Starting Zepbound: A Guide to Safe and Effective Use

Interested in Zepbound for weight loss? Uncover everything you need to know to get started with this medication and determine whether it's right for you.
Published on: February 22, 2024
Updated on: April 5, 2024

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Disclaimer: The content made available on The FORM Medical Weight Loss Blog represents the views and opinions of the authors and not those of other entities, such as the manufacturers of products mentioned therein. 

Zepbound™ is the most recent addition to the list of FDA-approved weight loss medications, and many are curious if this medication is right for them. Whether you are just starting your weight loss journey or have taken medications for weight loss in the past, trying something new can be a big decision. Working closely with your medical provider is the best way to determine if medication is a good option, as well as which medication may be right for you. 

In this article we will cover how Zepbound works for weight loss, what to consider before getting started, and how to ensure you are using Zepbound safely and effectively.

Understanding Zepbound – What It Is and How It Works

Zepbound is a breakthrough weight management medication that operates through a dual-action approach, targeting the GIP and GLP-1 hormones in the brain’s appetite center. This helps reduce cravings, create a sense of fullness, and optimize fat reserves for effective weight loss.

What is Zepbound? 

Developed by Eli Lilly, Zepbound is a once-weekly injectable medication approved to help adults with obesity lose weight and keep it off. Zepbound has the same active ingredient (tirzepatide) as Mounjaro™, an FDA-approved medication for type 2 diabetes. Zepbound is FDA-approved to treat adult adults living with obesity (BMI 30+) or overweight (BMI 27+) with weight related medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. Zepbound should be used while working with a healthcare provider and alongside intensive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and increased physical activity. 

In clinical trials, patients with obesity lost at least 5% of their body weight after 3 months with a combination of tirzepatide and intensive lifestyle changes. When these individuals took tirzepatide for up to a year and a half, they lost an average of 26.6% of their body weight.

How Zepbound Works

Zepbound acts on both the GIP and GLP-1 hormones located in the appetite center of the brain by decreasing cravings leading to a reduction in food intake. Additionally, GLP-1 plays a role in slowing down stomach emptying, creating an early and prolonged feeling of fullness. GIP also affects fat reserves in multiple ways such as enhancing functionality and insulin sensitivity, thereby contributing to weight loss. The remarkable weight loss impact of Zepbound can be attributed to its unique ability to simultaneously target the GIP and GLP-1 receptors, providing a dual-action approach.

Who Can Take Zepbound? 

You may be eligible for Zepbound if you are an adult with a BMI of 30 or higher or 27 or higher with certain weight-related conditions. It is important to note that even if you meet BMI requirements, Zepbound may not be appropriate for you. Whether or not Zepbound is right for you is ultimately the decision of your healthcare provider. 

Zepbound should not be used in conjunction with other GLP-1 receptor agonists. If you have a history of pancreatitis, the safety of using Zepbound is unknown. Similar to other GLP-1 medications, Zepbound should not be used if you are pregnant or have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2. Safety and effectiveness of Zepbound for weight loss have not been established in patients less than 18 years of age and therefore use is not recommended.

Preparing for Your Zepbound Journey: What to Consider Before Taking the Leap

There are careful considerations that must be taken into account when deciding whether or not Zepbound is right for you. It is important to understand the medical and lifestyle implications that come along with beginning Zepbound. 

Medical Evaluation: Find Out if Zepbound is Right for You

The only way to obtain Zepbound is through a prescription from a healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider will consider your medical history, current medications, and insurance benefits prior to deciding whether Zepbound is right for you. Additionally, they can provide valuable insights into the potential benefits and risks associated with Zepbound, enabling you to make an informed decision about your treatment plan. By collaborating with your doctor, you can ensure that your treatment plan with Zepbound is safe, effective, and optimized to promote your overall health and well-being. 

Lifestyle Adjustments: Are You Ready?

Zepbound, like any other medication used to treat obesity/excess weight, is not a quick fix to lose weight. It is most effective when paired with intensive lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and exercise.   

Nutritional Considerations

Many adopt traditional diet changes with the hope to lose weight quickly by cutting out foods or fasting, but these habits are not helpful for achieving sustained weight loss and can lead to feelings of deprivation. Eating a nutritious diet while taking Zepbound will support your weight loss efforts and can reduce side effects of the medication. Foods to avoid while taking Zepbound include fried or greasy foods, sugary foods, carbonated beverages, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol. These foods are not completely off limits, but if you experience worsening side effects while taking Zepbound, an unhealthy diet could be contributing to those side effects. 

There are many steps you can take to make nutritious food more enjoyable and accessible in your everyday life. Some healthy eating habits include meal prepping, carrying healthy snacks with you to school or work, eating more whole grains, and not being overly restrictive in your diet. Working with a Registered Dietitian through a medical weight loss program such as FORM, can help you implement healthy habits into your life by developing a personalized nutrition plan to suit your needs.

