Trulicity for weight loss: does it work?
Trulicity is a prescription drug used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. As a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, Trulicity works by stimulating the body’s natural production of insulin, inhibiting the release of glucagon and slowing digestion. In clinical trials, Trulicity has been shown to help people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and improve their glycemic control.
It is estimated that around 70% of adults in the United States are obese or overweight. Obesity and overweight are serious health conditions that are associated with some of the leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, as well as an increased risk of certain types of cancer. Losing 5% to 10% of body weight through diet and exercise has been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in adults who are obese or overweight.
What is Trulicity (dulaglutide)?
Trulicity is an FDA-approved brand-name medication that is used as an adjunct to exercise and diet to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It is proven to help lower A1C and is also used to reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus who have established cardiovascular disease or multiple cardiovascular risk factors. Although not indicated for weight loss, Trulicity is known to cause weight loss as a side effect of taking the medication.
Trulicity is part of a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. The active ingredient in Trulicity is dulaglutide and this medication is manufactured by Eli Lilly. These drugs work by increasing insulin release and suppressing glucagon (a hormone that raises blood sugar levels) in response to meals. As a result, Trulicity can help lower blood glucose levels after meals.
Trulicity is available in prefilled pens in the following doses:
- 0.75mg pen
- 1.5mg pen
- 3.0mg pen
- 4.5mg pen
The recommended initial dose of Trulicity is 0.75mg injection subcutaneously (under the skin, in the abdomen, thigh or upper arm) once weekly and is increased to 1.5mg once weekly for additional glycemic control. If additional glycemic control is needed, the dose is increased to 3mg once weekly after at least 4 weeks on the 1.5mg dose. If after 4 weeks on the 3mg dose, additional glycemic control is needed, the dose of Trulicity is increased to 4.5mg once weekly.
This medication should be taken once weekly, any time of the day, and can be taken with or without food.
Is Trulicity prescribed for weight loss?
No, Trulicity is not specifically prescribed for weight loss. However, as a side effect of taking the medication, many people do experience weight loss.
If you are interested in learning more about using Trulicity for weight loss, speak with your healthcare provider about the potential risks and benefits of using Trulicity for weight loss. Trulicity may be prescribed off-label for weight loss if your prescribing doctor determines that it is safe and medically appropriate.
Does Trulicity cause weight loss?
Clinical studies have demonstrated that Trulicity has been successful at helping people lose weight, despite the fact that Trulicity is not indicated for weight loss. Trulicity should be used in combination with diet and exercise. However, not all people in the study lost weight.
If you are considering using Trulicity for weight loss, you should get medical advice from your healthcare professional regarding the potential risks and benefits of using Trulicity for weight loss.
How does Trulicity cause weight loss?
Trulicity acts like GLP-1 and binds to the GLP-1 receptors. It stimulates insulin release from the pancreas and reduces the amount of glucose that the liver produces, which makes you feel full by slowing gastric emptying.
How much weight can you lose with Trulicity?
The manufacturer of Trulicity, Lilly, reported on a 36-week clinical study of people with a BMI (body mass index) of greater than or less than 33.2 or higher. Doses of Trulicity 1.5mg, 3.0mg, and 4.5mg were evaluated in the study to report on the varying results of Trulicity dosages for weight loss. People with higher BMI that were taking higher doses of Trulicity had the most weight loss as measured in pounds lost from baseline. The average weight loss from the highest dose of Trulicity (4.5 mg) was 10.1 pounds. Trulicity 3mg was found to not be statistically significant vs Trulicity 1.5mg on weight change.
As well, the AWARD-11 clinical trial showed that weight loss had occurred most frequently in people with the highest initial BMI who were on the highest doses of Trulicity.
Trulicity dosage for weight loss
|Dosage||Average weight loss|
|1.5 mg||6.6 lbs|
|3 mg||8.4 lbs|
|4.5 mg||10.1 lbs|
Source: Trulicity and weight loss
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Who can take Trulicity for weight loss?
Trulicity is not FDA-approved for weight loss. However, there are other GLP-1 receptor antagonists that are FDA-approved for weight loss. Saxenda (liraglutide) and Wegovy (semaglutide) are indicated for weight loss treatment.
Trulicity has been prescribed off-label for weight loss and studies have shown that Trulicity can cause weight loss as a positive side effect.
This medication is only FDA-approved to be used in people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. As many people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes may also suffer from obesity, Trulicity can help them lose weight.
