The maker of a weight loss drug pulled it from the market Thursday at the request of federal regulators, who said it posed a slight increased risk of cancer.
Japan’s Eisai Inc. said it was voluntarily withdrawing the drug, Belviq. (The company’s U.S. headquarters is in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.) However, the company said in a statement that it disagreed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s interpretation of new data on the drug’s safety and still believes Belviq’s benefit outweighs the risk.
The FDA said patients should stop taking Belviq immediately, dispose of leftover pills and contact their doctor for advice on alternatives. The agency also told doctors to notify their patients to stop taking the drug.
Belviq was approved in 2012, roughly the same time that a couple of other promising weight loss drugs hit the market. None became the blockbusters they were expected to be, but they offered an option for the many people struggling with excess weight or obesity and related health problems.
Belviq was the first drug proven to help people lose weight and keep it off for several years without raising their risk for heart problems. That was the conclusion of a five-year, 12,000-patient study of the drug’s heart safety, which the FDA required Eisai to conduct as a condition of approval.
A recently completed FDA analysis of the data from that study showed 7.7% of participants who took Belviq were diagnosed with cancer, slightly more than the 7.1% who developed cancer in a comparison group given dummy pills. There was a range of cancers, with pancreatic, colorectal and lung cancer reported more often in the patients who took Belviq, the FDA said.
The agency said no special cancer screening is needed for anyone who took Belviq. It noted the increased risk was only seen after extended use of the drug.
Eisai said its assessment is that Belviq has more benefit than risk for its intended patients. It’s specifically approved for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and adults with a BMI of 27 who have other conditions that carry heart risks, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes.
An extended-release version called Belviq XR also is being pulled from the market.
In testing before Belviq was approved, nearly half of participants given Belviq lost at least 5% of their weight over a year, and nearly one-quarter lost at least 10%. Those results were more than two times better than those of participants given dummy pills.
Of the competing drugs launched about the same time, Qsymia produced more weight loss than Belviq. Contrave, approved in 2014, produced similar weight loss to Belviq but carried a strong warning about the risk of increased suicidal thoughts and behavior.
The drugs’ costs hurt sales. Belviq and Contrave retail for roughly $300 per month without insurance, and Qysmia sells for about $200 per month, depending on the pharmacy.
Several older diet drugs were previously withdrawn from sale after they were found to raise the risk for heart valve damage, suicidal thoughts or other problems.
You may not be thinking of all of the goodness in your coffee when you wake up, stumble to the kitchen, and put on that pot. But, in addition to providing warmth, comfort, and a boost of fuel you need to start your day, that cup of Joe has amazing health benefits.
Your morning cup of coffee is filled with good-for-you antioxidants that can protect cells and combat free radicals in your body that cause illnesses and disease. Caffeine (in moderation) is also effective at boosting your metabolism for fat-burning benefits.
And, if you want to increase those benefits even more, this is the one calorie-burning nutrient nutritionists say you should start adding to your coffee for a flat stomach.
Thanks to the popularity of diets like the Keto Diet, many people are getting on board with the fact that fat isn’t so bad for us after all.
The latest coffee craze is one that may have its roots in Keto logic, but has expanded to become mainstream popular thanks to three factors: it’s unusual, tasty, and, according to many who have tried it, works wonders when it comes to giving you energy and helping you burn stubborn fat.
Drinking Bulletproof Coffee For Weight Loss
Add Butter To Your Coffee
To those already in the know, “bulletproof” coffee is coffee that has been spiked with butter. A few tablespoons of grass-fed butter can give your coffee a rich, buttery flavor that many say tastes like creamer. But its unusual and unexpected health benefits are what keep coffee lovers coming back for more.
While there’s no denying that adding butter to your coffee also means adding upwards of 200 calories to a beverage that contains zero calories, some nutritionists say the benefits may outweigh the negatives.
“This may make the drink slower to digest and absorb, therefore potentially prolonging the effects of the caffeine,” Jaclyn London, MD, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute told Good Housekeeping. “As for the grass-fed distinction, proponents tout the slightly higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and some vitamins that come from cows grazing on an all-green diet.”
Correlation Between Bulletproof Coffee And Weight Loss
There is still a lack of data on whether bulletproof coffee truly helps your health, London says, and the only evidence that currently exists stems from research performed on rats. If it’s any consolation, those rats did experience higher metabolism and energy burn levels after drinking coffee with butter.
