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What is Zepbound? Exploring the weight loss benefits, side effects, and cost

1 min Read

Zepbound (tirzepatide) is a GLP-1 receptor agonist medication that is FDA-approved for weight loss. Learn how Zepbound works, its potential side effects, how much it costs, and if it could be the right choice for you.

What you’ll learn:

  • Zepbound is FDA-approved for weight loss in certain cases.
  • Zepbound works by mimicking two natural hormones, GLP-1 and GIP, that control hunger and blood sugar.
  • People who combine Zepbound with Noom can lose the most weight and make lasting improvements to their health.

What if there was a medication that could help you achieve your weight loss goals? No, this time we’re not talking about Ozempic, but it’s cousin Zepbound. Both Zepbound and Ozempic are part of a powerful group of weight loss drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists. Zepbound, however, has some key differences that might make it a better choice for some people.

One important difference is that Zepbound is approved by the FDA specifically for weight loss for people who qualify. Ozempic is approved for diabetes but can be prescribed off-label for weight loss.

They also have different active ingredients and work slightly differently. Zepbound contains tirzepatide, which mimics two hormones that naturally occur in your body—GLP-1 and GIP.  These hormones help regulate appetite, blood sugar levels, and metabolism. This means that Zepbound can help you eat less which can lead to weight loss, just like Ozempic. It might even be more effective.

Now that we have your attention, it’s time to learn more about Zepbound, how it works, its side effects, and what it will cost. Then you can ask your doctor if it might be right for you or see if you qualify for Noom Med. 

Noom Med can guide you every step of the way. Our qualified clinicians can help you sort through the weight loss medication options, coordinate access, and get you the best price through your insurance.

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What is Zepbound and how does it work for weight loss?

Zepbound is approved for weight management in people with BMIs of 30+ or people with BMIs of 27 and above with at least one weight-related medical issue. For maximum effectiveness and long-term benefits, Zepbound should be used alongside healthy changes to your diet and exercise routine.

Zepbound dual action on GLP-1 and GIP is groundbreaking because other medications, like Ozempic, only mimic GLP-1. The two work together to help reduce hunger, increase feelings of fullness, and improve the body’s ability to process sugar and fat.

How is Zepbound taken?

With Zepbound, you would be giving yourself a weekly injection into your belly, thigh, or upper arm area. It comes in a pre-filled pen, so you can do the injection at home. Usually, your doctor will start with a lower dose and steadily increase it over the first few months. That way, your body can get used to the medication before ramping up to the full dose. This gradual approach helps minimize potential side effects.

How effective is Zepbound for weight loss?

Zepbound can be highly effective for weight loss when used in combination with lifestyle changes. In one study, people lost an average of 15% to 21% of their body weight over 72 weeks with Zepbound, compared to just 3% in the placebo group. 

It’s also important to point out that the participants also improved their diet and increased exercise. That’s because the key to really making the most of Zepbound and other GLP-1 medications is combining them with a healthy lifestyle. 

That’s where Noom comes in. Our coaches, tracking tools, and resources can guide you through adopting those positive changes to your habits and supercharge your weight loss potential. In fact, engaged members who pair a GLP-1 medication with Noom report losing up to 40% more weight than those who use medication alone.

What distinguishes Zepbound from other weight loss medications like Ozempic and Wegovy?

Zepbound belongs to the same class of medications as Ozempic, called GLP-1 receptor agonists, but it works somewhat differently. Its action on both GLP-1 and GIP receptors has been shown to be more effective in reducing body weight compared to medications that only target GLP-1. 

Zepbound also has a sibling with the same active ingredient called Mounjaro. Mounjaro, however, is FDA-approved to treat diabetes and can only be prescribed off-label for weight loss. Since Zepbound is FDA-approved for chronic weight management it is more likely to be covered by insurance for weight loss. 

If all that is still a little confusing, here’s a chart that breaks it all down:

Brand nameZepboundMounjaroOzempicWegovy
Active IngredientTirzepatideTirzepatideSemaglutideSemaglutide
FDA-approved use(s)Chronic weight managementType 2 diabetes managementType 2 diabetes managementChronic weight management
AdministrationInjection, once weeklySameSameSame
How it WorksMimics hormones GLP-1 and GIPSame as ZepboundMimics hormone GLP-1Same as Ozempic

What is the cost of Zepbound?

The list price for Zepbound is $1,059. Although this sounds expensive, your final cost will vary greatly depending on your insurance coverage and location. Since Zepbound is FDA-approved for chronic weight management, your health insurance might be more likely to cover the cost of the medication than Mounjaro or Ozempic.

Insurance is more likely to cover Zepbound if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have a BMI of 30 or above 
  • You have a BMI of 27 or greater with at least one weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

If your insurance doesn’t cover the cost of Zepbound, don’t worry, you still have options. You could see if your insurance will cover one of the other GLP-1 medications like Mounjaro, Ozempic, or Wegovy.  If you qualify for Noom Med, our clinicians can connect you with the best medication for you at the best price. 

How can I get Zepbound at a reduced price if my insurance doesn’t cover it?

