Weight loss medication can be beneficial if you know the right way to take it. Read our article about its benefits and how you can fully enjoy a healthier life.

Weight loss supplements have gained so much attention with millions of people trying to stay healthy while trying to lose weight. Among various methods and products for weight loss, medications show the most promising results. 

These medications work by changing the chemical signals in your brain that controls appetite. By giving you a feeling of fullness, your food cravings are diminished or totally suppressed.

But do they really work? Or are they even safe in the first place? In 2020, the FDA had pulled out a certain drug named Belviq for being linked to cancer. Lawyers expected hundreds of people to file Belviq lawsuits, and it did happen.

Belviq was approved by the US FDA in 2012 as a prescription drug for losing weight. It is used together with regular exercise and a healthy diet in a weight reduction treatment plan. Though it is used to treat obesity, it does not treat the other underlying health issues of the patient. There were studies made that prove it increased the risk of developing cancer. To know more about the case, read more on this page.

With the example given above, how do you make sure that your weight loss medication is safe to take? Here’s what you need to know.

Do you really need weight loss meds?

First, do you really need to take weight loss medications?

Consulting your doctor is necessary when you are considering these medications for your weight loss treatment. It may seem beneficial in helping you lose those pounds. But at the same time, these meds may trigger some adverse effects if you are taking other drugs for other health issues. 

If you plan to conceive or you are breastfeeding or are pregnant, keep away from these meds. You are a candidate for taking weight loss medications if, despite dietary adjustments and constant exercise, you fit these two criteria:

  • BMI (body mass index) is more than 27 and you are obese, have high blood pressure, or suffer from diabetes.
  • BMI is more than 30.

What works best for you?

Though there are several brands of weight loss medications, the US Food and Drug Administration have approved only 4 for long-term use. These are:

  • Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave)
  • Phentermine-topiramete (Qsymia)
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda)
  • Orlistat (Xenical)

While most prescription drugs for weight loss work by reducing your food cravings or giving you a sense of fullness, some medications do both. Orlistat is an exception because it functions by meddling with the body’s ability to absorb fat.

Benefits and adverse effects 

  • Bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave)

Benefits: This 2-in-1 drug is effective in treating addictions and mental ailments. Bupropion is utilized for treating depression and addiction to smoking while Naltrexone is for treating opioid and alcohol addiction. 

Adverse effects: Vomiting, constipation, and headache are common adverse effects. Constant monitoring of the patient is required because it also causes high blood pressure.

  • Phentermine-topiramete (Qsymia)

Benefits: This medication is an anticonvulsant and weight loss drug combined. Phentermine alone is a short-term use weight-loss drug that performs like an amphetamine. 

Adverse Effects: Nervousness, insomnia, increase in blood and heart rate, and constipation are possible adverse effects of this drug. Since it performs like amphetamine, there’s also a tendency to abuse its use. 

  • Liraglutide (Saxenda)

Benefits: This drug is dispensed by injection and is used for diabetes management. 

Adverse effects: Patients may experience vomiting and nausea.

  • Orlistat (Xenical)

Benefits: Its reduced-strength formulation can be acquired without the need for a doctor’s prescription. It should be combined with a low-fat diet.

Adverse effects: Common gastrointestinal adverse effects are loose stools and flatulence. There are also reports of serious cases of liver injury, but they are rare. 

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Lifestyle changes (source: Pixabay)

Other things you must know

Obesity is a disease that is treatable with weight loss medications and lifestyle changes. It contributes to the development of more complicated health issues that if untreated may lead to a person’s demise. A significant change in lifestyle such as following a strict diet and adding more exercise to your daily routine can greatly reduce your weight. Medications are prescribed when these options are exhausted and unsustainable. 

Another reason why weight loss medications are needed is that there is a hormone in the brain that needs to be corrected. Leptin is a hormone that controls the secretion of fat cells. The amount of leptin in your body is used by the brain as a way of measuring when you should eat or feel full. With obese people, their brains cannot distinguish the precise leptin levels in their system. As a result, the brain thinks the levels are always low and signals the obese person to feel hungry all the time. Taking weight loss medications can help normalize leptin levels. 

Weight-loss drugs can be taken in short and long-term use depending on the severity of the disease. It is considered a long-term treatment if it is taken over 12 weeks. Losing 3 to 7% of your total weight by making lifestyle changes is a reasonable achievement for 1 year. If you can sustain 5 to 10% of your reduced weight, you will enjoy greater health benefits such as lowered levels of triglyceride, blood sugar, and blood pressure. 


Weight loss medications are helpful in reducing weight. It should be combined with significant lifestyle changes and the guidance of a doctor for you to enjoy its full benefits. Although it is convenient to take, it should not replace dieting and exercise. You should also be careful in choosing the right medication for you so that you will experience the least side effects.