It can seem impossible to lose weight. Maybe you’re doing everything you’re told to do—eat less and burn more calories—but nothing is working. That’s when a prescription weight loss treatment might be able to help. Fortunately, direct-to-consumer (D2C) technologies and companies can make this type of program super convenient by allowing you to follow a virtual telemedicine program from home.
Today we’ll review Calibrate, which is a virtual prescription weight loss program, supervised by doctors (online) that offers a metabolic reset to help you lose weight. Let’s take a look at what that means, whether it can work for you and how the company compares to a couple of other online options: Noom, Form Health, and Cerebral.
What is Calibrate?
Calibrate is the first direct-to-consumer, medical metabolic health company that focuses on biology to provide a whole-body reset that encourages weight loss. Calibrate’s program combines doctor-prescribed, FDA-approved medication (called GLP-1 agonist drugs) with 1:1 accountability coaching and tracking to drive sustainable weight loss and improve overall metabolic health.
Calibrate’s first product, a One-Year Metabolic Reset, begins with a virtual 45-minute medical assessment with a Calibrate doctor to assess metabolic health and identify the clinically-appropriate GLP-1 medication. Once in the program, you meet with Calibrate’s accountability coaches bi-weekly to discuss your progress as they set goals and track your Four Pillars of Metabolic Health (food, sleep, exercise, and emotional health) in the Calibrate app. By making small, day-to-day adjustments, you will address your underlying biology to alter your set point––the weight your body works to maintain––enabling long-term metabolic health and sustained weight loss.
By combining doctor-prescribed, FDA-approved GLP-1 medications with 1:1 accountability coaching, you can sustain at least 10% weight loss—which is clinically significant for long-term health—all in approximately 6 months.
What science supports Calibrate’s weight loss program?
Research has proven that weight loss is not about willpower; it’s about biology. While you are unable to change your genetics, you can influence your environment and how your biology responds to it to help lower your set point and improve metabolic health.
Metabolic health goes beyond what the scale says. It also means being healthy and balanced on the inside. Metabolic health affects everything from immune function and mood to inflammation levels and risk for chronic disease like diabetes and hypertension.
Calibrate weight loss is built to help reprogram the metabolic system with clinically-proven medications and tiny tweaks that add up to impactful changes in what foods you eat, how you sleep, how much you exercise, and how your emotional health is supported. As mentioned previously, Calibrate uses a combination of methods to help you reach that goal, including:
- One-on-one virtual doctor visits
- Personal lifestyle coaching
- Science-backed information
- Prescription medication
What medications does Calibrate prescribe for weight loss?
Speaking of prescription weight loss meds… what medicines do Calibrate weight loss prescribe? Anyone who participates in the One-Year Metabolic Reset can expect to be prescribed a GLP-1 medication. In human metabolism, GLP-1s are powerful, naturally-occurring hormones made by your gut that send signals to your brain to decrease appetite, improve metabolic function, and regulate digestion so you feel full longer and maximize nutrient absorption. The FDA-approved GLP-1 medications that Calibrate doctors prescribe work on the same receptors as the natural GLP-1 hormones that play an important role in appetite, weight management, and regulating the body’s set point, which is the weight the body will fight to stay at. GLP-1s also influence blood sugar response and insulin.
The medicines Calibrate Weight Loss offers
Calibrate doctors prescribe a variety of GLP-1s. They will prescribe one that is the best fit for your biology and that is also covered by your insurance. GLP-1s prescribed can include:
- Semaglutide (Wegovy™, Ozempic®, Rybelsus®)
- Liraglutide (Saxenda® and Victoza®)
- Dulaglutide (Trulicity®)
How do the Four Pillars of Metabolic Health fit into Calibrate’s program?
Calibrate’s One-Year Metabolic Reset is rooted in behavioral changes made to the Four Pillars of Metabolic Health (food, sleep, exercise, and emotional health). These can help lower your body’s set point, or the weight your body fights to stay at, as well as address underlying biology and sustain long-term metabolic health and weight loss.
Here’s a bit more on their philosophy for each pillar:
- Food: Minimize fast-digesting carbs and make healthier overall choices that include protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
- Sleep: Develop a consistent sleep schedule to improve sleep quality and prevent the risk of cardiometabolic health factors by getting 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night.
