“What is the BEST weight loss pill?” – such a common question in my family medicine clinic. And such a great question for so many of us struggling to lose weight.
I LOVE weight loss medicine – and by that I mean the practice of treating obesity, not just the medicine itself. It is complex but so rewarding when patient shave positive results.
Losing weight will change your life, your health, and your self-esteem. And I understand that both professionally and personally.
But we also know there are LOTS of gimmicks out there that will take your money and do nothing for your weight. How do you know the difference?
That’s why you have me.
What is the BEST Weight Loss Pill for Women to Lose Weight?
As a family physician who loves obesity medicine, I have been writing weight loss medications for patients for nearly 10 years now. And I mean daily.
And I can tell you THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL. If someone sells you that idea, run. It is a waste of money. And if you are looking for that magic pill here, you can stop reading. Go look for unicorns and leprechauns instead.
There are, however, medications that will work WITH YOU to help you lose weight. You do the heavy lifting (no pun intended!) and they will make the process easier. That alone can be a big win.
What Can Doctors Prescribe for Weight Loss?
There are prescription medications available for weight loss assistance. And they can be very helpful. Let’s start there …
By far the most commonly used prescription medication. It was previously part of “phen-phen” Remember that one? This is the half that was NOT pulled from the market.
How It Works: Phentermine is basically a stimulant (like ADD meds). It assists in decreasing hunger and increasing energy.
Who Shouldn’t Take It: People with documented heart disease or uncontrolled high blood pressure and people with glaucoma.
Side effects: Fast heart rate, increasing blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and dry mouth
Cost: Remember that most of the time these medications are NOT COVERED by insurance. Obesity is recognized as a disease now but apparently still one we shouldn’t treat. No additional commentary there..
It is the least expensive prescription option, typically less than $40/month
Doctor Mom E Says: Almost always my first line of medication as it is inexpensive and works for most people. It tends to burn out after awhile, though. I also find people with anxiety need to start low with dosing as the increased heart rate and sweating can make them extra anxious.
Q-Symia (Phentermine with Topiramate)
How It Works: Adding Topiramate (Topamax) to Phentermine helps with fullness, especially later in the day
Who Shouldn’t Take It: Women who can get pregnant as it can cause abnormalities in the baby.
Side effects: Those of Phentermine plus many patients will experience a change in tastes. Soda seems to taste flat – that can be a win in itself.
Cost: Depends on how you write it. Doctors can use the “off-label” use and split the 2 medications as Topiramate is generic.
Doctor Mom E Says: Love adding Topiramate to Phentermine – though I don’t typically start with both to decrease side effects. Just remember, you can’t get pregnant on Topiramate, though, and must take precautions.
How It Works: Seratonin receptor agonist – it works on the brain and the neurotransmitter seratonin to increase fullness
Who Shouldn’t Take It: It can cause side effects in patients who are on an antidepressant (not off limits but needs to be monitored closely)
Side Effects: Mostly commonly a dull headache, tiredness, and dry mouth
Cost: Typically around $100/month
Doctor Mom E Says: I just haven’t had as good of results with this medicine. I have had a handful of patients lose weight with it. I typically use it in patients with heart disease that are limited in choices.
How It Works: This medication uses the side effects of these antidepressant and anti-addiction medications to assist weight loss. Kind of cool, huh.
Who Shouldn’t Take It: As Naltrexone opposes pain medications, patients who are on narcotics should not take it. Also, people on seizure medications.
Side Effects: Nausea, constipation, headache, and dry mouth
Cost: Around $100/month
Doctor Mom E Says: This medication surprises me the most with patients – I can’t typically predict how well they will do with it. If you are an emotional eater or eat from cravings it can have great results. People just don’t always recognize if that is their problem, though.
How It Works: This is a higher dose of blood sugar medication and is approved for weight loss in non-diabetic patients. It is INJECTABLE and DAILY.
Who Shouldn’t Take It: Patients with family history of medullary thyroid cancer or Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia. It can cause low blood sugars in those on insulin.
Side Effects: Upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
Costs: You really have to have insurance coverage for this one – it can be up to $900/month without it
Doctor Mom E Says: Love this medication – and it can easily be added to other weight loss medicines. BUT the cost is prohibitive for MOST patients at this point.
What About Over-the-Counter Weight Loss Pills for Women?
There are SO many non-prescription weight loss options as well. Many add different elements but MOST come back to a few key ingredients to assist in weight loss. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular:
How Does It Work: Orlistat blocks the absorption of fat leading to weight loss. It used to be prescription but has gone to over-the-counter.
Who Shouldn’t Take It: More commonly the discussion is WHEN you shouldn’t take it. If you take fat soluble vitamins, you don’t want to take Orlistat at the same times as your vitamins or you will block their uptake.
Side Effects: So, when fat goes into the stool that can cause issues. Those issues include everything from loose stools to anal leakage. It’s kind of an issue.
Cost: Around $70/month
Doctor Mom E Says: Orlistat actually has great weight loss potential if you can handle the side effects. Interestingly, if you keep your diet low in fat, that side effect decreases significantly.
I actually have a whole blog post on this one – check it out!(https://doctormome.com/post/stop-those-sugar-cravings/)
Any Weight Loss Results? It did change the taste of sugar – and that could lead to weight loss. I hadn’t really even considered the weight loss potential in and of itself.
Any Weight Loss Results? The active ingredients are Vitamin B, Vitamin D, and C. canephora robusta (unroasted coffee beans). The coffee component may help with a minimal amount fo weight loss but don’t expect much. Vitamin B and D supplementation do not result in weight loss.
Any Weight Loss Results? By taking large amounts of caffeine (over 400mg/day) you may see a little weight loss. The problem is that higher levels of caffeine also come with many potential side effects including vomiting and fast heart rate.
Green Coffee Bean Extract
Any Weight Loss Results? Maybe a little but you are going to run into the same issues as above.
Any Weight Loss Results? This is a dietary fiber that can assist in fullness. No weight loss results were noted and there is a risk of obstruction at the esophagus if you take too much.
Green Tea Extract
Any Weight Loss Results? Possibly minimal weight loss results either with or without caffeine.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Any Weight Loss Results? Minimal effects on weight loss and fat distribution were seen.
Any Weight Loss Results? A small increase in metabolic rate was noted in trials but no weight loss was seen.
Any Weight Loss Results? Possible minimal effects on weight loss
What About the Fat Burner Weight Loss Pills for Women?
Let’s take a look at a few specific products that claim fat burning for women:
- Leanbean – a bunch of vitamins, zinc, garcinia cambogia, glucomannan, and green coffee bean extract = maybe a little weight loss
- PhenQ – caffeine, chromium, calcium, and L-carnitine = maybe a little weight loss
- Powher Cut – caffeine, chromium, glucomannan = maybe a little weight loss
- Skinny Gal – garcinia cambogia, African mango, CLA, white kidney bean = maybe a little weight loss
What is the Best Fat Burner?
Truly, all of these have minimal results at best. For the cost, go with a prescription option. Or spend the money on changing your diet.
Simple Solution: There are MANY prescription and over-the-counter medication options available for weight loss. The prescriptions medications ASSIST weight loss but you will need to work with them. Orlistat shows good results for over-the-counter options if you can handle the side effects. If not, save your money.
For More Recommendations on Weight Loss Medications, check out: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/