weight loss

what are the Best Weight Loss Pills?

Best weight loss pills

Best weight loss pills


Key takeaways:

  • For people struggling to lose weight, medications can help. New injectables are getting a lot of attention, but there are a few weight loss medications that can be taken as pills, too.

  • Some popular examples of weight loss pills are Contrave (naltrexone/bupropion), Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate ER), and phentermine (Adipex-P).

  • Some clinical studies suggest that Qsymia is the most effective weight loss pill. However, it’s a controlled substance that may not be the best option for everyone.

If you’re one of many people struggling with weight loss, you may be wondering whether weight loss medications are an option for you.

You’ve likely heard all about the importance of a healthy diet and routine exercise in maintaining a healthy weight; but for many people, reaching that target weight can be difficult without extra help.

There’s no single best weight loss medication. The best one for you will be the one that gives you the results you desire, with as few side effects as possible, and at a cost you can afford. Generally speaking, pills are a more affordable option than injectables. Here’s an introduction to prescription weight loss pills.

What prescription weight loss pills are available?

Weight loss medications that you take as a pill are a convenient, needle-free option for people who need help to lose excess body weight. Typically, people can lose up to 5% to 10% of their body weight on these medications.

Prescription-only pills that are FDA approved for weight loss are summarized below. They’re most effective when combined with lifestyle changes, like a healthy diet and exercise.

Keep in mind: Your healthcare provider could also prescribe a different pill, such as metformin, for off-label use for weight loss.

1. Contrave

Contrave is an oral tablet that combines two medications into one pill: naltrexone and bupropion. You gradually increase your dose during the first month of taking it, but once your body gets used to it, most people take 2 tablets every morning and 2 tablets every evening.

The active ingredients in Contrave work together to reduce your appetite and cravings for food. In initial studies, more than 40% of adults who took Contrave for 1 year lost at least 5% of their initial body weight. More than 20% lost at least 10% of their body weight. Your healthcare provider may be more inclined to prescribe Contrave if you experience emotional eating.

At this time, Contrave is only prescribed as a brand-name medication. A generic version isn’t available yet. And, it’s only approved for adults, so children can’t take it.

2. Qsymia

Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate ER) is another brand-name combination pill. Available as an oral capsule, it’s a once-daily option for weight loss in people 12 years and older. But keep in mind, since it contains phentermine, Qsymia is considered a controlled substance. It’s not the best option if you or a loved one have a history of substance misuse or dependency.

Qsymia works by reducing your appetite. In initial studies, Qsymia helped about 70% of adults lose at least 5% of their body weight after 1 year. Close to 50% of participants lost at least 10% of their body weight.

When compared to Contrave, researchers found that Qsymia is usually the more effective option.

3. Phentermine

Phentermine (Adipex-P) is a prescription weight loss medication that comes as a tablet and capsule. It’s available in both generic and brand name versions for people ages 17 and older. But, it’s also a controlled substance and comes with health risks.

Unlike the medications above, phentermine is only FDA approved for use for up to 12 weeks at a time. That’s because your body can grow used to the medication, so its effects can weaken. At the same time, the risk of side effects, dependency, and misuse increase the longer you take it.

All the same, phentermine is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for weight loss, probably because of its low cost. Data suggests that it can help people shed about 3% to 5% of their initial body weight.

Benzphetaminediethylpropion, and phendimetrazine are weight loss pills that are similar to phentermine, but they’re prescribed less often. They’re also controlled substances meant for short-term use.

4. Orlistat

Orlistat (Xenical) is another brand-name prescription weight loss pill. It’s an oral capsule that adults can take 3 times per day with meals. However, it’s less common than other weight loss pills, it’s not approved for kids or adolescents, and it can cause some bothersome side effects.

Still, orlistat works by helping your body absorb less fat from the meals you eat. It can also reduce the risk of regaining weight after losing weight. In initial studies, orlistat helped up to 55% of adults lose 5% or more of their body weight after 1 year. Up to 25% lost at least 10% of their body weight.

A lower-dose version of orlistat, Alli, is available over the counter. It can support weight loss in adults alongside a low-fat, low-calorie diet, but the effects are less than the prescription dose.

Best weight loss pills

What is the best prescription weight loss pill?

It’s hard to say which is the best weight loss pill. That’s because it varies by person. The best weight loss pill for you is one that helps you lose 5% to 10% of your initial body weight with few or tolerable side effects.

There are other considerations too, such as how often you need to take medication, and of course, cost.

Because of this, different medications or combinations of medications will suit different people best. Having a choice of options is important for finding one that works for you and your lifestyle.

Based on data reported in clinical studies, Qsymia is likely the most effective prescription weight loss pill. It tends to lead to the largest amount of weight loss in the highest percentage of people. But it’s important to have a conversation with your prescriber about the potential risks of controlled substances like Qsymia. best weight loss pills

When will my doctor prescribe weight loss pills?

The decision to start taking a weight loss pill is a personal one. If diet and exercise changes aren’t enough, you and your healthcare provider may start to consider weight loss medication if you have:

  • body mass index (BMI) higher than 30

  • A BMI of 27 with other related health problems, such as high cholesterol, heart disease, or Type 2 diabetes

Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about your overall treatment goals too. Based on your body weight goals, preferences, and side effects you want to avoid, they can help you narrow down your options to the best treatment.

Also let them know what you’re willing to potentially spend on a weight loss pill. Many of these medications aren’t covered by prescription insurance plans, so there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

How to save on the best weight loss pills

There are many ways to save on weight loss pills. GoodRx can help you navigate your options, which may include GoodRx discounts, copay savings cards, and patient assistance programs. You can find weight loss medication prices as low as $11 with a free GoodRx discount.

Injectable prescription weight loss drugs

Many of the top upcoming weight loss drugs are injectable medications. But some are already FDA approved and available in the U.S.:

  • Wegovy (semaglutide). Wegovy is a once-weekly GLP-1 agonist medication. In clinical studies, many people receiving Wegovy lost up to 15% of their initial body weight.

  • Saxenda (liraglutide). Saxenda is another GLP-1 agonist. But compared to Wegovy, it’s injected once daily instead of once weekly. A head-to-head study also found that Wegovy tends to promote more weight loss than Saxenda.

  • Imcivree (setmelanotide). Imcivree is a once-daily injection, but it’s only used for weight loss in people living with certain genetic conditions. It’s less common than other weight loss medications.

Tirzepatide (Mounjaro) is another injectable medication. It’s approved for Type 2 diabetes, but it’s also being touted and studied as a weight loss treatment. In clinical studies, it helped people lose an average of 15% to 20% of their initial body weight after about 1.5 years. It may be approved for weight loss in the future.

The bottom line


the best  weight loss pills are most effective when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. The most effective pill for many people is Qsymia, but it’s not for everyone and are mostly prescription pills

Depending on your health goals, personal preferences, and medical history, your healthcare provider can help you find the best treatment for your situation. And if weight loss pills don’t work, there is an increasing array of injectable medications available, although cost is a factor.

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