People gain weight for several reasons. Besides eating caloric food and doing minimal physical exercise, some people can gain weight for medical reasons. Many people explore various methods to lose body weight, from following restrictive diets to taking weight loss medications. One of these medications is Wellbutrin (also known by its generic name, bupropion), a typical prescription medication for smoking cessation and depression. This article will comprehensively explore using Wellbutrin for weight loss, side effects, and more.
You can sometimes add pounds because of genetics and underlying health conditions. In other cases, it’s because of mental and emotional factors, such as stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, and depression. No matter the reason, gaining weight can make you feel uncomfortable in your skin, out of touch with your body, and as if you lack control.
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Wellbutrin and Weight Loss
A weight change is a usual side effect of many antidepressants, whether a gain or loss. This is because people’s body reacts differently to drugs. But between weight gain and weight loss, Wellbutrin has a track record of resulting in the latter.
It remains unclear exactly how Wellbutrin can give off such an effect. Still, many researchers believe it results from the drug’s impact on hormones and neurotransmitters, namely dopamine and norepinephrine.
How Dopamine Works
On the one hand, dopamine is a happy hormone most commonly associated with a “feel good” sensation. On the other hand, it plays a part in the body’s physiological and neurological functions, contributing to one’s moods, motor function, and decision-making abilities.
The reason is simple: Your brain releases dopamine when you experience pleasure. The pleasure can be of any sort, good or bad. For example, dopamine levels increase during sex, eating something delicious, opening Christmas gifts, drinking or doing drugs, and more. Therefore, your decision-making abilities are compromised when you associate an action with being rewarded with something that pleases us.
So it does make sense to have intense, uncomfortable cravings when your dopamine levels are low. Often, these cravings are for food, leading to a binge.
In this situation, increasing dopamine levels with Wellbutrin can help neutralize cravings and regulate the desire to eat more than the ideal amount of food.
How Norepinephrine Works
On the other hand, norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that plays an integral part in the “fight-or-flight” response. When this response is triggered, the hormone will travel to different body parts such as the heart, muscles, skin, lungs, liver, and digestive system to signal the appropriate reactions.
Due to the adrenaline that typically courses through the body due to the natural stress response, this hormone can enhance the overall fat loss rate by stimulating fatty acid release from the fat cells to the bloodstream. Therefore, these fatty acids transform into energy to properly execute either a fight or flight action.
That being said, when people consume Wellbutrin, they can significantly alter their satiety, appetite, and, ultimately, their feeding behaviors.
A Weight change is a usual side effect of antidepressants
Research on Wellbutrin for Weight Loss
There have been numerous studies about the effectiveness of Wellbutrin as a drug to reduce weight for many years. According to research, it shows promise, but the results are not significant. Therefore, you are encouraged to take the medication alongside a proper diet and exercise to increase your benefit.
Below are the critical points of various research studies:
Based on a study conducted in 2002, obese individuals who took Wellbutrin and reduced at least 500 calories per day from their diet could see a 5% decrease in body weight over 12 weeks.
Clinical trials performed in 2016 showed that people who lost 5% of their weight due to Wellbutrin were more likely to maintain their weight if they continued to take the medication for a year.
In another study, obese adults taking 300 to 400 milligrams of Wellbutrin can lose 7.2% to 10% of their body weight, respectively, if they diligently take the medication daily for 24 weeks and combine it with proper exercise and diet.
Because of these results, Wellbutrin or Bupropion became one of the essential components of the top prescribed FDA-approved weight reduction brand Contrave.
Apart from losing weight, other benefits of Wellbutrin include improved energy, better work-life balance, enhanced moods, reduced stress, deeper sleep, better sex life, freedom from suicidal thoughts, and more stable mental health.
Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Gain?
There are two common types of Wellbutrin: Wellbutrin XL (Bupropion XL) and Wellbutrin SR. While they have the same primary ingredient, they differ in how fast they’re released into the body. Between the two, Wellbutrin SR is released much faster than Wellbutrin XL.
Therefore, regardless of the type of drug taken, the effect will vary. While both are most commonly associated with losing weight, it is still possible for Wellbutrin SR and XL to cause weight gain for others.
In one study, 23% of people who have taken Bupropion XL have lost at least five pounds. However, 11% of the recipients have gained five pounds or more.
Alternatively, numerous studies show that 14% to 19% of people who have taken Wellbutrin SR have lost more than five pounds. Conversely, in the same findings, 2% to 3% of the recipients have gained more than five pounds.
As clearly evident in the results, the effects of Wellbutrin as an active ingredient will vary from person to person. This is due to several variables, including genetics and the body’s natural reaction to the drug.
How Fast is Weight Loss on Wellbutrin?
The effects of this medication are not immediate. Some people expect a change in appetite, satiety, and overall weight within six to eight weeks. Others may experience weight loss much longer, spanning over months. The results’ duration is inconsistent because Wellbutrin is not primarily a weight loss drug.
If you are taking this medication for such a purpose, you should first consult your healthcare provider. Then, they must consume the drug as prescribed. Only then can they ensure that they get the results that they want.
Wellbutrin Weight Loss Before and After
As mentioned above, the before and after effects of Wellbutrin will differ from one person to another. Because of this, there’s no standard measurement for how much weight people can lose while taking the drug.
