Struggling to make healthy lifestyle changes? Weight-loss medication might help

Struggling to make healthy lifestyle changes? Weight-loss medication might help

Struggling to make healthy lifestyle changes? Weight-loss medication might help

Prescription medication can help address roadblocks like cravings and hunger, so you can build healthy habits, lose weight, and keep it off.

The Found Team
Last updated:
May 3, 2023
5 min read
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You’re trying to lose weight. Maybe this is your second or third attempt. Perhaps you’ve even had success before. Yet even when you do all of the things—exercise, counting calories, sticking to a diet—the weight never seems to stay off for the long term. That’s because weight is complex—and largely rooted in biology

So listen, it’s not your fault. Don’t get us wrong, lifestyle changes are still a key part of any weight-loss journey. But sometimes, blockers out of your control—and that you may not even be aware of—make it really hard to stick to healthy habits. We’re talking about everything from cravings to always feeling hungry to dysfunctional gut hormones (which we’ll get into in a moment). That’s where prescription weight-loss medication can give you the support you need—if that’s right for you. 

Weight-loss medication explained 

Weight-loss medication sometimes gets a bad rap, but let’s get one thing straight: It’s not a substitute for lifestyle changes. Weight-loss medications are meant to be taken in addition to lifestyle changes like healthy eating, increased physical activity, getting quality sleep, and stress management. And they’re meant for long-term use. In fact, in a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, almost 50 percent of participants who paired lifestyle changes and weight loss medication lost at least 10 percent of their body weight. They also maintained that weight loss for up to five years—the average weight loss at follow-up was 10.4 percent.

Some drugs used for  weight loss are actually approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat type 2 diabetes, but other medications are FDA-approved to treat obesity. For example, semaglutide is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes under one brand name Ozempic® and—at a higher dose—to treat obesity under the brand name Wegovy®. Another example is the medication liraglutide, which is FDA-approved for weight loss under the brand name Saxenda®

Some medications, like metformin, are FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes yet commonly prescribed off-label to treat obesity. (Off-label prescribing is when a health care provider prescribes an FDA-approved drug at a different dose or condition not indicated under the original FDA approval. Providers prescribe a drug off-label based on strong scientific evidence showing the medication's efficacy in treating the targeted condition.) 

The other thing to keep in mind is that weight loss medications aren’t for everyone. There are specific requirements to meet. According to the Obesity Medicine Association, FDA-approved anti-obesity medications are for people who have obesity (a body mass index of 30 or higher), and people who have excess weight (BMI of 25-30) and a weight-related medical condition like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol. And if an anti-obesity medication has a stronger effect on a patient than indicated, it’s recommended not to take it.

How prescription weight-loss medication can make healthy eating habits easier 

Have you ever struggled with impulsive or emotional eating? You’re not alone. A big part of weight loss, often the most challenging, is practicing healthy eating habits. Mindful eating—or simply being aware of what you’re eating—is a powerful tool on a weight-loss journey because it can help improve your relationship with food.  

But depending on your biology, eating mindfully can be a struggle. If, for example, your gut hormones aren't firing correctly, you might have a hard time telling whether your feelings are actual hunger or just a craving.  

In fact, research shows that some people with obesity may have an impaired release or a lower potency of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), a hormone that’s naturally produced in the small intestine and colon. GLP-1 regulates blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin secretion after we eat. GLP-1 receptor agonist medications (like Wegovy) help your body make more insulin and decrease hunger by binding to GLP-1 receptors in the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract and slowing gastric emptying. Meaning they help you feel fuller faster, so you might have an easier time practicing healthy habits like mindful eating—and meeting your weight-loss goals. 

Other medications like metformin also improve your body’s insulin response, which can reduce cravings and lower your body’s predisposition to store fat. Or if you constantly feel hungry, medications like bupropion can reduce appetite and cravings to help you lose weight.

Bottom line 

Prescription weight-loss medications might be the missing piece of the puzzle for some people. With support from specific medications, people with overweight and obesity can truly live a healthy lifestyle for successful weight management. You can think about it like this: prescription medication can help you with the factors of weight care that you don't have control over. 

Found’s weight care program 

Found is a sustainable weight-care program that offers prescription medication depending on your unique biological needs. Their program is doctor-led and 100 percent online. Found members receive a personalized weight-care plan consisting of medication (if eligible), health coaching, and a supportive community hosted in an app where you can connect with others on a similar journey and track lifestyle changes. 


GLP-1*

GLP-1 prescriptions, filled through your local pharmacy, are now available as part of Found's weight-loss toolkit. While GLP-1s are effective for weight loss, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone. Eligibility for a GLP-1 is based on a thorough evaluation of your medical history, eating behavior, lab work, and insurance coverage. If a GLP-1 is not appropriate for you, our providers will work with you to determine an effective medication for your health profile.

About Found

Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving more than 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

Published date:
May 3, 2023
Meet the author
The Found Team
The Found Team

Sources

  • Weintraub, M. A., D’Angelo, D., Tchang, B. G., Sahagun, A. D., Andre, C., Aronne, L. J., & Shukla, A. P. (2023b). Five-year Weight Loss Maintenance With Obesity Pharmacotherapy. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgad100
  • Madsbad, S. (2014). The role of glucagon-like peptide-1 impairment in obesity and potential therapeutic implications. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, 16(1), 9–21. https://doi.org/10.1111/dom.12119
  • Shaefer, C. F., Kushner, P. R., & Aguilar, R. J. (2015). User’s guide to mechanism of action and clinical use of GLP-1 receptor agonists. Postgraduate Medicine, 127(8), 818–826. https://doi.org/10.1080/00325481.2015.1090295
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