When most of us think about medications, we think of medications as a form of treatment for a medical condition. For instance, if a patient has high blood pressure and a doctor starts him/her on a medication to lower blood pressure, like Zestril, that is exactly what the medication does — it directly lowers the blood pressure. The ability to directly treat a medical condition holds true for most medications.
How Weight Management Medications Work
This is not exactly how weight management medications work. Weight management medications do not directly cause weight loss, but they can be a helpful tool for weight management when used correctly. These medications can help with appetite control and dietary adherence.
They can help a person commit to putting the time and effort into their weight loss journey. By time and effort, I mean healthy diet and exercise; there is just no way around this if you want to maintain a healthy body. The medication can help, but it will not do the work for you. When used incorrectly these medications can set you up for eventual weight regain.
The Impact of Non-Weight Related Medications on Weight Loss
Another consideration is that non-weight related medications used to treat other medical conditions can also help with weight control (for example metformin, which is commonly used to treat diabetes). At the same time, the opposite can also be true.
Unfortunately, there are medications where weight gain is listed as a common side effect. If you are on one of these medications, I suggest speaking to your doctor to see if there is a possibility to switch to another medication that is weight neutral or one that might help with weight management.
If your doctor is about to start you on a new medication, you can always ask how this medication may affect your weight and if there are alternative options. There are multiple medications for weight management. They do not all work the same way, and they are very different from one another. Your doctor will work with you to understand which medication may be the best option for you.
What You Can Do to Support Your Weight Loss Journey
While weight management medications help control your appetite/cravings, you have an opportunity to work on adjusting your lifestyle, diet and exercise to establish healthier habits. Thus, it is important to learn how to use these tools for weight management in a manner that sets you up for long term success with your weight, health, and body.