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Weight Loss Medications: Are They For You?

by | News

You’ve tried everything on your own – diets and exercise programs – and it does seem to work for a few days. Only to stop.

Do not blame yourself. Excess weight is a genetically and environmentally influenced medical condition.

If you cannot lose weight on your own, you may be considering medications.
Before starting weight loss medications, it’s important to understand how these drugs work and what the FDA-approved options are.

In this article, Dr. Julia Melamed shares her expert knowledge from 20 years of helping patients lose weight, look their best, and feel their healthiest.

How Do Weight Management Medications Work?

If you’re looking for ways to help with weight loss, you may have heard of “weight management medications.”

The term weight management medications is commonly used in the health and wellness community but is quite misleading; the correct name is “appetite suppressants.”

An appetite suppressant is a more accurate term because these medications target the pathways in your brain (orexigenic) that promote hunger and cravings.

There are multiple medicines approved by the FDA to help people manage their weight. Each works a little differently, but they are all meant to diminish appetite to some extent.

To ensure they are safe and effective, weight management medications (appetite suppressants) should only be used with the guidance of a healthcare provider.

FDA-Approved Weight Loss Medications

The following weight loss medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat overweight and obesity in adults:

● Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
● Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)
● Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave)

Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)

Orlistat (or’ li stat) is a prescription used to help overweight people who may have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease.

Brand names include Xenical and Alli.

Orlistat belongs to the lipase inhibitor medication class, which means it blocks the absorption of some of the fats consumed. The fat that is not absorbed passes out of the body in the stool.

All medication has possible side effects and risks involved. The most common side effect of Orlistat is changes in bowel movement.

To avoid gastrointestinal side effects from the medication, it is crucial to adhere to the low-fat diet prescribed by your doctor while taking this medicine.

If your diet contains over 30% of the total daily calories from fat or if one of your meals is very high in fat, taking Orlistat could lead to side effects.

Because Orlistat changes how your body absorbs nutrients from the foods you eat, taking a multivitamin pill with Orlistat every day is important to ensure you get enough vitamins and minerals.

Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)

Qsymia is an extended-release (long-acting) capsule used to help adults who are obese or who are overweight and have weight-related medical problems.

It is a mix of two medications: phentermine and topiramate.

● Phentermine (fen” ter meen) is in a class of medications called anorectics, which lessens your appetite.
● And topiramate (toe pyre’ a mate) is in a class of medications called anticonvulsants, which work by causing feelings of fullness to last longer after eating.

Weight loss medications like Qsymia are FDA-approved for adults and only work as long as you continue to take them.

Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose and increase your dose gradually. Your doctor will check your weight periodically to ensure the medication is working for you.
If you have not lost a certain amount of weight, it is not likely that you will benefit from taking phentermine and topiramate, so your doctor will probably tell you to stop taking the medication.

Do not stop taking phentermine and topiramate without talking to your doctor first. If you stop taking it quickly, you may experience seizures. Ask your doctor how to reduce the dose slowly.

Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave)

Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave) is a combination drug prescribed along with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise to assist adults who are obese or who are overweight and suffer from health issues related to their weight.

Naltrexone (nal-trek-sown) is in a class of medications called opiate antagonists, and Bupropion (byoo-prow-pee-ann) is in a class of medications called antidepressants.

These medications work together on two areas of the brain, the hunger center and the reward system, to reduce appetite and help control cravings.

Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose, gradually increasing your dose and checking periodically to ensure the medication is working well for you.

Like all antidepressants, bupropion carries a warning about suicide risk. Be sure to keep regular appointments with your physician and discuss changes in mood.

Please note this is not a comprehensive list and does not include information on medical weight loss injections.

For help with weight loss and guidance on using weight loss medications safely, please contact Melamed Health & Wellness.

Choosing A Weight Loss Program

Discovering the perfect weight loss solution can be a complex process. At Melamed Health & Wellness, we understand that weight loss is more than just willpower.

It’s about understanding the factors contributing to weight gain and developing a personalized plan to address them.
To begin, you will undergo blood work and a physical examination to identify any underlying conditions that may be hindering weight loss.

Next, we review your past experiences, diet, exercise history, and current medications to ensure we have a comprehensive understanding of your unique situation.

We then divide your weight loss journey into two phases: the Weight Loss phase and the Weight Maintenance phase.

It’s important to us that you not only lose weight but also maintain it in the long run.

Our Clinical Registered Dietician will work closely with you to determine the dietary options that are right for you at each stage.

There’s no need to worry about committing to a specific number of weeks – we’re flexible and believe in going with the flow. You can switch diets as many times as needed without any penalties.

We offer varying degrees of personalized support, meaning you can choose to meet with our Registered Dietician or Doctor on a weekly or monthly basis – whatever works best for you. We believe in partnering with our patients and empowering them to take an active role in their weight loss journey.

Some individuals thrive with more frequent appointments, while others prefer a monthly check-in.

Rest assured, we are dedicated to supporting you on your path to success.

Take the first step towards a healthier you and join us at Melamed Health & Wellness. We’re here to guide you every step of the way.


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