Losing Weight is not very easy while you are on a tight budget.

1. Plan to Cook at Home
Instead of buying costly prepared meals, which often tend to be high in calories, cook your own at home. With a few good recipes and a shopping list, you can make your own delicious low-calorie meals. According to one study, planning out your meals for the whole day really does help you lose weight. High-fiber foods like beans and whole grains, cooked from scratch, will keep you full and are a cheaper, healthier alternative to not-so-lean proteins and more-processed grains.
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There is a cold wind blowing outside, and the temperatures have dropped below freezing. The sidewalks and roads are covered by slush or ice, and the sky is a gloomy shade of grey. It’s hard enough to motivate yourself to get outside and exercise when the weather is sunny and warm, so how are you supposed to maintain your goal of healthy living when Winter makes outdoor activities so unappealing?

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→  Getting the Right Amount of Nightly Sleep

So you regularly get 8 hours of sleep every night but you still feel tired during the day. What’s the deal? For starters, the 8 hour sleep guideline is just that—a guideline.

Yes, the 8 hours of sleep standard has been routinely researched to be the number of hours of sleep that most people need. However, it doesn’t always work for everybody, and you may need to adjust it a little to get it right for you.

 

→  Fine-tune your body’s clock

Too much sleep can be just as bad as too little sleep. It’s important to dial in your personal body clock so that you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day, everyday.

To do this, figure out what time you need to get up in the morning.

Count back 7.5 hours as a good time to start getting to bed.

7.5 hours is a good benchmark because the average person goes through five 90 minute sleep cycles alternating between sleep (non-REM) and deep sleep (REM).

It’s best to wake in-between deep sleep cycles rather than in the middle of one. Waking in the middle of REM can lead you to feeling groggy during the day. If you wake during non-REM you’re more likely to feel alert and attentive as the day progresses.

Try this 7.5 hours sleep duration for 3 days. If you find yourself waking about 10 minutes before your alarm goes off, you’ve found your perfect bedtime. If however you’re still relying on your alarm clock to wake you up, try moving your bedtime back 15 minutes every 3 days until you find yourself waking just a few minutes before your alarm goes off.

Once you find your body’s perfect internal sleep-clock, stay consistent with it. The less you vary from the norm, the more alert you will be during the day and the better you will function.

 

→  Practice better sleep habits

If you find yourself having difficulty getting to bed on time every night, there are a few things you can do to help you get to bed quicker:

  • Ditch your electronics. This may be the simplest yet hardest habit to break. The artificial light emitting from your cellphone, tablet, laptop, television set, e-reader, portable game console, etc, tricks your brain into believing it needs to stay awake because it associates light with daytime. This deception can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which in turn leads to poorer sleep at night and feeling rundown during the day.
  • Keep your room dark and quiet. Ditching those electronics may not be enough to create the ideal sleeping quarters. If possible, turn off all lights. If this is not possible, leave one dim light on or use a nightlight.
  • Try using “white noise.” Listening to music to help you get to bed may work for you, but it’s also likely to disrupt your sleep, causing more problems than it solves. If you must listen to music, try setting it on a timer that will shut it off shortly after you fall asleep. A better option is to listen to white noise while you sleep. White noise from a fan or a sound-machine creates a consistent rhythmic sound that can be both relaxing and help drown out other sudden noises that may cause you to wake at night.
  • Avoid caffeine before bed. This one should be a no-brainer, but many people have a hard time resisting caffeinated beverages before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and will increase alertness at that crucial time when your body wants to wind down. If you are a habitual caffeine user, try avoiding using caffeine three hours before bedtime to help get you to sleep on time.

 

→  A Healthier Lifestyle Leads to Healthier Sleep

Diet and exercise can go a long way towards getting better rest at night and being more alert during the day. Balancing healthy eating choices with routine exercise can dramatically affect the way you perform throughout the day.

Foods to Avoid to Improve Sleep

  • Foods high in sugar and caffeine can have a temporary energy-boosting effect on the mind and body’s alertness, but is often followed by a crashing feeling that can last much longer than the short energy-surge you were after.
  • Fatty foods and processed carbs have also been associated with daytime sleepiness. These foods may fill you up but they’re not loaded with the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to produce ample amounts of energy.
  • Spicy foods close to bedtime. Spicy foods are notorious for causing heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. Heartburn can be made worse while lying down as it allows the acids to creep up into the esophagus and burn the sensitive lining.