Exercise Habits 

Incorporating exercise while taking Zepbound, or any weight loss medication, is important to maintain muscle mass. Weight loss via dieting even without the assistance of medications can lead to muscle loss. With the larger percentage of weight loss expected with the assistance of weight loss medications like Zepbound, the risk of muscle mass loss and diminished strength if taken without a proper exercise regimen is higher. 

Generally, adults should aim for two 60-minute strength training sessions per week. Implementing a workout routine while taking Zepbound will help support your weight loss efforts and improve your overall health. 

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Setting Expectations: Your Weight Loss Goals and Timelines

Zepbound is a medication that is intended for long term use. In clinical trials, individuals who took tirzepatide for up to a year and a half, lost an average of 26.6% of their body weight. 

When starting Zepbound, how soon an individual notices its effects will vary. Some may feel a decreased appetite right away, while others may require a higher dose to begin feeling the effect of the medication. It’s important to understand that the pace at which a person loses weight is influenced by a variety of factors, such as caloric intake, age, level of physical activity, concurrent medications, genetics, and environmental factors. Typically, when starting a weight loss medication physicians look for at least 5% weight loss after 3 months on the medication. If you have not reached this benchmark, Zepbound may not be the right medication for you and you should discuss a plan of action with your healthcare provider. 

How to Use Zepbound Safely and Effectively

In order to reach your weight loss goals with Zepbound, you must first learn how to take the medication correctly. This will help to ensure that it is safe and effective for you. Your healthcare provider will discuss the dosing schedule, potential side effects, and potential medication interactions before you begin taking Zepbound. 

Your Zepbound Dosing Schedule

Zepbound provides patients with various dosing options, each administered through an autoinjector pen featuring a single dose. The treatment regimen starts at 2.5 mg weekly, and, if well-tolerated after 4 weeks, the dosage is raised to 5 mg weekly. This pattern continues at 4-week intervals, reaching a maximum dose of 15 mg weekly or the highest tolerated dose. The dosage increases follow a structured timeline: 5 mg weekly in the second month, 7.5 mg weekly in the third month, 10 mg weekly in the fourth month, 12.5 mg weekly in the fifth month, and 15 mg weekly from the sixth month onward. Lower doses may be utilized for longer periods if side effects are experienced. A new prescription is required for each dose adjustment, ensuring a safe and monitored approach to a patient’s weight management journey. 

Potential Side Effects 

While Zepbound is a safe and effective medication, there are some side effects that are important to take into consideration before you start. Zepbound side effects will vary from person to person and can be influenced by many factors, including medical history, medications, and lifestyle. Common side effects of Zepbound include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea 
  • Indigestion 

These side effects often occur when starting Zepbound or increasing the dosage and usually become less problematic over time. It is advisable to use Zepbound under medical supervision to ensure its safety and suitability for your individual needs. You should alert your doctor right away if you begin to experience any side effects while taking Zepbound. 

Interactions with Other Medications

Zepbound has been found to pose negative effects when taken at the same time as certain medications. If you are taking a sulfonylurea or insulin, speak to your healthcare provider about reducing the dosage of your medication. Zepbound lowers blood glucose, which means that taking a sulfonylurea or insulin simultaneously with Zepbound may increase your risk of hypoglycemia. Other important findings indicate that Zepbound delays gastric emptying and therefore has the potential to impact the absorption of oral medications into the body. This is especially important if you are taking a medication that needs to reach an absorbed threshold concentration for it to be effective. 

If you are using birth control pills, patients are advised to switch to a non-oral contraceptive method or add an additional barrier method of contraception for 4 weeks after starting Zepbound and for 4 weeks after each dosage increase. It is important to discuss any medications you plan to take or are currently taking before starting Zepbound to ensure that it is safe and effective. 

Monitoring Your Progress: The Importance of Regular Check-ins

Working closely with your doctor while taking Zepbound, or any medication, is important to monitor its safety and effectiveness. Your doctor can offer personalized guidance on dosage, administration, and potential side effects, as well as monitor your response to the medication over time. At FORM, patients meet regularly with a Board Certified weight loss doctor and Registered Dietitian who can offer support and guidance to help you manage any challenges that may arise during your course of treatment. Your FORM Care Team is available to answer questions during regular video appointments or via in app messaging, to ensure that you feel confident in your treatment plan. It is important that you address any concerns around medication administration or side effects with your healthcare provider so that they can adjust your treatment plan as needed. 

Ready to Get Started? Reach Your Weight Loss Goals with FORM and Zepbound

While medications like Zepbound are great weight loss tools, studies show that patients experience greater weight loss success when medication is combined with lifestyle changes rather than using medication alone. At FORM, patients work 1:1 with a Board Certified weight loss Doctor and a Registered Dietitian who help create a personalized plan just for you. Your plan will address nutrition, physical activity, and mindset shifts and may include a prescription for FDA-approved medication, if appropriate, to help you reach your weight loss and health goals. 

Find out if you are eligible by taking our quiz or send a message to get in touch with us directly at

Zepbound™ and Mounjaro® and their delivery device bases are registered trademarks owned or licensed by Eli Lilly and Company, its subsidiaries, or affiliates.

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