Supplements for Weight

Dr. Christy Kirkendol Watson

Are Weight Loss Pills Safe?

Historically, weight loss medications have gotten really bad reputation. Many people remember Fen-Phen and it turned out to cause valvular problems so it was taken off the market. Only Fenfluramine was removed because Phentermine actually has been around for a very long time and is a very effective appetite suppressant. However because of the bad reputation the medication received so many years ago, doctors have been reluctant to use the medication to help people lose weight.

It’s really an unfortunate thing that has happened in the weight loss world in general. People really stop using the medication and many doctors didn’t treat obesity, even then, as a chronic medical condition. Obesity was related to laziness or lack of willpower.

Roughly two years ago, a weight loss medication was approved for the first time in 20 years. This marked a change in the tide to address overweight and obesity as a chronic medical condition. That medication is now in year three of trials with patients using it continuously.

No different then you might take blood pressure medicine for life or asthma medication for life, the people that are staying on the medication are doing better at maintaining their weight loss than when they are taken off the medication. That new medication actually opened the door for many more. In this last year, there have now been four medications that have been approved for weight loss and others coming down the pipeline.

Weight loss medications really are no different then treating any other medical conditions with medications. As physicians we do that all the time. If somebody’s cholesterol is elevated, we give them a cholesterol pill. If they have high blood pressure, we give them high blood pressure pill.

While I don’t believe that there is one magic pill to treat obesity and weight loss, the medications can be very, very useful in helping someone address a particular aspect that seems to be complicating their weight loss journey. For some people it’s hunger. For some people it’s cravings. For some people it’s the enjoyment of food, binge eating or nighttime eating. The medications that are out can be used for specific reasons.

Our approach has been dietary first and behavioral but we don’t hesitate to use those medications when they need to be used. Again, just like treating any other medical condition and the reason we do that is it isn’t just about losing weight, we have to address all of the factors that go into someone’s weight. There is the psychological aspect. There is the emotional aspect. There is the behavioral aspect. All of these things go into causing someone to gain weight and have trouble losing weight. We have to make sure we use all the tools we have to treat this very complex medical condition.


4 Keys Facts About Weight Loss Smoothies

Clients and friends ask me all the time for recommendations on weight loss smoothies. Running from work to soccer practices to piano lessons –  you think I’ll just skip dinner and grab a smoothie. You’re busy, and you want something quick and healthy – I get it

Before you reach for a diet smoothie or juicing quick fix, make sure to review these 4 key facts about weight loss smoothies and juicing to help you achieve your weight loss goals – the right way.  

1. Check the label for protein
Your body needs protein. Our society is on carbohydrate overload. Only smoothies or weight loss shakes that contain adequate levels of protein will help you lose weight and sustain weight loss.

If you’re consuming one or more a day without adequate levels of protein, your body will start to break down your own muscle to get protein causing muscle wasting, which ultimately lowers metabolism.  If you do this for a a month or longer, you may cause a significant reduction in your metabolism. And then to maintain and lose weight – you’ll have actually have to start eating less.

2. A smoothie is not synonymous with healthy 
A smoothie could be filled with sugar, but because it says “smoothie” many people think its healthy, just like they do with cereal, oatmeal, etc.  Unless you know the actual ingredients and in what amounts, it certainly shouldn’t be mistaken for healthy because it probably isn’t.

3. Juicing decreases nutrients, especially fiber
The juicing mechanism removes parts of the fruits and veggies, often containing rich nutrients and fiber. You many think you’re consuming more nutrients by juicing, but you may actually be getting less.  Eating whole fruits and vegetables preserves all the nutrients.

4. Uncharted territory – limited rules
There are few rules on what is in them or what determines “weight loss”.  You need to check the ingredients and find out what’s in them. Are they really going to help you achieve weight loss – the right way?  Probably not. Similarly – a lot of food labels may say “protein bar” or “protein shake” but the amount of protein they actually have varies. And they can be laden with all kinds of sugar.

How to improve smoothies or juicing? The answer is simple-add protein and cut the sugar!  By adding protein and limiting sugar you give your body a more balanced, mixed nutrition that can turn smoothies into a healthy snack or meal replacement. (a healthy carb and a protein together is much better for your body).

Protein sources for smoothies

  • Whey protein powders
  • Milk (almond, cow, soy)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Peanut butter (natural is best)
  • Quinoa

While a smoothie may seem like a good healthy option – make sure it fits into you overall weight loss plan. Ideally, one that has been customized for your body and your weight loss needs. There is no quick fix to achieve and maintain your weight – it’s about making healthy choices and learning what to eat and how much.