According to London, bulletproof coffee may help you lose weight — but that depends entirely on your overall diet.
“Bulletproof coffee could help you lose weight if you use it to replace a daily sugary short stack, or if you currently don’t eat breakfast at all,” London told Good Housekeeping. “In that case, BPC may provide a sense of fullness that you might not have experienced otherwise. Eating more calories from longer-lasting sources of energy can help you cut back on random grazing later on.”
But be aware because bulletproof coffee could also backfire on you: drinking your calories and sources of fat could make you feel more “ravenous,” London says. You could end up consuming even more calories each day.
If you aren’t sold on the idea of putting butter in your coffee, don’t worry. There are plenty of other healthy coffee additive alternatives that won’t pack on added calories and fat. Alternate coffee add-ons to consider include cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and coconut milk.
Entrepreneur Dave Asprey first added butter to his coffee to boost his brainpower. Now, he reveals what he learned about his brain to achieve his weight-loss goals. Subscribe to Dr. Oz’s official YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/1QhiDuv
I’m a creature of habit. I like to drink the same 400-calorie smoothie every morning after my morning workout, wear the same three black pairs of leggings, listen to the same pump-up jams that I’ve listened to since high school (what’s up, early-2000s pop/punk). And as a creature of habit, I tend to make the same handful of recipes over and over.
Sure, that’s mostly because I’m a terrible cook and not that adventurous in the kitchen, but eating the same things over and over again can help you achieve your weight-loss goals. I have lost about 15 pounds since January, and I find that eating the same lunches repeatedly has kept me on track and takes the guesswork out of tracking my meals.
Since I usually order a takeout salad for lunch anyway, I thought it would be easier if I just made my own salad and brought it in. My 450-calorie salad is actually delicious and provides all three macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) to keep me feeling full and satisfied all afternoon. To make things even easier, I just bring all my ingredients to work and chop the veggies when I get there. I don’t have time to slice up a bell pepper or a cucumber in the morning before work, but I do have time to throw all my ingredients in a plastic salad bowl with a lid and run out the door — I like the 2.5-quart bowl from this Sterilite 8 Piece Covered Bowl Set ($12). Check out my recipe below.
450-Calorie Weight-Loss Salad Recipe
Mixed greens (usually bagged Spring mix)
3 ounces of rotisserie chicken (no skin)
1/4 of a cucumber
1/4 of a red bell pepper
1/4 of an avocado
2 tablespoons Greek dressing
In my opinion, the dressing makes all the difference. That’s why I love Primal Kitchen Greek Vinaigrette dressing ($21 for two bottles). It’s made with avocado oil, so it’s full of satiating, healthy fats. I also get more healthy fat from one-fourth of an avocado. For protein, I opt for a slice of rotisserie chicken; I buy a rotisserie chicken from the store on Sunday night and have it the whole week. I also love a variety of colorful veggies to add some healthy carbs.
Although it’s probably easier to keep a bottle of salad dressing in the work fridge, I don’t trust my coworkers (kidding! sort of . . .) so I use the GladWare Mini Round containers ($7 for an eight-count). I can measure out two tablespoons and store it easily. I love these little reusable containers for not only salad dressings, but also stashing nuts, nut butters, and berries.
I’ve been tracking my calories using the Noom weight-loss app and love how the Noom food database is huge and includes all of my favorite foods, snacks, and salad dressings. It makes tracking so much easier. Using the Noom app, I calculated that my salad is 445 calories.
I’m a fitness editor, and I live a pretty healthy lifestyle — I exercise five to six days a week, eat a whole-foods-based diet, and get at least seven hours of sleep a night — but in January of this year, I found my weight creeping up on the higher end of what I find comfortable. I’ve struggled to keep weight off my whole life, and thanks to my bipolar II medication, general stress, and love of happy hour, this has only gotten harder as I’ve gotten older.
All of that being said: I wanted to check out the Noom weight-loss app to see if it could help me shed some pounds and get back on track with a healthy lifestyle. Created with the help of registered dietitians and other experts, the Noom app aims to not only help you lose weight, but also change your behaviors and reevaluate the thought processes behind the decisions you make. Each day includes new articles on topics such as portion control, staying motivated, identifying your social triggers, and how to decode a restaurant menu.
