- Jillian Michaels of “The Biggest Loser” fame warned against popular weight-loss medications.
- She said drugs like semaglutide could have serious side effects and that the results don’t last.
- Michaels recommended building healthy lifestyle habits, like exercise and good nutrition, instead.
Weight-loss medications like semaglutide have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, but could have dangerous side effects and should be a last resort, according to the celebrity personal trainer Jillian Michaels.
The medications shouldn’t replace healthy habits like good nutrition and exercise, Michaels told Insider during an interview about her partnership with the fitness-tracker and smartwatch company iTOUCH Wearables.
“New diet drugs on the market have taken Hollywood by storm,” Michaels said. “I’m beginning to see them infiltrate the masses and I’d like to issue a strong warning. These have serious side effects, and the results are not really lasting.”
Michaels expressed concern that the medications can have unpleasant short-term side effects like nausea and uncertain long-term safety.
She said people should try other weight-loss strategies first and prioritize “common-sense” habits like daily walking and making healthy food choices to help manage weight and blood sugar.
Social media often portrays weight-loss meds as a quick fix, but side effects can be significant
The FDA approved semaglutide, originally designed to treat diabetes by helping balance hormones like insulin, for weight loss in 2021. It works by reducing appetite, and researchers are now studying similar drugs, including tirzepatide, which is pending FDA approval for obesity, and retatrutide, which must still undergo further clinical trials on obesity and diabetes.
Since its approval for weight loss, semaglutide has became so popular that there have been global shortages, making it difficult to access for people who rely on the drug to manage diabetes.
TikTok trends and rumors of celebrity use continue to fuel interest, which Michaels said creates a dangerous influence.
“Some actress does something, she’s not claiming to be a doctor, but suddenly everyone turns around and is going to do it,” she said.
Obesity doctors have said the use of medications is not a fad, but a shift toward reducing stigma and treating weight as a chronic medical condition, and the drugs are similar in safety to prescriptions for diabetes, depression, or high blood pressure.
Side effects include nausea and gastrointestinal issues, and many patients report reduced cravings, but also a loss of appetite or inability to enjoy certain foods. A major caveat of the medication is that you need to keep taking it to maintain the weight loss.
Unlike weight-loss trends such as fad-workout equipment, which could be dangerous to your wallet, Michaels said medications could have concerning long-term consequences.
“This is not the ab stimulator. The worst case scenario isn’t that you lost $50 and nothing happened. The worst case scenario is you do real damage to your body,” she said. “It’s dangerous, you’d better not take it lightly and have attempted any and every alternative before you try it.”
A healthy lifestyle should be the first priority for weight management, Michaels said
Michaels said she’s encouraged friends — and their families — to stop using the medications, and helped them find other strategies to control blood sugar and weight, such as moving more and opting for complex carbs instead of simple ones.
For instance, Michaels said she helped a friend’s dad stop taking semaglutide and other medications, with supervision from his doctor, by increasing his daily activity. He sends her a screenshot of his step counter every day.
She said fitness wearables like the iTOUCH can be a helpful tool for people to stay motivated by tracking their progress, helping guide users to a goal by showing how habits affect health metrics like heart rate or calories burned.
“It allows me to work within certain heart rate zones, work within step goals, tracks all these factors,” Michaels said. “When I’m trying to get from A to B, it’s a GPS. It gives people the ability to push a little more.”
Instead of quick-fix trends, she said making small, manageable changes over time should be the first step toward improving your health, before trying trendy medications.
“I’m asking you to make the better choice more often, walk throughout the day, stand instead of sit as often as possible, get activity without making yourself miserable,” Michaels said. “Don’t try to do it overnight. Make changes you can stick with, one step at a time.”