- What is Trulicity (Dulaglutide)?
- What are the side effects of Trulicity?
- Does Trulicity cause weight loss?
- How does Trulicity cause weight loss?
- How much weight can you lose with Trulicity?
- What dosage of Trulicity causes weight loss?
- How long does it take for Trulicity to work for weight loss?
- Can Trulicity be used for weight loss in non-diabetics?
- Will your doctor prescribe Trulicity for weight loss?
- Trulicity vs other weight loss & diabetes medications
- Can Trulicity cause weight gain?
- Tips to lose weight while taking Trulicity
If you’re taking medication to treat type 2 diabetes, you’d probably like to use a medication that doesn’t cause weight gain.
Certain diabetes medications can help you lose weight, such as Trulicity.
Keep reading to learn more about Trulicity weight loss.
What is Trulicity (Dulaglutide)?
Trulicity is a brand name for the medication dulaglutide. Dulaglutide is part of a class of medications called GLP-1 receptor agonists and is used to treat type 2 diabetes.
Trulicity isn’t meant to be taken by people with type 1 diabetes, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved it for weight loss.
Trulicity is a non-insulin injection that comes in a pen (a device that contains and injects the medication) in dosages of 0.75, 1.5, 3, and 4.5 milligrams. The standard dosages for Trulicity range from 0.75-4.5 milligrams weekly.
Your healthcare provider might recommend Trulicity if you’re not meeting your blood sugar goals on oral medications like metformin or sulfonylureas. One of the benefits of Trulicity is that it isn’t known to commonly cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) like sulfonylureas and insulin can.
What are the side effects of Trulicity?
Common side effects
The most common side effects of Trulicity are:
- Abdominal Pain
- Decreased appetite
Many of these side effects are related to the delayed stomach emptying that Trulicity causes.
Less frequent side effects
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar isn’t a common side effect of Trulicity, but it is possible, especially if you’re taking it with medications like sulfonylureas or insulin.
Symptoms of low blood sugar often include sweating, dizziness, hunger, fast heartbeat, irritability, and nervousness.
Very rare side effects
While rare, there is a risk of developing thyroid cancer while taking Trulicity. Avoid Trulicity if you or anyone in your family have had medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), a type of thyroid cancer. You also shouldn’t take Trulicity if you have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).
There is a small chance that you could develop pancreatitis while taking Trulicity. Some patients taking Trulicity developed pancreatitis.
However, patients with diabetes are already at an increased risk of pancreatitis compared to those without. Therefore, it’s difficult to determine how much greater Trulicity increases pancreatitis risk (1).
If you develop symptoms of pancreatitis while taking Trulicity, you should stop taking it immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
Symptoms of pancreatitis include:
- Upper abdominal pain
- Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
- Tenderness when touching your abdomen
- Rapid pulse
Diabetic retinopathy is a condition where nerves in your eyes are damaged from high blood sugar levels and can lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated.
Trulicity might lower your blood sugars quickly if it works well for you. Rapid lowering of blood sugar levels can temporarily worsen diabetic retinopathy.
According to studies, patients who had rapid improvement in blood sugar levels while taking dulaglutide experienced worsening of their diabetic retinopathy (2).
If you experience severe nausea and vomiting while taking Trulicity, it can lead to dehydration. Severe dehydration can worsen kidney disease and impact renal function in people without kidney disease. There is a risk of developing an acute kidney injury while taking Trulicity.
Trulicity might cause gallbladder problems such as cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation) or cholelithiasis (gallstones).
According to a study, Trulicity appears to be safe to use if you’ve had a cholecystectomy, which is the removal of your gallbladder (3).
Does Trulicity cause weight loss?
Trulicity is likely to cause some weight loss in people who take it. However, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll lose weight while taking Trulicity.
A study was done on people with type 2 diabetes taking dulaglutide (the drug name for Trulicity) (4). After 36 weeks, the patients receiving 4.5 milligrams of dulaglutide lost an average of 4.6 kilograms (a little over ten pounds). Patients receiving 1.5 milligrams weekly lost an average of 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds).
How does Trulicity cause weight loss?
Stomach emptying side effects
GLP-1 receptor agonists like Trulicity help boost levels of GLP-1, a type of hormone that helps boost satiety and reduce appetite. Levels of GLP-1 can be altered in people who are overweight or obese, which can lead to increased appetite and weight gain (5).
Besides increased levels of GLP-1, Trulicity also causes weight loss by delaying your gastric emptying. The longer food stays in your stomach before it empties into your intestines, the less hungry you’ll feel.
You might also experience weight loss with Trulicity due to side effects like nausea, vomiting, and decreased appetite, which can cause you to eat less than you normally do.
Trulicity might also cause weight loss by addressing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the root cause of type 2 diabetes.
When you’re insulin resistant, your body doesn’t use insulin effectively, making your blood sugar levels high.
When your blood sugar levels rise due to insulin resistance, your body tries to make more insulin to help lower them. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone, which can cause weight gain when more of it is produced.
If your blood sugar levels improve from taking Trulicity, your body might become more sensitive to insulin, and weight loss can be a result.
How much weight can you lose with Trulicity?
According to studies, participants on the highest doses of Trulicity lost up to ten pounds. How much weight you might lose with Trulicity depends on your initial body weight and other factors.
Making healthy lifestyle changes while taking Trulicity can also cause more significant weight loss than relying on Trulicity alone.
Losing 5-10% of your body weight can significantly improve your blood sugar levels. Sustainable weight loss can improve insulin resistance and lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What dosage of Trulicity causes weight loss?
People experienced weight loss while taking lower doses of Trulicity (1.5 milligrams weekly) and higher doses (4.5 milligrams weekly).