Noom also includes a daily calorie target, which adjusts based on how much activity you got that day (you manually log your exercise or sync up to your Fitbit or Apple Watch). One of my favorite features of Noom is the comprehensive food log where you type in what you ate and track your daily calories. If your food isn’t in Noom’s database, you can manually add the nutrition information. It also provides a color-coded breakdown of your food based on how calorie-dense they are: green (fruits, veggies, most whole grains, complex carbs), yellow (lean meats, starches, eggs), and red (typically processed junk food but also healthy calorie-dense foods like oils and nuts). You are supposed to aim to eat as many green and yellow foods as possible and limit your red foods to 25 percent or less of your diet.
The biggest adjustment for me was keeping track of everything I ate. Sure, I eat a pretty well-balanced diet, but I’m often tempted by treats in the work kitchen or all of the tasty snacks sent to my office. After hours, it’s easy for me to let one glass of wine turn to three and get carried away with the free chips and salsa. Signing up for Noom really helped me figure out where I tend to overeat and track the true size of a healthy portion: 1/4 cup of almonds is a good-sized snack. Half a bag is not.
After four months on Noom, I’m down 15 pounds! Not as fast as I would have liked, but I do realize that slow and steady wins the race. I didn’t do anything radical aside from read the Noom articles, log my food, work out, and pay attention to my daily calorie budget. Although every day is different for me food-wise, here is an example of what a typical day of eating looks like.
My daily calorie target depends on how much activity I’ve done that day. If I’ve worked out and walked 10,000 steps, my calories will be closer to 1,500-1,600 a day. If I skipped a workout and laid on the couch all day (hello, hungover Sundays), my calorie target is closer to 1,200-1,300 a day. Here is an example of a day where I had a moderate workout:
Breakfast: protein smoothie (430 calories)
1 scoop Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Chocolate Shake (170 calories)
1/2 banana (52 calories)
1 tablespoon Perfect Keto Pure MCT Oil (130 calories)
1.25 cup 365 Organic Almond Milk Unsweetened (50 calories)
1 cup baby spinach (7 calories)
3 flowerets of raw cauliflower (9 calories)
3 giant frozen strawberries (12 calories)
Lunch: breaded chicken breast with quinoa and broccoli (405 calories)
Dinner: baked salmon with quinoa and broccoli (397 calories)
3 ounces cooked salmon (195 calories)
1/2 cooked quinoa (111 calories)
1 cup steamed broccoli (55 calories)
1 pat of butter (36 calories)
Daily total calories: 1,412
Food Color Breakdown
Image source: Noom app
On this day, I did a pretty good job of loading up on mostly green foods, a nice amount of yellow foods, and limiting my red foods. I know some of my diet staples are red (like MCT oil and almonds), but I’m going to keep eating them — I just pay attention to the portion sizes.
I tend to eat the same things over and over, which is one way people find weight-loss success: it takes the guesswork out of having to plan so many meals each week. I also try and meal prep on Sundays, and on this particular day, I made big batches of quinoa in the rice cooker and broccoli (both steamed and oven-roasted) to last for lunches and dinners. I also baked breaded chicken breasts for lunch and salmon fillets for dinner to get my protein in.
My protein smoothie can sometimes be my biggest meal of the day. I make a calorie-dense smoothie like this after my big morning workout to refuel my body and keep me full well until my late lunch. Sometimes I need to supplement with a mid-morning snack, but most days I’m satisfied until 2 p.m. or so.
If I have a day where I know I’m going to be getting drinks after work or want to make room for a delicious chocolate chip cookie from the break room, I make adjustments in my diet the rest of the day. Maybe I’ll skip the MCT oil in my smoothie or forgo an afternoon snack. Sometimes I’ll trade in my quinoa at lunch for double the veggies or leave out the butter on top. Every little tweak or adjustment counts toward my daily calorie target. And while I didn’t reach for something sweet after dinner on this day, I usually have some type of dessert each day that’s less than 100 calories: a square of dark chocolate or a dark chocolate peanut butter cup from Trader Joe’s.
I have never felt deprived doing Noom and I always listen to my hunger cues. Noom has really opened my eyes to what an accurate portion size is and how to plan your meals around your daily calorie target. I still have a little ways to go to hit my goals, but tracking everything in Noom makes it a little easier.