Saturday, June 30, 2012

Belviq -- New Weight Loss Drug Approved by FDA

On June 27 the FDA gave the green light to the newest prescription weight loss drug, called Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride), describing it as an adjunct to a healthy diet and exercise for chronic weight management. As with any drug, there are potential side effects; although none serious enough to prevent the FDA from giving the go ahead for use of this drug with people who have a BMI 30 or greater, or a BMI of 27 or greater with concurrent morbidities such as diabetes or high blood pressure. (Ideal BMI range is 18-25 and you can calculate yours here.) When someone has conditions that could be improved with weight loss, the benefits of taking the drug often outweigh the possible complications that could arise from taking the prescription medication. 

I find the results quite disappointing for a prescription weight-loss drug that works by helping to reduce appetite. Trial participants taking Belviq for up to one year lost an average of 3 to 3.7 percent of their body weight. For a 250-pound person this is 7.5 to 10 pounds--hardly a noticeable amount for an obese individual. To make these results even more discouraging, the trial also included counseling for lifestyle modification including a lower calorie diet and exercise. Take note, this means there is no chance that this is the magic pill you've been waiting for!

Another drug expected to receive approval some time in 2012 is Qnexa. This prescription is a combination of two drugs; one (phentermine) that acts as an appetite suppressant and the other (topiramate--prescribed as an anticonvulsant) found to have weight loss properties.  These studies show a little more promise for weight loss than Belviq, with study participants averaging closer to 10% loss of their initial body weight over a year or two. As with Belviq, the drug is supposed to be used in combination with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise program.

Losing 10% of your body weight can, in many cases, improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels, even reducing the need for medication. So it's still a good plan if nothing's worked in the past to promote lasting weight loss. Perhaps taking the pill gives some people the little boost they need to get moving on their new diet and exercise regimen. But if you just eat a little less and move a little more, you could lose more weight in less time. And with zero potential for serious side effects.

For assistance with your weight loss, visit The Diet Coach.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Is the Clean Plate Club Keeping You Fat?

Last week I was seeing a new weight loss client who brought along her adult daughter, telling me, "We both want to lose weight".  I thought it was great they each had a support system and "diet buddy". They both told me about diets they had been on in the past, and how difficult they found it to lose weight and keep it off--stories I hear every day.
I like to remind my clients of some of the reasons it is difficult to lose weight. Humans, after all, are programmed to want to eat whenever food is available. Our race would not have survived if we did not want to eat at every opportunity, or were just satisfied with a few nuts and berries.
Unfortunately for people who want to lose weight, food is everywhere now, and very easy to get: Drive through fast food, candy bars at every check-out lane, hot dogs and donuts when you go inside to pay for your gasoline, snacks at work, donuts at meetings and appetizers at friends' homes.
And, research shows, the portions are so large now compared to a few decades ago. Grabbing a burger, fries and a soda can mean nearly twice the calories it used to, with double burgers, extra large fries, and 32-oz sodas being the norm. You can see just how much things have changed in this helpful program brought to you by the National Institute of Health called Portion Distortion.

This prompted a comment from the daughter about how large the servings are in restaurants. She told me about a place where she and her husband had dined recently: "We are never going back there. The plate of food he got was so humongous, he actually had to rest halfway through the meal. He had to stop and take a break before he could finish it all. And when we left he was uncomfortably full. We aren't going back there again--it was a terrible experience."

I was speechless. My first thought--which I had to suppress from exclaiming--was, "Am I on Candid Camera?" Did she really just blame the restaurant for giving her husband too much food? Did they actually not see any option, obvious to every other person out there? Have they never left food on their plate or asked for a take-home container?

Yes, it's hard enough in all our fast-paced and hectic lives, to ignore yummy calorie-dense foods tempting us at every turn, to find time to exercise, and to resist craving the immense satisfaction we get from savoring a sweet or salty snack. It's hard enough to stop eating something we like when there's more of it, or to plop down on the couch instead of lacing up our sneakers and going for a walk.

Weight loss is hard. Don't make it harder by persisting to be a member of the clean plate club; by eating everything that is in front of you all the time; by ignoring the signs your body is sending you: "Stomach Ache!!" it screams. "Stop eating now or you'll be sorry in the next 10 minutes!!"

Just listen.

There are a lot of ways to lose weight. Some are tough; they require structure and discipline, planning and changing, hard work and deprivation.
And sometimes it just requires that you stop eating when you're full.