The weight loss industry is constantly trying to come up with—and sell you—newer, “better” ways to lose weight. And sometimes, they hit on something great. Other times, not so much.
How do you know what’s what? We looked at the newest ways to lose weight, and have the full details below. The summary: One, a science-tested prescription medication, has doctors pretty excited. Others have the web abuzz and may be useful, but it’s too early to know for sure. Others? Well, there have always been some pretty ridiculous weight loss solutions. Here’s what to know about each if you’re trying to lose weight.
Best new way to lose weight
Semaglutide. Yes, a drug.
Weight-loss medications—from fen-phen and Belviq to the Brazilian Diet Pill and ephedrine—have a checkered history, with many turning out to be ineffective, addictive, or otherwise harmful. But experts are calling the June approval of semaglutide for weight loss a game changer. The drug, a weekly injectable, is approved for those who are medically categorized as obese or overweight—they have a BMI of 30 or more—or who have a BMI of 27 or higher and at least one weight-related health ailment.
In lower doses, semaglutide has been used for many years to control type 2 diabetes; in this higher dose, it was found to act on the brain and reduce appetite. It’s the most effective prescription drug for weight management so far—people lost about 15 percent of their bodyweight (that would be 30 pounds if you started out at 200) in 17 months, according to University of Pennsylvania research on it that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. People on a placebo lost about 2.5 percent of their bodyweight.
The efficacy numbers are welcome news in this field. But what has doctors more excited about this medication is its potential for making your whole body healthier—and maybe your mind, too. “This degree of weight loss can have a major impact on type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, and obstructive sleep apnea, just to name a few,” says MH advisor and obesity-medicine expert Fatima Cody Stanford, M.D.
The drug may also help lessen the “blame the patient” stigma around obesity, says Yoni Freedhoff, M.D., medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ontario. “People don’t choose to have obesity any more than they choose to have high blood pressure. With the latter, though, no one blinks about medications that help to lower it, and hopefully there will be a future where the same might be said with obesity.”
Bottom line: Semaglutide can help people lose weight—improving weight-related health issues—and, ideally, gain more healthy years of life.
Might be good..but not yet
Eating plans tailored to your microbiome
If you knew precisely which foods your body responded to best, you could really take control of your health and weight. That’s the premise behind new kits that test your microbiome and make personalized eating recommendations based on the results.
There’s some scientific cred to the idea that our individual microbial makeup may have something to do with why each of us responds slightly differently to what we eat—for instance, some people manage carbs better than fats, others the reverse. But there’s probably not quite enough to base your eating plan on it. We don’t yet know exactly what the microbiome’s influence on weight is, and even if we did, it’s not clear how much we can change our microbes, and which ones we’d need to change, to better support our ideal body composition, says Gabrielle Fundaro, Ph.D., author of The Science of Gut Health. In a nutshell, “the data isn’t there yet,” she says.
But that hasn’t stopped companies like Zoe, Viome, and DayTwo from rolling out their gut-testing and diet kits. Zoe, for example, says its $354 Plus program can help followers lose weight, gain energy, and feel less hungry. DayTwo claims its $499 test gives you a “fingerprint” of your gut, which can determine your optimal diet for blood-sugar control. But a snapshot is just that—your microbiome is telling you what it’s been getting, not what you need, Fundaro says.
It’s not that the advice is bad—Zoe’s kit also gives you the option of wearing a continuous glucose monitor, which helps decode your responses to food. A set of Zoe recommendations I reviewed included eating avocados, apples, and zucchini and avoiding white bread and “savory pies.” But you don’t need a glucose and microbiome investigation to know that. Zoe also has you track your food—a habit that has positive effects on your health and can provide incentive to make changes.
Bottom line: You’re probably not going to be steered wrong, since a healthy diet and the microbiome are inseparable. But the research doesn’t yet support forking over money for diet recommendations based on your microbiome.
Worst way to lose weight
DentalSlim jaw-locking device
Proving that not everything with research behind it is a good idea, along comes the DentalSlim Diet Control device. Scientists just created a contraption that uses magnets with locks to keep the wearer’s jaw shut to prevent them from eating solids.
They even published a small study on it in the British Dental Journal. What do you know, it helped the women in the study lose 5 percent of their bodyweight in two weeks. After blowback about it being “stigmatizing and dehumanizing,” as Brooke Bulloch, R.D., of Food to Fit Nutrition, puts it, the authors said it was intended for people with a short-term medical need to lose weight quickly.
Bottom line: There are better ways.
This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of Men’s Health.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io