Guide to a Successful Wellbutrin Weight Loss Program

  Reviewed
 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

wellbutrin weight loss

According to a CDC report, up to 43% of adults exhibiting depression symptoms have obesity. A person who’s had a depression diagnosis has a greater likelihood of being or becoming overweight than one who hasn’t.

These eye-popping findings confirm the deep connection between depression and weight gain. In fact, that’s likely one reason most people who use anti-depressants gain weight. Yet surprisingly, one particular depression medication, Wellbutrin, is gaining popularity as a weight loss remedy.

How practical is the Wellbutrin weight loss approach, and how can you use it to reduce weight successfully?

In this detailed guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know regarding Wellbutrin as a weight loss remedy. So sit comfortably as we explore the essentials of this popular medication.

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, also referred to as Aplenzin, is a brand name for a medicine called bupropion. It’s considered an atypical antidepressant, meaning it works differently than the top categories of antidepressant medication that physicians prescribe to treat depression.

The most popularly used antidepressants are known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). These work by maintaining the right serotonin balance in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating memory, cognition, mood, and several other psychological processes.

But by contrast, bupropion is an NDRI, or norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor, whose primary function is to boost norepinephrine and dopamine. These two are also neurotransmitters, but they’re mostly associated with regulating alertness, sleep, and energy levels.

The drug was originally designed for an antidepressant role, but it has come to gain FDA approval as a remedy for smoking cessation under the brand name Zyban. Physicians are now prescribing Wellbutrin XL (extended-release) as a once-daily option or Wellbutrin SR (sustained release) as a twice-a-day option.

Being an antidepressant, you can only acquire Wellbutrin by prescription under the guidance of a medical professional. While your doctor can consider it a first option, the drug is typically prescribed after other antidepressant options have proven ineffective. Further, like other medications in this category, Wellbutrin has specific dosage requirements that you must heed.

So, always discuss your this medication with a physician before you start or stop taking the medication.

Why Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Loss?

This drug was originally designed for depression symptoms but has been found to be effective for weight loss. It’s not like other antidepressants that are known to cause weight issues.

Wellbutrin causes weight loss because it influences the user’s eating habits and moods, which are directly linked with weight gain. The next section will clearly highlight how this medication causes a weight-loss effect.

How Does Wellbutrin Make You Lose Weight?

In non-technical terms, Wellbutrin is far more effective for patients with stress-related eating than those with boredom-related eating habits. If bad eating habits are your main problem, this may not be effective and helping you loss weight. However if you’re an emotional eater, it can help you lose weight.

feet of a person on a weighing scale

Bupropion stimulates dopamine, noradrenaline, and (to a lesser degree) serotonin receptors. This suppresses your appetite, increases energy levels, and boosts your mood. Stressful situations stimulate your appetite by increasing ghrelin and cortisol hormone levels.

But by stimulating dopamine and noradrenaline, the drug likely will mechanistically suppress your appetite. This same mechanism has been shown to ease depression-related conditions.  

For this reason Bupropion has been gaining popularity as a medical tool with weight management. The medication also continues to be utilized for treating depression and smoking cessation.

How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight on Wellbutrin?

Physicians prescribe Wellbutrin to patients seeking weight management and weight loss remedies. But there’s no standard duration that users can expect results.

I’ve encountered users who begin losing weight in as little as one to two weeks, alongside higher energy levels and improved sleep. Assuming you don’t experience any other negative side effects, this could be an early indicator that the medicine is working.

Of course, you will see better results if you supplement the remedy with exercise, healthy eating habits, and other positive lifestyle choices.

Wellbutrin for Weight Loss Dosage

Your Doctor should carefully control dosages for a drug like Wellbutrin due to the extensive range of interactions and side effects it may present. So the dosage Dosage medications will vary from person to person.

Your prescribed dosage also depends on the Wellbutrin variety you’re taking. Here are some common dosages for extended-release and sustained-release Wellbutrin prescription drugs:

  • Wellbutrin SR (100mg, 150mg, 200mg) – Users have to take this sustained-release version twice daily, typically a dose in the morning and another mid-afternoon.
  • Wellbutrin XL (150mg, 300mg) – The drug’s extended-release version is taken less frequently. You’ll use only one every day, typically in the morning.

No matter the release version you’re taking you should not break, chew, or crush the tablets. Doing this will affect how the drug is released into your body. Consequently, you may not experience its intended benefits. So always swallow your pills whole.

Never try to adjust the prescribed dosage amount, and don’t alter your doctor-issued dosage schedule. Even a slight adjustment to the dosage specifics could lead to severe side effects. Some users have even encountered adverse, life-threatening reactions.

Eating food before taking Wellbutrin can ease any stomach upset caused by the medication. Moreover, in case you miss a dose, it is generally recommended that you skip it, then take the next pill at the normal dosage time. Taking doses close together can cause accidental overdose with severe side effects.

Wellbutrin can be dangerous if you use it inappropriately. That’s why your doctor will usually start you off with a small dosage and progressively work up to the ideal dosage.

Does Bupropion Cause Weight Loss?

Yes, it can.

