This is the number one question I get asked from patients every day.
The short answer is the same: whatever we do to lose weight, we must continue doing life-long to keep that same weight off life-long. I recommend staying on weight loss medications for the long haul, or simply for life.
I can appreciate this is a tough pill to swallow (no pun intended). But obesity is a disease and weight gain is a disorder of appetite. Medications work to bring back order to the disorder of appetite that is driving weight gain and caused obesity in the first place. If we stop the medications, the disorder is still there.
Medications don’t work to “teach” our brain/body how to control appetite and regulate metabolism. It works to correct the dysregulation of appetite and metabolism that was already genetically predetermined.
Ok, let’s reframe: If you found out your thyroid hormone level was low and you needed thyroid medication, would we expect to be on the thyroid medication for x weeks? Or life long?
I am also sure we would all agree that if we stopped our thyroid medication, we would expect our thyroid disorder to return.
Of course, we would.
That’s because medications work by returning order to an underlying disorder in our body.
When we stop these medications, the disorder of appetite returns. Weight gain happens gradually over time and weight also returns. In fact, we have studied what happens when we hold Semaglutide (aka. Ozempic/Wegovy) after weight loss. The weight gradually returns to pre-medication weight levels.
However, if we decide to re-start the medication again, weight will once again come down. There’s no harm in that. There’s no damage done. So, it’s also not a life-sentence if you decide to trial medications or decide to trial off the medications. It’s always up to you.
Source 👉🏻Rubino et al. Effect of continued weekly subcutaneous semaglutide vs placebo on weight loss maintenance in adults with overweight or obesity. The STEP 4 Randomized Clinical Trial (2021)