- Exercise: Make movement a regular part of the day and incorporate resistance training over time to improve metabolic health.
- Emotional Health: Learn to incorporate science-backed methods to reduce stress and recognize emotional triggers that influence metabolic health.
Together with the comprehensive 52-week curriculum, these four programmatic goals were created by Calibrate’s Expert Council and Clinical Advisory Board. You can track your metabolic health pillar progress via the Calibrate app to review with your accountability coach during your 1:1 video sessions.
Calibrate isn’t for everyone. Are you eligible?
Some weight loss programs are for anyone, whether you want to lose a few pounds or a significant amount of weight. But Calibrate is different. It’s only intended for adults between the ages of 18 to 64 who have a BMI of at least 30 and above (or 27 and above with metabolic conditions, such as pre-diabetes and diabetes). Additionally, at present, you need to be covered by a commercial health insurance plan to join Calibrate.
Where is Join Calibrate currently available?
As of May, 2022, Calibrate is available in all 50 states (in the middle of 2021, you could only join Calibrate if you lived in 28 states.
Why did Join Calibrate say it was not available in my state?
We’ve heard of some kind of a strange software bug that sometimes incorrectly says that a person is not in a state where Calibrate is offered. The company suggests trying to sign up using an “incognito” browser – on a iPhone, click the little two box icon on the lower left of the screen, then where it says the number of tabs you have open you can click and see the option to do a “private” browser. Do that! Or just email them at [email protected]
The program is not clinically appropriate for certain populations, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, women planning to become pregnant in the next year or undergoing fertility treatment, or people currently being treated for eating disorders, recent bariatric surgery, active cancer treatment, active gallbladder disease, in treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, history of pancreatitis, or history of medullary thyroid cancer or MEN syndrome.
You can take a questionnaire on joincalibrate.com to see if you’re eligible for the program. Click here to start.
What happens after you sign up?
- You get lab work done in the beginning and then at 6 months to evaluate your progress.
- You have a 45-minute video visit with a Calibrate doctor to go over your lab results, overall metabolic health and the history of your weight.
- Your Calibrate doctor will then prescribe you a clinically appropriate FDA-approved GLP-1 medication.
- You are matched with an accountability coach whom you meet with bi-weekly (total of 26 sessions).
- You receive a smart scale and free app, which help you track your weight and habits. Your doctor and coach see your tracking information and use it to guide you along the way.
- You are provided with a full curriculum of science-based information on food, sleep, exercise, and emotional health––the Four Pillars of Metabolic Health.
- You focus on one small change per week that’s targeted to take you from where you are now to the next step on your metabolic health journey. You’re taught the scientific reasoning for the change and given clear lessons that help you make the change a regular part of your lifestyle.
- You will receive a program that is adjusted to your life—so if you’re struggling, or if you need to adapt to certain situations like going on vacation, you can make the right tweaks. This flexibility makes your goals achievable and helps you stick with them long-term.
- You rely on the Calibrate app. In the app, you can message your doctor or support team, and leave notes to discuss with your coach during your bi-weekly call; learn through step-by-step guides and tips; and access digital tools for setting and tracking goals, treatment, and progress.
What kind of results can you expect from Calibrate?
Calibrate’s program is based on clinical research that shows that 10% weight loss is clinically significant and also sustainable when it comes to long-term health. Many of Calibrate’s members lose more than 10%, but 10% is the goal because it leads to clinically significant improvements across all metabolic and inflammatory markers.
How much does Calibrate cost?
Calibrate is currently offering Early Access Pricing on its One-Year Metabolic Reset program, which costs $129 per month through their payment partner Affirm or $1,550 billed once. For those who instead opt for the one-time Metabolic Health Assessment with a Calibrate doctor, the cost is $249. Learn more here: joincalibrate.com/pricing.
How does Calibrate weight loss stack up to other weight loss apps?
The following chart compares Calibrate head-to-head with competitors Form Health, Noom, and Cerebral. Note: Torch was previously included in our comparison, but is now a defunct business.
Calibrate vs Noom vs Form Health vs Cerebral: Weight Loss App Comparison
|Where to sign up||Joincalibrate.com||Noom.com||formhealth.co||Cerebral.com|
|Pricing||129/month ($1550 billed once) + medication costs (capped at $25/month)|
OR $249 for one-time metabolic assessment.
