Trulicity for Weight Loss: Is It Safe and Effective in the UK?

Dr. Babak Ashrafi

Medically reviewed by

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Last reviewed: 01 May 2024

Trulicity is an injectable type 2 diabetes medication that may also be effective as a treatment for weight loss. Read on to learn about the safety and effectiveness of Trulicity, and whether it could soon be released for weight loss in the UK.

Dr Babak Ashrafi, Clinical Lead for Service Expansion

“Trulicity is a type 2 diabetes treatment that has gained popularity online because of its weight loss properties. We don’t recommend getting type 2 diabetes treatments prescribed off-label (not for their original purpose). Not only are they harder to get, they also don’t follow the right dosage schedule to be most effective for weight loss. This can also cause shortages of essential medication. It’s best to stick to approved and regulated weight loss injections, such as Wegovy or Mounjaro.” Dr Babak Ashrafi, Clinical Lead for Service Expansion

What is Trulicity (dulaglutide)?

Trulicity is a medication for type 2 diabetes that helps to manage your blood sugar levels. It contains the active ingredient dulaglutide. It comes in the form of an injectable pen that you inject once per week, usually into the abdomen or thigh. Trulicity has also seen positive results when used for weight loss, as it can help to reduce your appetite.

How does Trulicity work?

Trulicity works for diabetes by helping you to control your blood sugar levels by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). This increases the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas, and reduces the amount of glucagon produced in the liver.

Insulin is a hormone that is usually produced to regulate blood sugar levels, especially after eating, but people with diabetes don’t produce enough insulin, or it doesn’t work as well as it should. Insulin converts glucose into energy.

Glucagon is another hormone that has an effect on your blood sugar levels. When insulin isn’t working correctly, your liver starts to produce more glucagon. This causes an increase in blood sugar levels, as your body thinks it needs more energy. This can cause blood sugar levels to become too high (hyperglycaemia).

Trulicity and weight loss

Trulicity for weight loss works by reducing your appetite, so you don’t need to eat as much to feel full. It sends signals to your brain that you’re full by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone.

What does Trulicity do to your body?

Trulicity contains the active ingredient dulaglutide, which is a type of medication called a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. These medications work by mimicking the effect of a hormone called GLP-1 that occurs naturally in your body.

The hormone GLP-1 helps your body to produce insulin and regulates the release of glucagon, which helps to control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.

When it comes to Trulicity and weight loss, this hormone also slows how long it takes food to empty out of your stomach, helping you to feel fuller for longer. It also tells your brain when you’ve eaten, making you feel full. This can lead to weight loss, as you don’t need to eat as much food to feel satisfied.

What are the benefits of Trulicity?

The benefits of Trulicity include:

  • Increases the amount of insulin produced by your pancreas, which helps your body convert sugar to energy.
  • Reduces the amount of glucagon released by your liver, which limits how much sugar gets into your blood.
  • Makes you feel fuller and satisfied after a meal, so you do not need to eat as much.

What is Trulicity used for?

Trulicity is used as a treatment for adults with type 2 diabetes to help improve blood sugar levels in conjunction with positive lifestyle changes such as dieting and exercise. Trulicity injections for weight loss may also be prescribed off-label.

Please note: At ZAVA we do not prescribe any weight loss medications off-label.

Can you take Trulicity if you are not diabetic?

“Trulicity is only prescribed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, and is not licensed for weight loss in the UK. Trulicity for weight loss can only be prescribed as an off-label use, which means that the medication is being used in a different way than that stated in its licence. We don’t recommend taking a diabetic injection for losing weight, as there are regulated and approved weight loss injections that are more effective, such as Wegovy or Mounjaro.” - Dr Babak Ashrafi, Clinical Lead for Service Expansion

Can Trulicity be used for weight loss?

It can be difficult to get Trulicity for weight loss if you’ve not got diabetes. As it’s not approved and regulated for this purpose in the UK, it’s better to stick to approved weight loss treatments. These contain the correct doses for weight loss, rather than blood sugar management.

How effective is Trulicity for weight loss?

One study in 2021 found that in diabetic patients taking metformin, using dulaglutide at different dosages resulted in weight loss benefits. Over a 9 month period, those taking dulaglutide lost up to 4.6kg on the highest 4.5 mg dose, 4kg at the 3.0 mg dose, and 3kg at the 1.5 mg dose.

Is Trulicity approved for weight loss in the UK?

