- Plenity is a superabsorbent hydrogel you take orally with a large amount of water.
- Plenity fills the stomach and helps you feel full faster, limiting how much you eat.
- Plenity is most effective when paired with other weight management strategies.
The Plenity weight-loss device is a useful way to manage your food intake and body composition, and it’s the first one to be approved by the FDA for people with a BMI of 25 or higher. What is Plenity, how does it work, and is it right for you? Below you’ll find answers to those questions, the research behind Plenity, and how to incorporate it into your weight loss plan.
What Is Plenity?
Plenity is a superabsorbent hydrogel made of cellulose gum (carboxymethyl cellulose) and citric acid. It can absorb a large amount of water quickly, filling whatever space it’s put into. It was originally called Gelesis100, named after the biotech company that invented it, and was given clearance in April 2019 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)
While you take it in pill form and can only get it through prescription, Plenity is a medical weight-loss device, not a weight-loss medication. It doesn’t have any sort of chemical interactions with the body itself. It also doesn’t interact with any medications or foods as of this writing, although some ingredients of Plenity are possible allergens.
How Does Plenity Work?
Twenty minutes before lunch and dinner, take three Plenity capsules with at least sixteen ounces (one pint glass, or approximately two mugs) of water. Because the hydrogel in Plenity takes up so much water and expands so quickly, it helps you feel full by limiting the space in your stomach.
Because it’s a gel, it moves through your system just like anything you eat. It’s similar to insoluble fiber in this respect, which also absorbs water and turns into a gel. However, Plenity isn’t dietary fiber and doesn’t have any calories, so don’t treat it as such in any diet plans you set up.
Plenity is combined with a lifestyle plan for gradual weight loss over time. For example, a randomized double-blind study conducted on Plenity required a diet with 300 calories less than their required intake paired with daily moderate intensity exercise, like walking for 30 minutes.
The study found that more people taking Plenity lost 5% or more of their body weight than people with the same regimen and a placebo.
Who Should Consider Plenity?
Plenity is an option for anyone over the age of 22 who has a BMI above 25. That said, before you start Plenity, talk with your doctor about your specific situation. Weight gain happens for a number of reasons, not just food intake. Understanding your body is the first step to a healthy weight.
Plenity is considered a short-term solution to help with reinforcing healthy habits. As it’s only been on the market for a few years, we don’t know the long-term effects yet. Thus far, research only shows Plenity to be effective as part of an overall weight management strategy. Plenity is generally sold in a four-week supply.
Who Shouldn’t Use Plenity?
Plenity isn’t recommended for people with chronic malabsorption syndromes or cholestasis, a decrease in bile flow. If you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant, don’t use Plenity. Plenity hasn’t been tested on children.
If you’re allergic to any of its ingredients, don’t take Plenity. Those ingredients include:
- Citric acid
- Sodium stearyl fumarate
- Titanium dioxide
Does Plenity Have Any Side Effects?
Because it fills the gastrointestinal tract, Plenity side effects include:
- Abdominal distention
- Pain in the stomach or abdomen
- Changes in frequency of bowel movements
In Gelesis’ own research, there wasn’t a notable difference between the placebo group and the Plenity group in their safety studies. Up to one third of the study group reported a side effect, and most effects passed after the first two weeks.
If you suddenly experience severe stomach pain or sudden severe diarrhea, you should stop using Plenity until you talk to a doctor.
Does Plenity Have Any Drug Interactions?
Plenity isn’t pharmaceutically active, so it doesn’t have any known drug complications or interactions as of this writing.
However, Plenity can affect absorption of other medications. To minimize this risk, Gelesis recommends taking other medications early in the day on an empty stomach.
Because Plenity is designed to be taken with food, it needs to be taken during a meal so it’s properly absorbed. If you’re taking other medications that need to be taken with food, such as metformin, talk to your doctor before starting Plenity. They may be able to make modifications to your medication regimen.
What Should I Do Before I Start Plenity?
Plenity is part of a broader weight-loss plan, so before you start it, it’s best to have that plan in place.
Set a reasonable pace and a goal weight. Gradual and steady weight loss, of one or two pounds a week, is both easier to achieve and more likely to stay off. Gradual progress also makes it easier to form healthy habits and develop an active lifestyle that allows you to maintain your weight.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking aggravates chronic conditions that cause obesity and may be a cause of obesity as well.
If you drink, work on cutting back your alcohol consumption. Most alcohol is empty calories, and heavy alcohol consumption, in particular, is a risk factor for weight gain.
Develop and start an exercise plan. It’s recommended that you get either 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. It should be something you enjoy doing, that you can fit into your day, and that you find fun.
Develop a weight-loss diet plan, especially around lunch and dinner, that’s focused on vegetables, lean proteins, and any other dietary restrictions you need to accommodate.
Weight Loss Devices Are Just One Tool For Better Health
Careful management of your weight will pay off with better health outcomes and a more active, energetic life. Follow the eDrugstore blog to learn more about staying active, effective weight loss, and other healthy lifestyle choices.
Dan is a long-time freelance writer focusing on technology, science, health, and medicine, with a lifelong interest in physics, biology, and medicine. His work has taken a particular focus on scientific studies “beyond the headlines,” reading the study to more closely examine the results.