a female doctor holding a clipboard and giving advice to a female patient zoomed in from the neck down

Whether it’s because of lifestyle choices, your living situation, or your busy schedule, losing weight seems more difficult than ever. 1 Not only is maintaining a healthy weight important for your body, but it’s also important for your mental well-being.

Medical weight loss is an evidence-based approach that can help you successfully reach and maintain your long-term weight loss goals. Here’s how.

What is medical weight loss? 

One of the most effective ways to lose weight and keep the pounds off is with a medical weight loss program, a multi-faceted approach that combines dieting, exercising, and medications with professional medical guidance. This type of program is more effective than other methods as a weight loss doctor evaluates your lifestyle, medications, current health, and genetic factors to develop a plan that helps you reach your goals.

Despite having “medical” in the name and involving doctors, medical weight loss doesn’t include things like surgery or liposuction. Instead, medical weight loss relies on changing your everyday life to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

After your initial evaluation, your doctor will work with you to develop a weight loss and management plan. Your plan may include the following:

  • Workout routine: Exercises that help boost your metabolism and burn calories, suited for your age and activity level.
  • Diet changes: May include diet modifications and calorie restrictions to increase the effectiveness of other weight loss techniques.
  • Medications: Prescription drugs that may regulate appetite, increase the feeling of fullness after meals, or both.
  • Supplements: Vitamins and other supplements that boost low levels of micronutrients to support health and metabolic function.
  • Medical guidance: Ongoing collaboration with healthcare professionals to help you stay on track, answer questions, and make adjustments to your plan for the best results.
eagle eye view of workout equipment, accessories and a healthy drink

While medical weight loss programs were initially designed to help dangerously obese people, anyone can use them.

How effective is medical weight loss?

Fad diets and DIY weight loss techniques may help you lose pounds quickly, but they do not equip you with the skills you need to maintain a healthy weight. An estimated 90% of people regain the pounds they lose 2 over time.

Medical weight loss is built on reshaping your lifestyle and mindset to develop sustainable habits that you can rely on for a lifetime. Participants in a 2015 medical weight loss study3 undertook a meal replacement diet and tracked metrics such as calorie intake, exercise, and fluid intake throughout the week. They reported results in a weekly class, where health educators taught food choices and accountability techniques to reinforce healthy habits.

As the results of this study show, 61% of participants lost an average of 14.4% of their body weight, and 40% of these patients maintained their results following the program.

A table showing a case study results about weight loss

What does a medical weight loss program include? 

Because medical weight loss is a physician-guided program, your journey will begin in a doctor’s office with your initial consultation and evaluation. Based on the results of your consultation, your medical weight loss specialist will design your plan, which may consist of the following methods.

Dieting 

Your diet plays a significant role in your weight loss journey.4 In a medical weight loss program, you will develop an understanding of nutrition basics so you can make better food choices and learn how to count calories for accountability and self-monitoring. These techniques enable you to maintain a healthy weight long after your last session.

Medical weight loss versus crash diets

Medical weight loss involves behavior modification and an all-encompassing approach to losing weight. Programs are designed for patients to lose a healthy amount of weight (1-2 pounds) per week, which increases the chance of keeping the pounds off.

Crash diets, on the other hand, are all about losing as much weight as possible in a short time.5 This type of diet often revolves around cutting out certain food groups and focusing heavily on others, rather than developing the knowledge to make smart food choices. You may see fast results on the scale, but maintaining them for the long run is unlikely6 without proper nutrition.

Because fad diets focus on losing weight quickly and not whole-body health, they can actually cause problems such as nutritional deficiencies,7 fatigue, dehydration, and muscle loss because your body is not getting the fuel it needs.

What does a medical weight loss diet look like? 

It’s better to think of medical weight loss diets as overall life modifications because the focus is on changing the way you eat rather than the specific items you eat. Most diets call for you to cut out foods, which can actually lead to diet failures.8 Medical weight loss is about moderation and learning wise eating choices.

You can still enjoy your favorite foods throughout the week, but you’re empowered to be conscious about how much and how often. For example, instead of having a bag of chips several nights per week, it can become a weekend treat.

