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Does Trulicity Cause Weight Loss?

Published on
Updated on
Does Trulicity Cause Weight Loss?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Trulicity is a GLP-1 medication approved to help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Though it can also result in weight loss, it’s not currently approved by the FDA for weight management. 
  • Trulicity can cause weight loss by slowing the rate of stomach emptying, promoting increased fullness and reduced appetite. 
  • The most common side effect of Trulicity is nausea. Eating small, frequent meals consisting of soft, low-fiber, and bland foods may help you manage this and other symptoms. 

You may have heard about Trulicity as a possible weight management tool.

Trulicity is an injectable medication originally developed to help reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

However, clinical trials show that many people also lose weight while taking it. 

Though it’s not FDA-approved for weight loss at this time, Trulicity is gaining traction for its off-label use in weight management.

Continue reading to learn more about how Trulicity causes weight loss, typical side effects, and how to manage them. 

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What is Trulicity?

Trulicity is a once-weekly injectable medication containing the active ingredient dulaglutide.

It is FDA-approved for use in people with type 2 diabetes and is part of the GLP-1 receptor agonist class of drugs.

Other medications in this family include Ozempic, Wegovy, and Saxenda

These medications work by increasing the amount of insulin and reducing the amount of glucose (sugar) your body releases. They also slow the rate of stomach emptying.

These changes together have been shown to help lower blood sugar and A1c levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 

Clinical trials have found that when combined with other diabetes medications, like Metformin, Trulicity can help improve starting A1c levels of 8-8.6% to less than 7% in as little as four weeks.

An A1c under seven percent is the standard goal of diabetes management, meaning Trulicity is highly effective.

Does Trulicity Cause Weight Loss?

Though Trulicity was created to help treat type 2 diabetes, notable weight loss has been observed as a secondary result in clinical trials.

Trulicity is not currently FDA-approved for weight management, but it is sometimes prescribed off-label for this purpose. 

Other GLP-1 medications like Wegovy and Saxenda have been FDA-approved for weight management. 

How Does Trulicity Work for Weight Loss?

Because Trulicity delays the rate of stomach emptying, it can result in a reduced appetite and increased fullness after eating.

This may help you eat less throughout the day and minimize overeating, helping with weight management efforts. 

What Does The Research Say?

Most of the research on Trulicity and weight loss has been conducted in people with type 2 diabetes.

Trulicity has not been extensively researched in people without diabetes who are overweight or obese. 

After a year of taking the highest dose of Trulicity (4.5 mg), participants with type 2 diabetes lost a total of 11.1 pounds on average.

It’s important to note that some people do not lose any weight on Trulicity, and the greatest weight loss happens at the highest dose.

How Much Weight Can You Lose with Trulicity?

One study found that people on the highest dose of Trulicity lost an average of 5% of their body weight, regardless of baseline BMI (body mass index).

The average weight loss over 36 weeks on different doses of Trulicity in clinical trials is summarized below. 

  • Trulicity 1.5 mg: -6.6 pounds.
  • Trulicity 3.0 mg: -8.4 pounds. 
  • Trulicity 4.5 mg: -10.1 pounds. 

Research also shows continued weight loss past the 36-week mark when the medication is taken for one year.

Experts recommend combining Trulicity therapy with a balanced diet and regular exercise to maximize results.

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How Is Trulicity Used?

Trulicity is a once-weekly injectable medication that goes into your stomach, thigh, or upper arm. It is available in four doses ranging from 0.75 mg to 4.5 mg. 

The drug manufacturer recommends starting Trulicity at the lowest dose and then increasing it every four weeks as instructed by your healthcare provider for blood sugar or weight management. 

Slowly ramping up the medication helps your doctor find the most effective dose and minimizes side effects. 

Who Can Take Trulicity for Weight Loss?

Since Trulicity is currently only approved for treating type 2 diabetes, the best candidates to use this medication for weight management are people with type 2 diabetes who have elevated body weight. 

If you want to take Trulicity off-label for weight management, talk to your doctor about your options. 

There are a few populations for whom Trulicity is not recommended, including people with:

  • Type 1 diabetes.
  • History of pancreatitis.
  • Certain gastrointestinal conditions, like gastroparesis. 
  • Children under the age of 10. 
  • History of thyroid cancer.

Risks and Side Effects

Like other GLP-1 medications, the most common side effects of Trulicity (meaning they happen in more than five percent of people taking it) are gastrointestinal.

Nausea is the top side effect, with 12-21% of people in clinical trials experiencing it depending on the dosage.

