Recently, weight loss medication has become a popular weight loss phenomenon — both on the market and on the Internet. Drugs like Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro are approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes but are recently used off-label as weight loss medication. Studies have shown promising clinical results, including a 15% reduction in body weight. Novo Nordisk has also sponsored research to study whether Wegovy causes reductions in the rate of heart attacks among patients with obesity. If you’re familiar with weight loss medication such as Ozempic, you may wonder if you could benefit from it.
In this post, we’ll go through four questions you should ask yourself before using medication to help you on your weight loss journey.
Are weight loss medications right for me?
While weight loss drugs may be effective for immediately losing weight, it’s important to remember that they shouldn’t be an easy replacement for healthy habits. Rather, medical weight loss treatment is meant for people whose biology makes weight loss harder. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has specifically approved these medications for individuals living with obesity or those who are overweight with qualifying health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Additionally, depending on the medication and the type of insurance you have, weight loss medications may not be covered. In fact, newer-generation medications can range from $900 to $1,200 monthly in the US, and different insurance companies vary in their coverage. If you aren’t sure, consult with a doctor to determine if weight loss medications are right for you.
What are the possible side effects?
Another crucial concern about weight loss medication is its side effects. Like other drugs and treatments, it’s important to note that weight loss medication does have side effects, ranging from common to severe. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. At the same time, nearly 50% of people with diabetes — the intended target market of the medication — quit an earlier generation of the medications within a year, and 70% of them within two years. Additionally, because most of these weight loss drugs are originally meant for type 2 diabetes treatment, most people will likely regain lost weight if they don’t keep taking the drugs for life. This rebound can lead to a significantly damaging psychological toll. There are also warnings on the drugs signifying a potential increase in the risk of thyroid cancer, acute pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, low blood sugar, kidney injury, damage to the eye’s retina, and suicidal thinking or behavior.
What are my other options?
In case you aren’t qualified for weight loss medication, there are alternatives you can try out. According to the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, even light exercise, such as walking, can help with weight loss. A low-impact aerobic exercise, walking is a simple and accessible exercise that helps spend energy and burn calories. It’s recommended to walk for at least 45 minutes per day on most days of the week for effective weight loss. At the same time, exercising should be combined with healthy eating habits to help keep the weight off. Making healthy adjustments to your diet can result in healthy levels of calorie deficit that will help your weight loss pursuit while keeping your body fit and healthy. Research has shown that logging 8,000 steps a few days a week also lowers mortality risk, and walking is a great and light option to achieve this without running or jogging if you aren’t up for it.
What are my weight goals?
Lastly, you should also consider your specific weight goals. Everyone’s bodies are different, and so is their weight loss journey. It’s important not to get carried away trying to lose weight so that you become underweight or compromise your health in the process. Because most weight loss medications are meant to be taken long-term, they can have unideal consequences on your weight and health. If you’re considering alternatives to medical weight loss, as explained above, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Instead, set realistic weight loss goals to stay on the right track. Focus on setting specific, small, and achievable goals to keep yourself motivated without getting overwhelmed. Realistic goals will also put less mental pressure on you so you don’t resort to extreme weight loss methods that can harm you. Start small, and track your progress. Consistency is key to achieving sustainable weight loss compared to instant promises.