Weight Loss Medications: Can They Help?
If you’re overweight, you have probably considered taking weight loss medication at some point in your life. You might have even tried one in the past. These drugs make a lot of promises – but do they really live up to the hype?
Weight loss medicines can help you lose weight. Typically, any weight loss is modest and doesn’t last when you stop taking the medication. Diet pills also come with a lot of side effects that make it hard for anyone to stay on them long-term.
With Ideal You, it’s possible to lose a life-changing amount of weight without a prescription. Instead, you’ll eat real food and take natural supplements that are designed to improve your metabolism. If you’re ready to get started, give us a call to schedule a free weight loss consultation.
What Are Weight Loss Medications?
Weight loss medications, or diet pills, are drugs that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help people lose weight. They are different from weight loss supplements that have not been approved by the FDA – and typically have no data to back up their safety or effectiveness.
A doctor may prescribe a weight loss medication if:
- You have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater;
- Have a BMI of 27 or greater and a health condition that is related to your weight; or
- If you haven’t been able to lose one pound per week after 6 months of dieting and behavior changes.
There are also some over-the-counter weight loss medications that can be obtained without a prescription, such as a lower dose of Alli.
The FDA has approved four diet pills for short-term use:
- Phendimetrazine (Bontril)
- Diethylpropion (Tenuate)
- Benzphetamine (Didrex)
- Phentermine (Adipex-P, Fastin)
Each of these drugs are a type of stimulant that suppresses appetite. They can only be used for a relatively short period of time, typically no longer than 12 weeks.
There are also FDA-approved weight loss medications that can be used for a longer period of time, including:
- Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
- Phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia)
- Naltrexone/bupropion (Contrave)
- Liraglutide (Saxenda)
- Semaglutide (Wegovy)
Most of these medicines work by either decreasing appetite or increasing feelings of fullness. Orlistat is slightly different, as it interferes with the body’s absorption of fat. Two of these medications – Saxenda and Wegovy – are injections that mimic a hormone that targets areas of the brain that are responsible for regulating appetite and food intake.
Do Diet Pills Work?
Weight loss medications can work – at least in the short-term. Studies have shown that certain diet medicines – particularly those that are taken for a longer period of time – can boost weight loss efforts. However, even the most effective weight loss drugs tend to have a modest impact on weight loss.
For example, Wegovy the most recent weight loss medication approved by the FDA. It is seen as incredibly promising. Yet studies showed that individuals who received this injection lost an average of 6.2% to 12.4% of their body weight over 68 weeks. While even a modest weight loss can have important health benefits, these study results show that even very effective weight loss medications usually do not have drastic results.
A review of weight loss medication studies found that individuals who take these drugs may drop pounds. Researchers found that many participants in these studies did lose weight On average, participants lost 19.4 lbs taking phentermine-topiramate; 11.7 lbs with liraglutide, 11 lbs taking naltrexone-bupropion, 7.1 lbs while on lorcaserin, and 5.7 lbs with orlistat. In other words, it is possible to lose weight by taking diet pills – but most people lose a relatively small amount of weight.
Perhaps more importantly, people who take these diet pills are rarely able to maintain their weight loss after going off of the medicine. Regaining weight after stopping these medicines is fairly common. While weight loss medicines can help to jump start weight loss, unless you make longer-term changes to your lifestyle, you probably won’t keep the weight off over time.
Are There Risks Associated with Weight Loss Medications?
All medications come with some level of risk and potential for side effects. When it comes to weight loss medicines, there are often serious and even fatal side effects.
A good example of a problematic weight loss medication was a combination of fenfluramine and phentermine that was marketed as Fen-Phen. After Fen-Phen was approved by the FDA, it was linked to cases of damage to heart valves, pulmonary hypertension, and even a number of deaths. The manufacturer of this “miracle” weight loss drug ultimately pulled it from the market.
Weight loss medications have different side effects. For short-term stimulant medications, common side effects include fast heart rate, insomnia, restlessness, increased blood pressure, and the potential for dependence and/or abuse. Orlistat (Alli or Xenical) is associated with oily spotting, gas, explosive diarrhea, and soft stools.
Injectable weight loss drugs like Saxenda and Wegovy can cause nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, gas or constipation. Diet pills that affect neurotransmitters in the brain, such as bupropion and naltrexone, may cause headache, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, constipation, and vomiting.
These side effects can be serious, and may even be debilitating. Many people cannot stay on these drugs long-term because of how they affect their bodies. When they go off of the medicine, their weight creeps back up again.
In addition to these issues, weight loss medications can be incredibly expensive if your insurance does not cover it. Given the high potential for side effects, the cost, and the low likelihood of keeping the weight off over time, many people have found that weight loss medications simply aren’t worth it.
A Better Alternative to Diet Pills
It’s easy to understand why many people turn to diet pills to lose weight. Dropping excess pounds can be incredibly difficult, and diets don’t work for weight loss. The idea of taking a pill or giving yourself a shot to lose weight is very tempting.
Unfortunately, weight loss medications don’t affect the root cause of why you have put on weight. They also only work as long as you continue taking them. This can lead to an endless cycle of losing and gaining the same weight – which isn’t great for your health and wellbeing.
So what can you do to lose weight instead of taking diet pills? Consider Ideal You. With our program, you won’t have to worry about risky or uncomfortable side effects. Instead, you’ll focus on eating real food while improving your metabolism.
Ideal You is a healthy and sustainable way to lose weight because our program addresses all of the factors that can cause you to gain weight, like dehydration and not getting enough sleep. You’ll be able to lose a life-changing amount of weight quickly, without drastically cutting calories, taking a pill or giving yourself a shot, or even working out.
With Ideal You, you will receive all natural, food-based supplements, a structured food list, a weight loss diary, and regular check-ins with a team of weight experts. By revving up your metabolism, you’ll change your body from fat storing to fat-burning. The lessons that you learn while doing our program can also help you maintain your weight loss over time.
Skip the Diet Pills. Call Ideal You Instead.
If you’re like most people, you have tried everything to lose weight. You may have even taken a diet pill or supplement in the past. Despite these efforts, you keep finding yourself back at the same place: unhappy with your current size.
Ideal You is different from traditional diet programs. We know that weight loss is complicated, and that most people need a lot of support to be successful. We can help you lose a life-changing amount of weight, sustainably – and without ever taking a pill or giving yourself an injection.