How does GLP-1 medication work?

CheqUp offers a holistic weight management service that includes GLP-1 agonist medication, which mimics the action of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1. This hormone stimulates the body to produce more insulin, which helps to lower blood sugar levels and control type 2 diabetes. GLP-1 agonists also suppress appetite, contribute to weight loss, and have other major benefits such as lowering the risk of heart disease.

The type of medication offered by CheqUp as part of its holistics weight management service is called “GLP-1 agonist”

These drugs mimic the action of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1(which is where the phrase “GLP-1” comes from). When blood sugar levels start to rise after someone eats, these drugs stimulate the body to produce more insulin. The extra insulin helps lower blood sugar levels.

Lower blood sugar levels are helpful for controlling type 2 diabetes, for which GLP-1 medication was initially developed. 

GLP-1 agonists were subsequently found to help suppress appetite and can therefore contribute to weight loss. 

So, where does the weight loss come in?

These drugs mimic our body’s natural gut hormones by telling our brains that we are sated (or “full) and do not need to eat any more. They will also slow the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine. As a result, you may feel full faster and longer, so you eat less.

Along with helping to control blood sugar and boost weight loss, GLP-1s and SGLT-2 inhibitors seem to have other major benefits. Research has found that some drugs in these groups may lower the risk of heart disease, such as heart failure, stroke and kidney disease. People taking these drugs have seen their blood pressure and cholesterol levels improve. 

Are there any downsides?

The downside to GLP-1 drugs is that they have to be injected into sub-cutaneous fat, normally in the belly which some people find discomforting. And, like any drug, there is a risk of side effects, although the msot common ones improve once you reach the full dosage.

Some of the more common side effects include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) are a more serious risk linked to the GLP-1 class of drugs. But the risk of low blood sugar levels often only goes up if you're also taking another drug known to lower blood sugar at the same time, such as sulfonylureas or insulin


The highly-respected New England Journal of Medicine has produced a short (seven minutes) video summarising some of the issues around obesity

Published: 01 March 2023