The generic form of Wellbutrin is the only antidepressant category proven to aid weight management and weight loss. Researchers noticed this side effects of the drug, and today it is sometimes prescribed as a component of weight loss medication.

woman with white pills on her hand

Here is ome of the scientific literature that has shown this correlation of bupropion in weight loss:

Anderson, 2012

Besides enabling weight loss, bupropion has also been found to help people maintain weight-loss consistency. In this study, researchers noted that obese adults who used the standard release version of bupropion in 400 mg or 300 mg doses shed 10% and 7.2% of their body mass, respectively. This lasted 24 weeks, and the subjects maintained this weight loss for 48 weeks.

Arterburn, 2016

This 2016 scientific study evaluated the effectiveness of various antidepressants in enabling long-term weight-loss results. Researchers noted that non-smokers who used the medication lost 7.1 pounds in at least two years. On the other hand, those who used alternative depression drugs gained weight significantly.

Alonso-Pedrero, 2019 

This comprehensive review comprised 27 tests to determine the weight-loss capabilities of antidepressants on users. The researchers found that while these drugs increase users’ body weight by about 5%, bupropion delivered the opposite results; and is mostly associated with weight loss.

These are just part of the scientific evidence available on the effectiveness of bupropion in weight loss. Numerous individual users have shared positive reviews of the drug, stating that it’s easy to use and effective.

However, we are all different, With different individual biochemistries, and you may not experience the same results. Moreover, you must be aware of the drug’s possible side effects.

What are the Side Effects of Wellbutrin?

While it’s relatively easier to use, there are some concerns for those interested in using the drug for weight loss.

Typically, patients taking SSRIs are susceptible to numerous common side effects like weight gain and sexual dysfunction. However, one leading reason most practitioners and patients prefer Wellbutrin is that it lacks these two side effects.

The drug’s therapeutic effects are typically evident in the second week after using it. The duration required for the medication’s optimal concentration to enter the bloodstream depends on its formulation and includes:

  • Two hours for immediate release
  • Three hours for sustained release
  • Five hours for the extended-release

The effect lasts for one to two days. During this period, you should be monitored for any adverse effects that may present themselves after taking the drug. Wellbutrin side effects include:

  • Irregular heartbeat rate
  • Headache
  • Sleeping issues
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
woman with headache massaging her temples

It is reported that most side effects will typically vanish after the first several weeks of consuming the drug. Users also report symptoms of stomach pain, skin rash, shakiness, or sweating.

But there are other adverse effects if you exceed the recommended dosage, including seizures, cardiovascular issues, or suicidal behavior, particularly in young adults.

In particular, seizures are a key contraindication to using Wellbutrin or any other form of bupropion. Therefore, You should let your doctor know if you have factors that may predispose you to them, like stroke, head injuries, sedative use, or alcohol consumption.

Moreover, one is unlikely to be prescribed the drug if also using anti-seizure medication. Otherwise, concurrent Wellbutrin administration can aggravate latent seizure activity.

New mothers who are still breastfeeding should should consult with their doctor because there are reports of the drug being discovered in breast milk.

It’s important to note that Wellbutrin may interact with other medications you use. The interactions may cause undesired, potentially serious side effects.

You should consult a professional pharmacist or healthcare provider to avoid all these risks and side effects.

Is Wellbutrin a Good Choice for Me?

Anyone with a major depressive disorder or suicidal thoughts may use antidepressants to potentially help. Overtime the literature has shown the effectiveness of Wellbutrin as an antidepressant, and some people have also experienced significantly reduced weight as a side effect. However, it hasn’t been proven to be able to facilitate the level of weight loss that could satisfy most users.

It is important to note that traditional approaches to weight loss, including vigorous exercise and a restrictive diet, in the long run show that a high percentage of people will have a hard time maintaining their lower body mass

In fact, research has shown that most people who use traditional weight-loss methods on average take only two years to regain half of what they shed. These findings have been consistent seen over time. Despite this fact, Americans spend billions of dollars annually on weight loss programs.

So how does one determine whether losing weight on Wellbutrin is an option they should consider?

spilled white pills and container

Well, determining the right weight loss medication should always be done under the supervision of your doctor. Like most medication protocols, it can seem like a hit or miss. While one may think your doctor has randomly chosen which drug to prescribe for your weight loss program, there’s some logic to it.

Generally, you’ll consider:

  • Your current weight – Wellbutrin may or may not help you reach your weight-loss goals, Your current Body Mass Index and you weight loss goals will be factors that are considered
  • The drug’s potential side effects – Weight the potential side effects with potential benefits and results.
  • The medicines you’re taking – Wellbutrin may interact with other drugs and do more harm than good. Further, the more medications you’re taking, the more potential there is for an adverse side effect. So speak with your doctor about your current medications so they can advise you appropriately.  
  • Your family history – How the drug worked for your parent or sibling is a great indicator of whether and how it might work for you.  
  • Analyzing your DNA – A growing body of research and is now analyzing individual genes at the DNA level to determine how likely a specific drug will work for you. This type of data from a simple saliva DNA test is able to pinpoint more and more what medications and even supplements will get you the desired results that you are seeking. In addition they are able to tell you if you are likely to get the negative side effects you do not want.

