Starting your weight loss journey by seeking help from your healthcare provider can ensure you achieve your goals safely and sustainably.
With changes in lifestyle and standards of living, obesity is emerging as a pandemic.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 42 percent of adults aged 20 years and above are obese and over 73 percent are overweight.
- Obesity affects a considerable proportion of the younger population, including children and adolescents.
A higher than normal body weight puts you at risk of various diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. Thus, deciding to lose weight can be your first step toward making yourself healthier and reducing the risk of various diseases.
Going about losing weight scientifically can help you achieve your goals safely and sustainably. You may seek your healthcare provider’s help to kickstart your weight loss journey.
11 questions to ask your doctor if you are planning to lose weight
- How much weight do I need to lose? Before you embark on your weight loss journey, know how much weight you need to lose. It may be a bit more or less than you expected. Your doctor will help you know it exactly by measuring various parameters, such as your body mass index (BMI), fat percentage, and muscle mass.
- How many calories do I need to consume each day? For weight loss, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn throughout the day. Your doctor will help you know that by calculating certain parameters, such as your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). They will ask about your daily physical activities to calculate the calories needed by you each day to lose weight.
- Do I need to avoid any specific types of foods? Many people who start on a weight loss journey have certain notions, such as a particular type of food is fattening. You may not need to completely avoid certain food groups, such as simple sugars or processed foods. Your doctor may ask you to avoid certain foods if you have specific health conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, or diabetes. Most healthy people can consume everything in moderation while ensuring that they meet their calorie and nutritional needs.
- How much weight should I lose in a week? Sustainable and safe weight loss can be achieved by aiming to lose about one to two pounds of weight per week. This means eating 500 to 1000 calories below your maintenance calories in a day. Drastic weight loss is mainly water and muscle loss rather than fat loss. It is unhealthy and may come back quickly.
- Do I have any health conditions that are making me obese? Certain health conditions may be slowing your metabolism or promoting more fat storage in your body, leading to weight gain. These include hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Cushing’s syndrome, and menopause. Even stress or lack of sleep can make you gain weight. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, corticosteroids, antiseizure medications, and insulin, can cause weight gain. Your doctor may suggest proper treatment, medicine alternatives, or other strategies to help you lose weight in such conditions.
- Shall I consider a weight loss surgery? Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is an effective way to lose weight but is not recommended for everyone. It is generally recommended for people with a BMI of 40 or higher. However, it may be done at a lower BMI (35 or more) if you have at least one obesity-related complication. You may ask your doctor whether you should consider this option or go for other noninvasive ways of losing weight. If they recommend surgery for you, you may ask them how will it affect your lifestyle.
- How will losing weight affect my health? Losing weight is not just going to change the way you look or feel but will also affect your overall health. While losing extra weight has several beneficial roles, you may specifically want to know the benefits you may see. For example:
- How long will it take for me to reach my target weight? Losing about one or two pounds a week is safe and sustainable. Weight loss, however, does not occur linearly. Sometimes, you may lose more, less, or may gain a bit or not lose any at all despite being committed and sincere. Your doctor will help you estimate how long it will take you to achieve your target weight.
- How should I monitor my progress? Fitness is not solely about losing weight. When you adopt a healthy lifestyle, it is not just weight loss that measures your success. You can monitor your progress in various other ways apart from the weighing scale, such as:
- How good is your glycemic control
- How active you are
- How well your clothes fit
- How well you can sleep
- You may feel that your relationship with food has improved. Now, you eat more mindfully and have fewer cravings for unhealthy food.
- Shall I take any medications or supplements to lose weight? Medications are generally not required for losing weight. You may need them if you have any underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, prediabetes, or thyroid diseases. Because calorie restriction during weight loss may cause certain nutritional deficiencies, ask your doctor if you need any supplements. Do not take any magic pills for weight loss because they do more harm than good. Always ask your doctor before you take any supplements or medications.
- Do I need to consult other field experts as well? Weight loss needs a comprehensive approach through proper diet, exercise, and stress management. Ask your doctor if you need to see any dietician, physical instructor, or therapist to help with weight loss. You may ask them if you can enroll in any weight loss programs or participate in weight loss groups to help you with your goal.
- If you have arthritis or injuries, a physical therapist may help you recover faster and get more active.
- If you have an eating disorder, a psychiatric counselor may help you deal with it better.
Medically Reviewed on 4/27/2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and Overweight. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm
Medline Plus. Before weight-loss surgery – what to ask your doctor. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000259.htm
Müller B, Merk S, Bürgi U, Diem P. Berechnung des Grundumsatzes bei schwerer und morbider Adipositas [Calculating the basal metabolic rate and severe and morbid obesity]. Praxis (Bern 1994). 2001 Nov 8;90(45):1955-63. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11817239/
Beaumont Health. What to Ask Your Doctor About Weight Loss. https://www.beaumont.org/health-wellness/blogs/what-to-ask-your-doctor-about-weight-loss