We live in strange times. People obsess over their physical traits to the point of believing in everything that promises to move the weighing scale to the favorable side of zero. That may be quackery in the form of miracle herbs that can melt away your belly fat, or a magical dust that when sprinkled over your food, keeps you from eating for the next few hours.
At such a juncture, when a physician supervised and scientifically proven weight loss program hits the market, it quickly becomes the buzzword in medical and fitness circles.
Medical Weight Loss Centers appeared out of nowhere in a market that was saturated with nauseatingly fake claims and fly-by-night unscrupulous companies peddling their wares to gullible customers. It felt like a refreshing breath of air. No herb sourced from an underground cave in a pristine rainforest. No mystery ingredient picked from the bottom of the ocean either. Just pure science-backed weight loss that combines diet, exercise and medication.
But somewhere down the road, the allure started to fade as reports, some very controversial ones, started to appear in the media. These were quickly refuted by a barrage of positive press highlighted by some very motivating success stories.
If you are an overweight person, then these conflicting reports do nothing to instill confidence in Medical weight loss centers. In fact, all it does is keep you on the fence.
Today, we try to separate fact from fiction and help you to keep your claws sharp. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of medical weight loss centers.
Let’s talk about the good things first.
Medical weight loss centers work on the premise of medically supervised weight loss programs that have been tailored to suit your physical requirements and current health status. It claims that it is not a cookie-cutter program that throws a bunch of pills at you and expects you to do the rest.
Rather, it follows a scientific approach where you undergo a Body Composition analysis. The metabolism, the BMI, the body fat percentage and other parameters are analyzed to narrow down on a number that is then implemented into a nutrition plan, while keeping the macro ratios in mind. That’s your daily calorie goal that will allow you to eat enough to sustain but not enough to gain weight.
Sounds sophisticated? It’s basic nutritional science that is backed with a bunch of support tools.
For example, there is behavioral counselling that helps first timers ease into their programs and cope with the dramatic changes that the body undergoes when you start. Behavioral counselling forms the crux of their programs and they have as many as 43 different modules for different types of users. The counselling sessions help you understand what you can expect from the program and what you cannot.
Then analyzing your progress, you may be introduced to their meal-replacement plans. Pharmacological therapy may or may not be introduced depending on your progress to the program.
Throughout the program, a doctor will be a part of your support team, monitoring your health and guiding you in your weight loss crusade. You can walk in anytime, with a prior appointment of course and meet the doctor in your team with your concerns and doubts. That is what makes it different from any conventional diet program where you are pretty much left to fend for yourself.
Moreover, your initial consultation and your further counselling sessions may be covered by Insurance.
And then there’s the success stories. A large number of people who have signed up with medical weight loss centers have achieved some degree of success. The weight loss for some people have been nothing short of dramatic and they have been able to completely transform their bodies. But even if one were to take an average number of people who have been successful, it paints a pretty picture.
Medical weight loss centers have exploded in popularity since the program was launched a few years ago. Today, there are more than 300 clinics around the world and you can very easily find one close to your home.
That sums up the good things that we have to say about it.
All said and done, it goes without saying that every single one of the above mentioned things can easily be propagated if you have a strong marketing team on your side. All that one needs to do is bury the bad press with an avalanche of good stories before it snowballs into something big. Happens all the time in the media. That’s precisely why the occasional bad story deserves some amount of attention.
The first and most obvious disadvantage is the cost. While an initial counselling session can be covered by insurance and only costs as much as $35, it is only the precursor for the actual program. With dietary changes, meal replacements, ongoing counselling sessions and weight loss pills (we will come to this in a second), you may be looking at as much as $600 a month or maybe more.
Some medical weight loss centers charge as much as $2000 a month, depending on the popularity of their results.
However, that is not a deal breaker for someone who’s desperate to lose weight. Labelled as the most comprehensive physician monitored weight loss program in the world, Medical weight loss centers continue to expand to newer areas serving as a platform to anyone looking to drop pounds in a clinically proven fashion.
And then there are some pretty tall claims being made. A brochure procured from one of the centers claim that you can drop as much as 10 pounds in the first week and then up to 20 pounds few weeks later. It certainly does back it up with results to prove the claims. There’s their star customer, Natalie El- Haddad who’s lost 70 pounds in a span of 6 months after joining a medical weight loss center.
Natalie has become the face of the diet program and a motivation for thousands of other people who are struggling with fad diets.
If you thought that there’s nothing bad about it, then here’s the ugly for you.
Behind the glossy packaged claims of healthy eating, behavioral counselling and physician monitoring, may be a murky practice that thrives purely on a battery of pharmaceutical pills, which have for long been associated with a horde of side effects. Some of the side effects can be life altering.
There have been reports that you can walk into a medical weight loss center and walk out with a pack of diet pills without even meeting a doctor. And you aren’t receiving a Garcinia Cambogia diet pill either. These are prescription drugs that are not safe to be used for weight loss in many circumstances.
Phentermine: Phentermine is an amphetamine that has been linked to a slew of dangerous side effects including hypertension, palpitations, anxiety attacks and depression. Why is it given to customers in medical weight loss centers? Because it is an appetite suppressant. Are you willing to suppress your hunger in exchange for the above mentioned side effects? That’s for you to decide.
Metformin: A prescription drug given to diabetes patients or for treating patients with metabolic syndrome. The side effects include blue/cold skin, lactic acidosis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and slowed heart rate.
Diethylpropion Er: Another appetite suppressant that stimulates your central nervous system to amplify your heart rate. This is called thermogenesis and can help you burn fat at a faster rate. Side effects include jitters, anxiety, palpitations, chest pain, seizures, involuntary muscle movements and more.
Furosemide: A diuretic or a water pill that may be responsible for the initial drop in weight that customers experience. Can cause electrolyte imbalance, jaundice, clay colored stools and liver damage. It also exerts severe pressure on the kidneys.
This is not an exhaustive list of medications that are given to customers in medical weight loss centers. But it’s close.
It would be fair to say that not everybody can lose weight with diet and exercise alone. In many cases, it warrants the use of pharmacological therapy. But those are only in extreme cases where obesity can become life threatening. If you walk into a weight loss center to lose those few extra pounds and reveal your abdominal muscles, you are putting your body and your internal organs under a lot of unwanted stress for a cosmetic effect, which will be, at best, temporary.
Medical weight loss centers claim to empower you to become what you want to be. There are a few positives that are riddled with the risks that come with the use of prescription drugs. You may be monitored by a physician at all times. But the risks are enormous.
We hope that this helps clear off any doubts that you may have regarding medical weight loss centers. No matter what diet plan or program you choose, always do your research and make an informed choice.