Lifestyle change plus medications can help improve your weight loss success

Losing weight can be challenging, even with a healthy diet and exercise. Factors such as age, gender and health conditions can affect weight loss. Medications may help make weight loss easier. Your care team will discuss whether any medical treatments or prescriptions are suitable for you.

Metformin is often used to treat type 2 diabetes, but it can also help you have a more successful weight-loss journey. Specifically, it can affect the levels of hormones that:

  • Help your body be more sensitive to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps to control your glucose (sugar) levels. When insulin works better, your body is better able to lower your glucose levels. Better control of your blood sugar may make it easier to lose weight.
  • Help to decrease your appetite.
  • Promote weight loss.

Possible side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping or discomfort
  • Gas
  • Tiredness or increased fatigue
  • Altered taste perception
  • Body aches
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

Learn more about Metformin.

Topiramate is prescribed to help you to better control binge eating or eating at night. It may also help curb your hunger and cravings. Topiramate may also help if you have migraines. 

Possible side effects:

  • Drowsiness or sleepiness
  • Difficulty finding and using words
  • “Brain fog” 
  • Loss of interest in alcoholic or carbonated drinks
  • Altered taste perception
  • Tingling in your hands and feet
  • Hair loss
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Kidney stones

Learn more about topiramate.

Typically used to treat depression or curb smoking, bupropion may also help you lose weight. It may help you to think less about food and help you to better control your hunger cravings. It can also help you feel more energized and manage depression. Bupropion works by changing the way your brain reacts to food. It can help to break the connection of food as a reward or comfort.

Possible side effects include: 

  • More jitteriness or feelings of anxiety
  • Increased blood pressure (Your provider may tell you to check your blood pressure regularly to make sure that bupropion is not causing it to go too high.)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping

Learn more about bupropion.

Naltrexone is prescribed because it can help you think less about food. This will help you to better control your hunger cravings. Naltrexone may be prescribed with bupropion and together they target the parts of the brain that control hunger and cravings.

Possible side effects include: 

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Stronger feelings of pain

Learn more about naltrexone.

Phentermine can help to better control your appetite and hunger while also helping you feel energized and focused.

Possible side effects include: 

  • Increased anxiety or jitteriness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure (Your provider may tell you to check your blood pressure regularly to make sure that phentermine is not causing it to go too high.)
  • Trouble sleeping (if taken later in the day)
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth

Your MWL medical provider may collaborate with your Primary Care Provider (PCP) to prescribe this medication, if it’s right for you.

Learn more about phentermine.

In addition to the above medications, there are others that may be added to your regimen depending on whether you have other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. 

There is also a possibility that some medications you are taking for other conditions may be making it harder for you to lose weight or may be contributing to weight gain. Your care team will carefully review your medications with you. Any medication that may be contributing to weight gain will be identified. Then, you and your team will discuss potential alternatives or even the possibility of stopping it altogether. Your primary care doctor may be asked to help with these decisions. 

As you progress in your weight-loss journey, the medications used to treat other conditions – such as hypertension or high cholesterol – may also need to be adjusted. Your team will work with you to look for opportunities to make those changes.