 

→  Increase Quality Sleep with Healthy Choices

  • Eat more healthy foods. Eating more foods that naturally boost your daily energy levels can go a long way in helping you feel more alert everyday. Eat more natural, unprocessed carbs. Eat foods that are rich in antioxidants, amino acids, proteins and high in vitamins. A short list of high energy foods would be: leafy greens, whole grains, tree nuts, lean meats, eggs, fruits (especially apples, bananas, and blueberries), and bell peppers just to name a few.
  • Exercise more. Routine exercise can go a long way in curing your daytime fatigue. Exercise breeds energy. It is recommended that you exercise at least 40 minutes a day, 4 days a week. Aside from the energy boost you’ll experience, exercise also releases endorphins which will leave you simply “feeling good” about yourself.

 

→  Poor sleep could be a sign of a sleep disorder

If you practice the above guidelines of a healthier lifestyle and better sleeping habits but still find yourself suffering from daytime drowsiness, it may be a sign of a more severe medical condition such as: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA),anemia, thyroid problems, narcolepsy, depression, restless leg syndrome, undiagnosed heart disease, or deficiencies in key nutrients. If you think that you may be suffering from one of these medical conditions you should contact your physician or local sleep clinic immediately.

 

 

Originally posted at http://www.alaskasleep.com/

 


What Causes Knee Soreness after Working Out?

by RACHEL NALL

You rely on your knees to support your movements during a workout. When you experience pain after exercising, you may be concerned that an underlying condition exists. Understanding why you experience knee pain after you exercise can be a matter of evaluating the types of exercises you are performing and the location of your pain. Learning when you can continue exercising with knee pain — and when you cannot — is important to your continued good health.

Post-Exercise Treatment

If you experience knee pain after exercising, take immediate steps to reduce inflammation. This includes icing your knee within 10 to 20 minutes after your workout. You also may wish to take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen. Evaluate your footwear as well: lack of support, particularly arch support, often contributes to knee pain. Your physician or a shoe specialist can evaluate your shoes to ensure they are in good enough shape to continue exercising. If your knees continue to swell or the pain gets worse instead of better, you may need to take a few days from exercising and seek medical attention.

Impact Exercises

Your knees are the major shock absorbers of your body, absorbing the impact each time you take a step. If you participate in high-impact activities like running, volleyball or basketball, you are at increased risk for experiencing knee pain after exercising. If you experience pain in both knees after high-impact exercise, this may be a sign you need to alternate high- and low-impact activities. These include activities like exercising on an elliptical machine or swimming, which puts less strain on your knees. Incorporating these activities into your workout routine may help to take the pressure off your knees.

Strengthening Exercises

If a physician has evaluated your knee and determined you have not experienced a serious injury, you may wish to engage in some knee-strengthening exercises to reduce pain and restore stability to your knee. Examples of exercises include sitting with your legs extended and slowly lifting your leg about 6 to 8 inches off the ground. Repeat five to 10 times on each leg. From a seated position with your legs extended, you also can cross one leg over the other to stretch the outer portion of the knee. Hold for five seconds, then release the stretch and repeat on the opposite side. Your physician also may recommend alternate stretches to relieve tension in your knee.

Injuries

There are a number of bones, tendons and muscles related to the knee, providing ample opportunity for injury. You may experience conditions like runner’s knee, which causes pain behind the kneecap, and iliotibial band syndrome, which causes pain outside the knee. Both injury and overuse can cause you to experience knee pain. If your knee pain does not subside with rest, see your physician, who can evaluate your knee for potential injury. Knee pain does not always mean surgery — your physician can recommend several conservative approaches to treat pain.

Article Source: http://www.livestrong.com/


Try these basic yoga poses to get stronger and more flexible.

Mountain Pose

  • Stand tall with feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed through your soles, arms at sides.
  • Take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with arms straight. Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.

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 1. Pick up a pen

Mindlessly munching on a bag of chips could result in easily polishing off the whole thing; write down how much you’ve eaten and you’re more likely to practice portion control and lose weight fast. Keeping a food log helps control extra calories in two ways: the combination of plain old reality check (I just ate 30 minutes ago!) and awareness that what you’re putting in your mouth will soon be recorded for posterity. In a recent study, people who kept a food journal lost twice as much weight as those who didn’t. When they combined it with a moderate diet and exercise plan, they lost an average of 13 pounds in 6 months. Journaling also gives you insight on your eating habits, says Dr. Lutes. Do you skip meals? Eat the same during the week as on the weekend? Binge when you’re feeling stressed? “Knowing your routine helps you figure out what changes are right for you,” she adds.

