Weight Loss Treatment
Weight loss treatment can be used together with a calorie controlled diet and regular exercise. Medication alone won't help you to lose weight.
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Weight loss treatment can be used in combination with a commitment to a healthy diet and regular physical activity. If your body mass index (BMI) is high, you might consider additional ways to lose weight. Your BMI is a ratio between your weight and height and can be an indicator of how healthy your weight is. Remember that a high BMI does not take into account how much muscle or fat you have, so do not always take your BMI at face value.
If you have a BMI of 30 or above you may be clinically obese. Obesity can put a strain on your body and lead to health problems in future such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. Weight loss will not only help you feel better about yourself but will give you a better quality of health in the long term.
Some health conditions can cause weight gain. These include thyroid disorders and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Weight loss treatment
There is a range of different obesity treatments available that can help you. You need to be motivated to stay on track to lose weight, so it helps to have support from friends, family or a healthcare professional. Remember that it can take time to lose your desired amount of weight, so be patient with yourself and your body.
When it comes to dieting, you should keep in mind the following points:
- the amount of food you eat
- whether the food is high in calories, even in a small portion
- the type of food you eat
- drinks including juices, soft drinks and alcohol also contain calories
Making changes to your diet is an effective way to reduce the number of calories you take in. Calories are the amount of energy that is stored in food and drinks. If you take in more calories in a day than you use, the extra calories are stored by your body as fat.
As a general guideline, to keep a healthy weight, men need around 2,500 calories a day and women need around 2,000 calories a day. The amount of calories that you need will depend on the amount of activity that you do. To lose weight in a safe and manageable way, it is recommended to reduce how much you take in by around 600 calories a day.
To find information about the number of calories in certain foods, you can check the nutrition content on the package.
You should also consider the type of food you eat. Healthy eating should consist of:
- starchy foods, like potatoes, rice or pasta, around 40% of your plate
- fruits and vegetables, around 40% of your plate
- dairy products, like milk or yoghurt, around 10% of your plate
- protein, such as meat, fish or eggs, around 10% of your plate
You can eat foods that are high in fat or sugar but this should only be in a very small amount (less than 2% of your plate). Be wary of foods that are high in salt or fat. These foods can contribute to high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
If you are struggling to eat a balanced diet, you can speak to your doctor to be referred to a dietitian. A dietitian is a trained healthcare professional that can help you make a diet plan that is most suitable for you.
Increasing the amount of physical activity and exercise you do in a day will help you build muscle and burn fat. Movement helps you use up energy from the food you eat and also energy you have stored as fat on your body. You should try to do about 30 minutes a day of exercise that helps get your heart rate up, like walking, swimming or riding a bicycle.
This can seem like a lot at first, but remember to start in manageable chunks of physical activity. This might mean going for a 15 minute walk around your neighbourhood every day or even spending time cleaning around the house. When you build up your exercise routine you’ll get fitter and find it easier to do more so you can lose weight faster.
If you’d rather go for more intense forms of exercise, aim for at least 75 minutes per week. Intense exercise includes going for a run, lifting heavy weights, football, basketball or boxing.
You might want to try the couch to 5K approach to get started with running. You can also look at your local sports centre or gym to see if there are any programmes or classes to join. Joining a fitness class is a great way to get support from other people who have similar weight loss goals to you. It’s also a chance to make new friends and get into a regular exercise routine.
Regular physical activity can protect you against illnesses like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise will also improve your mood and will go a long way in managing your mental health. Your sleep will improve and you’ll have more energy to enjoy life.
There are medications available to support your weight loss plan. Keep in mind that when you take weight loss medications you should commit to a low calorie diet and increase how much exercise you do. Taking these weight loss medications alone without any other plan in place is not an effective way to lose weight.
The main medications that are licensed to help with weight loss are:
You can find out more about these further down the page.
Weight loss treatment in the UK includes the option of having weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery. Weight loss surgery is only appropriate if you have tried to lose weight with dieting and exercise, or if you are unable to use weight loss medication. Your doctor may discuss with you whether weight loss surgery is suitable if:
- you have tried dieting and increased exercise
- your BMI is over 40, or between 35 and 40 with a weight-related condition, such as diabetes
After weight loss surgery, you’ll need to commit to long term follow up appointments with the place you had your surgery. Weight loss surgery is a type of major surgery. You should be comfortable with making large lifestyle changes to make sure the effects of the surgery are successful. You will also need to take lifelong vitamin supplements as you’ll be eating less food and will be at risk of nutritional deficiencies.
