What is Zepbound?

Zepbound, the brand name for tirzepatide, is a recent addition to the weight loss medication space.

Zepbound is an FDA-approved medication for weight loss. It is a glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA). It is intended for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg / m2 or more or for patients with a BMI of 27 30 kg / m2 or more with at least one weight-related risk factor such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

Zepbound activates two hormone receptors, glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) to reduce appetite, food consumption, body weight, and body fat.

GLP-1 slows down digestion such that food moves more slowly from your stomach into your intestines. This is called gastric emptying. While GLP-1 slows digestion, they also enhance the release of insulin and reduce the release of glucagon.

GIPs enhance the effects of GLP-1 such that your body can burn fat more quickly. Together, GLP-1 and GIP reduce blood sugar levels while promoting a feeling of satiety more quickly. Consequently, you eat less.


How Long Does Tirzepatide (Zepbound) Take to Work?

Tirzepatide, sold under the brand name Zepbound, typically takes about four weeks for noticeable weight loss. It takes about four weeks for Zepbound to achieve consistent levels in your body, and the best weight loss results were observed in the first eight to nine months of Zepbound use.

In clinical trials, participants experienced, on average, a 15 – 21 percent weight loss after 18 months (72 weeks). In terms of pounds, this equates to an average of 34 – 48 pounds. In addition to weight loss, changes in blood pressure, cholesterol, and waist circumference were also observed. Like other GLP-1 RAs, this medication works optimally with lifestyle changes that include dietary adjustments and exercise.

What Are Zepbound Side Effects vs Wegovy?

As with most medications, there are side effects associated with Zepbound and other GLP-1 RA medications. A side-by-side comparison of side effects for Zepbound and Wegovy shows that there is significant overlap.


Zepbound vs Wegovy Side Effects







GI issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, constipation, headache, fatigue







Possible thyroid tumors, including cancer



Lump or swelling in your neck, trouble swallowing, or shortness of breath



Low blood sugar






Gallbladder problems



Kidney problems / kidney failure*



Change in vision



Increased heart rate



Depression or thoughts of suicide



* It is important to drink water while taking Zepbound to mitigate the risk of dehydration.

What are the Dosages for Zepbound?

Zepbound’s first dose is 2.5 mg weekly. The dose can be increased monthly at 2.5 mg intervals, with a maximum dose of 15 mg.


Is There a Zepbound Maintenance Dose?

Yes! Zepbound’s maintenance dose can range from 5 mg – 15 mg.


How is Zepbound Administered?

Zepbound taken is injected once per week. It should be injected subcutaneously (below the skin) of your stomach, thigh, or upper arm. The injection site should be rotated each week. Zepbound can be taken at any time of day.

Zepbound should be kept in a refrigerator and kept between 35 – 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The pens can be kept unrefrigerated if needed, but only up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. This medication should not be frozen.

Are Zepbound and Mounjaro the Same?

Zepbound and Mounjaro — each tirzepatide — were developed by Eli Lilly. The primary difference between Zepbound and Mounjaro is that they were approved by the FDA to treat different medical conditions.

Zepbound was FDA-approved for weight loss while Mounjaro was approved for type 2 diabetes and has been used off label for weight loss. While Zepbound and Mounjaro have the same active ingredient, tirzepatide, depending on your overall health, one of these medications may be optimal for you. It is important to talk with your health care provider to determine which the better option for your needs is.

Can You Combine Zepbound and Coffee?

There is a moderate interaction between tirzepatide and caffeine. Some medications contain caffeine, so there could be an additive effect if tirzepatide is combined with caffeine, resulting in an increased heart rate. It’s best to consult with your health care professional before drinking coffee while taking Zepbound.

Can You Drink Alcohol on Zepbound?

Alcohol consumption should be limited when taking Zepbound because it could lead to fluctuations in blood sugar. The recommendation is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men (One [1] drink = 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of distilled alcohol).

Which Foods Should I Avoid and Which Should I Eat While Taking Zepbound?

Because medications like Zepbound work best when paired with a healthy diet, it is important to choose healthy foods like lean proteins, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, and high fiber carbohydrates.

Foods to avoid include fried or greasy food, foods high in sugar, carbonated beverages like soda, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol.

It is important to stay hydrated while taking Zepbound, so drinking water is important. Water promotes satiety and helps your body function optimally.

Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes

If you decide to take a weight loss medication, it is important to pair it with a healthy diet and physical activity. While medications like Zepbound can lead to weight loss, they are not a panacea. One benefit of Zepbound compared to other GLP-1 RA medications is that is includes the hormone glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), which, as noted above works in tandem with GLP to promote weight loss.

If you and your health care provider think Zepbound is right for you, it is important to read all the accompanying information. To optimize the benefits of these medications, it is critical to pair them with healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy eating plan and weekly exercise.

Managing GLP-1 Side Effects

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, 74% of people taking GLP-1 medications have gastrointestinal disorders, including nausea (53%) and constipation (31%). Additional studies note that people taking weight loss medications experience significant decreases in daily calorie intake by as much as 40 to 50 percent, including reduced intake of protein, fiber and essential micronutrients. Adding Biocare®*, a scientifically-designed dietary beverage created specifically for people taking these medications, can help reduce side effects, preserve lean muscle mass and counteract nutritional deficiencies associated with these drugs.

Prior to starting any weight loss program, whether it includes anti-obesity medication or not, be sure to consult with your health care provider to make sure your desired weight loss strategy is right for you.


About the Author: Dr. Dawn M. Sweet has over 20 years of experience in the field of communication. Dr. Sweet has given several invited talks to and workshops for academic and private sector audiences on the role of nonverbal and verbal communication in achieving positive outcomes and mitigating bias. Her research has been published in several top ranked peer-review journals, and it has been featured on NPR’s River to River / All Things Considered, Buzzfeed, and Science Daily. Her research has also been used to inform expert testimony.

Wegovy®, Ozempic® and Rybelsus® are registered trademarks of Novo Nordisk A/S. Novo Nordisk is a registered trademark of Novo Nordisk A/S.
Mounjaro®, Zepbound® and Trulicity® and its delivery device base are trademarks owned or licensed by Eli Lilly and Company, its subsidiaries, or affiliates.
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