Being morbidly obese is hard on the body. The skin stretches beyond normal levels. The overbearing excess weight presses down on your joints, which can lead to chronic pain. And your organs are forced to work overtime, which can be a detriment to your health. It’s no wonder why those suffering from the disease of morbid obesity can develop up to sixty comorbidities, from type 2 diabetes and heart disease to osteoarthritis and obstructive sleep apnea.
When you become morbidly obese, the weight wants to stick around, and won’t slough off without a fight. As anyone who has achieved a BMI over 30 can tell you, losing weight is no longer about eating less and exercising. Even if you manage to lose a few pounds, they usually come right back, often at a greater amount than you originally lost.
If any of this sounds familiar, and you have tried for years to drop the excess pounds, but nothing has worked, a medically supervised diet could be the answer that has so far eluded you.
What is a Medically Supervised Diet?
Medically supervised diets are doctor-assisted weight loss programs aimed at those who have difficulty losing weight all on their own. Unlike commercial diet programs that you follow at your leisure, a medically supervised plan is strict and requires medical monitoring. Sometimes having that added accountability can mean the difference between success and failure.
How Does a Medically Supervised Diet Program Work?
The plans restrict the number of calories and carbohydrates you can eat from day to day. Western-style diets are often high in both calories and carbs with gargantuan portion sizes. Go to your average restaurant and any entrée will net you a humongous plate of food that will easily put you over your calorie and carbohydrate allotments for the day. Since food is fuel, any extra fuel your body doesn’t use gets turned into fat. A medically supervised diet teaches you how to eat sensibly with smaller portion sizes so that your body gets the fuel it needs without the excess.
While enrolled in one of these diet plans, you will be allotted 800 calories a day and around 50 carbohydrates. To put that into perspective, the average American consumes around 3,600 calories and 250 carbohydrates each day. Your doctor will have you eating around 20% of the average diet in calories and carbs.
As far as what to eat, patients have four choices. You can choose to consume shakes, soups, bars, or puddings. What this diet strives to do is take away your choice of what to eat. When you are stuck deciding if you should have pizza or Chinese food for dinner, you only end up making the process of deciding what to eat more difficult. And you can end up overeating as a result.
Take away that choice and eating becomes something you no longer have to think about. The decision of what to eat has been made for you, making weight loss a simpler affair.
Why So Few Carbs?
By placing you on a low carbohydrate diet, your doctor is aiming to put you into ketosis. This is when your body breaks down your fat stores, which in turn causes ketones to build up in your body. While that sounds great, keep in mind that ketosis can have side effects, which include headache, fatigue, and nausea.
But ketosis isn’t all bad. One of the benefits of ketosis, aside from fat loss, is that you end up losing a lot of water. If you are on diuretic medication, you may be taken off and told to drink plenty of water while on a medically supervised diet to prevent getting dehydrated.
Your doctor may also change or limit other medications, such as those for diabetes. Diabetics often have their insulin doses lowered while on these diets.
Depending on heart and other tests by your doctor, you may be placed on a modified meal replacement program instead of using sole meal replacement as your only nutrition source. That is a decision made by you and your doctor following your initial consultation.
Read our article: What to Expect from Your Weight Loss Surgery Consultation
How to Get Placed on a Medically Supervised Diet?
The first step to getting prescribed a medically supervised diet is to schedule a consultation with a qualified bariatric surgeon. During your initial consultation, you and the doctor will discuss your weight loss struggles and goals, your medical history, medications you may be taking, and obesity comorbidities you happen to be suffering from.
A series of tests will be conducted, to measure your body mass index (BMI), assess your heart health, and analyze your blood to ensure you are healthy enough to sustain a diet that heavily restricts calories and carbohydrates.
Read our article: What Does Body Mass Index Mean and How is it Calculated?
After your initial consultation, you can be placed on a medically supervised diet if you are deemed to be a suitable candidate. As part of the program, you will return to the clinic for weekly group classes with the program’s dietician. During these meetings, you will have measurements taken that include assessments of your weight, blood pressure, waist size, and heart rate. You will then return every four to six weeks for reevaluations and lab work.
How Much Weight Loss is Possible on a Medically Supervised Diet?
