Wegovy vs Orlistat: Understanding the Key Differences

February 12, 2024

Wegovy vs Orlistat: Understanding the Key Differences

In the quest for weight loss, individuals often explore various options, including prescription medications. Two commonly discussed drugs in this realm are Wegovy and Orlistat. While both are used to aid weight loss, they work in different ways and have unique characteristics. Understanding these disparities can help individuals make informed decisions about which medication might be suitable for them.

Wegovy: A New Player in the Game

Wegovy, also known by its generic name semaglutide, is a relatively new addition to the weight loss pharmaceutical market. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2021, it belongs to a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. Originally developed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, Wegovy has demonstrated significant efficacy in promoting weight loss.

1. Mechanism of Action: Wegovy works by mimicking the effects of the hormone GLP-1, which regulates appetite and food intake. By activating GLP-1 receptors in the brain, Wegovy helps reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness, leading to decreased calorie consumption.

2. Administration: It is administered as a subcutaneous injection once a week, typically starting with a lower dose that gradually increases over several weeks.

3. Efficacy: Clinical trials have shown that if you buy Wegovy, it can lead to substantial weight loss when combined with diet and exercise. In studies, participants lost significantly more weight compared to those who received a placebo.

4. Side Effects: Common side effects of Wegovy include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite. Some individuals may also experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if they have diabetes.

Orlistat: A Long-Standing Option

Orlistat has been available for weight loss treatment for much longer than Wegovy. It is sold under the brand names Xenical (prescription-strength) and Alli (over-the-counter strength).

1. Mechanism of Action: Orlistat works by inhibiting the activity of lipase enzymes in the intestine, which are responsible for breaking down dietary fats. This inhibition prevents the absorption of some fats, leading to fewer calories being absorbed by the body.

2. Administration: It is typically taken orally with meals, three times a day. Alli, the over-the-counter version, contains a lower dose of Orlistat compared to the prescription-strength Xenical.

3. Efficacy: Orlistat has been shown to promote modest weight loss when combined with a reduced-calorie diet. Studies indicate that individuals taking Orlistat may lose slightly more weight than those following a diet alone.

4. Side Effects: The most common side effects of Orlistat include gastrointestinal issues such as oily spotting, flatulence, fecal urgency, and abdominal cramping. These side effects are often related to the drug's mechanism of action and the unabsorbed fat passing through the digestive system.

Wegovy Vs Orlistate: Key Differences and Considerations



Orlistat (Xenical/Alli)

Mechanism of Action

Mimics GLP-1 hormone, regulates appetite

Inhibits intestinal lipase, reduces fat absorption


Weekly subcutaneous injection

Oral, typically three times a day with meals


Significantly promotes weight loss

Modest weight loss efficacy

Side Effects

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypoglycemia

Gastrointestinal (oily spotting, flatulence, fecal urgency)


Prescription required

Prescription and over-the-counter options



In summary, Wegovy and Orlistat are both medications used to aid weight loss, but they operate through different mechanisms and have distinct administration methods and side effect profiles. Individuals considering these medications should consult with their healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate option based on their medical history, preferences, and weight loss goals. Additionally, lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise remain crucial components of any weight loss regimen, regardless of medication use.