immunity. Semaglutide stimulates browning of subcutaneous fat, making it more metabolically advantageous.

Visceral fat

Visceral fat is the fat situated around major organs. Semaglutide has been shown to decrease the size of adipocytes and to reduce inflammation and cellular stress within visceral fat cells.

In a recent study, semaglutide reduced overall epicardial adipose tissue (fat around the heart) by as much as 20% over 12 weeks. Semaglutide’s ability to reduce concentrations of visceral fat enhances glucose metabolism and improves lipid metabolism. Decreased visceral fat leads to lower risk of obesity-related complications, including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, fatty liver disease, dyslipidemia, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).

Understanding sick fat disease (adiposopathy)

Sick fat disease (adiposopathy) is the term for fat that has negative effects on the endocrine and immune systems and worsens obesity-related diseases. Sick fat leads to increased levels of free fatty acids in the blood, which promotes not only an increase in adipocyte number but also increases in adipocyte size and dysfunction. These fat cells produce inflammatory molecules, which fuel the proinflammatory state of obesity and reduce the effectiveness of the immune system.

Central obesity (fat situated in the abdominal area) is a major risk factor for cardiometabolic disease. While subcutaneous fat increases risk of sick fat disease (adiposopathy) and elevates cardiovascular disease risk to some degree, visceral fat carries a significant risk of ASCVD and is more likely to be sick fat.

What are the overall benefits of fat loss with semaglutide?

Although you can’t see it from the outside, the effect of semaglutide on visceral fat reduction is one of its biggest benefits. The reduction in visceral fat is a key driver of its huge benefits to overall health, effective treatment of obesity, and the reduced risk of disease progression. If you have obesity, consider the overall health benefits of treatment with semaglutide, and talk to your healthcare professional if it may be right for you.

Agile can help you become a healthier, happier you

Ready to make a change? Speak to one of Agile’s licensed physicians to see if you qualify for our semaglutide program. We offer trusted weight loss solutions from real doctors. At just $349/mo, your medication, visits and labs are all included in the subscription. No added costs or hidden fees. Ever!

See If You Qualify