Have you heard about the miracle weight loss pill? If you watch the Dr. Oz Show, you might think there’s a new one on the market every week! In reality, there is no pill or medication that can produce safe, effective, long-term weight loss on its own. But prescription medication can play a very helpful role when appropriately used.
First, what are some common weight loss drugs and how do they work? (Warning: medical terms ahead. But we make them easy to understand).
You may have heard of phentermine, which falls into a class of medications called anorectics. Anorectics are designed to decrease, or suppress, the appetite and increase the feeling of fullness. Other anorectic options include benzphetamine,diethylpropion, lorcaserin, and phendimetrazine.
Then there are other types of drugs called lipase inhibitors, which are designed to help you lose weight by blocking fat absorption. Orlistat is a name for a common lipase inhibitor.
Recently, a couple of new weight loss medications have entered the market that use a combination of drug classes. One such medication combines the appetite suppressant effects of phentermine with a topiramate, which on its own is used to treat seizures and prevent migraine headaches. Another option uses a combination of naltrexone and bupropion, substances that aim to break alcohol dependence and treat depression, respectively. Researchers have discovered that while these medications on their own target very different conditions, their combinations make for safe, effective weight loss.
Now that we’ve said a mouthful, how do you know if any of these prescriptions is right for you?
First, it should be stated that weight loss medication is typically prescribed for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, or those with a BMI of 27 and managing a weight-related health condition, such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension. If you’re just looking to shed a couple of pounds to squeeze into that bikini, prescription weight loss medication is probably not for you.
Second, remember that a Are Your Medications Causing Weight Gain?. In order for it to be effective, it must be combined with a calorie-controlled nutrition plan, physical activity, and behavioral counseling. It is simply a tool your provider can use if he or she feels it can safely support your weight loss goals. If you are not committed to making lifestyle changes to complement your medication, you should not be taking it.
Finally, be sure to understand the possible side effects and risks of taking certain medications. These are not to be taken lightly. Before prescribing medication, your provider will examine your medical history and potential interaction of weight-loss drugs with other medications you’re taking. The incidence of some of side effects may be very low, but be sure to thoroughly discuss the pros and cons of any medication with your medical provider.
Prescription medication is a very personal choice because, well, everyone is unique. What works for some may not work for others. But everyone should understand that the options available to them in order to create a winning strategy for healthy weight loss and long-term weight management.