health articles

What’s the best way to lose weight?

The experienced doctors at Virtually Healthcare can provide advice, support and treatment for anyone who wants to improve their health, lose weight and keep it off.

Most people in the UK are overweight or obese. Nearly a third of people have a BMI over 25, and almost a quarter have a BMI over 30. Being overweight can affect your appearance and decrease your confidence, but it also increases the risk of many health problems. High blood pressure, cancer, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnoea and type 2 diabetes are all linked to weight gain. Furthermore, research during the pandemic has shown that obese people are at increased risk of serious disease and death.


How can my GP help with weight loss?

Although people are successful in losing weight on their own, it can be very daunting to diet without a helping hand. There’s evidence that weight loss programmes can be more effective with medical support1. The experienced clinicians at Virtually Healthcare can help you lose weight safely and improve your health.

Changing your diet and lifestyle can make an extraordinary difference. We have supported people in losing weight, maintaining their new weight, and even putting their type-2 diabetes into remission. We can also advise about safe ways of living a more active life.

Losing weight is just the first step in your weight loss journey. It can be an enormous challenge to keep the weight off because levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin increase. As a result, you may get hungrier and end up back where you started. The team at Virtually Healthcare understands the difficulties and biochemistry and can provide the advice and support you need to maintain the long-term loss.

Weight-loss support at Virtually Healthcare

Virtually Healthcare is an innovative GP practice, providing expert care in the comfort, safety and privacy of your home. The Virtually Healthcare service is designed to fit with modern lives. Consultations are easy to access, discreet and convenient, with virtual appointments available seven days a week.

You will first see a dietitian who will review what you eat by reviewing your food diary which she will ask you to keep for 2 weeks. On the basis of that review working with you and taking your preferences into account she will draw up a diet plan which you will be asked to be on for 4 weeks. If at the end of that you and the dietitian feel that further weight loss is appropriate, she will refer you to a Virtually doctor who has a special interest in weight loss to discuss medication possibilities for you.

Our weight loss team also includes a social prescriber who will connect you to walking and exercise groups near you and NHS online cooking classes.

The highly-skilled team includes more than 40 clinicians working together to investigate and treat disease and help you optimise your health and wellbeing. As well as experienced GPs, the team includes sexual health specialists, physiotherapists and practice nurses to offer a comprehensive primary care service.

During the pandemic, many patients are finding it more difficult to access healthcare. Virtually Healthcare provides rapid access video or telephone appointments, with consultations available the same day if you contact us before 3 pm. Our clinicians

can provide professional assessment and advice, arrange investigations, prescribe treatment or arrange for a face-to-face review.

At Virtually Healthcare, our focus is on you. Our clinicians take a holistic approach to weight loss. They can provide advice, follow NICE best-practice treatment guidelines, and connect you with groups in your area that will help you to lead a healthier lifestyle.

What's the best weight loss method for me?

There is no ‘best way’ to lose weight. The most effective method for each individual will differ. It’s about making lasting and manageable changes to the way you eat and live your life. It’s not as simple as ‘eat less, move more.’ Virtually Healthcare can exclude any medical problems, provide support, recommend healthier eating habits, and refer to local programmes for healthy, sustained weight loss.

If you have a high BMI and diet, exercise and support haven’t helped you lose weight; we can also prescribe NICE approved medical treatments or consider referral for bariatric surgery to help you achieve your goals.

Bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery reduces the stomach’s size so that you are less hungry and become satisfied after less food. It can help weight loss in individuals with a BMI over 40 or for anyone with a BMI higher than 35 with other medical problems like type 2 diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

Bariatric surgery can provide a long-term solution for people who have struggled to lose weight and whose weight is affecting their physical health and mental wellbeing. The procedures include gastric band, gastric bypass and gastric sleeve.

If you are worried about your weight and want advice about the next steps, make an appointment for a phone or video consultation.

Weight loss medication

Weight-loss medications are not a magic bullet, but they can help people who have struggled to lose weight by dieting or exercising or whose weight loss has plateaued. The doctors can provide individual advice on medication, but it’s essential to understand that they should be used together with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.2


Orlistat is a medication that stops the body from absorbing fat from your food. You should follow a low-fat diet, or you may get unpleasant side effects like wind, bowel disturbance and leaking of fatty fluid from the back passage.

Orlistat can be used as part of an overall weight management plan if you have a BMI of 30 or more or a BMI of 28 or more with a condition like heart disease, type-2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

We can only continue treatment after the first three months if you have lost at least 5% of your body weight.


Liraglutide is a newly introduced daily injectable medication for treating obesity. It was developed as a treatment for diabetes and can make you feel less hungry and more easily satisfied when eating. We can prescribe Liraglutide for people with:

  • A BMI of at least 35
  • A BMI of 32.5 in a minority ethnic group at higher risk of the complications of obesity
  • A raised blood glucose or pre-diabetes
  • A high risk of cardiovascular disease because of risks like hypertension and high cholesterol or lipids3

We can also refer some patients to specialist weight management services that can supply extra support and treatment.

Hot topics - One of Virtually Healthcare’s GPs, with a particular interest in nutrition and weight loss, reports on the questions and concerns they are currently seeing in their consultations.

Is Saxenda available on the NHS?

On the 30th of October, the weight loss drug, Saxenda was made available on the NHS. It’s the first new weight loss medication introduced in more than ten years. It’s also known as Liraglutide and is listed under our section on ‘Weight Loss Medications’. The doctors at Virtually Healthcare can prescribe it for adult patients who are overweight or obese and also have additional health risk factors.

Saxenda starts to work in around two weeks. It acts on the hormones with essential functions in controlling hunger. It makes the stomach empty more slowly so that you feel fuller and eat less. In some ways, it has similar effects to bariatric surgery, helping you lose a meaningful amount of weight without an operation.

Why am I not losing weight?

In the UK, the way we eat and live our lives has changed. High-energy fast food and snacks are everywhere, which can make it a challenge to stay slim. Also, cars, computers and devices mean that we expend less energy. In many ways, it’s more surprising that people stay thin rather than get fatter.

If you are struggling to lose weight, there could be many reasons:

  • Hidden calories. It can help to write down everything you eat, even weighing things, so you get a better idea of calories and portion sizes. Don’t forget snacks and things nibbled while cooking.
  • Liquid calories. There’s lots of energy hidden in drinks like soda, milky coffees and alcohol.
  • Activity. Although it’s said that you can’t outrun a bad diet’, leading an active life will help you lose weight. It’s not just about cardio, like running or swimming. Muscle building activity like weight training, can help you burn more energy, even when you’re asleep.
  • Hormones: Women’s bodies change with their hormones throughout life. The menopause can make it more challenging to lose weight. It’s partly hormonal; oestrogen levels fall, which can cause weight to collect around your abdomen. However, lifestyle changes can also contribute.
  • Sleep. When you’re tired, you may be more likely to eat and drink more to boost your energy levels. However, poor sleep patterns can also increase the risk of gaining weight.5

Types of consultations we offer

We offer written, telephone and video consultations with a range of male and female clinicians from GPs, nurse practitioners, and primary care specialists such as physiotherapy.