$199 for annual plan
|$99/month if your insurance covers doctor’s visits — Otherwise $199/month||Nutrition Management: $69 / month|
Weight Loss Medication Plan: $120 / month
|Is prescription medication a component?||✔️||❌||✔️||✔️|
|Main focus||Combining FDA-approved GLP-1 medications with 1:1 accountability coaching sessions and tracking to drive improved metabolic health through long-term, sustained weight loss.||Targets psychology||Holistic coaching||Holistic approach, metabolic system, psychological, behavior modification|
|Methods||A one-year virtual program developed for a metabolic reset and at least 10% sustained weight loss that includes:|
– lab work
– prescription medication
– doctor visit and medical team check-ins
– real-time coaching
– expert-designed curriculum focused on food, sleep, exercise, and emotional health.
|Habit and behavior change app with focus on helping you achieve maintainable results over time||Coaching, education, virtual visits with board certified doctors and nutritionists, as well as prescription medication if needed||– Medication with monthly delivery, if prescribed|
– Nutritional coaching: regular phone or video sessions with a nutritionist
– Behavior modification: nutritional & CBT counseling & regular progress checks
– Unlimited messaging with care team
|Eligibility||BMI of at least 30 (or 27 with existing metabolic conditions)||Anyone age 18 or older||BMI of 30+ OR 27+ with weight- related health risks, like high blood pressure||Adults 18-64 years old BMI of at least 25|
You can see that the three companies differ a bit in their focus and methods. Calibrate uses a combination of prescription medication and behavioral changes for people with BMIs that reach eligibility requirements. Cerebral has a very similar approach and offers their medication plan at a lower cost, while also offering the option of a nutrition management-only plan (CBT and behavioral modification without medication).
Noom is different because it focuses on behavioral change without medication and is for all adults.
All of the programs are focused on holistic lifestyle changes with the goal of losing weight over time and keeping it off long-term. None of them are fad diets, restrictive diets or short-term slim-down plans. They are all focused on behavioral and habit changes that shift your lifestyle. Calibrate also can prescribe medication for people with specific BMIs who have not achieved results with diet and exercise alone.
What Calibrate’s weight loss program costs and how it compares
Calibrate costs more than others with a $249 blood work-assessment to start, plus $129 a month — so that’s a consideration for budget-conscious people. Note that the $100 can be credited toward your annual plan though, if you choose to move forward with Calibrate. Cerebral offers a similar weight loss approach at a slightly lower cost. That said, although Noom is the most affordable, it’s not a prescription weight loss plan, so it doesn’t provide doctor visits or prescribe you medication designed to help you lose weight.
The Verdict: Does Calibrate help you lose weight?
The research that Calibrate has put forward, combined with the Clinical Advisory Board and Expert Health Council they’ve selected shows Calibrate is a smart option. It focuses on lasting weight loss instead of the fixes promoted by 95% of diets that result in people regaining the weight they lost. Calibrate isn’t about following a fad. It’s a serious medical program that uses science and support from doctors and accountability coaches to lead to metabolic health
While the year-long program might seem like a big commitment, that’s actually a good thing when it comes to achieving whole-body health. The program is designed to help improve metabolic health––which includes weight loss––and make meaningful changes to your routine and lifestyle to continue to be healthy for the long term. Unfortunately there aren’t any shortcuts to lasting health.
Calibrate has a structured plan that focuses on setting yourself up for long-term sustained weight loss. While competitors Form Health and Noom also offer support, they seem to leave the weight loss journey in the hands of the individual since participation is on a month-by-month basis. Calibrate’s system seems like it could help you commit to weight loss and stick with it.
If you fit Calibrate’s eligibility requirements, which include a BMI of at least 30 or above (or 27 with a metabolic condition), and you’re ready to commit to lasting weight loss, its system seems worth a shot. Calibrate will even give you a refund if you cancel before your first doctor’s visit (less a $50 fee). They also offer the option to pause the program for up to 90 days if you need to take a break for any reason.
If you’re not sure if Calibrate is worth the price, I’d recommend starting with their Metabolic Health Assessment, which will give you a look at your lab work and get your questions answered by a licensed doctor. That’ll make it easier to decide if you want to move forward with the year-long program or bail. Overall, we appreciate the company’s mission to change the way the world treats weight.
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