Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to take a little pill every day that magically melts off fat? Wouldn’t we all…
For most people, a healthy diet and exercise is all they need to slim down, but that isn’t the case for everyone. Diabetes, slow metabolism, sluggish thyroid, age, food addiction, and many other things can make it almost impossible to lose weight, so people with these issues may need extra help.
Phentermine is a well-tested, anti-obesity prescription drug that’s been designed for people who have a hard time controlling their weight. It’s the number one selling weight loss drug in the U.S. right now, but is it worth the hype?
An even better question would be, is it safe? During the Fen-Phen fiasco, people died because a drug was put on the market without enough testing. (1)
Is the desire for a quick fix to our weight problems clouding our judgment about this popular drug, or is it a safe and effective way to lose weight?
What is Phentermine?
Phentermine is an anorectic drug that was developed to replace amphetamines for weight loss. It’s been used as an appetite suppressant since 1959, but since it’s potentially addictive, it needs a prescription from a doctor. (2)
The most popular brands are Adipex, Duromine, and Qsymia. The fatal drug Fen-Phen, which was a cocktail of phentermine combined with fenfluramine, was taken off the market quickly due to the deaths and injuries it caused.
People have been using it for a long time, though, so there are plenty of studies done about its safety and effectiveness. The primary issue with taking a phentermine brand that’s been combined with another drug is the lack of testing done on the cocktail.
Drug companies get excited about how quickly the drug combos work and don’t always practice safety first.
How Does Phentermine Work?
It’s an amphetamine substitute, so it causes the release of a bunch of chemicals that make you feel more energetic. It also stimulates the release of happy helpers serotonin and dopamine, which chill you out, so you don’t feel like you had 27 cups of coffee after taking it.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It causes adrenaline to release, which makes fat cells burn faster, so you’ll feel it a little. It just doesn’t make most people jittery like many other stimulants do.
Another way that phentermine helps you lose weight is that you eat less. It tricks your body into thinking you’ve already eaten, so you don’t eat as often, and you feel fuller when you do.
Studies show that because participants didn’t want to eat very often while they were on it, their food cravings went way down. (3)
Who Can Benefit from Taking Phentermine?
If you want to lose a few pounds to get your bikini bod back in action for the summer, then phentermine probably isn’t the drug for you. Physicians only use it to treat people who qualify as obese, which means they have a body mass index of 30 or higher.
They might also prescribe it for people with a BMI as low as 27 if they have health issues that their weight might be making worse like high blood pressure, heart problems, or type 2 diabetes.
People with weight-related health issues can really benefit from weight loss drugs like phentermine because they’ll be able to get them under control quicker than if they were dieting alone. It can give them a “win” on the scale, which is an incentive for sticking with a diet.
Even though doctors steer clear of doling out diet pill prescriptions to people who aren’t technically obese, they’ll only prescribe them for a few months. Long-term studies on the risks of phentermine show that they increase the longer you take the drug. (4)
Does Phentermine Work for Weight Loss?
There’s a reason it’s been on the market so long. Not only does phentermine work for weight loss, it works better than just about anything out there.
A study published in 2016 compared the effectiveness of different kinds of anti-obesity drugs. They analyzed results from over 30,000 overweight and obese people who took it, and phentermine was hands down the winner.
75% of the participants lost weight and at an average of 19.5 pounds only taking the drug and not having any other lifestyle changes. The runner-up was the drug liraglutide with 63% and 11.7 pounds. (5)
Not only can you lose weight with phentermine, but if you eat a healthy diet and exercise, you’ll keep it off. Studies show that taking it can help with motivation to continue the weight loss journey. (6)
Is Phentermine Safe to Take for Weight Loss?
A doctor will prescribe it for you because they think that the benefits outweigh the risk of taking it, but don’t be fooled; there are always risks when taking weight loss medication.
Phentermine is classified as a Schedule IV drug in the U.S., which means that it’s considered an addictive narcotic. There are concerns on a global scale that people who are addicted to being thin can get hooked. (7)
Physicians who prescribe it will usually wean patients off it slowly because of withdrawal symptoms.
It has also got a huge list of side-effects. The Mayo Clinic lists these side-effects as the most common:
- Increased blood pressure
- Dry mouth
They conclude that it’s not a good option if you’ve got high blood pressure, heart issues, or an overactive thyroid. The irony about this is that obesity doctors prescribe it because you’ve got these issues and the faster you lose weight, the better the chance of healing them.
It’s a bit of a catch-22, but also the reason why phentermine is only approved for up to 12 weeks.
The UK banned phentermine because of its potential to cause heart disease, but studies show that it’s safe with short-term use. (8)
The Problem with Taking Drugs to Lose Weight is that It’s Temporary
Weight loss drugs can seem like a magical solution to all your problems, and for some people, they can be. For every success story, there’s also the person who didn’t lose any weight or had unpleasant side- effects to deal with.
If you decide to take a weight loss pill like phentermine, remember that it’s only a temporary solution to burn off extra pounds. Once you’re off it, if you haven’t made the necessary lifestyle changes to keep it off, you will gain the weight back, and then some.
The truth is that most people who have weight problems overeat for a variety of reasons, many of them psychological. We can use food for comfort, or the weight is connected to trauma or stress that we haven’t dealt with yet.
Psychologist Meg Selig suggests that when you have a diet mentality, you’re only looking at a short-term solution to a long-term problem, which is what causes yo-yo dieting. (9) Prescription weight loss drugs cater to that mentality.
They also don’t do anything to help those who self-soothe with food to change their patterns and habits, or deal with what’s causing the need to eat.
Stress eating, gut health, poor diet, lack of nutritional knowledge, lack of sleep, and hormones are all contributors to weight gain, and diet pills don’t address any of these issues, either.
Creating a healthy weight loss plan that you can stick to for the rest of your life is always the best solution to losing weight and keeping it off.
A Safer Option for Weight Loss
Weight loss pills should only ever be a LAST RESORT to help you lose weight. As stated above, if you don’t fix the root of the problem, your problems will all come back after getting off the drug.
Aside from losing 10-21 pounds in 21 days, some of the best feedback we get on our weight loss program is that is has helped our clients establish healthy eating habits that have helped them keep the weight off.
How useful was this post?
Click on a star to rate it!
No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.