Monday, February 19, 2007

The New Diet Drug

I suppose I can't ignore it, since it's been all over the press for the past week or so, but Xenical, a prescription drug for weight loss, will be going over the counter. Orlistat, the OTC version, will offer about half the dose of Xenical and will be coming out this year. The drug blocks enzymes that digest fat, so the fat passes through your body. According to an article in The Monitor in Texas:

The biggest side effect is loose stools, especially if people continue to eat meals high in fat while taking the pills. Eating meals with about 15 to 20 grams of fat per meal can help dieters avoid experiencing that, according to GlaxoSmithKline’s Web site for the drug,

Practically speaking, the drug works on two levels — it keeps the body from absorbing fat, and the threat of a long trip to the bathroom discourages people from eating much fat in the first place.

I'm concerned about the potential for abuse here. The drug could be helpful for people who eat too much fat, and may serve as a training tool for those really seeking the road to a healthy lifestyle by making the dieter uncomfortably aware of poor choices. But it could also be used by those with eating disorders in much the same way as laxitives are. The thing about OTC drugs is that while the drug company points out the dose will be only half of that in a prescription, what's to stop people from taking as much as they want?

I'd also like to know what the long-term affects are: Will people get caught in a situation where they fail to change their lifestyle so they stay on the drug indefinitely to maintain their weight? What are the affects of people who stay on this drug long-term? I don't think this is an inherently bad medicine, I'm just not sure it should be used without a doctor's supervision.

I'd much rather continue to keep plugging away at an overall healthier lifestyle that I can maintain. Even though I wouldn't mind waking up tomorrow 20 pounds lighter, I'd like to keep it off too. There's a great lifestyle program on that seems much better long-term than a pill:

Warm Up -- seven to eight minutes of light aerobic activity intended to increase blood flow and lubricate and warm-up your tendons and joints. You can call this fast housecleaning - vacuuming, sweeping, mopping. :-)

Resistance Training -- Train all major muscle groups. One to two sets of each exercise. Do one set at first, then rest for a minute when you advance to two sets.

Aerobic Exercise -- Pick two favorite activities, they could be walking, jogging, rowing, biking, inline skating, cross-country skiing, whatever fits your lifestyle. Perform 12 to 15 minutes of the first activity and continue with 10 minutes of the second activity. Cool down during the last five minutes. You can do some exercises in your home, then go for a brisk and slow down for the last few minutes.

Stretching -- Wrap up your exercise session by stretching, breathing deeply, relaxing and meditating. When starting an exercise program, it is important to have realistic expectations. Depending on your initial fitness level, you should expect the following changes:

From one to eight weeks -- Feel better and have more energy.
From two to six months -- Lose size and inches while becoming leaner. Clothes begin to fit more loosely. You are gaining muscle and losing fat.
After six months -- Start losing weight quite rapidly. This is a very conservative estimate. It is possible to lose weight the very first week, it just depends on how completely you follow the plan and on your own metabolism.

Instead of counting calories, weighing meals, counting points or whatever other systems various diets use that almost require a bookkeeper, use these easy-to-follow guidelines:

- The key to eating well is variety and advance preparation. Eat three small meals and three small snacks throughout the day. Don't let this overwhelm you; you are discovering a whole new concept of the word "meal". If you've prepared ahead as explained above, this should be no problem. It doesn't need to include extensive cooking and preparation time.

- Limit your fat intake to only what's necessary for adequate flavor - a dab of butter and a smidgeon of sour cream on that baked potato, a quick spray of cooking oil on a frying pan, and so on.

- Drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water throughout the day. You can vary this too. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or a couple tablespoons of bottled fruit juice to a glass of water, just for added interest interest.

- Take a multi-vitamin each day to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.


Anonymous said...

magic pill...loose stool...magic pill...loose stool. Six in one hand half a dozen in the other. So it you don't lose weight because of eating better you'll lose because bulemic and pooping your brains out. Lovely.


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