The Independent Pharmacy

Weight Loss Treatments Explained: Which One Is Right For You

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 6 Nov 2023

If you feel like you've tried everything with diet and exercise and are still seeking results, exploring weight loss treatments might be an option you're considering. But because there are so many options available, it might get rather confusing.

At The Independent Pharmacy, we can provide you with tablets like Orlistat (Xenical) or Orlos (Alli). However, we want you to understand all of your options - from tablets and injections to meal replacements and appetite suppressants.

The right treatment depends on factors like your starting weight, overall health, and personal preferences. By understanding the various medical and natural weight loss remedies available, you can make an informed decision alongside your doctor.

Weight loss requires a commitment to lasting lifestyle changes. While no single solution is right for everyone, choosing an evidence-based treatment as part of a comprehensive wellness plan can set you up for sustainable success.

Let's explore some of the safest options backed by research to reach your weight goals.

Treatments Examples Brief Description The Independent
Pharmacy Approved
Tablets Orlistat (Xenical),
Orlos (Alli)
Helps block fat
absorption
Yes
Injections Saxenda, Ozempic,
Wegovy
Manages hunger;
potential side effects
Yes
Appetite Suppressants (Note: Many are
unregulated)
May help reduce hunger;
use with caution
No
Meal Replacements SlimFast, Herbalife,
GNC
Replaces meals;
best combined with
balanced diet
No


Weight Loss Tablets

At The Independent Pharmacy, we provide access to leading weight loss tablets Orlistat, Xenical, Orlos and Alli to assist customers in reaching their health goals. These tablets help block some of the fat you eat from being absorbed by your body, which is then eliminated in your waste. Our pharmacy team offers guidance to help you integrate these tablets into a comprehensive weight management plan safely and effectively.

Orlistat (Xenical)

Orlistat is a commonly prescribed tablet that reduces the amount of fat absorbed in your intestines by up to one-third. It is the only weight loss medication licensed for long-term use and has been studied extensively in clinical trials. If you've faced challenges with weight loss through diet and physical activity alone, Orlistat might offer some additional support.

When taken as directed alongside a low-fat, reduced-calorie meal plan and regular activity, Orlistat can help jumpstart weight loss. People taking Orlistat lost 5-10% more weight over 6-12 months compared to lifestyle changes alone in studies. It can also help maintain weight after initial loss.

Xenical is the branded version of Orlistat, containing the same active ingredient. It is available by prescription only and administered in 120mg capsules taken up to three times per day with fatty meals.

Orlos (Alli)

Alli is an over-the-counter option containing a lower 60mg dose of Orlistat. Orlos is a generic form of Alli purchased online after a consultation. While not identical, all Orlistat products work in the same way to block fat absorption and require a low-fat diet for best results.

Tablets like Orlistat may benefit motivated individuals who have struggled to lose weight through diet and activity alone. However, they are not magic pills and require effort to implement lasting lifestyle changes. Speak to your doctor to see if prescription weight loss medication could supplement your wellness regimen.

Weight Loss Injections: A Modern Approach

For those who have struggled to lose weight through traditional diet and exercise, prescription weight loss injections may provide additional assistance. Injectable medications like Saxenda, Ozempic, and Wegovy are increasingly popular options for managing obesity.

Weight loss injections work by acting on hunger-regulating hormones in the body to suppress appetite between meals. This allows people to feel fuller while consuming less food and calories. When combined with improved nutrition and activity levels, injections can lead to substantial weight loss.

Saxenda

Saxenda (liraglutide) is a UK licensed and MHRA-approved prescription injection for chronic weight management. Saxenda works by affecting certain hormones in the body to help control appetite. In clinical trials, obese individuals taking Saxenda lost an average of 8% more body weight over 56 weeks compared to placebo.

Common side effects of Saxenda include nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, headache, vomiting, gallstones, and low blood sugar. Saxenda carries warnings about thyroid tumours and pancreatitis as well.

Ozempic

Ozempic (semaglutide) is a medication traditionally used for type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar levels. However, it has also been found to help with weight loss. In a 2-year study, people with obesity taking Ozempic weekly lost an average of 15% of their body weight. Side effects include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, gallstones, and diabetic retinopathy.

Wegovy

Wegovy was approved in the UK in 2021 and became available in September 2023 specifically for chronic weight management in obese or overweight adults. Clinical trials showed Wegovy patients lost on average 15% of their initial body weight over 68 weeks.

What You Need to Know About Weight Loss Injections

Experts think these injectables spur weight loss by slowing food moving through your gut, increasing fullness between meals, and turning down appetite signals to your brain. This curbs cravings and calorie intake.

However, injections aren't for everyone and can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, gallstones, and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). They also pose risks if misused. Talk to your doctor to see if you qualify.

While data looks good for prescription injections, changing your lifestyle is still key. Injections are extra support for people needing more help to lose weight.

Appetite Suppressants: Curbing the Cravings

While appetite suppressants were a popular option in the past, it's essential to understand their history and potential risks. After being linked to serious heart risks, drugs like sibutramine (Reductil) were discontinued in the UK and are no longer recommended.

Despite this, over-the-counter supplements marketed as "appetite suppressants" have surged in popularity recently. But unregulated pills bought online come with dangers. They have no proven effectiveness and may contain hidden, harmful ingredients.

These products claim to reduce appetite by influencing certain brain chemicals that affect mood and hunger. In theory, this enhances feelings of fullness after eating smaller portions.

However, research does not support the use of OTC diet pills for weight loss. Supplements like DNP, Matcha, and Acai are not regulated, tested medicines. Potential side effects include insomnia, anxiety, headache, hypertension (high blood pressure), and heart palpitations (when you feel like your heart is pounding, fluttering or beating fast).

