Danielle Johnson MS, RDN, CDN, CPT

Are you taking weight loss medications and worrying about developing “Ozempic butt”? Here are some practical tips to protect your muscle mass and promote fat loss while taking weight loss medications (or any method of weight loss!) “Ozempic butt” refers to a phenomenon resulting from fast weight loss, potentially signifying lack of adequate protein and strength training. So, the remedy is… adequate protein (and overall balanced diet) and strength training!

While it is well known that weight loss medications can cause a decrease in appetite (and increased nausea) – the goal is to REGULATE appetite, not eliminate or avoid it. Ideally, aim for three small balanced meals, with balanced snacks in between meals as needed. Feeding your body helps to feed your metabolism. Skipping meals can lead to prolonged fasting which stimulates muscle protein breakdown, and this can contribute to slowing down your metabolism.

Take advantage of feeding your metabolism by incorporating at least 20 grams of protein in your meals (3 oz meat or fish, 3 eggs or 6 egg whites; or a high-quality protein shake or Greek yogurt). The protein in your meals and snacks will contribute to muscle protein synthesis, which helps to maintain/increase your metabolism. Strength training of at least 30 minutes 3-5 days per week will contribute to muscle protein synthesis while promoting fat loss. When the goal is fat loss, it’s best to focus on full body exercise routines – this allows you to target large groups of muscles, burn more calories and increase strength!

Example full body workout:

5-10 minutes warm up (something that will bring your heart rate up, get the blood pumping)

3-4 sets, 8-10 reps of each: squat, hip thrust, chest press, lat pulldown, shoulder press

5-10 minutes cool down (something calming/relaxing – stretching or light walking)

There are a few other negative side effects of rapid weight loss besides “Ozempic butt” –  loss of lean body mass, sarcopenia, and osteoporosis. Loss of lean body mass refers to an increased loss of muscle. This can cause reduced strength, poor posture, poor quality of movement, and decreased metabolism (increasing the chance of weight regain). This also increases the risk of sarcopenia and osteoporosis. Sarcopenia is characterized by loss of muscle, strength, and function with a decrease in number and size of the muscle fibers. This leads to a loss of stamina, difficulty performing daily activities, slow walking speed, trouble climbing stairs, poor balance, and increased risk of falls. Osteoporosis can occur because of decreased intake in calcium and vitamin D with decreased caloric intake, natural decrease in mechanical load (due to weight loss, less bearing on the bones) and can be exacerbated by a lack of strength training.

Despite possible negative consequences of weight loss, losing weight  has many health benefits. . These  include reduced risk of chronic disease, higher quality of life, and increased life expectancy. The key difference is adequate self-care in the weight loss process, namely through nutrition and exercise!

Danielle Johnson MS, RDN, CDN, CPT is a registered dietitian who works in the Department of Bariatrics Center of Excellence at Mather Hospital, where she specializes in surgical weight loss and medical weight management. She has a Master of Science in Integrative Nutrition and is earning her doctorate in Exercise Science and Sports Nutrition.