Your best shot at cutting your weight effectively using Wellbutrin is to combine it with alternative weight-loss approaches that can go hand in hand with the medication.

Alternative Weight Loss Solutions

Indeed, you may not achieve your weight loss goals when you solely rely on Wellbutrin. It can be more effective if you combine or substitute it with any or all of the following methods, depending on your physician’s recommendations:

Trying Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting focuses on when to eat. Limiting the hours you eat each day can help you consume fewer calories, help strengthen you digestive system, and reduce food cravings. It may also provide health benefits including weight loss, improved heart health and blood sugar levels.

I’ve given advice to thousands on this subject. It’s been my experience that most people once they get into a flow with integrating intermittent fasting into their lifestyle feel so much better and enjoy the positive effects so much that they easily and effortlessly continue to intermittent fast.

Track Your Diet and Exercise

Track what you drink or eat daily; Just simply writing it down or tracking it in an App makes you more aware and more accountable.

fit woman woman with hands raised in the air

Monitor your weight-loss progress and physical activities. I recommend to most my patients that they incorporate a simple wearable bio-metric tracker to monitor activity.

Technology has made this all pretty simple

Eating Mindfully

Paying attention to where and how you eat enables you to enjoy your meals and maintain a healthy body mass. More often then not, avoid eating quickly in the car, on the run, or while working. Instead;

  • Take a simple 10 to 30 seconds before you eat and consider what your food is intended to do for your body.
  • Pay close attention to how you feel 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, AFTER eating your food. This will bring much more awareness to you on how your food choices really affects your mood, energy and body; as opposed to, how it feels in the brief time you’re consuming your food.
  • Aim to Sit down when eating and avoid distractions
  • Eat slowly and be present with your food

Eat Protein for Breakfast

Body-building foods can regulate your appetite hormones to help you feel full. They suppress ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and increase satiety hormones cholecystokinin, peptide YY, and GLP-1. This hormonal effect can last for several hours.

Reducing Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar

Added sugars in beverages and foods are directly linked to obesity. They can be digested quickly and converted to glucose, provoking the hormone insulin that facilitates the storage of fats within the adipose tissue. Swapping sugary foods for healthier options can help you beat weight gain.

Balancing Gut Bacteria

The over 37 trillion gut bacteria in your body are crucial in weight management. Some of these increase the energy you harvest from food, which leads to fat deposition. You can increase the good bacteria by eating diverse plant diets, fermented foods, and prebiotic foods. 

Sleep Enough

Most people do not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is correlated with obesity, depression, reduced immune system function and lower sex drive. Insufficient sleep slows down metabolism, lowers critical hormone levels, while increasing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure and stroke. YIKES!!

Manage Your Stress Levels

Long-term mental and emotional stress leads to overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including: Anxiety, depression, and obesity.

woman meditating

In the most extreme cases, this can cause a condition called Cushing syndrome. Which can lead to rapid weight gain, skin that bruises easily, muscle weakness, diabetes, and many other health problems.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, life stresses are probably not going to magically go away tomorrow. You can balance life stresses with mindful-practices such as: Meditation, keeping a gratitude-journal, learning and incorporating calming breathing techniques.

Cleanse Your Gut

Cleansing your gut can help you maintain the right bacteria to help you reduce and maintain a healthy body weight. Fortunately, you don’t have to search for the right remedy for your daily gut-cleanse routine as you’re on the right site.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wellbutrin for Weight Loss 

Here are some commonly asked questions on Wellbutrin as a weight-loss remedy:

Is Wellbutrin an Appetite Suppressant?

No, it doesn’t directly suppress your appetite. Instead, it affects the Levels of both norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. These neurotransmitters play a significant role in feeding behaviors, satiety, and appetite. That’s why some users lose weight when they use Wellbutrin.

How Much Weight Can You Lose On Wellbutrin?

Our bodies are different, and several factors determine the body mass you’ll use when you take the drug. Not everyone experiences the same effects or achieves similar results. But a consistent exercise routine and a healthy diet will help you cut weight quicker than when you take the drug alone.

Is Bupropion Good for Weight Loss?

Wellbutrin can be used off-label to help users cut weight, and many doctors recommend it. But more often, losing weight is simply a side effect of the antidepressant, not the primary objective. Combining the approach with other possible weight loss methods can help you reach your goals.  

Final Thoughts 

Wellbutrin is fast gaining popularity as the antidepressant that promotes weight loss, and no other medications in this category have delivered the same effect. Research and clinical trials have reported positive results with weight loss, indicating that the antidepressant can also be effective for anyone seeking to shed their body mass.

While the mechanisms of how this drug enables weight loss are mostly unclear, it has been found to affect the brain’s reward pathways to influence cravings, behavior, and food intake. As with any medication you should also consider the potential side effects and interactions with other drugs. You should always consult with your physician.

In this regard, I present to you the Optima Healthy Gut solution. This effective treatment can assist in healing leaky gut, further eliminate gut waste and aid weight loss without subjecting you to the effects of antidepressants. The powerful formula can improve how your body digests food, breaks down crucial nutrients, and absorbs them into your bloodstream.

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