GLP-1 medications help control blood sugar and induce weight loss acting like a natural hormone in the body called GLP-1. This hormone is responsible for helping you feel full and triggering the release of other hormones that help control blood sugar. Taking this medication does have some positive and negative side effects. 

Positive Side Effects of GLP-1

Beyond blood sugar control and weight loss, GLP-1 mediations may also help: 

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Improve fatty liver disease
  • Lower your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases

It also has some positive side effects that are not fully understood at this time. It may help reduce “food noise” or obsessive thoughts about food. It has also been found to reduce certain behaviors around alcohol consumption, helping people decrease their intake. Further research is needed to understand why it has these psychological effects.

Negative Side Effects of GLP-1

GLP-1 medications also have some negative side effects. These include: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Redness/itching at the injection site

Most people experience these side effects on the higher doses or the few days after the dose is increased. 

There are a few severe, but rare side effects you should be aware of. These include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Medullary thyroid cancer
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Allergic reactions
  • Low blood sugar

When to speak to your provider

If you are experiencing mild digestive side effects from your GLP-1 medications, your healthcare provider may be able to provide some solutions. For example, eating smaller meals more frequently and avoiding high-fat foods can help relieve some nausea or indigestion. Eating balanced meals can help prevent blood sugar from dropping too low. 

If you are experiencing severe side effects, regularly have episodes of low blood sugar, or have another significant concern, you may need to adjust the dose or stop the medication. Speak to your healthcare provider before making any of these changes.

Most people only report mild side effects from this medication and are able to tolerate it well. 


  1. Filippatos, T. D., Panagiotopoulou, T. V., & Elisaf, M. S. (2014). Adverse Effects of GLP-1 Receptor Agonists. The Review of Diabetic Studies: RDS, 11(3-4), 202–230.
  2. Jerlhag, E. (2020). Alcohol-mediated behaviours and the gut-brain axis; with focus on glucagon-like peptide-1. Brain Research, 1727, 146562.
  3. Blum, D. (2023, June 21). People on Drugs Like Ozempic Say Their “Food Noise” Has Disappeared. The New York Times.