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It’s normal to feel hungry. It’s your body’s way of telling you to refuel. However, you’re more likely to gain weight if you crave food even after eating a full meal.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a magic cure, you cannot lose weight or lose fat healthily by taking a pill alone. However, medications can be crucial in aiding weight loss. The appetite suppressant is one type of medication that helps you lose weight by curbing cravings, so you don’t feel hungry.
But how effective are appetite suppressants for weight loss, and what are their risks and benefits?
What are appetite suppressants?
Appetite suppressants, also known as diet pills, are a type of medication used for losing body weight. In essence, appetite suppressants work by misleading your brain into thinking that you are not hungry1.
Consequently, people who take these diet pills eat much less than they would normally. As a result, daily caloric intake is reduced and the body uses its fat stores for energy, resulting in fat loss. In some countries, appetite suppressant drugs are most commonly used by women, especially in places where being slim is considered a sign of beauty2.
Appetite Suppressants in Singapore
In Singapore, appetite suppressants must be prescribed by a doctor after a full health assessment. Without a doctor’s recommendation, diet pills obtained online or from other dubious sources can cause serious complications such as organ dysfunction or failure.
Diet medications commonly prescribed for reducing obesity and controlling body fat include:
In Singapore, phentermine is marketed under the names Panbesy and Duromine, and it is approved as an adjunct to obesity treatment for a short period of time. Both Duromine and Panbesy contain phentermine as an active ingredient. Singapore’s Ministry of Health advises doctors to use the drug cautiously and monitor side effects.
Phentermine works as an anorectic agent by stimulating the hypothalamus to release norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that reduces appetite and food cravings. Phentermine also causes adrenaline to be released, which helps break down fat deposits3. Due to their active anorexigenic properties, Panbesy and Duromine may result in the development of drug dependence in the long run.
The most commonly reported side effects of Duromine/Panbesy are:
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations
- Skin flushing
This daily injectable prescription medicine contains liraglutide and is used for fat reduction and weight management purposes in obese adults with a BMI of 30 and above. This medication is commonly prescribed to control diabetes along with proper diet and exercise to reduce high blood sugar levels.
It was demonstrated in a study that liraglutide suppressed acute food intake, subjective hunger, and delayed gastric emptying3. As Liraglutide stimulates the glucose-dependent release of insulin, it also slows the gastric emptying process, resulting in better control of blood sugar4. This is a long-term treatment.
The most commonly reported side effects of Saxenda are:
- Mood swings
This medicine contains a combination of bupropion and naltrexone, bupropion is an antidepressant drug and naltrexone is an addiction treatment medication. Contrave is used to treat obesity in normal adults with a BMI of 30 and above. When taken together, it reduces hunger and controls food cravings.
It is still not fully clear as to how the neurochemical mechanism of the naltrexone/bupropion combination causes weight loss, but preclinical studies suggest that the combination reduces hunger and increases metabolism which in turn causes weight loss5. Like Saxenda, Contrave is also a long-term treatment.
The most commonly reported side effects of Contrave are:
- Uncontrollable shaking
- More severe side effects include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Do Appetite Suppressants Work?
While weight loss drugs can help you shed pounds, they aren’t miracle cures. Although they have shown significant results with weight loss, they don’t work for everyone. When you stop taking appetite suppressants, you are likely to gain back the weight you lost from being on the pill.
Is it Safe to Consume on a Long-Term Basis?
Appetite suppressants fall into the category of stimulants. As a result, they can make you dependent on them and you will need to increase their dosage in order to maintain the same effect. It is also possible to overdose on diet pills, with effects similar to consuming hard drugs and resulting in heart failure.
While the common side effects tend to taper off after a week or two, so does the weight loss effect you’re seeking. Over time, it would take more of the substance to get the same amount of appetite suppression and stimulation, which can lead to substance abuse.
Using these stimulants long-term can have detrimental effects. High blood pressure, heart disease, and withdrawal symptoms are some of the long-term side effects of these diet pills. Such a small amount of weight loss is not worth the risk of those possible side effects.
In spite of that, spot reduction is something that is still impossible even with appetite suppressants and diet pills. In contrast to diet pills, non-invasive fat removal procedures, such as cryolipolysis and laser thermolysis, are more effective at reducing stubborn fat deposits in targeted areas such as the chin, love handles, arms, thighs, and abdomen.
Non-invasive Fat Removal Treatments
The CoolSculpting procedure involves cryolipolysis, also known as fat freezing. The body’s stubborn fat areas are treated with cold temperatures between -10°C and 13°C. Fat cells are crystallized, frozen, and die through a process known as apoptosis while the surrounding areas remain safe.
The body’s lymphatic system then gradually expels the destroyed fat cells over the next three months with visible results after four weeks and more pronounced over time.
With SculpSure, a method known as laser thermolysis is used to permanently melt and remove stubborn fat pockets in certain parts of the body6. During the treatment, heat is generated between the temperatures of 42°C and 47°C to destroy the stubborn fat cells.
Through the body’s natural processes, the lymphatic system gradually eliminates the damaged fat cells over three to four months. Besides reducing fat, the treatment also improves skin elasticity preventing loose skin as a result of fat loss.
Laser thermolysis also reduces cellulite since it stimulates collagen by penetrating deep into the dermal layer through the heat generated.
While appetite suppressants have been proven to be effective for fat loss, they are generally prescribed to complement a fat loss regimen of healthy food and regular exercise.
However, they are not recommended for healthy individuals with a BMI of less than 30 who wish to lose fat pockets in order to tone their bodies. It might be more suitable for you to opt for non-invasive fat removal treatments if you are looking to target stubborn pockets of fat.
Speak to us today to find out which non-invasive fat removal treatment is best suited for you.