So you’ve been using lots of weight loss drugs along with healthy diet compliance and exercise but still find it hard to shed some pounds?
Soon it will become much easier for you and anyone wishing to get back in shape as a new weight loss drug is on the horizon – tirzepatide for weight loss.
What is Tirzepatide?
Tirzepatide, marketed as Mounjaro, is a new injectable medication initially indicated for diabetes and now for obesity. This emerging drug is the first dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide/glucagon-like peptide-1 (GIP/GLP-1) receptor, an agonist.
If you’re unfamiliar with these medical terms, GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) are a class of drugs that mimic the actions of the GLP-1 – a peptide hormone naturally produced in the intestine. The primary role of GLP-1 is to stimulate insulin and inhibit glucagon secretion.
Insulin and glucagon are the hormones that work together to maintain a balanced blood sugar level in the body. Insulin decreases blood sugar levels by moving glucose into the cells for energy supply. In contrast, glucagon increases blood sugar levels and prevents them from dropping too low.
So, GLP-1 RAs are designed to aid in insulin and glucagon actions.
On the other hand, GIP is another peptide hormone produced in the intestine that acts as an insulin secretion “booster.”
Several GLP-1 RAs are available on the market, like semaglutide or its marketed brand products (Ozempic and Rybelsus) for treating diabetes and obesity. Nevertheless, tirzepatide is the first drug that mimics the actions of both GLP-1 and GIP.
It looks like the new drug has more potential than any others do. But can tirzepatide be the next breakthrough in weight loss medications? First, let’s find out how it works.
How Does Tirzepatide Work for Weight Loss?
When we eat, our bodies naturally release GIP and GLP-1 to signal our pancreas that they should release insulin and make us feel satiated. This response helps with food digestion and blood sugar maintenance.
However, for people with type 2 diabetes, their body cannot use GIP or GLP-1 adequately or cannot release them at all.
And this is when tirzepatide comes into play.
This drug mimics what GIP and GLP-1 do in our bodies, increasing the sensitivity to and amount of insulin our bodies need to reduce blood sugar.
But, what exactly does tirzepatide do to help people lose weight?
Tirzepatide slows down the time digested food is delivered from your stomach to your intestines in a process called “gastric emptying.” Typically, food takes 1-2 hours to move out of your stomach. With tirzepatide, it can take longer than that. This slow-down in stomach activity prolongs your feeling of satiety and aids in weight loss.
Sometimes, we need to eat less to lose weight. The rule is clear: less food, more exercise. Or, calories in must be less than calories out. The longer you stay full after your last meal, the fewer calories you consume.
Evidence for Tirzepatide as the Treatment of Obesity
Much research has been done on the efficacy of tirzepatide for weight loss and obesity. For example, the latest study by The New England Journal of Medicine found that tirzepatide helped over 2500 adults with weight-related conditions lose as much as 21 percent of their body weight. Sounds impressive, right?
Specifically, 72 weeks of once-weekly injectable tirzepatide (5 mg, 10 mg, or 15 mg) resulted in a significant reduction in body weight among participants whose average weight was 104.8 kg (over 230 lb). At the end of the study, those who took 5-mg weekly doses of tirzepatide lost 15 percent of their weight, whereas those on 15-mg doses lost 20.9 percent.
Tirzepatide Safety and Side Effects
Tirzepatide for weight loss is generally safe and well-tolerated if used in recommended dosages.
Always start with the lowest dose – 2.5 mg once weekly. After four weeks, you can take 5 mg. Your quantity can then increase by 2.5 mg every four weeks after that. You may use a maximum of 15 mg once each week.
Some possible side effects of tirzepatide include:
- Decreased Appetite
- Abdominal Pain
However, don’t be too concerned about having those uncomfortable feelings after you take the drug, as side effects are reported in only 5 percent of patients treated with tirzepatide.
It would help if you kept in mind when considering tirzepatide for weight loss that the drug comes with a Boxed Warning regarding the contraindications in specific people with:
- Thyroid C-cell tumors
- A family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome
Tirzepatide and Semaglutide: Which Weight Loss Drug is Better?
First, you should know that tirzepatide and semaglutide work similarly to appetite suppressants as they curb your hunger. However, you can only take appetite suppressants for short-term use of 12 weeks or less. In contrast, tirzepatide or semaglutide allow much longer availability depending on your physique.
Second, tirzepatide and semaglutide are injectable drugs in an auto-injector pen with a pre-attached, hidden needle. Have a fear of needles? You don’t have to handle or see the needles with well-established injector pens.
Third, regarding efficacy, since semaglutide mimics just one hormone (GLP-1) and tirzepatide imitates two (GIP and GLP-1), the latter supposedly has a better effect on weight loss.
According to another study comparing the two weight loss drugs by The New England Journal of Medicine, those on tirzepatide experienced more significant body weight reduction than those taking semaglutide.
Specifically, 40 weeks of tirzepatide (5 mg, 10 mg, or 15 mg) and semaglutide (1 mg) among over 1800 patients found that the former resulted in 11.2 kg of weight loss. In contrast, it’s only 5.7 kg among the latter.
With all that said, whether you’re taking tirzepatide or semaglutide, the most critical foundation for sustainable weight loss is diet and exercise. Any adjunct medication regimen you’re following aids your weight loss and is not the only “all-powerful” option.
When Will Tirzepatide Get FDA Approval for Weight Loss?
Tirzepatide is approved by the FDA as a drug for diabetes, as announced by the federal agency on 13 May 2022.
Nevertheless, the drug hasn’t yet been licensed for weight loss. The company that develops tirzepatide, Eli Lilly, aims to facilitate approval as a treatment for obesity, given that the diabetic medication shows scientifically proven benefits for weight loss.
According to the company representative, Eli Lilly and the FDA agreed that a regulatory submission for chronic weight control would need to be backed up by the results of all four international trials.
So, let’s hope that tirzepatide for weight loss will soon become available in U.S. pharmacies as the next game changer in weight loss drugs.
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