The amount of weight loss among study participants appears to be dose-dependent, meaning you’re likely to lose more weight when taking higher doses of Trulicity.
How long does it take for Trulicity to work for weight loss?
The study on participants taking Trulicity for weight loss was done over 36 weeks. You might notice weight loss sooner than that, or it might take several weeks to a couple of months for any weight loss to start.
When you start Trulicity, you’ll begin with a low dose and likely increase it over several weeks. You’ll likely have more significant weight loss once your dose increases. Therefore, you might not notice any weight loss until at least several weeks after starting Trulicity.
Can Trulicity be used for weight loss in non-diabetics?
The FDA hasn’t approved Trulicity for weight loss or for people without diabetes.
Will your doctor prescribe Trulicity for weight loss?
Your healthcare provider likely won’t prescribe Trulicity for weight loss, especially if you don’t have type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes and are considered overweight or obese, your healthcare provider might consider prescribing Trulicity.
Trulicity vs other weight loss & diabetes medications
Ozempic is another type of GLP-1 receptor agonist used to treat type 2 diabetes. The drug name for Ozempic is semaglutide.
What separates Ozempic vs Trulicity is the effectiveness. Ozempic appears to be more effective at lowering blood sugar levels than Trulicity, which can result in more significant weight loss.
In a study, participants taking .75 milligrams weekly of Trulicity averaged 4.6-pound weight loss compared to their baseline, while those taking 0.5 milligrams of Ozempic weekly lost an average of 9.3 pounds.
Next, we have Trulicity vs Wegovy. Wegovy is a different brand name for the same medication as Ozempic (semaglutide). Unlike Ozempic, Wegovy can be used in people without diabetes.
Even though it’s the same medication, Wegovy is intended for a different use and has different dosages than Ozempic.
The FDA approved Wegovy in 2021 to be used for weight management and weight loss. Wegovy dosages start at 0.25 milligrams per week and increase to a maximum of 2.4 milligrams per week.
Wegovy is meant for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or higher, which is in the “overweight” category.
According to a study on almost 2,000 overweight or obese adults without diabetes, participants taking Wegovy lost an average of 35 pounds over the 68-week study. That was the equivalent of around 15% of their starting body weight, which is significant.
Overall, 83% of people taking Wegovy lost at least 5% of their initial body weight while taking it.
Then we have Trulicity vs metformin. Metformin is the most popular oral medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. Metformin isn’t a weight loss medication, but it can cause weight loss in some people who take it.
A review of over 30 clinical trials summarized that taking metformin significantly reduced both weight and body mass index (BMI) of participants taking it (6).
According to a study on non-diabetic individuals with a body mass index (BMI) over 27, taking metformin resulted in more weight loss than the control group (7).
Finally, there is Trulicity vs Saxenda. Saxenda is a brand name for liraglutide, a type of GLP-1 receptor agonist (the same drug class as Trulicity). You might recognize the name liraglutide, which is the same drug name as Victoza, a medication used to treat diabetes.
The FDA approved Saxenda in 2014 as a weight loss medication. Saxenda is approved for adults with a BMI over 27 and children aged 12-17 who are over 132 pounds and considered obese.
According to a study, three out of five people taking Saxenda achieved a weight loss of 5% or more, which equates to an average of 12 pounds lost from their baseline.
One out of three people taking Saxenda had a significant weight loss of 10% or more, which was around 23 pounds lost on average.
While rarer, around 6% of people taking Saxenda lost over 20% of their initial body weight, or around 47 pounds on average.
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Can Trulicity cause weight gain?
Trulicity is associated with weight loss and isn’t known to result in weight gain. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to gain weight on Trulicity, though.
You might experience weight gain while taking Trulicity if your lifestyle habits change, such as exercising less or eating differently.
If you’re gaining a significant amount of weight while taking Trulicity, it could be a sign of other health problems like heart or kidney issues. You should consult your healthcare provider if you notice significant weight gain without obvious causes.
Tips to lose weight while taking Trulicity
If you want to lose weight while taking Trulicity, plenty of healthy lifestyle habits can help you along.
Remember that habit changes should be sustainable if you want to keep the weight off. Making drastic, strict changes isn’t likely to work long-term, which is why most people who try fad diets end up re-gaining the weight.
Be more mindful of your added sugar intake
Added sugar is present in the majority of processed foods. Sugary drinks are one of the main culprits of added sugar in a typical Western diet, such as soda, sweetened coffee and tea, and energy drinks.
Added sugar is also in less obvious foods like bread, condiments, salad dressings, soups, cereal, yogurt, and nutrition bars.
Aim to limit your added sugar to no more than 50 grams per day. Even better, try to keep it under 25 grams per day.
Cutting back on added sugar helps reduce extra calories and can help improve insulin resistance. Reducing added sugar and choosing more protein- and healthy fat-rich foods can boost satiety and reduce cravings.
Aim to move more
Getting enough physical activity can help you lose weight. Additionally, it can reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Getting more movement throughout your day doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t need a gym membership or access to a personal trainer.
Some ideas for getting more movement in your daily routine include going for walks during work breaks, going hiking somewhere scenic, working in your garden, and doing yoga classes through free online videos or streaming services.
Anything that increases your heart rate and breathing rate is a sign of good exercise, so pick things that you enjoy!
Trulicity is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes and isn’t meant to be used solely for weight loss. While it might not cause as significant weight loss as other weight loss medications, Trulicity is often associated with losing weight.
If you have type 2 diabetes and want to lose weight, Trulicity might be an option for you. If you don’t have diabetes and want help to lose weight, other weight loss medications might result in more significant weight loss than Trulicity.
Whether you want to treat diabetes, lose weight, or both, you should consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice on which medication might suit you best.
What Foods To Eat and Avoid When Taking Trulicity (Dulaglutide).