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Does Mounjaro (Tirzepatide) Really Help With Weight Loss?

<p>Does Mounjaro (Tirzepatide) Really Help With Weight Loss?</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 6 min read

Although many people consider being overweight or obese a cosmetic issue, it is important to remember that it is also a medical condition. Carrying as little as 10 extra pounds might mean that your favorite pair of jeans no longer fit, but it also means more weight for your joints and bones to carry and more work for your heart. This can increase your risk of obesity-related health effects like osteoarthritis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, gallstones, and the list goes on. Additionally, being overweight or obese can affect a person’s confidence levels and overall emotional well-being. 

While most people who are overweight or obese understand that the weight needs to come off, this often proves to be easier said than done. Fortunately, those in the medical field are working diligently each day to make this feat easier and more effective than ever. One of the biggest breakthroughs in recent years is the use of Mounjaro for weight loss. Although it currently does not hold approval by the Food and Drug Administration for this use, recent trials and studies of the medication for weight loss have been promising and are garnering a lot of attention in the weight loss and medical communities. 

What is Mounjaro?

Mounjaro is a prescription, injectable medication that is used to aid patients with type 2 diabetes in better controlling their blood sugar levels. Although commonly referred to as Mounjaro, this is actually the brand name of the medication, and the medicine itself is known as tirzepatide. This class of medications is also referred to as GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) receptor agonists.

The medication was approved by the FDA in May 2022 for patients with type 2 diabetes, but it is also being tested and well-received for its use as a weight loss drug. Many doctors are currently prescribing it to patients who are significantly overweight for this off-label use and reporting success.

How Do Tirzepatides Like Mounjaro Work?

Tirzepatides are medications that are designed to provide better stability to those who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Those who have this condition have difficulties in producing an adequate amount of insulin or their body resists insulin altogether. In those without diabetes, insulin is naturally produced within the pancreas and is required for transforming the food we eat into energy that we need for our bodies to perform properly.

Because type 2 diabetes prevents this much-needed function from occurring on its own, medications are required to prevent blood sugar levels from falling too low or climbing too high. When either of these occurs, the individual will experience several symptoms including fatigue, weakness, and nausea. In severe cases, uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can lead to nerve damage, kidney disease, heart disease, and even death. 

When tirzepatides like Mounjaro are injected into the body, the medication can mimic the GLP-1 and GIP hormones that aid in regulating blood sugar levels in individuals without type 2 diabetes. This type of medication is particularly effective in controlling these levels because unlike other diabetes medications, it is “dual-action” which means that Mounjaro can connect with both GLP-1 and GIP receptors to maximize its efficacy. In the same manner that the medication regulates blood sugar in diabetic patients, it is also used to help patients lose weight. 

How Often Do You Take It? 

Like all medications, Mounjaro should be taken as prescribed by a doctor. Although the dosage will vary from one person to the next, Mounjaro is only taken once per week. This medication; however, is not a pill and must be injected into the fatty layers of the skin. Typically, this means that it should be injected into the stomach, thigh, or arm after properly cleansing the skin first to prevent possible infection. Although it is an injection, Mounjaro comes in an easy-to-use pen. This means that those who take it do not have to mix the medication and fill a syringe on their own. Likewise, there is no need to handle needles.

When this medication is prescribed, a doctor or nurse will explain how to administer the injection pen properly to minimize the potential for bruising, pain, or skin irritation. It is also recommended that you switch injection sites from one week to the next to avoid excessive pain, soreness, or bruising in one area. Likewise, those who take the medication for type 2 diabetes should avoid attempting to mix Mounjaro with insulin injections. Despite the fact that both of these medications are injected, they are not intended to be mixed together. Administer each medication separately as directed. 

Can Mounjaro Make You Lose Weight?

While Mounjaro has shown promising results in helping those who are overweight lose extra pounds, it is not an instant solution to obesity. Like most other medications used for weight loss, those who are taking Mounjaro should pair it with a healthy diet and regular exercise regime. This will help to maximize the results experienced by taking the medication and will also aid in maintaining overall optimal health over time. 

According to studies and trials conducted, Mounjaro appears to be the most effective diabetes medication for those who need to lose excess weight. While other forms of treatments for type 2 diabetes can lead to moderate weight loss, Mounjaro produces more significant results of up to 20% of a person’s total body weight. Despite this, weight loss occurs slowly over time with patients losing around 25 pounds after a year of taking the medication weekly. The specific dose that an individual was taking throughout these weight loss studies also had a significant impact on their success with weight loss. Those who took a maximum dose of around 15 mg lost up to 27 pounds for a year, while those who took the lowest dose of 2.5 mg lost 17 pounds. 