No, Trulicity is not currently an approved treatment for weight loss in the UK. However, there are other GLP-1 receptor agonists that are, including Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Saxenda.

How to take Trulicity injections

Trulicity is taken as a subcutaneous injection, which means an injection just under the skin. You inject Trulicity once per week, usually into the skin of your stomach, upper arm, or your thigh.

When injecting Trulicity, make sure that you change the site of injection every week to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation or hard lumps forming under the skin. You should never inject into a muscle or vein.

When a doctor prescribes Trulicity, they will give you exact instructions on how to inject it properly. Your medication will also contain step-by-step instructions in the patient information leaflet.

Can Trulicity be used long term?

Yes, Trulicity for diabetes is safe for use long-term as type 2 diabetes is a long-term condition. When it comes to Trulicity and weight loss, you’ll usually take it until you’ve reached your weight loss goals.

What Trulicity dosages are available?

Trulicity is currently available at 0.75 mg, 1.5 mg, 3 mg, and 4.5 mg doses. You will start on a dosage of 0.75 mg once a week, and this will increase during the course of your treatment, with the guidance of a doctor. You only need to increase your Trulicity dose if the current dose is not managing your blood sugar levels effectively.

For Trulicity and weight loss your doctor will discuss the dosage plan with you, as there is no set Trulicity weight loss dose.

Trulicity side effects

Like all medications, Trulicity comes with the risk of side effects for some patients. In most cases, side effects are mild and will go away in a few weeks as your body gets used to the medication.

Common side effects of Trulicity include:

  • feeling and being sick (nausea and vomiting)
  • stomach (abdominal) pain
  • low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)
  • feeling less hungry (decreased appetite) - when used as a diabetes treatment
  • gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea, indigestion, constipation, and feeling bloated
  • heartburn
  • feeling tired (fatigue)
  • increased heart rate

See the patient information leaflet for a full list of side effects.

Who should not take Trulicity (dulaglutide)?

Trulicity is a safe and effective medication for most people, but it is not right for everyone. You should not take Trulicity if you have:

  • inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) or a history of pancreas problems
  • type-1 diabetes
  • severe stomach or intestinal problems
  • an allergy to any of the ingredients in Trulicity

What foods to avoid on Trulicity?

When taking Trulicity, you typically want to avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats. These foods can make gastrointestinal side effects of Trulicity worse, such as nausea and stomach pain. Your doctor will recommend following a diet and exercise plan to help lower your blood sugars naturally at the same time as taking Trulicity. The same can be said if you take Trulicity for weight loss, as it’ll be most effective when following a weight loss program.

Foods to avoid with Trulicity include:

  • fatty cuts of meat, such as bacon, pork belly, and steak
  • processed foods such as pies, sausages, and cakes
  • high-fat dairy products such as cheese, butter, and full-fat milk

When should you stop taking Trulicity?

You should stop taking Trulicity if you are unable to tolerate the side effects you are experiencing, or they are significantly impacting your ability to do your normal daily activities. If you are experiencing severe side effects, speak to your doctor about changing your dosage or trying an alternative treatment.

Trulicity interactions

Some medications may interact with Trulicity, which can make it less effective or have harmful side effects. Make sure you speak to your doctor if you are taking any of the following:

  • Asthma medications, such as Albuterol
  • Diuretics
  • Sulfonylureas
  • Insulin
  • Medications for an underactive thyroid

Trulicity alternatives

Trulicity is not right for everyone, but fortunately, there are other options to treat type 2 diabetes, such as Metformin or Ozempic. If you’re looking for an alternative to Trulicity, there are other GLP-1 receptor agonists that work in the same way and are approved and licensed in the UK, such as Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Saxenda. Diabetes injections can be used for off-label weight loss, but it’s always best to try an approved treatment first.

What is a good alternative to Trulicity for weight loss?

Trulicity isn’t licensed to be prescribed for weight loss in the UK, but there are similar medications that are available. Mounjaro and Wegovy are injectable medications prescribed specifically for weight loss that belong to the same class of medications: GLP-1 agonists.

Wegovy vs Trulicity

Wegovy is a prescription injection for weight loss that is taken once weekly. It contains the active ingredient semaglutide, which is a GLP-1 agonist. It reduces appetite to help with weight loss by sending signals to the parts of your brain responsible for hunger. When directly comparing the effectiveness of semaglutide and dulaglutide, studies show that Wegovy is more effective than Trulicity for improving blood sugar levels and weight loss.

