What to Expect from Contrave Before and After Taking It
Contrave is an FDA-approved weight-loss medication available by prescription only. It is intended to be used along with a reduced-calorie diet and exercise to assist people with a body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m2 or ≥27 kg/m2 with at least one weight-related medical condition, such as high blood pressure.
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Contrave combines naltrexone, an opioid-receptor antagonist used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence, with the antidepressant Bupropion.
In clinical trials, participants taking Contrave lost 5% to 6% more of their body weight when compared to a placebo. However, only about half of the participants finished the one-year clinical trial.1
Understanding Contrave Weight Loss Results
Several FDA-approved medications are now available to treat obesity in adults. All weight loss medications have undergone clinical trial testing before receiving FDA approval and must show efficacy by demonstrating that participants taking the medication experience at least a 5% weight loss. Current medication options have shown a 5% to 22.5% weight loss potential when used in conjunction with diet and exercise.
All weight-loss medications are intended to be used as part of a comprehensive weight-management program that includes a nutritious, whole-food-based, reduced-calorie diet, regular exercise, and behavioral changes that support weight loss.
Each person responds to medication differently based on their genetic predisposition and metabolism. If you take a prescribed weight-loss medication and do not experience the expected weight loss, your doctor will probably suggest changing to a different medication.
All medications have risks and benefits. You would not want to continue exposing yourself to the risks of a medication without receiving its weight-loss benefits. Typical weight loss goals when taking medications are one pound of weight loss per week, with a 4% to 5% weight loss achieved after three to six months of taking the medication.
Contrave was studied in three clinical trials: COR-1, COR-BMOD, and COR-Diabetes.
- COR-1: In a 56-week trial, 42% of people taking Contrave lost at least 5% of their body weight, vs. 17% of people taking a placebo; participants who took Contrave lost an average of 12 pounds.
- COR-BMOD: In a 56-week trial, participants received 28 group counseling sessions, diet, and exercise goals; 57% of participants taking Contrave lost at least 5% of body weight vs. 43% taking placebo; participants who completed the trial and took Contrave lost an average of 18 pounds.
- COR-Diabetes: Contrave group’s average weight loss was 8.5 pounds, compared to 4 pounds in the placebo group. While Contrave is not indicated for diabetes, participants with type 2 diabetes who lost weight while taking Contrave also experienced A1c reductions, indicating better blood sugar control.
- COR-II: In a 56-week trial, participants experienced an average weight loss of 6.5%. Over 50% of Contrave users lost 5% or more body weight, compared to 17% of placebo users. The COR-II study participants also reported improved quality of life and better control over their eating habits.
It is important to note that participants in the clinical trials lost weight, but participants in the control group using a reduced-calorie diet and exercise did as well.
Risks of Taking Contrave
When you and your doctor discuss weight-loss medications, an essential part of the discussion is weighing the risks and benefits of taking each type of medication. Reading expert reviews of each medication can help you gain an understanding of how each medication works and the results you might expect.
All medications have risks and potential adverse effects, but your individual risks depend on whether you have other medical conditions, genetics, and possible interactions with other medications you may be taking.
According to the manufacturer, milder or more common Contrave side effects include:
- Abdominal pain
- Altered taste
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Heart palpitations
- Hot flush
- Increase in blood pressure
- Increase in heart rate
- Muscle strain
- Ringing in ears
- Stomach virus
- Trouble sleeping
- Urinary tract infection
This is not a complete list of potential side effects. For more information, see the Contrave Medication Guide or ask your pharmacist.
Serious side effects can also occur when taking Contrave, including the following:
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Depression, anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Panic attacks
- Mood changes
- Allergic reactions: rash, itching, hives, fever, swollen lymph glands, painful mouth sores, swelling of the lip or tongue, chest pain, trouble breathing
- Increased blood pressure or heart rate
- Liver damage or hepatitis
- Visual problems (angle-closure glaucoma)
Contrave has a boxed warning for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
How To Maximize Contrave Results
All weight loss medications are intended to complement lifestyle modifications, such as a reduced-calorie diet and exercise. Weight regain can be expected when the medication is stopped. To maximize Contrave results, try to make sustainable lifestyle and behavioral changes that support your weight-loss goals.
Tracking your progress is an excellent motivator for weight loss. Online apps make it easy to track metrics, such as
- Body weight
- Calories consumed
- Medication side effects
As you track your progress, set goals, and celebrate when you achieve them. Tracking metrics while you take a weight-loss medication can also make it easier to see if you deviate from your diet and exercise plans once you stop taking the medication.
As you weigh the risks and benefits of Contrave, it is important to acknowledge that obesity is a serious disease that is linked to over 200 chronic diseases. Increasing muscle mass and decreasing fat mass as you change your body composition, will lead to a healthier lifespan.
Tips for maximizing weight loss:
- Consume a nutritious, balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
- Weigh and measure food until you have a good idea of what a portion should look like.
- Avoid consuming sugary beverages and processed foods. These are high in calories and leave you hungry again as your blood sugar and insulin levels spike and then fall.
- Choose food for restaurants in advance and ask the server to box half your meal before putting it on your plate.
- Make it more challenging to access snacks in your home to avoid impulse eating.
- Mindfully eat your meals without the distraction of technology.
- Pay attention to hunger and fullness. Try to notice when you first become comfortably full.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day to optimize metabolism and reduce hunger.
- Prioritize getting 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, restful sleep each night.
- Engage in movement throughout the day AND aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week.
- Building muscle helps change body composition and support weight loss. Do at least two strength-building sessions each week that exercise all major muscle groups in your body.
- Ask for help from friends, family, or medical professionals to help you reach your goals.
Most importantly, set realistic goals and celebrate your successes. Health is measured in many ways, not just by a number on the scale. Do you feel better, have more energy, sleep better, or walk faster? These are also measures of health.