It is believed that Mounjaro aids in weight loss in multiple ways, including decreasing one's 

appetite and cravings and slowing down digestion which helps them feel fuller for longer. Mounjaro is still being evaluated and studied for weight loss purposes and it may not be effective for everyone. Its efficacy may also depend on many factors such as age, BMI, gender, existing health conditions, other medications that are taken, and diet.

Drug Interactions

When taking any medication within the tirzepatide category, this is a risk of serious drug interactions. Because of this, it is important to ensure that your medical team always has a cohesive, updated, and exclusive list of all of the medications and supplements that you are taking. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins. Although many people only consider other prescription medications when prompted, certain vitamins and herbs when mixed with prescriptions can cause significant interactions. 

Some of the most severe interactions with Mounjaro include alcohol, bexarotene, gatifloxacin, cortisone, dopamine, ginseng, and prednisone. There are hundreds of other drugs, vitamins, and herbs that can potentially cause moderate reactions when mixed with Mounjaro. If in doubt, be sure to speak with your doctor before mixing any medications. 

Are There Any Side Effects?

Regardless of whether Mounjaro is used to treat type 2 diabetes or for weight loss, there is a risk of side effects from the medication. Because side effects can occur, it is crucial to adhere to a doctor’s advice when it comes to the risks and benefits. Part of the process behind prescribing a medication is an overall evaluation of whether the potential benefits of taking the medication are greater than the potential risks. Some of the most common side effects experienced when taking Mounjaro include: 

  • Vomiting

  • Upset stomach

  • Stomach pains

  • Diarrhea

  • Fatigue 

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss 

  • Constipation

  • Indigestion

  • Nausea

  • Pain or swelling at the site of injection

If these mild side effects are experienced, in most cases, they are most prominent within the first day or two after the medication is taken. They typically subside altogether within a few weeks but may start again when a patient's dosage is raised or otherwise altered. In either case, be sure to mention all side effects experienced during a regular checkup. 

In rare cases, severe complications can arise as a result of taking Mounjaro. If any of these side effects are noted, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or neck

  • Dizziness

  • Uncontrollable shaking

  • Weakness

  • Profuse sweating

  • Difficulties breathing

  • Visual impairments

  • Confusion

  • Difficulty speaking

  • Severe abdominal or stomach pain

Warnings Regarding Mounjaro

In addition to common side effects and more severe adverse reactions, Mounjaro is prescribed along with a host of warnings regarding the safety of the medication. The most concerning warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the potential for thyroid cancer. Those who use Mounjaro are warned that they may be at an increased risk for developing this disease and are cautioned to perform regular checks for lumps or swelling on their neck. They should also seek medical advice immediately if they notice difficulties in swallowing or other problems related to the neck or throat. Those who have a history of a specific type of thyroid cancer, either personally or within their families, should avoid the medication because of the increased risk. 

Warnings are also issued to those with certain conditions that may be worsened by taking Mounjaro. For instance, those who have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), pancreatitis, kidney problems, gallbladder problems, stomach disorders, or diabetic retinopathy. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and taking Mounjaro or considering it should speak with their doctor immediately to determine whether it is safe to continue or to begin using the medication. 

Is Mounjaro Right for Me?

While Mounjaro is an FDA-approved medication, it is currently approved for use in patients with type 2 diabetes. Because of this, there is some risk involved in taking the medication if you are a person who is interested in taking it for weight loss purposes instead. If you are interested in using Mounjaro for weight loss, it is crucial to explore all of your options with a medical doctor. The doctor will be able to adequately assess any risks that the medication may provide based on your personal health history. If Mounjaro is determined to be a safe choice, it can be an effective tool for jumpstarting a weight loss journey

 

12 Sources

Nu Image Medical has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4238740/ 

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html 

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-novel-dual-targeted-treatment-type-2-diabetes 

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a622044.html 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35802842/ 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193 

https://www.mounjaro.com/how-to-use-mounjaro 

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=d2d7da5d-ad07-4228-955f-cf7e355c8cc0 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35807558/ 

https://www.drugs.com/sfx/mounjaro-side-effects.html

https://nuimagemedical.com/wayt-tain 

https://nuimagemedical.com/exercise/benefits-of-short-duration-workouts


This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.