You also learn how to choose alternative snacks that can satisfy a late-night craving, healthy options to choose from at restaurants, and other methods that can support long-term weight maintenance.

Changing what you eat

The foods that you’re asked to eat less of will vary from person to person. If you struggle with sugar and candy cravings, you’ll have to learn to modify the amount that you eat. If you struggle with baked goods, you’ll have to modify the number of cookies or donuts you can eat. You don’t necessarily have to cut it out completely, but you’ll undoubtedly have to cut back.

Regardless of your age, gender, activity level, or lifestyle, your doctor will always prescribe eating more good foods. This includes adding more fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and nutrients to your diet. While dietary supplements will help to a certain extent, you’ll still have to incorporate more of these foods if you hope to lose and maintain a healthy weight. 

Exercise 

Your cardiovascular and lymphatic systems need exercise to be healthy and live a long life.

During exercise, your body burns energy in the form of fat, which will help you look and feel better. The type of exercises your doctor chooses for you will vary depending on your fitness level and capabilities.

For example, individuals who have bad knees may be prescribed low-impact exercises, such as swimming or walking, or knee-strengthening exercises.9 Individuals who are diabetic may be recommended exercises that help reduce insulin levels,10 such as walking, yoga, or dancing.

a mother and her daughter stretching on the floor and exercising

In a medical weight loss program, your doctor will monitor your progress and add new exercises or modify old ones to make them more difficult and rewarding. These exercises are designed to push you to your physical limits, but never more than you can handle.

Medications & Supplements

In addition to helping people change their lifestyles, a medical weight loss program may utilize prescription medications for optimal results.

Medication may be prescribed:

  • To help curb appetite or promote feelings of fullness
  • To support other techniques, such as diet and exercise
  • To help prevent the body from regaining weight

Something that sets medical weight loss programs apart from other programs is that you can use doctor-prescribed medications, such as:

  • Wegovy (Semaglutide)
  • Ozempic (Semaglutide)
  • Liraglutide
  • Mounjaro (Tirzepatide)

Medications aren’t a substitute for a comprehensive weight loss program, however, and while they may help you lose weight quickly, they aren’t an effective long-term solution on their own. Combining medications with long-term solutions like exercise, dietary changes, and supplements can help you maintain your desired results.

Your doctor may also prescribe nutritional supplements to you, such as multivitamins, probiotics, and other options11 to support your weight loss journey. Supplements may fill deficiencies in your diet, regulate the amount of vitamins and minerals in your body, or help your body absorb and burn fat faster.

Cutting Calories

 

One component of losing weight is to control your calorie intake and output.12 Exercise will help you burn more calories than before, but you won’t see results if you don’t modify your calorie intake as well.

a plus sized woman sitting near her sofa, looking at a doughnut which she is holding with her right hand, a dumbbell in her left hand and a laptop, water bottle beside her

What is a healthy amount of weight to lose per week and why? 

When people decide to lose weight, it’s common to want to hit it hard right away. However, losing more than one or two pounds per week is unrealistic and unsustainable, and may also lead to muscle loss instead of fat loss. People who lose weight at a rate of one or two pounds per week are more likely to keep the weight off.

Losing weight faster than at a rate of one to two pounds per week often involves unhealthy practices. Anorexia,13 starvation, burning muscle, and cutting out essential nutrients14 are frequently used techniques to lose weight rapidly, and none of them are good for you in the long run.

How long does it take to achieve results? 

It’s easier to put on pounds than get rid of them, unfortunately, and healthy weight loss is a process that takes time. If you aim to lose 1-2 pounds per week, you can calculate approximately how long it will take by using your weight loss goal as a reference point. For example, losing 20 pounds may take between 20-40 weeks.

The exact amount of time it takes to achieve results depends on several factors, which can be split into controllable and non-controllable categories.