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There are many different weight loss solutions out there. This includes all sorts of pills, drugs and natural supplements.

These are claimed to help you lose weight, or at least make it easier to lose weight combined with other methods.

They tend to work via one or more of these mechanisms:

  1. Reduce appetite, making you feel more full so that you eat fewer calories.
  2. Reduce absorption of nutrients like fat, making you take in fewer calories.
  3. Increase fat burning, making you burn more calories.

Here are the 12 most popular weight loss pills and supplements, reviewed by science.

1. Garcinia Cambogia Extract

 

Garcinia cambogia became popular worldwide after being featured on the Dr. Oz show in 2012.

It is a small, green fruit, shaped like a pumpkin.

The skin of the fruit contains hydroxycitric acid (HCA). This is the active ingredient in garcinia cambogia extract, which is marketed as a diet pill.

How it works: Animal studies show that it can inhibit a fat-producing enzyme in the body and increase levels of serotonin, potentially helping to reduce cravings.

Effectiveness: A 2011 review that looked at 12 studies on garcinia cambogia found that, on average, it caused weight loss of about 2 pounds (0.88 kg) over several weeks.

Side effects: There are no reports of serious side effects, but some reports of mild digestive problems.

2. Hydroxycut

 

Hydroxycut has been around for more than a decade, and is currently one of the most popular weight loss supplements in the world.

There are several different types, but the most common one is simply called “Hydroxycut.”

How it works: It contains several ingredients that are claimed to help with weight loss, including caffeine and a few plant extracts.

Effectiveness: One study showed that it caused 21 lbs (9.5 kg) of weight loss over a 3 month period.

Side effects: If you are caffeine sensitive, you may experience anxiety, jitteriness, tremors, nausea, diarrhea and irritability.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.

It is found naturally in coffee, green tea and dark chocolate, and added to many processed foods and beverages.

Caffeine is a well known metabolism booster, and is often added to commercial weight loss supplements.

How it works: Short-term studies have shown that caffeine can boost metabolism by 3-11%, and increase fat burning by up to 29%.

Effectiveness: There are also some studies showing that caffeine can cause modest weight loss in humans.

Side effects: In some people, high amounts of caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, jitteriness, irritability, nausea, diarrhea and other symptoms. Caffeine is also addictive and can reduce the quality of your sleep.

There really is no need to take a supplement or a pill with caffeine in it, the best sources are quality coffee and green tea, which also have antioxidants and other health benefits.

4. Orlistat (Alli)

 

Orlistat is a pharmaceutical drug, sold over-the-counter under the name Alli, and under prescription as Xenical.

How it works: This weight loss pill works by inhibiting the breakdown of fat in the gut, making you take in fewer calories from fat.

Effectiveness: According to a big review of 11 studies, orlistat can increase weight loss by 6 pounds (2.7 kg) compared to a dummy pill.

Other benefits: Orlistat has been shown to reduce blood pressure slightly, and reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 37% in one study.

Side effects: This drug has many digestive side effects, including loose, oily stools, flatulence, frequent bowel movements that are hard to control, and others. It may also contribute to deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K.

It is usually recommended to follow a low-fat diet while taking orlistat, in order to minimize side effects.

Interestingly, a low carb diet (without drugs) has been shown to be as effective as both orlistat and a low-fat diet combined.

5. Raspberry Ketones

 

Raspberry ketone is a substance found in raspberries, which is responsible for their distinct smell.

A synthetic version of raspberry ketones is sold as a weight loss supplement.

How it works: In isolated fat cells from rats, raspberry ketones increase breakdown of fat and increase levels of a hormone called adiponectin, believed to be related to weight loss.

Effectiveness: There is not a single study on raspberry ketones in humans, but one rat study using massive doses showed that they reduced weight gain.

Side effects: They may cause your burps to smell like raspberries.

6. Green Coffee Bean Extract

 

Green coffee beans are simply normal coffee beans that haven’t been roasted.

They contain two substances believed to help with weight loss, caffeine and chlorogenic acid.

How it works: Caffeine can increase fat burning, and chlorogenic acid can slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the gut.

Effectiveness: Several human studies have shown that green coffee bean extract can help people lose weight.

A review of 3 studies found that the supplement made people lose 5.4 more pounds (2.5 kg) than placebo, a dummy pill.

Other benefits: Green coffee bean extract may help lower blood sugar levels, and reduce blood pressure. It is also high in antioxidants.

Side effects: It can cause the same side effects as caffeine. The chlorogenic acid in it may also cause diarrhea, and some people may be allergic to green coffee beans.

