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Weight loss products that actually work

Diet plans, weight loss medications and weight loss surgery are all weight loss products that are on the market today. Effectiveness will vary from person to person, but lifestyle changes continue to be the foundation for healthy weight loss.

Weight loss products that actually workThere is no fast fix to lose weight in a healthy way because weight loss is a gradual process.

Aim for small, sustainable changes rather than quick fixes. Reaching a healthy weight will improve your overall quality of life and mobility.

These lifestyle changes form the cornerstone of any effective weight loss strategy. These changes focus on long-term habits that promote a healthier body and mind compared to quick fix products.

  • Balanced diet: Prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats. Use a food log to see what areas you can modify. Practice portion control and mindful eating to avoid overeating. Reduce intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-calorie snacks.
  • Regular physical activity: Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. Vary your activity to include strength training to build muscle mass and boost metabolism.
  • Prioritize sleep and stress management: Manage your stress through activities like yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises. Get enough sleep, aiming for 7-9 hours per night to support overall health and weight management.

“If you are struggling to lose weight, it is imperative to take a close look at your diet,” said Samantha Moore, Marshfield Clinic Health System registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. “Success with weight loss does not have to mean you completely give up foods you love, or that you need to restrict your diet to a degree that is unmanageable.”

Weight loss medications: Supplementing lifestyle changes

Weight loss medications can be a helpful addition to lifestyle changes for individuals struggling to lose weight. Medications are typically prescribed for individuals with a BMI of 30 or higher, or a BMI of 27 with obesity-related health conditions.

“The objective of medication is to achieve some weight loss while implementing and maintaining good, long-standing positive habits,” Moore said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications for long-term use, including the following:

  • Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave)
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda)
  • Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia)
  • Semaglutide (Wegovy)
  • Setmelanotide (Imcivree – a small minority of patients qualify for this option, its only for people with specific genetic conditions)
  • Tirzepatide (Zepbound)

“We have been seeing with long-term studies, it’s like treating any other chronic condition like high blood pressure,” said Dr. Melissa Emmerich, an OB-GYN with a focus in obesity care and weight management. “Once we manage it with medication, you’re going to always be on the medication to maintain the weight loss.”

These medications are designed to support weight loss by reducing appetite, increasing feeling of fullness and decreasing fat absorption. They may interact with other medications. It’s important to discuss your medical history and other conditions with your provider before initiating weight loss medications.

Overall, very few insurances cover the cost of weight loss medications. People can expect to pay out of pocket. As popularity of weight loss drugs grows, there’s a limited availability because production is not meeting the need.

“These medications do good things to help people reduce extra body weight, improve their cardiovascular health and longevity,” Emmerich said. “However, right now they are expensive without insurance coverage, and there’s not enough in production to recommend new patients to start taking them. Even when you lose weight with medications, you need to make lifestyle changes and take the medication to maintain your weight.”

Bariatric surgery options, benefits and considerations

For individuals with severe obesity or related health conditions, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough. In such cases, bariatric surgery can be an effective option. This five-minute online assessment is an easy way to understand whether bariatric surgery is right for you.

“We have set program requirements, including dietary and behavioral health evaluations, that we use to monitor and evaluate our patients progress through the program,” said Amanda Conner, nurse practitioner with the Marshfield Clinic Health System bariatric surgery program. “Bariatric surgery is a lifelong commitment, and we are very careful to make sure our patients will be able to maintain that commitment both before and after surgery.”

One misconception is weight loss surgery can be a quick fix. The entire process typically takes between six to nine months to complete but is highly individualized. The goal is for patients to develop the necessary skills and lifestyle changes, so they are successful lifelong in their weight loss journey.

RELATED ARTICLE: Weight loss surgery requirements: Here’s what you need to know

You’ll work with a care team to support you through the process. Metabolic and bariatric surgery is a multifaceted program that involves many different medical specialties. “I personally work very closely with my patients and help them develop strategies whether it is before or after surgery on how to manage challenges,” Conner said. “For this exact reason, is why we require our patients to meet with our behavioral health specialist because they also help our patients develop strategies on how to cope with stressors without turning to food as a form of comfort.”

You will also work closely with a registered dietitian for education regarding nutritional and behavioral changes that will be required after surgery. “You will learn the importance of adequate protein, fluid, vitamin and mineral supplementation, appropriate meal pattern and portion size, and necessity of physical activity,” Moore said.

Weight loss is a lifelong commitment

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Work with your care team to develop a personalized weight loss plan that considers your unique needs and lifestyle. Obesity is a chronic medical disease that sometimes has nothing to do with how a person eats.

“People commonly feel like it’s their fault that they struggle with their weight and that they should be able to lose the weight on their own,” Conner said. “Due to the medical complexity of obesity, it can be nearly impossible for some patients to lose weight and maintain that weight loss long-term without support or intervention of some kind.”

Consider your insurance coverage. Some insurance plans offer support and coaching programs or appointments with a registered dietitian. Every plan will differ on what is approved for medications or surgery.  It can be helpful to check on your options.

“We know weight loss is much more complicated than dietary intake and exercise,” Emmerich said. “So much is environmental, behavioral, psychosocial. It’s very personal and starts with you. You need a multi-faceted plan and support to make a lifelong change with whatever method you use.”

For more information about weight loss, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

Learn more about weight management services

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