Weight Management

Can This Diabetes Medicine Really Help You Lose Weight?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 18 May 2023, Updated on - 16 June 2023

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People with type 2 diabetes may experience high blood sugar levels even with minimal carbohydrate intake. Though metformin is the gold standard choice of drug to treat diabetes, doctors also recommend another class of medication called incretin mimetics, especially to those who are unable to maintain their diabetes through oral medication. However, incretin mimetics have recently gained popularity for their efficacy in reducing body weight significantly. But do they really work? Let’s know more about this medication and how it can aid in weight loss.

What Are Incretin Mimetics?

Incretin mimetics are synthetic hormones that can mimic the incretin effect. In this effect, a sudden spike in glucose and insulin levels (in the blood) is observed as soon as any food item is consumed. 

When you eat, your digestive tract produces hormones known as incretins, which include glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). These two incretins help in regulating your blood sugar and promote digestion. Other functions of incretins include:

  • Slowing down the process of food leaving your stomach
  • Increasing your insulin levels after eating
  • Helping you feel fuller for longer
  • Boosting glucose storage in muscles
  • Lowering stomach acid
  • Reducing glucose production

There are many different types of incretin mimetics available for treating individuals with type 2 diabetes, some of which include:

  • Exenatide
  • Lixisenatide
  • Liraglutide
  • Dulaglutide
  • Semaglutide

How Do Incretin Mimetics Work?

Incretin mimetics are medications that imitate the natural incretin hormones in the body to help lower blood sugar levels after meals. Here are some functions they mimic:

  • They stimulate insulin release by the pancreas post-meals, even before blood sugar levels begin to rise.
  • They inhibit glucagon (stored form of glucose) release from the pancreas, thereby restricting the release of stored sugar from the liver. 
  • They slow down glucose absorption in the bloodstream by lowering the speed of emptying your stomach after meals, making you feel fuller for a long time. 

As these effects are triggered only when carbohydrates are present in the stomach, the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) is very low, unless the person is taking other hypoglycemic drugs.

Effects Of Incretin Mimetics On Weight Loss

Incretin mimetics, originally developed to help treat type 2 diabetes, have shown promising results in promoting weight loss. These drugs can help you shed as much as 20% of your body weight, proving to be far more effective than many other anti-obesity drugs. 

The balance between energy consumed and energy used is a crucial factor in weight management. Most weight loss medicines focus on either lowering energy consumption or raising the amount used. However, incretin mimetics help lower energy consumption by slowing down gastric emptying, which promotes satiety and curbs feelings of hunger. 

GLP-1 also reduces appetite, leading to a lower amount of food intake. Clinical trials have shown that most participants shed at least 5% of their body weight, indicating that incretin mimetics have the potential to provide better results compared to existing therapies.

Risk And Side Effects

Some of the potential side effects of incretin mimetics include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Indigestion
  • Increased sweating
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Constipation

Incretin mimetic drugs serve as a great option for treating type 2 diabetes as well as weight management. However, you must consult with your doctor before trying any new medication. For more information,

Consult An Apollo Diabetologist

Diabetes management just got easy with Apollo 24|7's Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose tool. 


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt


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