By Melissa Mitri, MS, RD
Photo Credit: Jason Briscoe via Unsplash
Do you feel like you’ve tried every diet and exercise plan out there, but nothing has given you permanent weight loss? If so, you may be interested in the Calibrate weight loss program. Calibrate combines lifestyle changes with prescription medication for sustainable weight loss.
Several of my clients have asked me about Calibrate, especially if they’re struggling to lose weight without medication. Calibrate can help you lose weight, but we need more long-term research on what happens after stopping the medication.
In this post, you’ll learn what Calibrate is, how it works, and whether it’s right for you. I’ll also share my own perspective and personal experience as a Registered Dietitian.
What is Calibrate?
Calibrate, otherwise known as “Metabolic Reset,” is a year-long weight loss program focused on sustainable weight loss. It was founded in 2020 by Isabelle Kenyon, a former investment banker.
Calibrate’s 2023 Results Report presents an average weight loss of 15% sustained for two years. This is promising compared to other long-term weight loss plans, which typically end in weight regain.
Calibrate’s focus on 4 components of metabolic health – food, sleep, exercise, and emotional health – sets it apart from most weight loss programs. Research supports this comprehensive approach for long-term weight loss.
The Metabolic Reset program has 3 parts:
- Coaching: Every other week, you meet virtually with an accountability coach for 15 minutes. Your coach helps break down your goals into actionable steps.
- Lifestyle changes: There are 1-2 lessons each week (about 30 minutes total) that cover food, sleep, exercise, and emotional health.
- Prescription medications: Calibrate doctors prescribe GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) medications, like Ozempic for weight loss. These drugs help you lose weight by slowing digestion and curbing your appetite.
How Does It Work?
Metabolic Reset is a year-long, online program. Here is the breakdown of the steps involved and how it works.
1. Check your eligibility
First, check if you’re eligible to join with a two-minute quiz. Here are the requirements:
- Be between 18 and 64 years old
- Have a BMI >30 or >27 with a metabolic condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- Have commercial or employer insurance
- Live in the United States
- Not be pregnant or breastfeeding
- Not have a history of certain medical conditions such as:
- Active substance misuse
- An active eating disorder
- Type 1 diabetes
- Bariatric surgery in the past 18 months
- Active gallbladder disease
- Pancreatitis in the past six months
- A history of thyroid cancer
2. Complete a health intake form
Second, complete a health intake form that asks you questions about your medical history and health goals. This takes about 20 minutes.
3. Get your labs
The next step is to get lab work. Calibrate sends an order to your closest Quest or LabCorp, to your primary care provider, or to another local healthcare facility. Some of the required labs include Cr/GFR to measure your kidney function, hemoglobin A1C or fasting glucose to measure your blood sugar, and thyroid-stimulating hormone.
4. Review the welcome kit
About a week after enrolling, you’ll receive a welcome kit in the mail. This kit includes orientation tools and a smart scale that syncs to the Calibrate app.
5. Download the Calibrate app
Download the Calibrate app to track your progress, complete lessons, and communicate with Calibrate’s medical and support team.
6. Meet with your Calibrate doctor
Meet your Calibrate doctor during a 30-minute virtual visit to review your health history, labs, and prescription plan.
7. Begin the Metabolic Reset program
Now, the year-long program officially begins. The program consists of four levels: learning, practicing, setting, and sustaining.
You meet biweekly with your accountability coach and complete the weekly lessons during this time.
As you progress, you’re given more flexibility to focus on the health goals most important to you. Sample goals may be:
- Establishing a bedtime window
- Getting 150 minutes of weekly movement
- Reducing stress
When you complete the program, you can enroll in a Calibrate Masters Program to help you maintain your goals.
What Can You Eat?
If calorie counting, meal replacements, and meal plans aren’t for you, you’re in luck. Calibrate is very clear: its food program is not a diet. Instead, choosing high-quality foods helps you “rebalance” your diet.
Calibrate teaches you how to rank the quality of your foods using a triangle system. You’ll look at how processed a food is, its carb/fiber ratio, and the quality of its fat. This flexible approach helps you create healthy habits, not restrictions.
Recommended foods include:
- Dairy or plant-based alternatives
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
Less recommended foods include:
- Refined grains (white bread, pasta, and rice)
- Sweetened drinks
- Processed foods (cookies, cakes, candy, chips)
Pros and Cons
When deciding if the Calibrate weight loss program is right for you, there are pros and cons to consider.
