In a society obsessed with thinness, it’s likely that most of us living in the Western world have thought about losing weight at some point – even tried crash dieting or intense workout regimens. But for those of us who really struggle with weight issues, for whatever reason, there may come a time when you ask yourself ‘why is none of this working?’.
More extreme weight loss measures like pills, surgery or injections are not intended as a ‘quick fix’. They’re for people who are chronically overweight or obese who’ve genuinely tried to lose weight, or who’ve reached a critical point in their health where something has to be done.
Below we break down the three primary options: weight loss pills, surgery, and injections.
Popular weight loss pills and supplements
There are quite a few different pills and supplements out there that claim to help you lose weight. They’re not intended as a substitute for eating well and moving more, but they may help to compound your efforts.
Weight loss pills are usually prescribed for people with a BMI of 30 or higher – they’re not for the average person looking to shift a couple of pounds. You may also be prescribed weight loss medication if you have an obesity-related health condition like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.
Here are three of the most common:
Orlistat (Xenical, Alli)
- One of the only approved medications proven to aid weight loss
- Works by blocking the absorption of fat
- Side effects may include bloating and fatty stools
Orlistat can be prescribed and ordered online through The Independent Pharmacy or bought over-the-counter (at a lower dosage) as Alli.
- Works by suppressing the appetite – activates serotonin receptors
- If you don’t lose around 5% of your body weight after taking it for 3 months, it’s probably not for you
- Side effects can include hallucinations and elevated mood (can be addictive)
- Works by curbing your appetite and burning more calories
- A combination of phentermine and topiramate
- Side effects may include tingling hands and feet, dizziness, insomnia and constipation
Is weight loss surgery the answer?
There are various types of weight loss surgery. Most are performed using minimally invasive techniques and operate under the premise of making you feel less hungry and full sooner. For some patients, weight loss surgery can be life-saving.
Types of weight loss surgery
- Gastric sleeve – makes the stomach smaller, leaving a thin vertical ‘sleeve’
- Gastric bypass – the stomach is divided into two pouches (one smaller, one larger) and both are connected to the small intestine
- Gastric band – an inflatable silicone band is placed around the top portion of the stomach, limiting the amount of food you can eat
- Gastric balloon – a soft silicon balloon is inserted into the stomach, which makes you feel full
- Duodenal switch – a more complex procedure, also known as vertical gastrectomy. 70% of the stomach is removed and parts of the small intestine are rerouted
- vBloc therapy – a rechargeable neuroregulator device is implanted into the lateral chest wall, blocking hunger signals to the brain
- AspireAssist – non-surgical and reversible, this device automatically empties around one-third of the contents of your stomach shortly after you eat
Generally speaking, gastric bypass patients will lose around 70% of their excess weight, sleeve patients may lose around 60%, and gastric band patients will lose around 50%.
So is it for you? No matter which procedure someone chooses, the key to successful weight loss surgery is to kickstart a lifestyle change.
Prescription weight loss injections
Saxenda® is a popular weight loss injection, also known as glucagon-like-peptide (GLP-1). It works by activating areas of your brain that regulate appetite. Not for casual use, the drug is limited to adults who are obese – or who are overweight and have at least one related condition.
Injectable weight loss shots can also be made up of one or a combination of nutrients that rejuvenate the metabolic process, such as vitamin B12. However, there’s no solid evidence that vitamin B12 injections genuinely aid weight loss.
- Weight loss alternatives like pills and surgery are not for everyone
- They are intended for people who are considerably overweight or suffering from an obesity-related condition, who have tried conventional methods already
- Each requires some sort of lifestyle change – you can’t maintain your current unhealthy eating or exercise habits. These alternatives simply propel you in the right direction
- Each should be carried out under the guidance of a medical professional