A Quick Guide to Medical Weight Loss

A Quick Guide to Medical Weight Loss

With obesity on the rise in 19 states across the United States, many people are advised to make the proper lifestyle changes necessary to stave off health conditions associated with excess weight. However, losing weight isn’t as simple as it seems. Weight is influenced by a complex set of factors that affect people differently, affecting how easy or challenging it is to burn fat and shed pounds. What works for one person might not work for someone else.

While eating patterns, physical activity levels, and sleep behavior are significant players in weight management, biological aspects of health are often overlooked when addressing obesity. For some, their genes and biology prevent them from losing weight through typical diet and exercise adjustments. As such, those who struggle with losing weight through the usual solutions can go through medical weight loss to make the process more straightforward and effective. Since the concept can become confusing without the correct facts, here’s a quick guide to medical weight loss to help you understand what it is and who it’s for:

What is medical weight loss?

Medical weight loss is known as the process of losing weight with the help of a healthcare professional. These professionals collaborate with the individual to develop a customized plan that caters to their specific needs and situation. It deals with the factors of weight and weight gain holistically, targeting the root cause of obesity beyond the surface-level aspects. Medical weight loss programs use a comprehensive approach with nutrition, physical activity, behavior modification, and medical interventions to achieve long-lasting results and improve overall well-being.

Diet and exercise

Healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity are significant components of weight loss. However, for many with obesity, it can be hard to know what to change to achieve their weight goals. Thus, medical weight loss professionals would typically curate a personalized meal plan with nutritious meals and healthy snacks and recommend portion sizes and calorie intake. Other professionals will also create a workout regimen that is both feasible and efficient. Issues like lack of motivation, physical limitations, or time constraints are also considered when developing an exercise plan for more sustainability.

Behavioral and psychological factors

Weight loss is a mental and emotional battle as much as it is a physical one. Medical weight loss aims to target behavioral and psychological factors of weight to address the root cause of weight gain or obesity. This may involve looking at emotional eating, stress levels, sleep patterns, mental and emotional distress, and more. Support groups and coaching can aid in pointing out these behaviors and mindsets, allowing the individual to find encouragement and repair their relationship with food, exercise, and themselves.

Weight loss medication

Aside from addressing various factors of weight gain and obesity through plans and support, the individual is also typically prescribed weight loss medications such as orlistat, naltrexone-bupropion, liraglutide, or semaglutide to aid in shedding pounds. These medications target your brain and gut to manage hunger, signal feelings of fullness, or block fat absorption to help you shed pounds. While effective, they aren’t meant to do all the heavy lifting alone; they work best when paired with other medical weight loss interventions like diet and exercise plans.

Who is it for?

While people can consult with health professionals to ask for guidance with weight loss, not everyone can be prescribed weight loss drugs. The FDA approves medical weight loss medications for people with obesity, which is characterized by a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. They can also be used by individuals with a BMI of over 27 who have a qualifying health condition, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Medical weight loss is meant to level the playing field so that people who struggle with biological and genetic factors of obesity can lose weight effectively and safely.

Does medical weight loss work?

Medical weight loss and medications are often surrounded by stigma and misconceptions, as some older medications don’t always provide a reliable or sustainable way to lose weight. However, recent innovations in weight loss medication have transformed these drugs to be safer and effective for long-term use. Drugs like semaglutide (sold under the names Ozempic or Wegovy) are bringing medical weight loss into a better light and removing the stigma surrounding obesity. The success and results of these medications showcase how obesity is more than just an issue of willpower and that there is so much more to it under the surface. Every person’s weight loss journey is different, so some medications may be more effective than others, depending on their needs and circumstances.

When obesity is reframed as a progressive chronic disease rather than a failure of self-control to exercise and eat a healthful diet, it allows more people to access healthcare and support through the help of a plan that caters to what they need. Medical weight loss can help fill in the gaps of an individual’s own weight loss endeavors, allowing for better and long-lasting results.

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