Although Tirzepatide and Semaglutide are in the same class of drugs and have almost the exact same effects on the body, they are slightly different medications.
Tirzepatide and Semaglutide are both classified as GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) receptor agonists and have commonly been used to treat type 2 diabetes in the past. More recently though, these drugs are being utilized and evaluated for the treatment of obesity. In 2021 Semaglutide became the first once-weekly GLP-1 receptor agonist to be approved by the FDA for weight loss / obesity.
How does Tirzepatide vs. Semaglutide work for weight loss?
Tirzepatide and Semaglutide both work by mimicking naturally occurring gut hormones. Semaglutide and Tirzepatide both mimic GLP-1 hormones, but Tirzepatide mimics GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide) hormones as well, making it a dual agonist. GLP-1 and GIP hormones are involved in similar functions of the body that control blood sugar, send appetite/hunger signals to the brain, and affect the rate of digestion.2
While taking these medications you will likely experience:
- Reduced hunger / appetite
- Improved satiety (feel full longer with smaller portions)
- Reduced food cravings
- Less overall mental focus on food
All of these factors make it easier to adhere to a caloric deficit which is essential to losing weight.
Are Tirzepatide and Semaglutide FDA-approved for weight loss?
Tirzepatide is not FDA-approved for weight loss yet. It is approved for type 2 diabetes under the brand name Mounjaro®. In recent clinical trials, Tirzepatide showed promising results as a highly effective weight loss drug and is currently under review by the FDA for weight loss approval. It is anticipated that it will be approved for chronic weight management this year – stay tuned!3
Semaglutide is FDA-approved for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy®. Wegovy® is the first drug in the GLP-1 class of medications to be approved for weight loss. Ozempic®, another brand name of Semaglutide, is FDA approved for type 2 diabetes. Ozempic® is often prescribed off-label for weight loss as it contains the same active ingredient as Wegovy®, Semaglutide.4
Is Tirzepatide or Semaglutide better for weight loss?
Both Tirzepatide and Semaglutide medications are highly effective for weight loss based on their respective clinical trials with participants losing an average of 15-21% of their starting body weight.
While there are no published studies yet that directly compare the two medications for weight loss, we can analyze and compare the data from the published study results for each drug.
Semaglutide Weight Loss Clinical Trial Results (STEP 1)
Semaglutide STEP 1 clinical trial followed 1,961 participants with BMI 30+, or BMI 27+ with one or more weight-related health issues (i.e. hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc.) for 68 weeks. Participants were randomly assigned Semaglutide or a placebo, plus lifestyle intervention of diet and exercise. 5
Semaglutide Average Participant Weight Loss:
- Semaglutide: 14.9% body weight
- Placebo: 2.4% body weight
Tirzepatide Weight Loss Clinical Trial Results (SURMOUNT 1)
Tirzepatide SURMOUNT 1 clinical trial followed 2,539 participants with BMI 30+, or BMI 27+ with one or more weight-related health issues (i.e. hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc.) for 72 weeks. Participants were randomly assigned Tirzepatide 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, or a placebo, plus lifestyle intervention of diet and exercise.6
Tirzepatide Average Participant Weight Loss:
- Tirzepatide (15 mg): 20.9% body weight
- Tirzepatide (10 mg): 19.5% body weight
- Tirzepatide (5 mg): 15% body weight
- Placebo: 3.1% body weight
As seen in the available study data listed above, both Semaglutide and Tirzepatide are highly effective for weight loss when compared to the placebo; however, Tirzepatide may be slightly more effective than Semaglutide.*
*A new study to compare the two directly is currently in progress (Clinical Trial: NCT05822830).
How much weight should I expect to lose on Tirzepatide vs. Semaglutide?
It depends. The rate of weight loss and amount of weight loss will vary depending on how your body responds to the medication, dosage, adherence to lifestyle changes, and biological factors.
Based on the clinicals trials referenced above, patients taking Semaglutide lost an average of 15% of their initial body weight while patients taking Tirzepatide lost an average of 20% of their body weight. For example, that would mean a person weighing 200 pounds would lose approximately 30 pounds taking Semaglutide, vs. approximately 40 pounds taking Tirzepatide.
What are the side effects of Tirzepatide vs. Semaglutide?
The side effect profiles of Tirzepatide and Semaglutide are almost identical. The most common side effects of Tirzepatide and Semaglutide include nausea, constipation, reflux/indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea. For both medications, most of the reported side effects occurred during dosage increases and tended to get better over time. 5,6
Who can take Tirzepatide or Semaglutide?
Overweight or obese adults may qualify for Semaglutide (or Tirzepatide once approved by the FDA for weight loss). Adults with type 2 diabetes may qualify for either Tirzepatide or Semaglutide.
Who should NOT take Tirzepatide or Semaglutide?
- If you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
- If you have known serious hypersensitivity to Tirzepatide or any of the ingredients in brand name, Mounjaro®.
- If you have had a serious allergic reaction to Semaglutide or any of the ingredients in brand names, Wegovy® or Ozempic®
What is the cost of Tirzepatide vs. Semaglutide?
The cost of Tirzepatide and Semaglutide can be expensive if not covered by insurance.
According to GoodRx, the out-of-pocket price of the brand name version of Tirzepatide is $1,000-$1,200 per 4-week supply, and the out-of-pocket cost for the brand name versions of Semaglutide is between $900-$1,300 per 4-week supply.
Good News: We offer Semaglutide at a fraction of the out-of-pocket cost of the brand names. Learn more about our cost
Does insurance cover Tirzepatide or Semaglutide?
Whether or not insurance will cover Tirzepatide or Semaglutide varies based on your plan and benefits. That’s why we are excited to offer our affordable Semaglutide program for a fraction of the cost without insurance.
The drug manufacturers may provide a savings coupon to qualifying patients to help make these medications more affordable; however, this is also dependent on your insurance coverage. These savings coupons are only good for a limited duration meaning they could expire before you reach your goal.
How do I get a prescription for Tirzepatide or Semaglutide?
If you meet the BMI requirements of 30+, or, 27+ with one or more weight-related health issues you may qualify for Semaglutide (or Tirzepatide once FDA-approved for weight loss).
If you’d like to get an idea of your current BMI, use our online calculator.
The best way to find out if you qualify for a prescription weight loss medication is to schedule your first appointment at one of our Houston Weight Loss Center locations in the Heights, Webster, or Katy, TX. We will perform a comprehensive bloodwork analysis, a full body composition analysis, and discuss your medical history and weight loss goals.
1. Blundell J, Finlayson G, Axelsen M, Flint A, Gibbons C, Kvist T, Hjerpsted JB. Effects of once-weekly semaglutide on appetite, energy intake, control of eating, food preference and body weight in subjects with obesity. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2017 Sep;19(9):1242-1251. doi: 10.1111/dom.12932. Epub 2017 May 5. PMID: 28266779; PMCID: PMC5573908.
2. Farzam K, Patel P. Tirzepatide. [Updated 2022 Dec 27]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK585056/
3. Food & Drug Administration. (2022, May 13). FDA Approves Novel, Dual-Targeted Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes. [Press Release]. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-novel-dual-targeted-treatment-type-2-diabetes
4. Food & Drug Administration. (2021, June 4). FDA Approves New Drug Treatment for Chronic Weight Management, First Since 2014. [Press Release]. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-drug-treatment-chronic-weight-management-first-2014
5. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03548935
6. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04184622