What can Doctors Prescribe for Weight Loss?<< Go Back
Most people will be familiar with the term metabolism, but many won't know what a basal metabolic rate is. We'll define it clearly in a moment, but we'll first say that it's a primary factor in your body's propensity for gaining weight. It's common to hear someone complain about their weight gain saying that he or she doesn't eat any more than they used to, and that they still are just as active as before.
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Both of those points are probably true, but what's also true is that we gain more weight as we age and often without diet changes or less physical activity. Much of that has to with your basal metabolic rate, so before discussing weight loss medicine let's improve your understanding of this aspect of body metabolism.
Basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy your body burns at rest on a daily basis, and is measured as the number of calories required to keep your body functioning when you’re not doing anything. Your basal metabolism peaks early; for most people they’re at their best in this regard around the age of 17 or 18.
Think back to when you were that age. You probably remember being able to eat as much of whatever you liked and not gain even a pound, and weight loss medicine wasn't even on your radar. Well, now you know why - your basal metabolic rate was at its peak and you were burning loads of calories at all times.
We'll cut to the chase with the rest of this. Having a low BMR means you must be intaking fewer calories if you want to lose body fat and weight. We're going to come back to your BMR and its relevance to weight loss efforts, but for now let's try to answer what's the best medicine for weight loss.
No 1-Pill Solution
The most important thing to understand when trying to find the best medicine for weight loss is that pharmaceuticals shouldn't be at the forefront of your plan to lose weight. Lifestyle changes should be there, followed by dietary changes, and THEN you can consider a pill or other supplement as a complementary piece that allows you to get more results from lifestyle and diet changes.
This approach really can't be stressed strongly enough, as 9 out of 10 people who take a medication and then expect it to promote weight loss on its own without other changes are going to be very disappointed. Now that we've made that as crystal clear as possible, let's move on to discussing some of the weight loss medicine alternatives that have received favourable reviews for their effectiveness. Note first that most of these medications will require both consultation with a doctor and a prescription written by that same doctor.
Orlistat – Orlistat is the only absorption blocker diet drug of its kind approved for use in the U.S. It blocks your body from absorbing a portion of the fat you intake from food. For most people this amount is roughly 1/3 of the total fat intake. Orlistat can be acquired in a weaker version available without a prescription called Alli that is about a ½ dose of prescription Orlistat. The full-strength prescription version of Orlistat is called Xenical. When you take Alli along with a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet, you can lose about 50% more weight than dieting alone.
Patients choosing to take either form of Orlistat should be on a low-fat diet (with daily calories from fat being less than 30%) and should take a multivitamin at least 2 hours before or after taking the medication. This is because it makes it more difficult for your body to absorb certain important vitamins and minerals.
Saxenda (Liraglutide) – Saxenda is of special note here in part because it is a diabetic medicine for weight loss. It is a higher dose of the type 2 diabetes drug Victoza. How it works is that it mimics an intestinal hormone that informs the brain that the stomach is full, eliminating appetite.
It is important to note that Saxenda works for some patients, and does not work for others. Researchers are not entirely sure why this is quite yet, so the rule is that if you don't lose 4% of your weight after 16 weeks on Saxenda then your doctor may insist that you stop taking it. This is primarily because there are serious side effect risks associated with long-term use.
Belviq (Lorcaserin) - Belviq is an appetite suppressor medication like Saxenda but is not suitable for people with diabetes or anyone taking antidepressant medication. The same efficacy issue exists as with Saxenda where it is effective for some people and not for others. Similarly, if you don't lose 5% of your weight after 12 weeks on Belviq your doctor may insist that you discontinue the medication.
Contrave - Contrave will be an interesting medication choice for many people because of the fact that is more designed to address and diminish your cravings for food. It's a combination of two other drugs, naltrexone and bupropion. The first one is used to help substance abusers resist urges to use, and bupropion is better known by its brand name, Wellbutrin - a very common antidepressant medication. If you feel that much of your inability to lose weight is related to self-control issues then you should speak to your doctor about Contrave.
Pump Iron Primarily
These are just 4 of the most common weight loss medicine choices, and the reason we touched on them only briefly is because, again, they should be used as a complement to a weight loss exercise regimen. So, with that understood, we'll now return to a discussion of basal metabolic rates, and in particular how it contributes to another factor that is relevant to weight loss efforts - metabolic age.
This number is calculated by comparing your basal metabolic rate to the average BMR of your chronological age group. If your metabolic age is higher then you need to improve your BMR. The best way to do this is NOT to adhere to a restrictive diet and spend hours on the treadmill while taking weight loss medicine. It’s to build muscle mass, and anyone can do that if they start with a beginner’s weight training program that allows you to start slowly and build up your strength and muscle mass. Gaining muscles means the number of calories you burn at rest increases naturally, and this will make the biggest difference for your weight loss efforts.
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