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 and Torch.
What is Calibrate?
Calibrate, available at joincalibrate.com, is a virtual weight loss program that helps when increasing exercise and eating less isn’t producing results. It focuses on biology to provide a body reset that encourages weight loss. The program lasts for one year with monthly membership fees or an annual fee. The website claims that, with Join Calibrate, you will lose 10 percent of your body weight in six months, and then the second six months is dedicated to creating lasting results, helping you and your body keep the pounds off.
The program focuses on providing a metabolic reset. What does this mean? Calibrate addresses the role of the body’s metabolic system in weight loss. This system includes the metabolism, which we usually associate with trying to lose fat, but also components that people may not realize play a role, including:
- molecular messengers
The goal is to improve this system so your body responds better to nutrition, exercise, sleep and emotional triggers, which all affect weight. For example, the metabolic system is involved in things that prevent weight loss like:
- blood sugar ups and downs that impact what you eat
- stress that impacts your habits
- the body’s process of holding calories while burning less fat
Calibrate explains that metabolism tries to keep you at your body’s “set point,” which is the weight you’re currently at. The body wants to maintain its current weight. This can result in losing weight and then gaining it back. Their method is designed to change the set point so you can lose weight – and even more importantly – keep it off. The idea of a set point is gaining acceptance in the medical literature, as this medical journal article explains.
The program 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
Calibrate’s weight loss program isn’t for everyone.
Some weight loss programs are for anyone, whether they want to lose a few pounds or a significant amount of weight. But Calibrate is different. It’s only intended for adults from 18 to 65 who have a BMI of at least 27. You need to be covered by a health insurance plan. Where is Join Calibrate currently available? Only In four states (California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas) currently – but the company plans to soon become a nationwide program.
The program is NOT for certain populations, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, or people with eating disorders, recent bariatric surgery, substance abuse or cancer.
What happens when you sign up for Calibrate?
You decide to try their service and sign up… What happens next?
- You get lab work done in the beginning and then a few times throughout the year-long program.
- You have a virtual visit with a Calibrate doctor to go over your lab results and the history of your weight.
- If it is appropriate for your situation, the doctor prescribes you with an FDA-approved metabolic medication targeted to your body and needs.
- You get matched with a coach who you regularly have virtual visits and chats with.
- You get a smart scale and free app, which help you track your weight and habits. Your doctor and coach see this information and use it to guide you along the way.
- You learn science-based information on food, exercise, sleep and emotional health, which the company says are “the four pillars of weight 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 weight loss 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.
- The program is adjusted to your life – so if you’re struggling, if you or need to adapt to certain situations like vacation. These adjustments make your goals achievable and help you stick with them long-term.
- You rely on the Calibrate app. In the app, you can chat with your doctor and coach, learn through step-by-step guides and tips, and access digital tools for setting and tracking goals, treatment and progress.
How much does Calibrate cost?
The one-time metabolic assessment to get started costs $100, and the cost of this can go toward the program cost if you sign up within seven days of your virtual doctor appointment. Then you pay for the one-year program in monthly installments of $129, or all at once for $1,550.
Upon completing the program, you have the option to continue with your metabolic prescription and continue to access your Calibrate medical team for $100 per year. Calibrate also claims to work with you to get your insurance to pay for all lab work and weight loss medication.
What medications does calibrate prescribe for weight loss?
Calibrate doctors may prescribe glucagon-like peptide-1s (GLP-1s) as part of the program. These medications are used to help lower your body’s set point. Research suggests that these drugs interact with your body’s incretin system, part of your body that helps regulate your metabolism and use of insulin. Calibrate prescribes FDA-approved, clinically-tested, non-habit forming and stimulant-free prescription medications. In general, these medicines have low instances of side effects and are well tolerated — but you should ask your Calibrate doctor for more information.
How does Calibrate stack up to other weight loss apps?
Calibrate vs Torch vs Noom: Weight Loss App Comparison
|Where to sign up||Joincalibrate.com||Noom.com||Torchrx.com|
$1550 for annual plan+ medication costs
Option to save through a group of 3-5 people
$199 for annual plan
$708 for annual plan+ medication costs
|Is prescription medication a component?||Yes||No||Yes|
|Main focus||Metabolic system and biology||Targets psychology||Metabolic system and biology|
|Methods||A one-year virtual program developed for a metabolic reset and 10% weight loss that includes lab work, prescription medication, doctor’s appointment, regular coaching sessions, and an expert-designed curriculum focusing on food, sleep, exercise, and emotional health||Habit and behavior change with focus on results over time||Completely customized plans created with an algorithm with a holistic approach. Plans include coaching, nutrition and movement education, virtual doctor visits, a community and prescription medication if needed|
|App?||Yes||Yes||No. Uses email and texts for coaching|
|Eligibility||BMI of at least 27||Anyone age 18 or older||BMI of at least 30 or at least 27 with specific co-existing health conditions|
You can see that the three companies differ a bit in their focus and methods. Both Calibrate and Torch use a combination of prescription medication and behavioral changes for people with BMIs that reach eligibility requirements. 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 and Torch provide the extra boost of 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 $100 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, if you choose to move forward with Calibrate. 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. Thus if you’re looking for a prescription weight loss plan, Torch is a more direct competitor for you to compare vs Calibrate.
The Verdict: Does Calibrate help you lose weight?
There’s really no guarantee that any program will work for you. The only way to know for sure is to give it a try. Calibrate is a smart option because it focuses on lasting weight loss instead of the fad diets and programs that usually lead to gaining the pounds back as soon as you lose them. Calibrate isn’t about following a fad. It’s a serious medical program that uses science and support from doctors and health coaches to better regulate your metabolism.
While the year-long program might seem like a big commitment, that’s actually a good thing when it comes to finding a healthier size for your body. The program is designed to help you slowly lose the weight and actually keep it off, so you can truly be successful. Real, lasting weight loss takes time and unfortunately there aren’t any shortcuts.
Calibrate has a structured plan that focuses on keeping you on track for a full year. While competitors Torch and Noom also offer professional support, they seem to leave your weight loss journey more in your own hands, as you participate on a month-to-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 27, and you’re ready to commit to lasting weight loss, theirs system seems worth a shot. While the program is intended to last for a year, you can cancel any time if you decide it’s not for you. Calibrate will even give you a refund if you cancel before your first doctor’s visit. They also offer the option to pause the program for up to 90 days if you fall on hard times or otherwise need to reconsider.
If you’re not sure if Calibrate is worth the price, I’d recommend starting with their free metabolic 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 expand access to prescription weight loss treatments for all.