'I'm not for that': How Kayla Itsines really feels about weight loss drugs

By Kristine Tarbert |

What started as rumblings among Hollywood's elite that there was a diabetes medication which could also be used for weight loss, quickly spurred on the latest push for losing weight without needing to do the 'hard work'.

The popularity of Ozempic has led to a shortage of the medication for diabetes sufferers and seen the development of weight loss specific drugs like Wegovy, which was approved by the TGA for use in Australia in early 2022 with experts expecting it to land on our shores in the next year.

But while some medics laud the arrival of these drugs to help tackle the growing obesity problem, unless they are specifically required for medical reasons, others, including Sweat trainer Kayla Itsines, aren't fans.

"I'm just not for that," she tells 9Honey Coach. "The results that you want are made in the gym and in the kitchen."

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Kayla itsines
Kayla Itsines is not a fan of weight loss drugs. (Instagram)

Speaking ahead of her appearance at the FitHer expo in October, the personal trainer says the biggest problem is many people don't understand the difference between 'weight' loss and 'fat' loss.

"I really honestly think that the majority of time when people say they want to lose weight, they want to lose fat. And that's two different types of things," she tells us.

"It's generally easy to just lose weight. But if I could snap my fingers and you were the person in front of me saying 'I want to lose weight', I'd go 'OK, are you happy now?' And they'll be like, 'Well, no, because like I'm not toned, or I'm not this'."

So in other words, they didn't want to lose weight, they wanted to look or feel a certain way, which can be achieved through fat loss.

READ MORE: 'Dangerous' problem with weight loss medications like Ozempic

Kayla Itsines
Itsines warns there is a big difference between weight loss and fat loss. (Instagram)

"Fat loss is very targeted with food and a certain type of training, like strength training, high protein diets, and balance as well," Itsines says.

"And that's the problem with this stuff [drugs] that people are taking. They end up saying 'I'm still not happy' and that's because you're not training."

Indeed, Itsines believes it means people are generally missing out on all the other benefits a healthier and active lifestyle can provide.

"You get no other benefits. The benefits of exercise and food is that like you have higher energy levels, you can run around with your kids, you have more strength," she says.

"If you just take that stuff you might be a smaller version of what you were before but still miserable."

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Kayla Itsines
Kayla Itsines will be headlining the FitHer expo in October. (Instagram)

Instead, the mum-of-two says education is the key to successful long-term fat loss that will change so many more things than potentially a number on the scales.

"The results that you want are made in a kitchen and in the gym. You can have a weight loss, but it's not going to be what you want," she adds.

"A you didn't earn it. So you're not familiar with how to get back there should anything ever change in your life. The only way to get back there is to go back on the same path that you went before. Once you've earned something, and you learn, education really is the key, then you know how to do it again."

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Speaking to 9Honey Coach previously, practising Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist Kate Save also stressed relying solely on medication posed "several risks".

"Weight loss medications are also unable to address individual underlying lifestyle and behavioural factors contributing to weight gain, such as poor sleeping habits and lack of portion controls," Save said.

One of the "most dangerous risks" is that people then tend to neglect important aspects of their health such as exercise, balanced diets and nutrition counts which medication doesn't counter. She said using a medication-first approach is simply not sustainable.

"Medication aims to suppress your appetite, which often results in your body not getting enough nutrients to function properly, especially without the guidance of a dietitian," Save explained.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 17: In this photo illustration, boxes of the diabetes drug Ozempic rest on a pharmacy counter on April 17, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Ozempic was originally approved by the FDA to treat people with Type 2 diabetes- who risk serious health consequences without medication. In recent months, there has been a spike in demand for Ozempic, or semaglutide, due to its weight loss benefits, which has led to shortages. Some doctors prescribe Ozempic off-label to treat
Ozempic relies on ingredients that suppress appetite. (Getty)

On the other hand, Professor John Dixon from Swinburne University's Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute told 9News he considered the medications a "breakthrough".

He said treatments like Wegovy offer an avenue for obesity to be treated as a genuine medical condition rather than a problem of patients' own making.

"Diet and exercise really have little or no effect in the vast majority of people who live with obesity. Diet and exercise are not very effective," he said.

"They've been stigmatised. They feel they're not worthy. And they too believe it's their fault. And nothing could be further from the truth. Most of it's genetic. Your predisposition to being lean is genetic, your predisposition to being obese is genetic."

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