7. Glucomannan

 

Glucomannan is a type of fiber found in the roots of the elephant yam, also called konjac.

How it works: Glucomannan absorbs water and becomes gel-like. It “sits” in your gut and promotes a feeling of fullness, helping you eat fewer calories.

Effectiveness: Three human studies showed that glucomannan, combined with a healthy diet, can help people lose 8-10 pounds (3.6-4.5 kg) of weight in 5 weeks.

Other benefits: Glucomannan is a fiber that can feed the friendly bacteria in the intestine. It can also lower blood sugar, blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and is very effective against constipation.

Side effects: It can cause bloating, flatulence and soft stools, and can interfere with some oral medications if taken at the same time.

It is important to take glucomannan about a half an hour before meals, with a glass of water.

8. Meratrim

 

Meratrim is a relative newcomer on the diet pill market.

It is a combination of two plant extracts that may change the metabolism of fat cells.

How it works: It is claimed to make it harder for fat cells to multiply, decrease the amount of fat that they pick up from the bloodstream, and help them burn stored fat.

Effectiveness: So far, only one study has been done on Meratrim. A total of 100 obese people were placed on a strict 2000 calorie diet, with either Meratrim or a dummy pill.

After 8 weeks, the Meratrim group had lost 11 pounds (5.2 kg) of weight and 4.7 inches (11.9 cm) off their waistlines. They also had improved quality of life and reduced blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.

Side effects: No side effects have been reported.

9. Green Tea Extract

 

Green tea extract is a popular ingredient in many weight loss supplements.

This is because numerous studies have shown the main antioxidant in it, EGCG, to aid fat burning.

How it works: Green tea extract is believed to increase the activity of norepinephrine, a hormone that helps you burn fat.

Effectiveness: Many human studies have shown that green tea extract can increase fat burning and cause fat loss, especially in the belly area.

Side effects: Green tea extract is generally well tolerated. It does contain some caffeine, and may cause symptoms in people who are caffeine sensitive.

10. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

 

Conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, has been a popular fat loss supplement for years.

It is one of the “healthier” trans fats, and is found naturally in some fatty animal foods like cheese and butter.

How it works: CLA may reduce appetite, boost metabolism and stimulate the breakdown of body fat.

Effectiveness: In a major review of 18 different studies, CLA caused weight loss of about 0.2 pounds (0.1 kg) per week, for up to 6 months.

According to another review study from 2012, CLA can make you lose about 3 lbs (1.3 kg) of weight, compared to a dummy pill.

Side effects: CLA can cause various digestive side effects, and may have harmful effects over the long term, potentially contributing to fatty liver, insulin resistance and increased inflammation.

11. Forskolin

Forskolin is an extract from a plant in the mint family, claimed to be effective for losing weight.

How it works: It is believed to raise levels of a compound inside cells called cAMP, which may stimulate fat burning.

Effectiveness: One study in 30 overweight and obese men showed that forskolin reduced body fat and increased muscle mass, while having no effect on body weight. Another study in 23 overweight women found no effects.

Side effects: There is very limited data on the safety of this supplement, or the risk of side effects.

12. Bitter Orange / Synephrine

 

A type of orange called bitter orange contains the compound synephrine.

Synephrine is related to ephedrine, which used to be a popular ingredient in various weight loss pill formulations.

However, ephedrine has since been banned as a weight loss ingredient by the FDA because of serious side effects.

How it works: Synephrine shares similar mechanisms with ephedrine, but is less potent. It can reduce appetite and significantly increase fat burning .

Effectiveness: Very few studies have been done on synephrine, but ephedrine has been shown to cause significant short-term weight loss in many studies.

Side effects: Like ephedrine, synephrine may have serious side effects related to the heart. It may also be addictive.

 

Prescription Medication

 

Additionally, there are many prescription weight loss pills that have been shown to be effective.

The most common ones are Contrave, Belviq, Phentermine and Qsymia.

According to a recent 2014 review study, even prescription weight loss pills don’t work as well as you would hope.

On average, they may help you lose up to 3-9% of body weight compared to a dummy pill.

Keep in mind that this is only when combined with a healthy weight loss diet. They are ineffective on their own, and hardly a solution to obesity.

Not to mention their many side effects.

 

Take Home Message

Out of the 12, these are the clear winners, with the strongest evidence to back them up:

  • Weight loss: Glucomannan, CLA and Orlistat (Alli).
  • Increased fat burning: Caffeine and green tea extract.

