Written by Jack Riess, NASM certified personal trainer and longtime student of health and longevity.
Weight loss is a common goal for many individuals, and various medications and supplements claim to offer assistance in achieving this goal. However, it is crucial to approach these options with caution and seek guidance from healthcare professionals to ensure safety and effectiveness.
In this article, we will provide an in-depth review of popular weight loss medications and supplements, highlighting both their potential benefits and possible drawbacks.
Approved Prescription Weight Loss Medications
- Orlistat (Xenical): Orlistat, available as Xenical, is an FDA-approved oral medication that works by blocking fat absorption in the digestive system. While it can aid in weight loss, it is associated with digestive issues, including loose stools and nutrient deficiencies.
- Phentermine/Topiramate (Qsymia): Combining phentermine and topiramate, Qsymia is a prescription medication that helps suppress appetite and promote weight loss. However, it may cause side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, and cognitive disturbances.
- Naltrexone/Bupropion (Contrave): Contrave combines naltrexone and bupropion to reduce food intake, boost metabolism, and increase feelings of fullness. Potential side effects include nausea, constipation, and increased blood pressure.
- GLP-1 Agonists: GLP-1 agonists, including liraglutide (Saxenda) and semaglutide (Wegovy), are injectable medications that help reduce appetite and slow stomach emptying. While effective for weight loss, they may lead to side effects like nausea, vomiting, and potential risks such as kidney problems and thyroid tumors.
- Setmelanotide (Imcivree): Setmelanotide is a prescription injectable medication designed to treat obesity caused by specific genetic mutations. While it can reduce hunger and promote weight loss, side effects may include injection site reactions, nausea, and fatigue.
- Appetite Suppressants: Prescription appetite suppressants, such as phentermine, benzphetamine, diethylpropion, and phendimetrazine, work by altering neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Although they can aid in weight loss, they may cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.
Over-the-Counter Weight Loss Pills and Supplements
- Green Tea Extract: Green tea extract contains antioxidants and EGCG, which can aid in fat burning and weight loss. However, scientific evidence regarding its effectiveness is limited, and high doses may cause caffeine-related side effects.
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): CLA, found naturally in certain animal-derived foods, has modest effects on weight loss. Prolonged use may have adverse effects on the liver and insulin resistance.
- Forskolin: Extracted from the mint family plant, forskolin is believed to increase fat burning. However, limited research exists on its effectiveness for weight loss.
- Bitter Orange/Synephrine: Bitter orange contains synephrine, which can suppress appetite and increase fat burning. However, it carries potential risks and side effects related to heart health.
Consult a Healthcare Professional and Consider the Drawbacks
It is essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting any weight loss medication or supplement. These professionals can evaluate your individual needs, potential interactions with medications, and help you make informed decisions.
Additionally, it is important to be aware of the potential drawbacks associated with weight loss medications and supplements. Side effects such as digestive issues, nutrient deficiencies, increased blood pressure, and heart-related risks may occur. Furthermore, the effectiveness of some over-the-counter supplements remains uncertain due to limited scientific evidence
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