Tirzepatide and semaglutide are two drug treatments that may improve your metabolic health and boost weight loss. Understanding the similarities and differences between these medications can help you decide if they're the best option for you.

Drug Types

Tirzepatide is a dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. Semaglutide is simply a GLP-1. GLP-1s act like GLP-1 hormones, triggering insulin production to reduce blood sugar levels. While it's unclear how they trigger weight loss, they do reduce hunger, which may promote better portion control. They also slow down food movement from the stomach to the small intestine, so people who take them may feel satiated sooner for longer.

Tirzepatide has the properties of both GLP-1s, like semaglutide and GIPs. GIPs mimic another hormone that promotes insulin release after eating food, especially foodstuffs high in sugar or fat. The hormones that GIPs and GLP-1s act like are both types of incretins.

Brand Names

Tirzepatide is sold as Mounjaro, a brand-name drug manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co. Semaglutide has three brand names: Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus. Novo Nordisk manufactures all three semaglutide drugs.

FDA Approved Usage

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Mounjaro — tirzepatide — via its Fast Track process as a drug treatment for type 2 diabetes in May 2022. The Fast Track process helps medications that fill unmet medical needs reach the market sooner. The FDA also approved Ozempic and Rybelsus as type 2 diabetes treatments. In June 2021, it approved the third semaglutide drug, Wegovy, for patients concerned with being overweight or obese. All semaglutide medications received standard FDA approval rather than being fast-tracked. Some people feel semaglutide is more trustworthy since it passed the usual FDA approval process.

While tirzepatide is a relatively new drug, the first semaglutide medication, Ozempic, received FDA approval in December 2017. While the manufacturers of Mounjaro claim GIP "may complement the effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists," there are limited studies examining the benefits and efficacy of combining the two synthetic incretin hormones. It's also important to note that only semaglutide has FDA approval as an effective and safe weight loss solution for people who are obese or overweight.

Delivery Method

Both tirzepatide and semaglutide are injectable drugs administered subcutaneously once a week. Injections are the best delivery for these medications since they ensure the body doesn't break down any parts of the drug before it can trigger your weight loss. Your doctor can show you how to give yourself these injections in the comfort and privacy of your own home during your first consultation. Most doctors will encourage their patients to make regular appointments during their treatment program to monitor their weight loss and side effects and adjust their optimal dosage as required.

The Mounjaro dosage starts at 2.5 mg. After four weeks, patients may receive a higher dose which increases weekly, up to a maximum of 15 mg. While these medications may make losing weight easier, organizations like the American Diabetes Association say patients should use the drugs in conjunction with other healthy habits such as exercise and proper nutrition. This approach helps patients maintain their weight loss.

Side Effects

Tirzepatide and semaglutide medications have similar common side effects, including the following:

  • Nausea.
  • Constipation.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Stomach or abdominal pain.

Low appetite and indigestion are also common side effects of taking tirzepatide. Serious side effects are rare but may include the following for both tirzepatide and semaglutide:

  • Pancreatitis.
  • Low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia, especially if you're taking another medication to lower blood sugar, such as insulin.
  • Allergic reactions including rashes, rapid heartbeat, swollen face, fainting, and difficulty breathing.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Gallbladder complaints, such as fever, jaundice, and unusual stool color.
  • Vision changes.

Side effects from these and other drug treatments can vary from person to person. Since the semaglutide dosage is typically lower than tirzepatide, many people notice fewer side effects taking forms of this drug. If you experience serious or concerning side effects from taking these medications, speak to your doctor to discuss alternative drug therapies or reducing your dose.

Typical Weight Loss

Tirzepatide and semaglutide have both helped people lose weight, according to results recorded in clinical trials. People taking Mounjaro, the brand name version of tirzepatide, lost an average of 22.5% of their body weight after 72 weeks. Clinical trials involving Wegovy and Ozempic, two versions of semaglutide, were shorter but still showed impressive weight loss. The average participant on Wegovy lost 14.9% of their body weight after 68 weeks. The average participant taking Ozempic lost 6.1% of their body weight after 52 weeks. The smaller recommended dose of semaglutide may also lead to more modest weight loss.

SURMOUNT-1 and STEP 1 trials focused on weight loss results for people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. These studies found diabetes 2 patients taking the high-dose 15 mg tirzepatide lost an average of 17.8% of their body weight over the 72-week study. Diabetes 2 patients taking a much lower semaglutide dose of 2.4 mg lost an average of 12.4% of their body weight over 68 weeks.

As with other medications, how well tirzepatide and semaglutide work for you depends on individual factors, including your genetics, lifestyle, and health history. These factors may also influence the dosage you need to get the results you want.

Get the Support of a Supervised Semaglutide Weight Loss Program at the biostation

A semaglutide program is one of four supervised weight loss programs available at the biostation. We choose semaglutide over tirzepatide because it's a trusted, safe, low-dose medication intended for weight loss. Our medically supervised programs help you identify the root of your weight loss issues, set weight loss goals, and develop a customized weight loss solution to improve your health and confidence. Our comprehensive programs combine the benefits of medications, counseling, and food and exercise plans to help you lose weight and keep it off for good. Request a consultation online or call us at 561-462-4894.

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