A quick online search will instantly reveal several hundred ways to lose weight. The obesity epidemic in the United States is growing in every part of the country.
Today, more than one in three adults in the United States are considered to have medical obesity. Medical obesity is defined as a BMI (Body Mass Index) between 30 and 40.
Because losing weight is a physically demanding and mentally taxing journey, medical weight loss provides an extra level of support that allows you to lose the weight and keep it off.
A Medical Approach to Weight Loss
Medical weight loss is a treatment plan that includes metabolic testing and medical diagnostics along with guided diet and exercise with the help and guidance of a doctor.
How Does Medical Weight Loss Work?
The heart of medical weight loss is a healthy lifestyle change. While there are hundreds of diets, medical weight-loss programs have a much stronger success rate.
There are three basic areas of any medical weight loss program:
1. Initial Consultation – This is when you meet with your doctor, establish your goals and create a plan that works to improve a healthy weight lifestyle.
2. Behavior Modification – The next step is to change behavior to create a balance between food taken in and energy expended through activity.
- Change in Diet –Food is measured in calories. Any weight loss program requires a calorie deficit. But choosing where you get your calories to consume makes a huge difference in how you gain or lose weight. Your doctor will walk you through different diet types, how to achieve a calorie deficit without losing your favorite foods. Different options may be high protein, low carb, and/or intermittent fasting.
- Personalized Exercise – Energy taken in through food is expended through activity. Working with a doctor, you can find an exercise program that works with your preference, your lifestyle, and your physical abilities.
3. Weight Loss Medications – There are some medications that may help with weight loss that can be prescribed by your doctor. Any medication prescribed will be used to supplement the recommended diet or exercises and are not designed as the only method of weight loss. All medications are monitored closely by your doctor to ensure you are healthy while taking them.
Commonly Used Medical Weight Loss Techniques
Mostly all techniques will combine different proven methods to create truly effective weight loss programs that are personalized for each patient.
These weight loss methods target the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes in the body to escalate substantial weight loss without the use of surgery.
These methods may include the following:
- Metabolic Testing – Those with slower metabolisms need to use different techniques to make weight loss effective. This is why metabolic testing is an important part to tailor diet and exercise to your natural metabolism.
- Hormone Balancing – Because of the important role hormones play in body weight, adequate hormone balancing is critical. Cortisol, insulin, estrogen, and testosterone testing is an important step to determine if hormones are to blame.
- Exercise Guidance – Any exercise is good, but medical weight loss provides targeted exercise guidance geared specifically toward eliminating fat and increasing muscle mass.
- Self-Monitoring Tools – There are many ways to measure weight other than a scale. With the support of a doctor, you can self-monitor your progress through more accurate measurements, food diaries, blood testing, muscle mass, etc.
- Review of Medications – Sometimes the medication that you use for other conditions may be contributing to your weight. Your doctor can help you to safely try alternative medications or other methods to manage conditions while losing weight.
- Individual Meal Planning – Knowing what you’re going to eat ahead of time is a very beneficial way to create awareness, accountability, and avoid a binge. We can help you learn how to create a healthy meal plan with a food diary to give you plenty of options set up for success.
- Meal Replacement Programs – This is typically a meal delivery program that provides dietician-led meals straight to your door with a strict regimen to follow.
Weight Loss Medication
When diet and exercise alone are not enough to achieve weight loss goals. Medications may be recommended. The use of medication is usually based on the body mass index, health history, and lab results.
There are four commonly prescribed medications:
- Orlistat (Over-the-Counter Alli or Prescription Xenical) – This actually stops your body from absorbing all of the fat you eat. However, it can cause digestive issues and may also stop your body from absorbing important nutrients.
- Phentermine & Topiramate-ER (Qsymia) – These are appetite suppressants that can be used for either short or long-term use. Side effects may be dizziness, changes in taste, sleep problems, and tingling in the hands and feet.
- B12 & Lipotropic Injection – These are unique only to medical weight loss and are used to provide a boost of energy and increase your metabolism. The energy from B12 helps you to stay active, while the lipotropic removes fat from the liver and turns it into energy, and boosts the metabolism.
- Lorcaserin (Belviq) – This is an appetite suppressant that can help provide a boost but will only help you lose about 5% of your body weight.
Weight Loss Surgery
To be a candidate for any type of weight loss surgery you must have a BMI of at least 35 or be at least 100 pounds overweight for your height. Many times, these surgeries are not covered by insurance and other methods should be tried first.