However, I have to advise against Orlistat due to the unpleasant side effects, and against CLA due to the harmful effects on metabolic health.

That leaves us with glucomannan, green tea extract and caffeine.

These supplements can be useful, but the effects are modest at best.

Unfortunately, NO supplement or pill really works that well for weight loss.

They may give your metabolism a bit of a nudge and help you lose a few pounds, but that’s where it ends, unfortunately.

Cutting carbs and eating more protein are still the best ways to lose weight, and work better than all the diet pills combined.

 

Originally posted by  | www.authoritynutrition.com


 

If you’ve been spending any time at the gym, you’ve probably seen (or done) more than a few sets of these strength-training moves. These exercises are trainer and fitness-buff favorites for balancing and strengthening the body; they are also effective when it comes to shaping, toning, and whittling. Learn how to do these essential exercises in time to add them to your shape-up routine!

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Prescription weight loss pills, also called anti-obesity drugs or “diet pills”, are sometimes prescribed to a patient as an additional tool in the treatment for weight loss. Additional tools to medication treatment usually include a plan for lower fat and calorie foods, as well as a regular exercise program.

For most people, the prescription for weight loss is pretty basic: Eat less, move more. In recent years, however, new drugs to combat obesity have moved onto the market.

A new breakdown of these options, released today (Aug. 18) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), highlights the promise and perils of each of these medications, which range from appetite suppressors to stimulants.

None of these drugs are a magic bullet. They all must be accompanied by following a healthful diet and exercising, and their effects on the scale are moderate compared with the dramatic weight loss seen in people who undergo gastric bypass surgery, said Dr. Jill Jin, a general internist at the Northwestern Medical Group in Chicago, who wrote the article. However, Jin told Live Science, these medications can benefit certain patients.

 

“There is benefit in even losing 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight,” Jin said. “You can see changes in blood pressure, in averageblood sugar levels, in cholesterol.”

 

Who can benefit from weight loss drugs?

Weight loss drugs aren’t for everyone. According to guidelines released by the Endocrine Society in January 2015, these pharmaceuticals are appropriate only for people who qualify as obese, meaning they have abody mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Drugs might also be helpful for people who are merely overweight (with a BMI of 27 or higher) but who also have health conditions brought on by their extra pounds, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.

The benefit of these medications is that they help move weight loss along more quickly than diet and exercise alone, thus encouraging patients to stick to their lifestyle changes, Jin said.  [7 Biggest Diet Myths]

“It’s a good mental effect,” she said.

Patients who are prescribed these drugs are monitored closely. If they don’t lose at least 5 percent of their body weight after three months of use, they should discontinue using the drugs, according to the Endocrine Society. Weight loss benefits continue only as long as the drugs are taken, so users also need to develop healthy habits.

“Because all medications inherently have more risks than diet and exercise do, pharmacologic therapy should be used only in patients in whom the benefit justifies the risk,” the society concluded.

What drugs are available?

As American waistlines have expanded, pharmaceutical companies have been searching for drugs that can shrink those waistlines again. Still, only five drugs (or drug combinations) have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the long-term treatment of obesity. Here’s a brief rundown of each:

Orlistat – Now available over-the-counter or as a prescription, orlistat was one of the first drugs in the weight-loss arsenal. It was first approved in 1999 by the FDA for use with a prescription, and then in 2007, it was approved for over-the-counter use. The drug is sold under the brand name Xenical as a prescription and Alli as an over-the-counter drug.

Orlistat is meant to treat obesity in conjunction with a low-fat, low-calorie diet, according to the FDA. The drug is a lipase inhibitor, meaning it works to prevent the action of a pancreatic enzyme called lipase, which breaks down fat in the small intestine. Thus, taking orlistat with each meal prevents the absorption of all the fat from the food into the body.

The most common side effects of orlistat relate to the extra fat being excreted instead of absorbed: gassiness, oily bowel movements and other bowel-related changes. Reports of severe liver damage in about a dozen people who used orlistat prompted a new warning label in 2010, though the FDA could not confirm that the drug caused the damage. People who take the drug should watch for signs of liver malfunction such as yellow skin or eyes, itching, loss of appetite, brown urine or yellowish stool.

A 2004 review of research published in the journal Obesity Reviewsfound that orlistat is effective in reducing weight in obese patients, but caused more gastrointestinal distress than a placebo. However, the weight loss is likely to be modest. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 2014 review found that people who dieted, exercised and took Alli for at least a year lost about 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilograms) more on average than those who dieted and exercised alone.