Rather than experimenting with unverified supplements, speak to your doctor about safe medical alternatives like Orlistat. Approved medications produce modest but effective weight loss when combined with lifestyle changes under medical supervision.

Losing excess weight requires a holistic approach centred on healthy eating and activity. While there are no quick fixes, sustainable lifestyle changes supported by proven treatments can help you safely reach your goals.

Meal Replacements: More Than Just a Shake

Meal replacement products like shakes, bars, and soups have become a ubiquitous part of dieting culture. Brands like SlimFast, Herbalife, and GNC market powders and snacks to substitute for meals and promote weight loss. But are they effective?

The premise is simple: swap a meal for a pre-portioned, low-calorie meal replacement to reduce overall caloric intake. Studies show substituting one or two meals daily with a nutritional shake can enhance weight loss in the short term when used alongside exercise and healthy eating.

While meal replacements can offer convenience, it's crucial to understand their role in a balanced diet and their potential limitations. Liquid diets provide incomplete nutrition and are difficult to sustain long-term. Rapid initial weight loss is often followed by regaining pounds after stopping shakes. critics argue they do not teach the behavioural changes needed for successful weight maintenance.

Rather than following meal replacement plans, experts recommend substituting one daily meal or snack with a nutritional shake. This enhances weight loss as part of a comprehensive program of medical care, healthy eating, and activity. Talk to your doctor to create a balanced, sustainable plan.

While convenient and tempting, swapping meals with shakes, bars, or soups alone does not address the root lifestyle factors that drive obesity. To lose weight safely and effectively, make meal replacements one part of an integrated, doctor-supervised weight management approach.

Making an Informed Decision: Choosing the Right Treatment for You

We understand that with that many weight loss options, finding the right one can feel overwhelming. Remember, it's okay to seek guidance and take your time in making a decision. However, several key factors should guide your choice of treatments and techniques:

  • Your current health status and medical conditions. Certain medications may be inappropriate for pre-existing conditions or interfere with other prescriptions.
  • Your lifestyle and habits around eating, activity, and mental wellbeing. The most effective plans incorporate lifestyle changes and therapy alongside medical treatments.
  • Your weight loss goals and motivations. Those seeking to lose 100+ pounds may consider more aggressive options like bariatric surgery versus someone with less weight to lose.

Consulting healthcare professionals is crucial when determining the right weight loss plan for your needs. Doctors can assess if prescription medications or even surgical options could benefit you and are appropriate given your medical history. A registered dietitian can provide nutritional guidance. Therapists help build healthy attitudes around food and self-image.

While medical treatments have their place in weight management, lifestyle interventions form the foundation. Balancing evidence-based weight loss pills and injections with healthy eating, activity, and a positive mindset often produces the best results.

Weight loss demands a commitment to lifelong behaviour changes. But by partnering with knowledgeable health experts, you can navigate the options and choose treatments tailored just for you.

Start Your Weight Loss Journey With The Independent Pharmacy

We hope this overview has helped you understand the options to support your weight loss goals. While no single solution works for everyone, safe and effective treatments exist when used appropriately under medical supervision.

Here at The Independent Pharmacy, our caring team of professionals is ready to help you start your weight loss journey. We provide proven medications like Orlistat and the expertise to use them safely along with lifestyle changes.

Losing weight takes commitment, but you don't have to go it alone. Our online assessment determines if prescription weight loss pills are right for you. Once approved, have treatments quickly delivered discreetly to your door.

We know every person's path to a healthier weight is unique. That's why we take the time to understand your health background, needs, and goals. Talk to us about how weight loss medication and support could supplement your wellness plan.

Don't wait - take the first step today. Reach out now to speak with one of our professionals about the right weight management options for your life and body. We look forward to helping you start feeling healthy and confident again.

FAQs

What is the most effective weight loss treatment?

There is no universally "best" weight loss treatment. The most effective approach depends on your health status, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Combining medical weight loss options like medication with healthy eating, activity, and behavioural changes has been shown to produce meaningful results for many people. Work with your doctor to find the right treatment plan for your needs.

What can a GP prescribe for weight loss?

GPs may prescribe medications like Orlistat to aid weight loss in appropriate patients, along with recommending lifestyle interventions like dietary changes and exercise. They can also refer you to weight management programs and services available through the NHS. Discuss your options with your GP to determine if prescription treatments could benefit your weight loss journey.

How to lose 20 pounds in a month?

Losing 20 pounds in one month is ambitious and requires a commitment to substantial lifestyle changes. Your doctor can help determine if attempting rapid weight loss is safe based on your health. In general, losing 1-2 pounds weekly through a nutritious, reduced-calorie diet and at least 30 minutes of exercise most days can lead to healthy weight reduction over time. Prescription medications may also enhance weight loss results for some.

Do I qualify for Saxenda on the NHS?

Saxenda is only available through private prescription in the UK. To qualify for Saxenda, you generally need to be considered obese based on your height and weight or be overweight with health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure. Your doctor will check if you meet the eligibility criteria and can benefit from Saxenda for weight loss. Other criteria, including making necessary lifestyle changes, may apply. Talk to your GP or a medical professional to see if Saxenda is appropriate.

How to lose belly fat fast?

There are no shortcuts to reducing belly fat. Weight loss occurs overall when you burn more calories than you consume through diet and activity. To lose fat fast, aim for a daily 500-1000 calorie deficit through healthy eating and cardio exercise. Include strength training to build muscle which boosts metabolism. Talk to your doctor before attempting any rapid weight loss.

Resources:

Obesity - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Tips to help you lose weight - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Orlistat | Drugs | BNF | NICE

Effects of Solid versus Liquid Meal-replacement Products of Similar Energy Content on Hunger, Satiety, and Appetite-regulating Hormones in Older Adults - PMC (nih.gov)

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