Trulicity vs Mounjaro

Mounjaro is also an injectable weight loss treatment. The active ingredient, tirzepatide, mimics not 1 but 2 hormones involved in hunger and satiety signalling. Like Wegovy, it helps you lose weight by reducing hunger and prolonging satiety. It should always be used together with a diet and exercise programme. You can also get Mounjaro for type 2 diabetes.

Trulicity vs Saxenda

Saxenda is a prescription injection for weight loss that is taken daily, and contains the active ingredient liraglutide. Saxenda works the exact same way as Trulicity and Wegovy, by suppressing appetite and lowering blood sugar levels.

Studies have shown that a once-weekly injection of Trulicity (dulaglutide) was more beneficial for lowering blood sugar compared to a once-daily injection of Saxenda (semaglutide). Saxenda is currently unavailable and being replaced by Wegovy in most cases, as Wegovy only needs to be taken once a week.

What are alternatives to Trulicity for diabetes?

Other treatments for type 2 diabetes include tablets such as Metformin and injections such as Ozempic. Metformin is usually the first treatment offered to manage blood sugar levels and it doesn’t cause weight gain like some other diabetes treatments. Ozempic is another treatment that can be taken when Metformin isn’t suitable, or you need further help managing your blood sugar.

Trulicity vs Ozempic

Trulicity and Ozempic are very similar medications, and work in the same way to treat type 2 diabetes. They both belong to a group of medications called GLP-1 agonists, which help you to control your blood sugar levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular issues such as heart attacks. They can also help with weight loss, though they are not licensed for this use.

The main difference is the active ingredient. Trulicity contains dulaglutide, while Ozempic contains semaglutide. One 2018 study that compared the effectiveness of Trulicity against Ozempic found that Ozempic was a better option for treating both type 2 diabetes and reducing weight.

Trulicity vs metformin: Is Trulicity the same as metformin?

While Trulicity and metformin are both treatments for type 2 diabetes, they are very different medications. Firstly, Trulicity comes as an injection that you take once per week, while Metformin is a tablet that you take every day.

Trulicity and Metformin also work in different ways to treat diabetes. Metformin belongs to a group of medicines called biguanides, which works by decreasing the amount of glucose your liver produces and increases your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Trulicity is a GLP-1 agonist, and it increases the amount of insulin your body produces. Because they work differently, sometimes a doctor may find it appropriate to prescribe Trulicity and Metformin together to treat type 2 diabetes.

Metformin is also a long-standing treatment that is proven to be well tolerated by most people. Some people may also find weekly injections uncomfortable, so taking metformin tablets may be a better option in that case.

Ozempic vs Metformin vs Mounjaro vs Trulicity

Below we compare each treatment, including how it’s taken, the active ingredient, how often you take it, and what the medication is used for.

Weight Loss medication table: Ozempic, Trulicity, Mounjaro, Metformin

Conclusion: Is Trulicity good for weight loss?

In conclusion, while Trulicity is an option for weight loss, it is not the best one. As it is not prescribed for weight loss, the best option would be to go with a medication that has been specifically created to help people lose weight. Wegovy and Mounjaro are medications that work in the same way, but are a more effective option for weight loss.

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Frequently asked questions

How long does it take for Trulicity to work?

Trulicity starts working to help lower your blood sugar and reduce your appetite almost straight away, but you may not see noticeable effects for a few weeks. The maximum effect of Trulicity is usually seen after 3 to 6 months of taking the medication.

Is Trulicity a high risk medication?

Like all medications, there is a risk of side effects when taking Trulicity. However, these risks are no higher than other comparable medications for type 2 diabetes and weight loss, such as semaglutide or liraglutide.

How much does Trulicity cost?

Trulicity is available on the NHS for free if you have type 2 diabetes, but you can also get it from private prescription services. This can cost anywhere between £100 to £200 for a month’s supply of Trulicity.

What is the best injection for weight loss?

The best injection for weight loss depends on which one is more suitable for you. They all work in a similar way to promote weight loss and feelings of fullness, so it depends on which weight loss injection works best for you. The current most effective weight loss injections that are approved for use in the UK are Mounjaro and Wegovy.

Where can I buy Trulicity online?

You can buy Trulicity online from trusted and regulated websites. When buying prescription medications online, you should make sure that the website is registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to make sure that the medications being prescribed are legitimate and safe, and that the doctors are licensed to prescribe them.

Medically reviewed by:
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion
Accreditations: BSc, MBBS, MRCGP (2008)

Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.

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Last reviewed: 01 May 2024

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