Tirzepatide (Monoujaro) is FDA-approved to help lower blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes.
Tirzepatide is the first medication in its class. It works by slowing digestion and helping you feel full while lowering blood sugar.
In October 2022, the FDA granted tirzepatide a Fast Track designation for reviewing and potentially approving it as a weight loss medication for people without diabetes. Currently, some doctors prescribe tirzepatide as an off-label weight loss medication.
Tirzepatide is a newer FDA-approved medication for type 2 diabetes. It’s taken as a weekly injection to help balance blood sugar in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. During clinical trials, participants lost up to 20% of their starting weight. As a result, some healthcare professionals prescribe tirzepatide off-label for weight loss, although the FDA has not yet approved it for this use.
Read on to learn more about Tizepatide, what it treats, and how it helps users lose weight.
What Is Tirzepatide (Mounjaro)?
In May 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved tirzepatide under the brand name Mounjaro. This new medication treats type 2 diabetes when combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
The medication comes in injection form and is not available as an oral medication. People who take tirzepatide inject themselves once a week with a pre-filled pen. They may take the medication as a stand-alone treatment or along with other diabetes medication.
The initial dose of tirzepatide is small. Over several weeks, your doctor may increase the dose depending on how you tolerate the medication, your blood sugar trends, and how your A1C responds.
Currently, the FDA approves tirzepatide only for type 2 diabetes—the medication reduces glycemic levels and improves insulin sensitivity. It’s important to note that the medication does not treat type 1 diabetes. It has also not been tested in people with pancreatitis.
Some doctors may prescribe tirzepatide off-label for weight loss. However, it does not yet have FDA approval for this use. Off-label means that the FDA has not specifically tested the safety of using this medication solely for weight loss. It can also mean that insurance will not cover it if you do not have diabetes.
How Does Tirzepatide Work?
Tirzepatide is unique in that it is a first-in-class medicine that activates both the Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) receptors. GLP-1 and GIP are hormones that help regulate blood sugar by triggering the pancreas to release insulin and slowing the release of glucose from the liver.
When your blood sugar decreases, digestion slows and hunger decreases. The medication helps you feel full longer, so you consume fewer calories without feeling deprived.
Is Tirzepatide Used For Weight Loss?
During clinical trials, researchers noted that tirzepatide could reduce body weight by more than 20% in people with diabetes. However, currently, the FDA only approves this medication to help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Regardless, some medical providers prescribe tirzepatide for weight loss in those who don’t have diabetes.
In October 2022, the manufacturer received Fast Track designation for possible approval as a weight loss medication for those without diabetes. This review process is much faster than traditional reviews and may lead to the FDA approving this medication for weight loss in the near future. If approved, healthcare providers could prescribe this medication to treat adults with obesity or overweight with weight-related comorbidities.
If you’re interested in taking a GLP-1 agonist for weight loss, talk to your medical provider about the potential benefits and risks of taking tirzepatide. Your provider can help you decide if this medication is right for you.*
*K Health does not prescribe Tirzepatide for weight loss.
Side Effects and Risks of Tirzepatide
Like other medications, tirzepatide has several potential side effects, including:
Some side effects are serious. Seek medical attention if you experience stomach pain that doesn’t go away. The pain may radiate to your back or cause vomiting.
Tirzepatide can also cause low blood sugar. Seek medical attention if you experience:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Anxiety, irritability, or mood changes
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Confusion or drowsiness
- Shakiness or weakness
- Fast heart rate
Alternatives to Tirzepatide
If you’re seeking an alternative to tirzepatide for weight loss, there are several options you can discuss with your medical provider. The best treatment depends on your overall health and weight loss goals.
Other weight loss medications include:
- Semaglutide (Wegovy)
- Orlistat (Alli, Xenical)
- Liraglutide (Saxenda)
- Naltrexone/bupropion (Contrave)
- Phentermine (Adipex-P)
- Phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia)
Regular physical activity and a reduced-calorie diet are also necessary for weight loss. It’s best to discuss all of your options with your medical provider before starting any medication.
Bariatric surgery may be an option for some. This surgery can help you lose a large amount of weight quickly. However, it’s important to understand the risks associated with this procedure before deciding if bariatric surgery is right for you.
Tirzepatide is a weekly injection to lower blood sugar levels in those living with type 2 diabetes. Along with eating a reduced-calorie diet and increasing physical activity, this medication can help people with type 2 diabetes lose up to 20% of their weight. Currently, this medication is being trialed by the FDA for weight loss. Even without approval, some doctors prescribe tirzepatide as an off-label weight loss medication.
Medications like tirzepatide can help you lose weight but have side effects and risks. Talk to your medical provider to determine which medication or treatment plan is best for you.
Prescription Weight Loss Online
Now you can manage weight loss online using K Health.*
Get care in three easy steps:
- Tell us about yourself.
- Chat with a clinician.
- Manage your condition with medication refills, lab tests, and more.
*K Health does not prescribe Tirzepatide for weight loss.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
FDA approves novel, dual-targeted treatment for type 2 diabetes. (2022.)
Lilly receives U.S. FDA Fast Track designation for tirzepatide for the treatment of adults with obesity, or overweight with weight-related comorbidities. (2022.)
Tirzepatide, a new era of dual-targeted treatment for diabetes and obesity: A mini-review. (2022.)
Tirzepatide injection. (2022.)