The Knowledge Center

Our Knowledge Center Blog provides valuable insight into the world of psychiatry and psychology.

Choosing the Correct Weight Loss Pill

If you have a headache…you take a pill and it goes away. If you have an upset stomach…you take a pill and it goes away. If you are overweight…well, you can’t just take a pill to lose weight even though there are thousands of advertisements on television and in magazines that promise to help you lose weight and “it takes no work at all!” I bet you wonder if there ARE weight loss pills that really work, or are they just a waste of time and money.

Why can’t just take a pill and lose weight?

The pharmaceutical companies are in a desperate multi-BILLION dollar race for an effective and safe “weight loss pill”. But they have failed in their search because feeling hungry or feeling full is based upon hormones in your body. The hormone levels constantly change depending on how much energy your body needs and how much and what type of foods you eat.

The most important hormones that control when and how much you eat are called Ghrelin and Leptin. There are other hormones such as Peptide YY, Adiponectin, Cholecystokinin, and Pancreatic polypeptide which are all involved in this energy balance but the main hormones are Grehlin and Leptin.Grehlin and leptin act together, but in opposite ways, to control your urge to eat or to stop eating. Grehlin tells your body to eat because it needs energy and Leptin lets your body know when it is full so you stop eating.

But it gets even more complicated. The level of Ghrelin, which is also called the ‘hormone of hunger,” is affected by many factors such as the type of food you eat, sleep deprivation, being overweight and drinking sweetened soda. Almost everyone drinks soda but grehlin levels don’t decrease after meals if you drink a lot of soda so you still feel hungry. The next time you buy a soda don’t buy the 64 ounce size or even better, drink water with your meals. Because it takes about 20 minutes for the hormones to interact and for you to feel full after you start to eat, always stop eating before you feel full.

When the pharmaceutical companies first discovered Leptin they thought it might be the “anti-fat” miracle drug and they spent an enormous amount of money on research and advertising. But it quickly became obvious that taking leptin or ghrelin as a pill does not control appetite or help people normalize their weight. Because of the difficulty in isolating these hormones and using them in a weight loss pill, don’t expect to see them in the ingredients listed on the pill boxes any time soon.

Prescription weight loss pills

But if we don’t have a pill that can specifically raise and lower the levels of Grhelin and Leptin (and the other appetite hormones) in our bodies, then what kind of pill CAN we take for weight loss? Most weight-loss medications you buy at drug stores, groceries or get by prescription are “appetite suppressant” medications and usually come in tablets or extended-release capsules. Appetite suppressants promote weight loss by tricking the body into believing that it is not hungry or that it is full by increasing brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, that affect mood and appetite.

Fat absorption inhibitors, another type of weight loss pills, work by preventing your body from breaking down and absorbing fat from the foods you eat. The fat which your body can’t digest goes out of your body in bowel movements and many people complain of oily stools, gas and frequent bowel movements. These side effects are especially bad with a high fat diet and can really be embarrassing. Fat absorption inhibitors also reduce the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K so you should take supplements containing these missing nutrients along with the fat absorption inhibitor.

But what about other side effects besides the oily stools? Luckily, the side effects of most weight loss medications are usually mild and become less bothersome the longer you take the medication.

Some of the common side effects of the different medications include increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, constipation, problems sleeping, excessive thirst, lightheadedness, headaches and anxiety. But some serious and even fatal outcomes from taking weight loss medications have also been reported. The most tragic example is the use of the appetite suppressor “phen-fen” which caused severe damage to the heart and lungs.

There is still little information on how safe and effective weight-loss medications are if you take them for more than just a few months.You should not expect to reach a “normal” body weight using just medications because most people have individual reactions to any most types of medications, and some people lose more weight than others.

Most people who take weight-loss medications lose about 10 pounds more than people who don’t take weight loss pills. Most weight loss occurs within 6 months of starting the medicine and then your weight will level off or even increase. Sadly, most people will regain the weight they lost when they stop taking weight-loss medications.The best weight loss pills on the market can be a big help for people who are struggling with losing weight.

If you combine weight loss pills with an exercise program and a healthy diet, prepared in a natural way, of fresh meats, fish and whole grains, you’ll see even faster results than you would without them.

Even if you don’t take weight loss pills, because obesity is a chronic disease, you should definitely include regular physical activity and a healthy diet to improve health and to reach and maintain a normal weight. A weight loss of even 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, for example from 200 pounds to 180 pounds, can markedly improve your health.

Our self-pay rates will soon be updated. Please contact our staff for more information.