Lorcaserin – This drug acts on serotonin receptors in the brain to promote feelings of fullness, thus encouraging users to eat less. Approved in 2012, lorcaserin was the first weight-loss drug to get an FDA nod since orlistat.

According to the FDA, the drug (combined with diet and exercise) was associated with an average weight loss of 3 to 3.7 percent more than a placebo. In patients without Type 2 diabetes, 38 percent using the drug lost 5 percent or more of their body weight, which is the clinical standard for a successful obesity treatment. Among patients who used diet and exercise alone, 23 percent reached that level of weight loss.

Because lorcaserin affects serotonin receptors, it can’t be used alongside other drugs with the same target, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are used to treat depression. The drug is not approved for pregnant women and can cause side effects such as drowsiness, headache and constipation. [9 Meal Schedules: When to Eat to Lose Weight]

Sold under the brand name Belviq, lorcaserin is taken by mouth, usually twice a day.

Phentermine + topiramate – Also approved in 2012, this drug combination is sold under the brand name Qsymia. Phentermine is a stimulant that decreases appetite; topiramate is an anti-seizure and migraine drug that also decreases appetite and causes feelings of fullness.

The drug combination can cause a birth defect called cleft palate in developing fetuses, so women of childbearing age taking it must use birth control and take a pregnancy test monthly. Another rare but serious side effect is the development of suicidal thoughts. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 1 in 500 people who take anti-seizure drugs like topiramate develop suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Like all other approved weight-loss drugs, the combination of phentermine and topiramate is meant to be used with a diet and exercise routine. In a clinical trial, patients who took this drug combo lost an average of 9 percent of their body weight, compared with 1.5 percent in patients who took a placebo, according to a 2013 paper in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy. Two follow-up trials returned similar results for up to 2 years of use.

Bupropion+naltrexone – Sold under the brand name Contrave, this drug combination first came into the spotlight in 2011. It was rejected by the FDA because of concerns about its long-term effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. In 2014, however, the agency gave Contrave the go-ahead — with the caveat that it will still be under scrutiny to ensure its cardiovascular safety.

The drug also has a black box warning — the strictest of the FDA warning labels — because bupropion is associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts. The drug was previously approved as a smoking cessation aid and to treat depression. Naltrexone had been used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction. Doctors aren’t entirely sure how the drug combination works to promote weight loss. According to a2011 paper in the journal Pharmacy & Therapeutics, the drug’s most likely targets are the hypothalamus, an almond-size region deep in the brain that controls hunger, and the mesolimbic reward system, a brain circuit that is involved in any rewarding activity, including eating.

In one trial, 42 percent of patients without Type 2 diabetes who took Contrave along with a diet and exercise routine lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, according to the FDA. Those who dieted and exercised alone were less successful: Only 17 percent lost 5 percent or more of their body weight.

Liraglutide – This drug was first approved in 2010 for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. It helps promote insulin production in the pancreas, which in turn controls blood sugar.

In December 2014, the agency expanded the use of liraglutide for the treatment of obesity. Sold as Saxenda, this version of the drug is a higher dose than that used to treat diabetes. Unlike the other FDA-approved drugs on this list, which are taken orally, Saxenda is taken as a once-a-day shot. [13 Easy Kitchen Fixes that Can Help You Lose Weight]

According to the FDA, 62 percent of people who took Saxenda in clinical trials lost 5 percent or more of their body weight, compared with 34 percent who took a placebo. This drug also has a black-box warning because rodent studies showed that it caused thyroid tumors. It’s unknown whether liraglutide could have the same effect in humans, but people with a family history of certain cancers should not take the drug. Studies are ongoing to track the long-term safety of the drug in humans and in rats.

Many patients ask about weight-loss drugs, Jin said, which is what prompted her to write about the available options. Many people don’t qualify to take them, either because they are not overweight enough, or because they have other health conditions or are taking other drugs that could make using these treatments unsafe.

Others aren’t committed to the type of intensive lifestyle change that is required of people who want to use these drugs to help them lose weight, she said.

The ideal candidates, Jin said, are those who are already trying to lose weight: “People who are very motivated, who have really truly adopted those lifestyle changes, and just are not having success getting that weight off.”

 

Reminder: Patients who are overweight or obese with any health condition should consult with their physician prior to beginning a weight loss or exercise program.

 

Article Source: by Stephanie Pappas, Live Science Contributor  

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitterand Google+. Follow @livescience, Facebook& Google+. Original article on Live Science.