Typical side effects include: 

  • Nausea. 
  • Vomiting.
  • Reduced appetite. 
  • Diarrhea.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Indigestion.
  • Fatigue. 

Other digestive symptoms, like constipation, gas, bloating, and acid reflux, may occur but aren’t as common.

Though rare, more serious side effects have been reported while taking Trulicity. 

These include: 

  • Pancreatitis. 
  • Low blood sugar, especially in those also taking insulin.
  • Allergic reaction. 
  • Acute kidney injury. 
  • Severe gastrointestinal symptoms. 
  • Vision changes. 
  • Gallstones.

Trulicity has been shown to cause thyroid tumors and thyroid cancer in animal studies, but this has not been demonstrated in human trials.

As a precaution, experts recommend avoiding this medication if you have a personal or family history of thyroid cancer. 

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Tips for Minimizing the Side Effects

For many people, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are strongest when first starting the medication or increasing doses. These tend to improve with time.

For example, in clinical trials studying patients on 1.5 milligrams of Trulicity, 15.6% of people reported nausea in the first two weeks, but only 4.3% still had this symptom after 39 weeks on the medication. 

You can minimize GI symptoms by eating regularly throughout the day and doing your best not to skip meals.

This may feel challenging if you are nauseous or have a low appetite, but it is important for reducing the risk of low blood sugar levels and nausea. 

Focus on eating small, frequent meals consisting of soft, bland foods.

Foods that are lower in fiber may be easier to tolerate because these don’t take as long to digest. Minimize foods that are greasy, spicy, and high-fiber. 

Some examples of foods that tend to be well-tolerated include: 

  • Rice. 
  • Toast. 
  • Crackers.
  • Potatoes. 
  • Ground meat.
  • Tofu.
  • Eggs. 
  • Peanut butter. 

Other strategies, like slowing your eating pace, minimizing fluid intake during meals, and setting alarms to remind yourself to eat, may help reduce side effects while on Trulicity. 

How Does Trulicity Compare to Other Weight Loss Medications?

Since Trulicity is a diabetes drug, your insurance may not cover it for weight loss.

Talk to your doctor about other options if you want to try weight loss medication. 

Wegovy and Saxenda are examples within the GLP-1 family that are FDA-approved for treating weight loss.

They contain different active ingredients than Trulicity but have similar mechanisms of action. 

You may experience more significant weight loss on these medications. Clinical trials show adults taking Wegovy lose an average of 35 pounds over 68 weeks of treatment.

Results of Saxenda clinical trials demonstrate an average weight loss of 21 pounds over 56 weeks. 

Recall that patients in clinical trials on Trulicity lost an average of 11 pounds over 52 weeks. 

Takeaway

Trulicity may result in clinically significant weight loss, but at this time, it is only approved for treating type 2 diabetes.

In some cases, Trulicity may be prescribed off-label for weight management in combination with a nutrition and exercise plan. 

Delayed stomach emptying while on Trulicity can lead to increased satiety and reduced appetite, making it easier to eat less.

However, this can also result in gastrointestinal side effects like nausea.

Focus on easy-to-digest foods and eat regularly throughout the day to minimize these symptoms. 

How a Dietitian Can Help

If you’ve been prescribed Trulicity or other GLP-1 medications for type 2 diabetes or weight loss, a registered dietitian can help you optimize your diet.

The goal is to make sustainable changes to maximize your results and manage any side effects. 

Find a dietitian near you that accepts insurance using Nourish.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for Trulicity to work for weight loss?

Trulicity starts working right away, with many people noticing weight loss within the first four weeks of initiating treatment. Studies show that, on average, the weight loss trend continues over the course of the first year and beyond. 

However, everyone responds to Trulicity differently; some people do not lose weight on this medication. Talk to your healthcare team about your options if you aren’t noticing results.

Can Trulicity cause rapid weight loss?

Trulicity does not typically cause rapid weight loss, with clinical trials showing an average weight loss of six to ten pounds over an eight-month treatment period. However, depending on dosage, medical history, and lifestyle habits, some people may experience a more significant weight loss response. 

If you have rapid weight loss upon starting Trulicity, talk to your doctor to rule out other potential causes and to ensure you are losing weight in a healthy way.

How much weight does the average person lose on Trulicity?

Results from clinical trials show that the average participant lost between 6.6 and 10.1 pounds after being on Trulicity for 36 weeks. People on higher doses lost more weight than those on lower doses. However, not everyone loses weight on Trulicity. Experts recommend a healthy diet and regular physical activity to maximize results on this medication.

References

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