There could potentially be serious side effects and adverse effects related to hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose levels, for those who take Trulicity and do not have type 2 diabetes.
Trulicity does not have a proven history for the treatment of individuals with a history of pancreatitis who should consider other antidiabetic therapies. It is not for the treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus. Trulicity has also not been studied in people with severe gastrointestinal disease, including severe gastroparesis, and is therefore not recommended for use.
Trulicity is contraindicated in people who have a family history of MTC and individuals with MEN 2, as well as in people with a prior serious hypersensitivity reaction to Trulicity (dulaglutide) or any of its ingredients.
There is no data on the presence of Trulicity in human milk and the effects while breastfeeding. Speak with your doctor about the possible risks of taking this medication while pregnant or breastfeeding.
How long does it take for Trulicity to work for weight loss?
Everyone is different and there is no one answer. It is not possible to predict how long it will take to start losing weight once starting to take Trulicity. Given how Trulicity works, you should start to notice a change in appetite within the first few weeks. For best results, Trulicity should be taken in conjunction with diet and exercise.
Trulicity alternatives for weight loss
Wegovy is an injectable prescription drug that is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. It is FDA-approved for weight loss and contains the same active ingredient as Ozempic and Rybelsus, semaglutide. Wegovy is a once-weekly injection and is used in combination with a healthy diet and increased physical activity to manage weight in adults.
RELATED: Wegovy vs Ozempic
Saxenda is an FDA-approved prescription weight loss injection with the active ingredient liraglutide. It is manufactured by Novo Nordisk.
RELATED: Saxenda vs Ozempic
Ozempic is a brand-name prescription medication that is manufactured by Novo Nordisk and is available as an injection. Ozempic isn’t prescribed for weight loss, but weight loss is a possible side effect of taking this medication.
RELATED: Ozempic vs Trulicity, Ozempic for weight loss
Rybelsus is a brand-name tablet that is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. It isn’t prescribed for weight loss, but weight loss is a possible side effect of taking this medication.
RELATED: Rybelsus vs Ozempic, Rybelsus for weight loss
Victoza is also a brand-name medication manufactured by Novo Nordisk that is used once daily to lower blood sugar and A1C. Victoza is not FDA-approved for weight loss. However, due to the way this drug works, Victoza may cause weight loss as a possible side effect.
RELATED: Ozempic vs Victoza
Other diabetic medications which may cause weight loss
While diabetes medications are not indicated for weight management, weight loss is a positive side effect while using them for many people. These are other diabetic medications that may result in weight loss as a possible secondary endpoint:
- Byetta (exenatide)
- Bydureon (exenatide extended release)
- Adlyxin (lixisenatide)
- Victoza (liraglutide)
- Trulicity (dulaglutide)
- Amylin mimetics:
- Symlin (pramlintide)
- Invokana (canagliflozin)
- Jardiance (empagliflozin)
- Farxiga (dapagliflozin)
- Steglatro (ertugliflozin)
- Januvia (sitagliptin)
- Tradjenta (linagliptin)
- Onglyza (saxagliptin)
- Nesina (alogliptin)
Trulicity side effects
Common side effects of Trulicity include :
- stomach pain (abdominal pain)
- decreased appetite, indigestion, and fatigue
According to Eli Lilly, “8% to 29% using Trulicity experienced some nausea, which typically occurred during the first 2 to 3 days after they took their first dose.”
Serious side effects may include:
- inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis)
- low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- signs and symptoms of low blood sugar
- serious allergic reactions
- acute kidney injury
- severe stomach problems
- changes in vision
This is not a complete list of all possible side effects. If you experience any side effects or allergic reactions while taking this medication, speak with your doctor right away.
- Trulicity is not an FDA-approved weight-loss drug. However, taking this medication could result in weight loss due to the way the medication works.
- Trulicity is known to improve blood glucose levels and blood sugar control in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- Clinical studies have shown that Trulicity causes greater weight loss in people with a higher initial BMI and higher doses of Trulicity.
- You can speak with your doctor to find out if Trulicity can be prescribed off-label to help with your weight management goals. It is important for your doctor to consider the risks and benefits of taking this medication, especially if you do not have type 2 diabetes. This medication could be potentially unsafe for those without type 2 diabetes.
A medical professional has reviewed this article.
Dr. Jamie Winn received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2002 from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia, SC. Jamie is a medical reviewer for NiceRx.