Over two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and studies show that only a small percentage are receiving medication to help them shed the extra pounds. In fact, one study found that only 1.3% of those eligible for prescription weight loss drugs have ever taken medication to help them reach a healthier weight. This statistic is surprising given that weight loss drugs can prove both highly effective and very beneficial when used as directed.
If you’re carrying some extra pounds and interested in learning more about pharmaceutical help for weight loss, keep reading! Here you’ll find eight things you need to know about phentermine – the number one prescription weight loss drug in America.
1. Phentermine Helps You Lose Weight
Phentermine is a prescription weight loss drug. Its primary purpose is to give you a boost on your weight loss journey and get you started on losing that extra weight. The active ingredient in phentermine weight loss pills is phentermine HCl. With its chemical structure similar to amphetamine, phentermine HCl suppresses appetite and boosts energy to help you lose weight faster and more easily.
Still, the pill does not replace diet and exercise. It’s important that you take advantage of your time on phentermine to develop healthy eating and exercise habits. Eating better and moving more will not only speed your weight loss on phentermine, but also help you maintain a healthier weight long-term.
2. Phentermine is Legal with a Prescription
When people hear about phentermine HCl, some think it’s illegal. That’s not true if you’re taking it under a doctor’s supervision.
The DEA classifies phentermine as a controlled substance due to the drug’s addictive potential and possibility of abuse. However, phentermine is perfectly legal if taken with a valid doctor’s prescription. Millions of people take this medication legally and reap its benefits for weight loss.
3. Phentermine is Popular
Phentermine was introduced to the US market in 1959. In the past almost-sixty years, phentermine has remained the number one prescription weight loss pill in America.
It’s available in doses ranging from 8mg to 37.5mg per day and manufactured as both capsules and tablets. In addition to classic (straight) phentermine, newer medications have also been introduced that combine phentermine with other chemicals to boost effectiveness. For example, a newly-popular weight loss medication called Qsymia combines phentermine and topiramate (an anti-seizure medication) to increase weight loss.
4. Phentermine is Short-Term
This medication is approved by the FDA for “short term use”, which means you can take it for twelve weeks at a time. So, phentermine is great to jump start your weight loss journey but it’s not a lifelong medication.
Long-term weight loss success comes from the healthy habits and lifestyle that you develop while taking phentermine. Learning to control portions, break a sweat daily and make healthy choices will ensure that the weight loss experienced while taking phentermine continues long after your prescription runs out.
5. Phentermine Isn’t for Everyone
Phentermine is highly-effective, but that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect pill for everyone. Phentermine is indicated for patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30, or a BMI greater than 27 in the presence of other conditions that would improve with weight loss (e.g. type 2 diabetes). In other words, phentermine is designed for obese or severely overweight people looking to lose significant weight. It is not a casual medication for people hoping to lose a few pounds before spring break.
Phentermine is also not recommended in the presence of certain medical conditions or medications. For example, phentermine should not be taken if you are pregnant/nursing, have advanced or uncontrolled cardiovascular disease, or take MAOIs. Many other conditions and medications also increase your risk for adverse reactions on phentermine. For this reason, it is vitally important that you tell your doctor about ALL medical conditions, medications and supplements (and their dosages) before starting phentermine.
6. Phentermine Has Side Effects
Phentermine is undeniably effective in helping people lose weight, but it also causes a variety of notable side effects. The most common phentermine side effects include dry mouth (xerostomia), insomnia, constipation, headache, dizziness and rapid heartbeat. Other users experience mood changes, nausea/vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea or unpleasant taste.
While rare, phentermine can also cause more serious side effects including pulmonary hypertension and heart valve disorders. Indications of these serious reactions include: chest pain, trouble breathing, fainting, swelling in the feet/legs or inability to carry out daily activities. If you experience any of these symptoms while taking phentermine, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.
7. Phentermine Isn’t the Only Option
Phentermine is the most popular prescription weight loss medication, but it’s not the only option. The FDA has recently approved a variety of other prescription weight loss drugs as well. All of these medications are intended for adults with a BMI in the significantly overweight/obese range and must be used only under doctor’s close supervision.
Despite the similar purpose, each medication works slightly differently. Belviq (lorcaserin) stimulates serotonin receptors in your brain to make you feel full faster. Contrave combines two medications (naltrexone and bupropion extended-release) to reduce appetite and control cravings. Saxenda (liraglutide), an injection, mimics the hormone GLP-1 to suppress appetite. Finally, Xenical (orlistat) slows the absorption of fat in your GI tract. Even though each pill works differently, they have all been shown to significantly increase weight loss as compared to diet and exercise alone.