What you can control

Everything You Need to know about Medical Weight Loss
  • How much weight you need to lose: Before your program begins, you need to establish your final goal to help you build the rest of your weight loss plan.
  • How much time and work you’re willing to put into the program: The more time and dedication you put into your program, the faster you can achieve your goals.
  • The amount of dedication you have: If you stick to your weight loss plan diligently, you will generally see faster results.
  • How quickly your body takes to the program: Factors such as genes, stress levels, and age can slow down how fast you lose weight.
  • The type of program your doctor puts you on: Your doctor may put you on a more or less-aggressive program depending on your needs and weight loss goals.
  • Whether any medications are used: Medications can improve the effectiveness of exercise, diet, and other techniques to help you lose weight faster. Before your program begins, you need to establish your final goal to help you build the rest of your weight loss plan.

What you can’t control 

Several factors determine how quick and effective the weight loss program is, but many factors will impact your overall medical weight loss journey.

  • Family history and genetics: Genetics play a significant role15 in how well one’s body holds onto or loses weight.
  • Age: Middle-aged individuals may find they gain weight due to natural hormone changes, while elderly individuals are at a higher risk of unintentional weight loss.16
  • Sex: Women and men lose weight differently17 due to hormones and evolution, but both genders can lose weight equally with dedication and hard work.
  • Hormones: Certain hormonal imbalances,18 such as insulin, cortisol, estrogen, and more can cause the body to hold onto weight.
  • Sleep: Although the exact connection is still unclear, sleeping an adequate amount each night19 plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy waistline.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions such as hypothyroidism or depression can impact how much weight your body holds onto or loses.
A nurse examining and listening to a female patient with her stethoscope

Medical weight loss program pricing

Pricing for medical weight loss programs can range between several hundred and several thousand dollars. The final cost varies depending on factors such as:

  • Consultation fees
  • Weight loss medications or supplements
  • Transportation costs to and from a clinic (if relevant)
  • Cost of ongoing appointments and care
  • The duration of the overall program
  • Whether telemedicine is included in the cost or an add-on fee
  • How quickly you progress through your program
  • How dedicated you are to sticking with your diet and exercise plan

How to start your weight loss journey

While joining a medical weight loss program isn’t the only way to lose weight, it’s easily one of the most effective. No other type of program involves the guidance of a medical professional, where the program is built to your specific needs. Our team provides customized weight loss programs and guidance throughout your journey to help you lose pounds and keep them off for good.

Activate Your Fat-Burning Lifestyle Today with Wegovy™ Weight Loss Treatment

Wegovy™ (Semaglutide) medications will help you on your journey toward your desired body no matter which Medical Weight Loss program you choose to implement. It’s the only effective and FDA-approved medication for long-term weight loss management.

Click the button to learn more about our membership privileges and book an at-home health check, lab test & get a medical consultation at no additional cost.

Activate Your Fat-Burning Lifestyle Today with Wegovy™ Weight Loss Treatment

Wegovy™ (Semaglutide) medications will help you on your journey toward your desired body no matter which Medical Weight Loss program you choose to implement. It’s the only effective and FDA-approved medication for long-term weight loss management.

Click the button to learn more about our membership privileges and book an at-home health check, lab test & get a medical consultation at no additional cost.

References

[1] Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity;

[2] Weighing the Facts: The Tough Truth About Weight Loss;

[3] Successful Medical Weight Loss In A Community Setting;

[4] Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance;

[5] Why Fad Diets Don’t Work;

[6] Dieting Does Not Work, UCLA Researchers Report;

[7] The Health Risks of Fad Diets;

[8] Why Diets Fail;

[9] Leg-Strengthening Exercises For Bad Knees;

[10] 5 Best Exercises For People With Diabetes;

[11] Dietary Supplements For Weight Loss;

[12] Cutting Calories;

[13] Anorexia Nervosa;

[14] 6 Essential Nutrients And Why Your Body Needs Them;

[15] How Genetics Impact Your Weight;

[16] The Danger Of Weight Loss In The Elderly;

[17] Do Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women?;

[18] 9 Hormones That Impact Your Weight - And How To Improve Them;

[19] Why Is Sleep Important To Weight Loss?;