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Physicians Weight Loss Center Program: Does it make sense for you?

Amanda Cofer, MPH

What if there was a magic shake that helped your drop pounds upon pounds each week? Would you drink it? (It’s okay. We know you’re tempted.) Now…what if I told you there was a catch? The Physicians Weight Loss Center (PWLC) program claims guaranteed weight loss with their plans which use products like shakes, bars, and supplements. While a lot of diet plans out there use strategies like this, these plans are coupled with very low calorie diet (VLCD) tactics that can be rough on your body. Clinically, restricting calories to this extent is usually left as a last ditch effort to help an obese patient (BMI of 30 or more) lose weight, but today we see folks entering programs like this for their first real attempts. Let’s see if it may make sense for you.

How does the Physicians Weight Loss Center Program work?

To understand how this program works, we first need to understand what a VLCD actually is. These diets involve cutting calories way back to 800 or even less each day. Because of the harsh nature of these diets and the likelihood of malnutrition, they need to be surprised by a licensed medical provider and a Registered Dietitian to ensure proper nutrition. Because of the low intake of calories there, people on these diets can experience symptoms such as hunger (duh), low energy, headaches, dizziness, cramps, constipation, and hair loss. The PWLC program uses a few different plans that are offered in one of their many office locations or online.

The program claims on their website to be physician and dietitian designed, have a “unique” approach to losing weight (cutting calories isn’t necessarily groundbreaking but we’ll roll with it), and use an individualized approach (#skeptical). You may choose one of the respective plans, have a pre-weight loss appointment with a physician in the office, weigh in with the nurse, and meet with a “counselor” who will help you with your meal planning, then another post-weight loss appointment with the physician once your weight has melted away. The plans, online, are said to be 3 meals a day and a mix of their products and whole foods depending on what plan you go with. One thing can be made clear…they are all about losing weight fast but more on that in a bit. Something that is much less clear, is their pricing. You won’t find any information on their website about how much these plans and programs cost, but upon a deeper dive into the Google-verse we came across consumer reviews stating as much as $1000 for 3 months.  

What kind of results might you expect from the Physicians Weight Loss Center Program?

Cutting calories in such a drastic way is sure to result in weight loss but what does this mean for your overall health? At the heart of this program is a diet, not a lifestyle. The PWLC program says you can lose 20 pounds in 4 weeks, but you may also lose your sanity. So what’s wrong with losing weight this quickly? The main issue is maintaining those habits over time. The extreme efforts is takes to lose weight at this rate aren’t necessarily sustainable. It’s also likely that with such a rapid drop in weight you may not be losing the right kind of weight. Generally muscle mass is lost in this process which is why protein intake may be kept much higher than normal. While you may not see results at the drop of a hat, it’s much safer and more commonly recommended that individuals lose weight at a pace of 1 to 2 pounds per week. We don’t know about you, but that sounds much more doable than 5 pounds per week. This slower rate is not only safer for your overall health, but it will also give you time to learn healthy behaviors that are sustainable for maintaining your results long term. Learning how to eat real food in a balanced way while incorporating a healthy level of exercise that works for you.  

Physician Weight Loss Center Program: The Bottom Line

In the end, it’s always important to check with your healthcare provider before beginning any kind of weight loss program. While there may be some instances where a VLCD is appropriate, it’s crucial that the right team of professionals is helping you through this. In most cases though, these types of diets are reserved as a last resort for those looking to lose weight, due to their intense nature. The PWLC program is one such program that regularly encourages this route, along with a few other options, and uses products to help their participants lose weight. You may see weight loss in the short term, but losing weight at a slower pace may be better for your overall mental and physical health and building long term habits. The PWLC program is largely diet based rather than lifestyle based and when you break it down, it’s not much different than other product laden approaches out there.

Noom is different and is truly individualized. Focusing on behavior rather than simply dropping pounds, Noom will teach you to modify your habits for that long term weight loss success we all envision when we lose weight. Lifestyle is the center of all that Noom does instead of simply cutting your calories and showing you a list of what you can and can’t eat. While the weight loss is slower, in the end, you’ll be the one that comes out on top.   

Author: Amanda Cofer, MPH