Why diet & exercise are essential for sustainable weight management

By
Dr. Rehan Umar
Alan Meds Medical Advisor
March 25, 2024
3 minutes

While medications like GLP-1 receptor agonists are effective tools, they are not standalone solutions. To achieve long-term success, it's crucial to recognize the role that diet and lifestyle changes play alongside medication. In this article, we explore why embracing behavioral changes is essential for maximizing the benefits of medication-assisted weight management.

Addressing the Root Causes: 

  • Medications can help regulate appetite and increase fullness, but they do not address the underlying behaviors and habits that contribute to weight gain in the first place. 
  • Sustainable Change Requires Lifestyle Modification: Lasting weight management involves addressing dietary habits, physical activity levels, stress management, sleep patterns, and other lifestyle factors. By modifying these behaviors, individuals can create a sustainable solution for healthier living. 

Enhancing Medication Efficacy:

  • Synergistic Effects: Combining medication with a healthy lifestyle can enhance its effectiveness. 
  • Diet change alone can produce a weight loss of 5-10%. Medication support combined with comprehensive lifestyle modifications are more effective in producing not only greater weight loss, but a more sustained weight loss than any single component alone. 
  • Improvement of Overall Health: While medication addresses your weight, supplementing medication with a healthy diet adds an additional host of benefits for your overall health. For example, the DASH diet has been shown to lower blood pressure and the Mediterranean diet also has been associated with several health benefits, including cardiovascular risk reduction and diabetes prevention. 
  • Reduced Reliance on Medication: By adopting healthier habits, individuals may allow for potential medication dose reductions or even discontinuation of medication over time. 

Cultivating Long-Term Habits:

  • Building Sustainable Behaviors: While medication can provide initial support in your weight management journey, sustaining those effects requires long term lifestyle changes. 
  • Prevention of Weight Regain: some text
    • Medication only works for as long as you are on treatment, and individuals are more likely to regain weight once they discontinue it. By adopting healthy behaviors, you can better maintain your weight loss achievements over time. 
  • Furthermore, our bodies have an adaptive response to weight loss which essentially leads to weight regain. These physiological responses increase appetite stimulation and decrease calories burned. Exercise & behavioral changes are two important strategies to mitigate these factors. 

Improving Overall Health:

  • Comprehensive Health Benefits: some text
    • Beyond weight loss, lifestyle changes confer a host of health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. 
  • Exercise leads to beneficial effects on body composition: there is reduction in total body fat, abdominal obesity, visceral fat, and insulin resistance. 
  • Adding exercise to medication and a calorie-restricted diet also mitigates the loss of muscle & bone mass associated with weight loss. 
  • These benefits extend far beyond your weight, contributing to a higher quality of life and increased longevity.
  • Engaging in lifestyle changes also empowers you to take an active role in managing your health and well-being.

While medication can provide valuable support in the journey towards weight management, its efficacy is greatly enhanced when combined with diet and lifestyle changes. Furthermore, a holistic approach offers the greatest potential for sustained success by preventing weight regain. Ultimately, by embracing behavioral changes alongside medication, individuals can achieve not only weight loss but also improved overall health and wellbeing. 

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