When looking for weight loss programs that work, knowing what components are key to success is very important. The first step is an assessment and evaluation. Here an obesity medicine specialist will take a medical and weight history to better understand factors that caused weight gain and understand what medical conditions obesity may be causing. Once there is a clear understanding of the patient’s medical status, a plan for losing weight is next.
Essential components of weight loss programs that work are:
- A nutrition plan. Reducing calories while providing complete nutrition is critical, so that patients do not become malnourished. Our bodies need protein, essential fatty acids, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and adequate water to prevent illness. Nutrition plans can either contain whole food or medically complete meal replacements. Whole-food diets can either be low carbohydrate or low calorie. An obesity medicine specialist will evaluate your specific medical condition, your weight loss goals, and prescribe the best diet plan for you.
- An activity prescription. Physical activity is one of the most important components of keeping the weight off, while also improving cardiovascular fitness, mood, and sleep. It is difficult to maintain weight loss without being active. When looking at a weight loss program, make sure it addresses physical activity and guides you toward a lifestyle that is healthy and active.
- Healthy behavior. Look for a program that helps you achieve a healthier lifestyle. The most successful programs involve face-to-face group classes, individual counseling, online education, app-based education, or support groups to help patients achieve weight loss success. All of these have advantages. Some great programs combine several of these options because each person learns differently.
- Weight management medications. Weight management medications help reduce hunger and cravings and in some cases, speed up weight loss by increasing metabolism. Only a healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant) can prescribe FDA-approved medications for weight loss and weight maintenance. While claims abound surrounding the use of over-the-counter supplements and injections, these are usually unproven and in many cases, dangerous.
- A maintenance plan. Obesity can be successfully controlled. However, like hypertension and diabetes, long-term medical follow-up is important for maintaining weight loss. Once you have lost your excess body weight, you will need to continue following up with an obesity medicine specialist.
Find an obesity medicine specialist in your area here.
This article was written by Robert Ziltzer, MD, FACP. Dr. Ziltzer is an obesity medicine certified physician at Scottsdale Weight Loss Center in Arizona.
Photo courtesy of the World Obesity Federation.