The average weight loss for a medically supervised diet plan is around 2 to 4 pounds each week. Men tend to lose more weight than women. You may also find that the more you have to lose, the quicker the weight comes off at the beginning of the program.
Success with the program would see you losing a minimum of 5% weight loss after 90 days. Most people on these programs lose weight for up to seven months for a total of 10% weight loss, though up to 35% weight loss is possible for some.
If you currently weigh 250 pounds, a 10% loss would be 25 pounds, whereas 35% would be a loss of over 87 pounds. Your weight loss experience may vary.
Are Medically Supervised Diets Covered by Health Insurance?
Every health insurance policy is different. Depending on the provider, you may find that some aspects of a medically supervised diet are covered by your policy. For instance, your office visits, and some tests like labs and EKGs are sometimes covered as well. Most health insurance policies will not pay for meal replacements, however. That being said, imagine what you will save on groceries by engaging with one of these plans. When those cost savings are considered, you may find the program eventually pays for itself.
Medically Supervised Diet Teach You Better Living Habits
In addition to showing you the ropes of how to eat more sensibly, these medically assisted diet programs work to reprogram your mentality around food. Once you have reached your goal weight with the diet, your doctor will gradually transition you back to eating normal food. You will then be placed on a maintenance program for a duration of around 18 months.
During this time, your doctor will advise you to be mindful of what you are eating, the environment you are in, and how you feel when you eat. You may want to keep a food diary that allows you to record various elements about your meals to maintain a track record and to highlight factors that have previously led to weight gain.
During the maintenance period, you will be encouraged to make healthy food choices. These include lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and drinking plenty of water. You’ll be told to limit or refrain from eating sweets and drinking alcohol, as those kinds of foods and beverages in excess can put you right back to where you started.
How you feel is important when eating. Do you tend to eat more when you are stressed or when you are bored? Tracking your mindset in a diary will highlight instances when emotions are causing you to overeat.
Your environment can play a part too. Do you ever eat in front of the television, for example? Doing so can cause you to zone out. Before you know it, you have consumed double or triple the calories you may have eaten had you been more mindful of what you were putting in your mouth.
Medically Assisted Means Having Help Every Step of the Way
Aside from having the accountability of your doctor, and a dietician, you will often be advised to talk to others who can help, such as a psychologist. The purpose of having these experts guiding you along the way is to teach you healthier ways to relieve stress and cope with life’s difficulties.
Once you get better at controlling your mentality around food, and with the success of the diet under your belt, your self-image will steadily improve. Other aspects of your life will also get a boost, such as having more energy to do the things you want and getting a better night’s sleep, which in turn makes you healthier.
Health is what a medically supervised diet is all about, at the end of the day. Losing weight is a bonus, but it’s all about making sure your body is in optimal condition to sustain a long, productive, and happy life.
Don’t Forget Physical Fitness
Eating properly is only one aspect of successful weight loss. The more you move your body, the more calories you will burn, and the more weight you will end up losing overall. Your doctor will recommend a fitness program that is easy for beginners and that can be ramped up as you become more physically fit.
At first, moving your body won’t be so easy. Tips from your doctor could involve sitting less and taking more walks, even around the living room. As you begin losing weight and gain more energy, your doctor may advise walking around the block or engaging in wall-assisted push-ups and other exercises to build muscle and improve cardiovascular health. Your doctor may even refer you to an exercise physiologist who can prescribe a tailor-made fitness program based on your body type and weight loss goals.
Where to Find a Medically Supervised Diet Near You
The term medically supervised diet implies that a board-certified bariatric doctor is guiding your weight loss efforts. To get prescribed one of these plans, you need to find a bariatric specialist who is experienced with these plans, and who operates in an area easily accessible to you. If you live in the Los Angeles or Southern California area and have struggled with weight loss for years, Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics wants to hear from you.
Dr. Moeinolmolki specializes in bariatric treatments such as medically supervised diets and weight loss surgical procedures like the gastric bypass and gastric sleeve. Schedule an initial consultation so Dr. Moeinolmolki can determine if you are a suitable candidate for one of these doctor-assisted diet plans. Get started now by calling (310)694-4486.