Although some can gain weight, most people taking Wellbutrin can reduce in weight. More specifically, four out of five studies show that the medicine can lead to weight loss rather than the opposite, making it a superior and much more effective drug than a placebo.
Who Should Take Wellbutrin for Weight Loss?
Those who will benefit the most from this medicine are the following people:
- People undergoing or have a history of eating disorders (this includes anorexia, food addiction, bulimia, etc.)
- People with severe cravings or those who are unable to resist food in general
- People with body weight “set point” malfunction (in other words, those who have difficulty in losing weight or keeping it off)
- People who are obese as a result of anxiety or depression
- People who suffer from emotional eating
Most of the conditions listed are related to a particular psychological disorder. Wellbutrin significantly affects these people because it primarily influences neurotransmitter levels in the body and alters how the brain perceives food.
How Much Weight Can People Lose When They Use Wellbutrin?
According to multiple sources, the effects of Wellbutrin can help people lose anywhere from 2% to 10% of their total body mass. This means that if a person weighs about 200 pounds, they can lose up to 20 pounds over time with consistent drug usage.
This data alone comes from using Wellbutrin as a monotherapy — meaning a sole solution — for weight loss. Imagine how much you can lose if you complement this medication with other weight loss strategies.
Wellbutrin Dosage To Lose Weight
The ideal Wellbutrin dosage that can increase your chances of losing weight is 100 to 300 milligrams per day. But of course, this typically depends on the drug you use.
If you take Bupropion XL, the ideal dosage is 150 to 300 milligrams. But, if you take Wellbutrin SR, the preferred dosage is anywhere from 300 to 400 milligrams daily. This is because Wellbutrin SR is absorbed faster in the body (which takes about 3 hours) and has a short-term effect (up to 12 hours), as opposed to the XL, which takes 5 hours to absorb and up to 24 hours to take effect. Therefore, taking a higher dose of the SR variant would be best to experience the maximum results.
Is Wellbutrin Effective For Weight Management?
Yes, Wellbutrin works for managing your weight. More than promoting losing weight by modifying the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, it also has a powerful influence on weight-altering hormones like insulin and leptin.
Insulin is a natural hormone that can store glucose and protein in cells, including fat cells. By transferring the sugar content into the different cells, insulin can transform them into energy that burns during activities.
Leptin, on the other hand, is a type of hormone released by fat cells to control your appetite and metabolism. Because of this, it plays an integral part in your perception of food.
By altering these hormones, Wellbutrin can change your behavior towards food, resulting in increased control and decreased binge-eating tendencies.
Alternative Solutions to Lose Weight
Besides taking this medication, people can try other alternative solutions to reduce their weight. You can find a few examples of natural ways to lose fat below.
Managing Stress Levels
Stress often triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline, increasing your appetite. So, by managing stress, you can control your cravings better.
Balancing Natural Gut Bacteria
Good bacteria in the gut can promote weight control and loss by improving digestion and fat absorption. For this reason, it’s beneficial for people to include fermented foods, vegetables, and prebiotics in their diets.
Exploring Intermittent Fasting
This method follows a particular eating pattern that typically involves consistent short-term fasts and meals at shorter daily intervals.
The most common approaches to intermittent fasting include:
- Alternate day fasting: The first approach enables a person to fast every other day and usually eat during the day. On fasting days, they should limit their consumption to 25% to 30% of their body’s energy requirements.
- 5:2 diet: The second approach enables a person to fast for two days and eat regularly for the remaining five days. During the two days of fasting, they should only eat 500 to 600 calories daily.
- 16/8 method: Finally, the third fasting approach allows people to fast for 16 hours a day and eat within the remaining eight hours. Typically, the eight-hour window for eating starts around noon until 8 PM. As a result, they can give their bodies enough time to digest the food they just ate and use the fat as energy to boost their performance.
Many studies say that intermittent fasting for short periods (up to 24 weeks) can lead to loss of weight for overweight individuals.
Tracking Diet and Exercise
Finally, a healthy diet and exercise routine is an excellent alternative for weight reduction.
Consistent physical activity and a balanced diet can reduce weight and body ton. That’s why people need to start moving daily to burn excess fats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions to learn more about Wellbutrin for weight loss.
Yes, it does. Wellbutrin increases specific enzymes of brain energy that promote metabolism. In addition, the medication’s impact on certain weight-altering hormones can boost one’s metabolism, thereby enhancing weight reduction results.
Since Wellbutrin’s effect on one’s weight can take eight weeks, certain signs point to the drug’s effectiveness. These include improved sleep, energy, and appetite within the first and second weeks.
Wellbutrin doesn’t necessarily suppress appetite per se. However, it does affect dopamine and norepinephrine levels. These neurotransmitters help regulate hunger and satiety, making it easier for people to control their cravings.
One of the drugs that can enhance the effects of Wellbutrin for weight reduction is Naltrexone. This drug targets fat-storing hormones in the body — like insulin — to increase the benefits of Wellbutrin.
Moreover, it plays a significant role in reducing chronic pain and inflammation, as well as improving thyroid function. By addressing these conditions, Naltrexone can decrease the chances of weight gain. Besides using two drugs to get these benefits, people can also find both components in a medication known as Contrave.