The most common weight-loss surgeries are the following:
- Gastric Bypass Surgery – This is the most invasive surgery option. A surgeon actually reroutes your digestive tract. The stomach is separated so that food “bypasses” the small intestine and moves straight to the bowel. This encourages healthier eating habits and prevents you from overeating, reduces hunger, and reduces the number of calories absorbed.
- Sleeve Gastrectomy – The sleeve is less involved than gastric bypass, and involves removing part of the stomach, decreasing the amount of food you can eat. This also decreases appetite and can improve diabetes.
- Duodenal Switch – This is a combination of the gastric sleeve and the bypass. To date, this is the most effective surgical option but has some significant risks.
- Gastric Banding – This is where a surgeon places an adjustable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach so that the stomach itself is smaller. As a result, you become full more quickly and are able to eat less.
- SmartLipo/Laser Technology – This is typically used after weight loss for stubborn areas that are tough to lose. This procedure is minimally-invasive and helps to destroy fat cells and tighten the skin.
9 Benefits of Losing Weight Medically
Weight gain is often accompanied by a host of other medical conditions. Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, insulin resistance, and other medical conditions can develop or worsen as a person gains weight.
Medical weight loss is the best way to manage these conditions while you lose weight and optimize your overall health.
In addition to helping with dual diagnostics, losing weight medically carries several significant benefits:
1. Focused on the Individual – Anyone can start a diet, but losing weight medically is about your body and finding what works for you on an individual level using your unique diagnostics, medical history, and needs.
2. Managed by a Doctor – Because everything is administered and reviewed by weight loss specialists, anything that comes up along the way can be dealt with correctly. Having a medical professional by your side allows you to move forward with confidence.
3. Support Throughout Process – Having a personal trainer or accountability partner can be helpful, but the individualized attention of a physician is a whole different level. This support makes weight loss both more effective and an invaluable experience.
4. Long-Term Success – It is shown to have better long-term success rates than any other weight loss method. In short, it is a sustainable weight loss program.
5. Effective Exercise Techniques – It ensures you have exercise methods that provide maximum results without hurting yourself. Based on your current fitness level and personal health needs, we provide tailored exercise education.
6. Lose weight In a Safe & Healthy Ways – Many popular weight loss methods are not safe or sustainable. Using a doctor as your weight loss partner ensures that all methods and medications are safe and healthy.
7. Have Access to Prescription Medications if Needed – If necessary, your doctor is available to prescribe you medications that may aid your efforts and make your weight loss more effective.
8. Focus on Weight Management Rather than Weight Loss – Any diet will provide short-term weight loss, but a medical plan supports weight management in the long term. It breaks the cycle of yo-yo dieting and provides real lasting change.
9. Avoid Surgery – The goal is to lose weight without surgery. There are many risks and recovery times that can often be avoided with other medical methods.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Chances are, if you’re considering medical weight loss, you’re already a good candidate. Below are four common signs that you may be the ideal candidate for weight loss support:
You’re Carrying Extra Weight Every Day – In our world today, this is approximately 42 percent of the population. If you are overweight and find it difficult to move around or do simple tasks around the house, you may qualify for medical weight loss.
You’re Ready to Change Your Lifestyle – This is an important step because medical programs are not a quick fix or an overnight miracle. Those who are ready to make lasting change are great candidates.
You have Tried Losing Weight on Your Own – Your doctor and dietician will want to see what you’re currently eating, what you have already tried, and use this information to build your plan.
You Lack Motivation – Medical weight loss is perfect for those who struggle to lose weight on their own and need the additional support to stay accountable, avoid common mistakes, and stay on track.
How Much Does It Cost to Lose Weight Medically
Medical programs vary widely and are an investment in your health. The cost of the assessment, meal plans, weekly check-ins, supplements, and testing are just a few of the things factored into the fees.
Most weight loss programs are billed as a membership program that includes your testing, doctor’s visits, meal planning, etc. For some, you may pay a flat rate while others are billed monthly. There also may be additional costs to consider such as prescriptions, different grocery or specialty food items, etc.
The total cost for a medical weight loss program may be anywhere from $500 to $1000 per month.
If you opt for a surgical weight-loss method, the average cost of weight-loss surgery is usually between $20,000- $25,000.
FAQs About Losing Your Weight Medically