Trulicity and Weight Loss: Can Trulicity Help You Lose Weight?

As glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonists become more popular as weight loss drugs, you may start to recognize brands such as Trulicity.

Trulicity, injected once a week, is a medicine used to control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

However, more and more people are prescribing this drug to help with weight loss – although it has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this purpose.

Read on to learn more about Trulicity, its benefits and risks, and to determine if it’s the right weight loss method for you.

What is Trulicity?

Trulicity is a branded drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. In 2014, it was approved by the FDA for blood sugar management, often alongside insulin therapy.

It is an injectable drug that is taken once a week and belongs to the GLP-1 agonist class of drugs. The active substance in Trulicity is dulaglutide.

Trulicity lowers blood sugar levels by attaching to specific receptors on cells in the pancreas. This activates the pancreas to increase insulin production, thus lowering blood sugar levels.

Trulicity also prevents blood sugar spikes after meals by stopping the production of glucagon in the liver. This increases insulin sensitivity.

Finally, Trulicity slows down digestion. While this may cause some unwanted side effects, it can also make you feel fuller for longer.

Drugs similar to Trulicity are drugs such as Ozempic, Mounjaro and Victoza that are gaining popularity due to their ability to help people lose weight.

Can Trulicity Help You Lose Weight?

Technically yes. GLP-1 agonists like Wegovy are approved specifically for weight loss.

Although Trulicity is not approved by the FDA as a weight loss drug, many patients who take Trulicity to treat diabetes lose weight.

Although modest, Trulicity has been shown in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to help the average person lose around 6.6 pounds, which has been proven to last for 6 months.

Another study showed that, compared to placebo, dulaglutide (the active ingredient in Trulicity) helped patients achieve lower blood sugar levels, lower HbA1C levels and weight loss.

Trulicity is most effective when combined with a healthy diet, increased physical activity, and in addition to any prescribed diabetes medication.

Because Trulicity is not FDA approved as a weight loss drug, there is no recommended dosage to achieve weight loss. However, studies have shown that weight loss was dose-dependent, meaning that the more drugs people took, the more weight they were able to lose weight sustainably.

How fast can I lose weight on Trulicity?

We do not recommend taking Trulicity as a means of rapid weight loss. Sustainable weight loss will happen over time.

Because Trulicity suppresses your appetite and improves insulin sensitivity, any weight loss you experience will be gradual over several months.

Combine Trulicity with a healthy diet and increased exercise to increase your weight loss results.

How much weight can you lose with Trulicity?

According to studies, Trulicity has been found to help patients lose an average of 6.6 pounds and maintain this weight loss for over 6 months.

The drug is dose-dependent, so per 1 mg, patients typically lose an average of 6.6 pounds. At a dose of 3.0 mg, patients lose an average of 8.4 pounds, and at a maximum weekly dose of 4.5 mg, patients lose an average of 10.1 pounds.

However, weight loss is usually restored when patients stop taking the drug.

What are the side effects of Trulicity?

Trulicity can cause side effects, especially when you first start taking the medicine. These side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Tiredness
  • Redness and swelling at the injection site
  • Low blood sugar, especially if you are on insulin

In rare cases, Trulicity can cause:

  • Acute pancreatitis
  • A severe allergic reaction
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)

Do not take Trulicity if you have a personal or family history of MTC or multiple endocrine neoplasia.

The FDA has issued a black box warning regarding Trulicity’s association with an increased risk of thyroid cancer.

Who shouldn’t take Trulicity?

Do not take Trulicity unless you have a prescription for Trulicity. Do not use Trulicity if you are on a maintenance weight or underweight.

Ideally, you should not take Trulicity as a weight loss aid if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant.

Trulicity can cause serious (but rare) side effects, including thyroid C-cell tumors and medullary thyroid cancer (MTC).

If you are taking insulin, be aware that Trulicity may increase low blood sugar levels. You may want to start using a continuous glucose meter (CGM) before starting Trulicity if you struggle with frequent hypos, and especially if you struggle with hypoglycemic unawareness.

Can Trulicity replace insulin?

NO. Trulicity is very different from insulin and is not a substitute for insulin.

If you have recently been prescribed Trulicity, do not stop taking your other diabetes medications unless directed to do so by your doctor.

Trulicity lowers blood sugar over time, but does not cause acute low blood sugar the way insulin does.

If you usually take insulin, you will need to continue to do so. If you’ve been using Trulicity for a few months, you may notice that your need for insulin gradually decreases, but it rarely, if ever, completely eliminates the need for insulin if you have diabetes.

If you often experience low blood sugar while taking Trulicity, this most likely means that you have become more sensitive to insulin and your insulin dose will need to be reduced. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication and/or insulin doses to avoid frequent hypos.

Can I take Trulicity if I don’t have diabetes?

The rule of thumb is that you should never take any medication that has not been prescribed for you. Trulicity is only approved by the FDA as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. However, it is increasingly being prescribed “off-label,” meaning without FDA approval.

Trulicity is often prescribed for weight loss to people who are chronically insulin resistant and have trouble losing or maintaining weight – this can happen to people living with type 1 diabetes or pre-diabetes, or to people who are overweight or obese.

If you are not diabetic, be aware that Trulicity can cause side effects including low blood sugar and low blood pressure, which can be fatal if not treated properly.

If you’re trying to lose weight and don’t have diabetes, ask your doctor about FDA-approved weight loss medications that may be a better choice for you.

Is Trulicity for you? Let’s ask your doctor.

No healthcare solution is one-size-fits-all. Check with your GP to determine if a Trulicity prescription is the right weight loss method for you.

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