You can look into a few programs that make paying for weight loss medication more manageable:

  • Go through the manufacturer. Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Zepbound, offers patient assistance through a Zepbound savings card and a program called Lilly Cares. These programs offer discounts and assistance to those taking Zepbound. Visit the Zepbound savings card page or the Lilly Cares site, or speak with your healthcare provider to learn more.
  • Research pharmacies. Another strategy to try: many pharmacies offer discounts on medications, and they often have a handy tool on their website to help you find those discounts. For example, CVS has a discount search feature you can use.
  • Let Noom Med do the work. Again, the Noom Med team is always happy to help you navigate your options, or even explore if a different medication might be a better fit for you. 

Zepbound side effects and safety considerations

Zepbound has shown remarkable effectiveness in weight loss, but it’s not a magic solution. There are possible side effects and safety considerations to keep in mind.

What are the common side effects of taking Zepbound?

As with any medication, Zepbound may cause side effects. While not everyone experiences side effects, these are the ones that occur the most often:

  • Nausea and vomiting: The most frequently reported side effect. About 25-28% of people experienced nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: As your body and stomach get used to the medication, you may have loose or frequent stools.
  • Constipation: Since the medication slows down digestion, you may experience constipation.

Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea were usually experienced when doses were increased. Thankfully, these side effects usually subside over time as your body gets used to the medication. Visit the official Zepbound page for more information and a full list of all side effects.

To minimize the risk of side effects, your healthcare provider may start you on a low dose of Zepbound and gradually increase the dosage over time. If you experience any side effects that are severe, persistent, or concerning, contact your healthcare provider for guidance. 

What medications should I avoid or adjust while taking Zepbound?

While Zepbound works wonders, it can sometimes clash with other medications. So, before you jump in, be sure to discuss everything you take with your doctor. Here’s a breakdown of medications to be mindful of:

Medications to avoid

  • Other GLP-1 Receptor Agonists: Avoid taking Zepbound with similar medications like Mounjaro, Ozempic, or Wegovy. While all of these medications target GLP-1 receptors to promote weight loss, combining them can lead to unpredictable side effects and may not be safe.
  • Insulin: If you use insulin, your doctor may need to adjust your dosage while you’re taking Zepbound. Using both medications may increase the likelihood of hypoglycemia

Medications that may require dose adjustments or precautions

How can Noom help manage Zepbound’s side effects?

Noom’s GLP-1 Companion provides comprehensive support to help you manage the potential side effects of Zepbound and reach your weight loss goals. You’ll also have access to our supportive Noom community, where you can connect with others on a similar journey and share tips for managing side effects. Here are some other features to look for:

  • Focus on protein: We’ll track your protein intake and set personalized goals to optimize your nutrition and help you maintain muscle mass during your weight loss journey.
  • Exercise videos and tips: You’ll have access to targeted exercise videos and guidance designed to support your fitness goals and minimize muscle loss while building strength.
  • Education: We’ll empower you with knowledge and tools to make sustainable changes to your eating and lifestyle habits.

For more information on how Noom can help maximize the benefits of GLP-1 medications like Zepbound, check out our article on why Noom is the ultimate companion app for GLP-1s.

What are the potential serious side effects of taking Zepbound?

Although rare, these Zepbound side effects can have serious health implications. If you experience any of the below, get immediate medical attention.

Serious Side EffectWhat to watch out forFrequency
Thyroid tumors Lump or swelling in the neck, difficulty swallowing or breathing, hoarseness, persistent coughRare
PancreatitisSevere abdominal pain radiating to the back, nausea, vomitingRare
Gallbladder problemsAbdominal pain (upper right area), fever, jaundice, clay-colored stoolsRare
Kidney problemsChanges in urine output, swelling in legs or ankles, fatigue, confusionRare
Allergic reactionsDifficulty breathing, swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat, severe rash or itching, fainting, dizzinessRare
Depression or suicidal thoughtsPersistent sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, thoughts of self-harmRare

Are there any health issues that might make Zepbound unsuitable for me?

Zepbound is impressive, but there are health conditions and factors that might make you consider other options. Here are some health issues to discuss with your doctor:

  • Type 1 diabetes: Zepbound is not for treating type 1 diabetes. It’s important to use the right medication for your specific type of diabetes.
  • Thyroid cancer: Zepbound can increase the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors. If you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) you should not use this medication.
  • Allergies: If you’re allergic to tirzepatide, the main ingredient in Zepbound, or any of its other ingredients you shouldn’t use it.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: The safety of Zepbound during pregnancy or while breastfeeding has not been established.
  • Trying to conceive: Women who are actively trying to become pregnant should avoid using Zepbound, as the medication’s effects on fertility and fetal development are not well understood. They should stop taking it at least two months before trying to conceive.
  • History of pancreatitis: Individuals with a history of pancreatitis should discuss the use of Zepbound with their doctor.
  • Severe gastrointestinal disease: People with conditions such as gastroparesis or severe constipation may not be suitable candidates for Zepbound, as the medication can worsen these issues.

Be sure to discuss your entire health history with your provider. They can offer insights into the potential adverse effects and benefits of Zepbound. 

How Noom can help maximize success

Zepbound can be a game-changer for your weight loss goals, but healthy habits and exercise go hand-in-hand with it. Noom has the resources you need to cultivate healthy habits while meeting your goals. 

If you qualify for Noom Med, our qualified clinicians will help you find the right medication, coordinate benefits, and then help you manage side effects. If you already have a prescription for Zepbound, you can use Noom’s GLP-1 Companion to cultivate healthy eating habits, discover strength-building workouts, and track any side effects. 

Note: Ozempic and Mounjaro are not FDA-approved to treat obesity or for weight loss.