- Uses research-based lessons
- Includes personalized coaching
- Combines lifestyle changes and medication – which can be particularly effective
- Focuses on sustainable weight loss
- Covered by most insurance companies
- Has a flexible food approach
- Guarantees 10% weight loss or your money back
- Has strict eligibility requirements
- Possible medication side effects
- Risk of weight regain
- The program does not include the cost of medications and labs
- Not covered by Medicare
My biggest concern is the risk of weight regain after stopping the GLP-1 medications. Once you come off these medications, your appetite (and thus your weight) can return.
Does It Help You Lose Weight?
Calibrate does help you lose weight. But it’s essential to look at the research, not just Calibrate’s reported results, for a more balanced perspective.
Calibrate reports an average weight loss of 15.6% in one year. Members who stuck with the program had an average weight loss of 16.8% in two years. The weight stays off, with Calibrate’s earliest members sustaining an average of 15% weight loss at two years.
As a registered dietitian, I’m always thinking about the long-term results of weight loss programs. Here is what the research tells us about weight loss on GLP-1 medications like the ones used in the Calibrate program.
- Study 1: Semaglutide led to an average weight loss of 14.9% at 68 weeks compared to 2.4% in the placebo group. This study did not report if the weight stayed off after 68 weeks.
- Study 2: Liraglutide led to an average weight loss of 4.2% at 7 months and 7.1% at 12 months. This study did not report if the weight loss was maintained.
- Study 3: Dulagludite led to an average weight loss of 6.8 pounds after 6 months, which stayed between 7.7 and 8.8 pounds for up to 30 months in people who kept taking the drug. When people stopped taking dulaglutide, their initial weight loss did not last.
The research suggests you can lose weight by taking GLP-1s. But we need more unbiased and longer-term studies to know if the weight stays off or if you’ll have to take the medication indefinitely.
Calibrate members also report many non-scale successes.
- Members lose an average of 6 inches off their waistlines. This is a great measure of fat loss vs. weight loss.
- 98% of members improve at least one metabolic marker, such as measures of diabetes and heart disease risk.
- About half of the members reported improved diet and exercise, 27% reported improved emotional health, and 38% reported improved sleep.
Calibrate Side Effects
It is important to consider the side effects of the GLP-1 medications Calibrate doctors prescribe.
Here are the most common side effects:
- Reactions at the injection site
- Upper respiratory and urinary tract infections
There are also more serious, but less researched, side effects:
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Pancreatic cancer
- Increased heart rate
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Acute kidney injury
Calibrate Weight Loss Reviews
Hundreds of customers are sharing their experiences using the Calibrate weight loss program. Reviews on Consumer Affairs average 4.4/5 stars and on Trustpilot average 3.3/5 stars.
A 5-star reviewer shared “For the first time ever, I have a healthy, balanced relationship with food and exercise.”
Another 5-star reviewer shared “I am confident that I finally have the tools and support to make my diet and lifestyle changes permanent. I recommend Calibrate wholeheartedly to anyone struggling to lose weight and keep it off.”
The main complaints are about Calibrate’s customer service, prescription waiting times, and slow communication.
I have had several clients interested in Calibrate, but some were not sure about the medication component. Many of my clients want to lose weight without medication ideally, but this can sometimes be difficult. As a weight loss dietitian, I always guide my clients on the best weight loss method for them and the most sustainable.
Is Calibrate Sustainable? The Bottom Line
Calibrate’s combination of lifestyle changes with medication has promising results, but I’d like to see more long-term follow-up.
A medication-based program like this may be a less invasive alternative to bariatric surgery. If you’re considering the Calibrate weight loss program, talk to your doctor and consider working with a registered dietitian.
Do you want to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way? Check out more tips on how to do this:
Permanent Weight Loss – Is It Possible?
The All-or-Nothing Diet Mentality – How to Stop It
High Protein Meal Prep for Weight Loss
Calibrate’s sustainable approach and results are encouraging. But it’s expensive, there is a risk of weight regain after stopping the medication, and there are common gastrointestinal side effects.
2. How much weight can you lose on Calibrate?
Calibrate members have an average weight loss of 15% sustained for 2 years. If you don’t lose 10% of your weight in the first year, you’re guaranteed your money back.
3. How much does the Calibrate weight loss program cost?
The year-long program costs $1,649, which doesn’t include labs and medication. However, most insurance plans cover labs. And if the cost of your GLP-1 is more than $25 per month, Calibrate refunds you.
4. Do I have to track calories on Calibrate?
No, Calibrate does not use calorie tracking. Instead, it uses an intuitive triangle system to rank food quality.
5. What medication does Calibrate prescribe?
Calibrate prescribes GLP-1s, which are a class of medications that help control blood sugar levels that also result in weight loss as a side effect. Some of the medications you may be prescribed may be Dulaglutide (Trulicity®), Semaglutide (Wegovy®), Ozempic®, Rybelsus®, Liraglutide (Saxenda®), or Victoza®.