There are a few different ways surgery can help you lose weight:
- gastric bypass – where the top of your stomach is connected to your small intestine to reduce how much food you can eat
- gastric band – a band is placed around your stomach to help you eat less as it makes your stomach smaller
- sleeve gastrectomy – part of your stomach is removed so you feel full much quicker and eat less overall
Each type of surgery will have its benefits and potential complications. If you decide to go for weight loss surgery, your surgeon will discuss with you the risks and benefits and help you to come to an informed decision.
In collaboration with your doctor, you can choose between different prescription treatment options for weight loss, such as tablets or injections. A doctor can prescribe these treatments if they are suitable for you, or you can request them from a doctor at Asda Online Doctor. All you need to do is fill out a short questionnaire, which one of our doctors will review. You can then collect your medication from any Asda Pharmacy or have them delivered to your door.
Saxenda contains the active ingredient liraglutide, a medication that reduces your feelings of hunger which leads to eating less food. Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analogue, which means it's similar to a natural hormone found in your body called GLP-1. When GLP-1 is released from your intestines, it tells your brain that you’ve eaten food. Your brain is then able to reduce your appetite, making you feel like eating less. Liraglutide works in the same way but stays inside your body for much longer.
Saxenda is a medication that you inject once a day. You will start on a low dose of Saxenda and slowly increase the amount you take every week. The maximum maintenance dose of Saxenda is 3mg once a day. After 17 weeks of using Saxenda, your doctor will see how well you’re doing with your weight loss and if you should keep using Saxenda.
Orlistat is a fat enzyme blocker. When you eat foods containing fat, enzymes in your gut break down the fats so that your body can absorb them. Orlistat blocks these enzymes from breaking down fat, which means your body will not be able to absorb as much of it as you used to. The fat will then pass out of your system when you go to the toilet. This can give the side effect of fatty poo or oily discharge, but this is normal.
You can take orlistat either if your BMI is above 30 or if your BMI is 28 or more and you have a weight related condition (such as type 2 diabetes). Orlistat normally starts to be effective within 1 to 2 days.
You can take one 120mg orlistat tablet up to 3 times a day. You should take this either with or within 1 hour of a meal containing fat.
After 12 weeks of taking orlistat, your doctor will check to see if you have lost more than 5% of your starting body weight. If you have, you can continue taking orlistat. If you have not lost weight in this period, it could mean that orlistat is not suitable for you.
Xenical contains the fat enzyme blocker, orlistat. See how orlistat works and prevents your body from absorbing fat, in our generic orlistat section above.
You take one Xenical capsule up to 3 times a day with a meal containing fat. Each Xenical capsule contains 120mg of orlistat. This reduces the amount of fat you absorb from your food.
You can take Xenical if your BMI is above 30 or if your BMI is above 28 with weight related health conditions. Your doctor will check your weight loss after 12 weeks. If you have lost more than 5% of your starting body weight, you can continue to use Xenical for up to a year or more if you need to.
Mysimba contains a combination of naltrexone (8mg) and bupropion (90mg). You take Mysimba tablets once a day during your first week. You will then increase the dose every week until you get to 2 tablets twice a day and you will stay on this dose.
Naltrexone and bupropion work together to reduce feelings of hunger and food cravings in your brain. You can take Mysimba if you have a BMI over 30 or have a BMI over 27 with a weight-related health condition. After 16 weeks, your doctor will check if you have successfully lost over 5% of your starting body weight.
You can request Mysimba from your GP.
Alli is a weight loss treatment available over the counter, and it contains half the amount of orlistat in Xenical.
Alli is the brand name for over the counter orlistat. Alli is a pharmacy only medicine, which means a pharmacist will discuss with you whether Alli is a suitable treatment.
Each Alli capsule contains 60mg of orlistat, whereas prescription-strength Xenical contains 120mg of orlistat. You can take Alli if you have a BMI of 28 or above. You take 1 capsule of Alii with a meal containing fat up to 3 times a day, and for no longer than 6 months.
You will have to take a vitamin supplement that contains vitamins A, D, E and K every day while you take Alli.
If you take Alli for 6 months and want to continue taking it, you need to see a doctor for their advice first.
You may experience some side effects when you take weight loss treatment tablets or injections.
Side effects from medications can vary depending on the treatment. Some common side effects of weight loss treatment may include:
- abdominal pain
- diarrhoea or constipation
- feeling sick or being sick
- taste changes
- feeling tired
Losing a lot of weight in a short time can have effects on your body too. When you lose weight, you might notice parts of your skin sagging where you have lost the weight. You may also have stretch marks, which are lines that can come up on your skin when your skin stretches and shrinks rapidly.
If you are female, your period can change. Being overweight might lead to irregular or missed periods, but your periods might also become more irregular when you are losing weight. When you reach a stable weight from weight loss treatment, you might notice that your periods become more regular.
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Article created: 05 Jan 2022
Last reviewed: 05 Jan 2022