Weight-loss medications are starting to appear more on the market. Many have become a valid option for weight-loss. If you are struggling to lose weight, you may be asking if these are for you. First, know that this weight-loss option is something you have to discuss with a healthcare provider. Now, let’s talk a little about prescription medications used for weight-loss.
About Weight-loss Medications
Weight-loss medications do not promise easy weight-loss. However, they can be a helpful tool when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Most of the time, they work by:
- Reducing your appetite
- Giving you energy
- Boosting your metabolism
Weight-loss medications are different than supplements or gimmicky products on store shelves. They are prescribed and only a handful of them are on the market. Each one is effective, but they are more effective when used with lifestyle changes. Within one year, someone taking a weight-loss medication may lose 3-7% of his or her total body weight beyond just lifestyle changes.
This may not seem like much, but even 5-10% weight-loss can greatly improve your health by lowering your blood pressure or increasing your energy.
Who Can Take Them?
Medications for weight-loss are not for everybody. You should not take them if you are pregnant or have health problems that may get worse with these medications.
Your healthcare provider may consider weight-loss medications if you have:
- A BMI > 40
- A BMI of 30 – 40 with weight-related conditions (like high blood pressure)
Some Things You Should Note:
These drugs are not without disadvantages. Most of them, if not all, can have mild side effects including:
- Higher blood pressure
- Rapid heart beat
Sometimes more serious side effects can occur that outweigh the benefits of weight-loss. This is why you should talk with a healthcare provider (HCP) about your options. If you do decide to start a weight-loss medication, you will need to follow-up with your HCP regularly.
Many insurance plans do not cover medications for weight-loss. While some are more affordable, others may be expensive. Your HCP should talk with you about each option and help you determine if any of them are right for you.
It’s common for a patient to gain back weight after taking prescription medications. Many of these drugs are only prescribed for a short period. Weight gain can occur if your metabolism has changed and you are unable to resume your old behaviors (like not eating because you are not hungry). However, you may be able to offset regain with regular exercise.
Putting it All Together
You may qualify for weight-loss medications if you are struggling to lose weight on your own or you have concerning health conditions. They can be very effective, but they do come with risks. Any drug for weight-loss should also be combined with a healthy diet and exercise. If this is something you are considering, first consult with your healthcare provider.