It seems so easy. If you want to lose weight, you simply eat fewer calories than you burn. Math 101, right? For most people it’s not as easy as that.
There are many factors behind when and what we eat. Food is a coping mechanism for many people; it’s something they go to when under stress, when feeling down, or even when fatigued. That leads to overeating. Then your body becomes accustomed to the extra intake and tells you its hungry when you’ve already had enough calories to get you through the day. That’s the cycle of overeating.
At Affirm Health Center, we offer help for patients who just can’t get a handle on their calorie intake. It’s known as medical weight loss, and it involves the prescription of appetite suppressants. These drugs curb morning and evening hunger, which reduces calorie intake. Through our programs, which combine medical weight loss with a healthy diet and exercise, our patients are able to achieve the weight loss they have otherwise found daunting.
Here is more about one of the appetite suppressants we use at Affirm, phentermine.
Phentermine (brand names Adipex or Suprenza)
Phentermine was approved by the FDA in 1959 for short-term use of up to 12 weeks for people over 16. It is considered to be a “controlled substance” because of its chemical similarities to the stimulant amphetamine. Phentermine can only be prescribed for patients with a BMI of 30 or more. It can be prescribed for those with a BMI of 27 or greater if the patient has another weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type 2 diabetes.
Phentermine works by suppressing the patient’s appetite, which limits the calorie intake and leads to weight loss. It’s thought that the mechanism phentermine uses to suppress appetite is through increasing the neurotransmitter levels in the patient’s brain. These are the chemical messengers in the body, and they include norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. When the levels of these three chemicals increase, the person’s feeling of hunger decreases.
There is a good deal of research on the degree of weight loss achieved with phentermine. The expected average weight loss with phentermine use is 5% of the patient’s initial body weight. Over 12 weeks, that number can be as high as 10%. This equates to weight loss of 10-20 pounds for a 200-pound person.
The problem with phentermine is that patients can build a tolerance to the appetite-suppressing effects within a few weeks.