An Effective and Painless Weight Loss Guide


Weight loss is never easy, and the two biggest factors that can affect your success are your determination and endless temptations.

Dr. Terence Tan of Halley Medical Aesthetics understands this and the painful struggles with weight loss, so he has written a weight loss guide that balances your determination and the temptations to make it effective and painless. And you heard that right, weight loss can actually be painless, according to Dr. Terence Tan.

“I eat healthily and exercise, why am I still not losing weight?!”

More often than not, this is the first question that Dr. Terence Tan always got from his patients.

And Dr. Terence Tan explained, “The main reason why you are not losing weight is that your body is in caloric excess. To lose weight, you need to be in caloric deficit and this means you need to use more energy than you consume.”

Weight loss is about achieving “caloric deficit”.

Dr. Terence Tan puts this in perspective using numbers.

An average adult male needs around 2,100 kcal a day to maintain healthy body weight. An average adult female needs about 1,800 kcal a day. This daily requirement varies according to factors such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Activity level

If you have a deskbound job, you’ll need fewer calories than a salesman or waiter who is often on the move. Hence, if you’re a male and you eat more than 2,100 kcal a day, you’ll need to burn off the extra calories or you will gain weight.

Weight loss is not all about eating healthy salads.

Many people like to think that they are eating healthily. However, the food we perceive as “healthy”, may be far from it.

Let’s take a look at Subway, the fast-food chain that is positioned as a healthier choice. Their set meal that comes with a sandwich, a drink, and two cookies is a popular choice amongst the office workers.

However, when you take a closer look at the calories these items provide, it actually adds up more than 1,000 calories! This makes up half of your required daily calorie intake. Bear in mind that this is only one meal.

Food itemEnergy (kcal)
Oven roasted chicken on multigrain bread with cheese & mayonnaise437
Coke (300 ml)139
Chocolate chip cookie209
Peanut butter cookie216

How to cut down on your calorie intake?

I often advise my patients to change up their food choices.

Food itemEnergy (kcal)
Oven roasted chicken on multigrain bread with honey mustard323
Coke Zero0
Chocolate chip cookie209
Total 532

This way, you’ve successfully cut down your calorie intake almost by half! By making simple changes to your food choices, you can save a lot of unwanted calories.

In this example, you are cutting out 469 kcal daily, which is equivalent to losing about 46g of fat.

At one glance, it might not seem significant. However, if you multiply that by a month, you can potentially lose 1.3 kg. In a year, you can lose more than 15 kg!

Most doctors and dieticians like to build meal plans from scratch. However, I prefer to eliminate certain high-calorie foods from your normal intake to make it easier to follow.

It is like pouring water out of a full glass rather than filling up an empty glass to get a glass half full! Same result, different method.

“Is there an easier way to lose weight?”

The truth is, diets are an integral part of weight loss. However, what you can do to ease this seemingly arduous task is to make small changes in your daily diet. This will help you stay within your daily caloric requirement. More importantly, it will help you achieve sustainable weight loss.

Here is a chart to elaborate on the example that Dr. Terence Tan has given above to show how much calories you can remove just by making simple changes to your food choices.

Instead of:Replace with:You cut:
Subway Club sandwich with cheese 317 kcalSubway Club sandwich without cheese 278 kcal39 kcal or 4 g of fat
1 tbsp mayonnaise 107 kcal2 tsp mustard 7 kcal100 kcal or 10 g of fat
16.9oz Coke 201 kcal16.9oz Coke Zero 0 kcal201 kcal or 20 g of fat
Starbucks Venti latte 300 kcal (of which 140 kcal comes from milk)


  • with no sugar 0 kcal
  • with 1 tsp sugar 16 kcal
  • 300 kcal or 30 g of fat
  • 284 kcal or 28 g of fat

While milk is healthy, it also contains a lot of fat. By removing milk and sugar from your coffee every day, you can potentially lose close to 1 kg a month or 12 kg in a year!  These small changes amount to significant fat loss over time.

Giving up our favourite foods like fried chicken, creamy pasta, and ice cream is a big sacrifice! Here’s the good news: you don’t have to stop eating them completely.

I always advise my patients to cut down their total caloric intake by making small sacrifices on a regular basis. That way, you can still enjoy these high caloric foods occasionally. However, that doesn’t mean binge-eating! You still have to eat in moderation and maintain a caloric deficit to achieve weight loss.

That is why my weight loss principle is to find pain-free ways to take out the calories from your diet. This makes it easier for you to keep this up for a longer period of time.


“It’s so troublesome to keep watching what I eat!”

Many times, following a strict diet like just salads, is what makes losing weight impossible for some people. It seems like more you try to starve, the more you seem to put on. So how do some people do it successfully?

Here is where Dr. Terence Tan’s concept defers from some other doctors. It is difficult to lose weight, but he believes it can be made easier if we:

1. Adopt pain-free ways to cut calories from your daily diet.

2. Start the process with weight loss medications.

Why take medications for weight loss?

From Dr. Terence Tan’s experience, he believes that short-term weight loss medications can help many people, even if the experts said that based on their studies, medications are only for people with a body mass index (BMI) of above 30.

Firstly, doctors in Singapore hardly see many patients with a BMI of above 30.

Secondly, results are based on big medical trials done by experts to prove pre-conceived theories. In this case, the studies are designed to compare the risk of taking medications to the complications associated with being overweight.

How about societal concerns of being overweight? Do they measure the risk of taking weight loss medications to achieve societal acceptance, to find a job, a girlfriend or a boyfriend if one is not overweight? No medical trial measures that stuff.

These studies have no means of measuring intangible things like that. If that is the case, are we still so sure that we should not be helping more people lose weight with medications?

When is the best time to introduce weight loss medications?

Phase 1: Ease initial weight loss pains with medications

The journey to achieving sustained weight loss is generally divided into two phases. Phase 1 is the active weight loss phase.

Many of my patients consider this as the most difficult and painful phase. This is when your diet is heavily restricted and you have to exercise far more than you used to. During this phase, I believe that it’s crucial to use weight loss medications.

It helps you to cope better with your hunger pangs. Furthermore, weight loss medications allow you to see rapid weight loss. Rapid weight loss is a great motivator. Motivation is the single most vital driving force in any weight loss journey!

Phase 2: Weight loss maintenance 

By this stage, you would have achieved your ideal weight. The goal now is for you to maintain a caloric balance. If you’ve achieved your desired weight, you should stop or cut down on your medications.

Reason being, there’s no need to maintain an ultra-low calorie diet any more. This means you’re now able to eat more than what you could in phase one. It might sound like a relief, but many people who have successfully lost the extra weight feels that they are losing ground.

You should be motivated by the fact that you have already lost all the weight you need to. You just need to maintain it.

Who provides weight loss treatments in Singapore?

Firstly, there are beauty salons who sell weight loss programmes. They provide a range of services such as machine treatments, meal replacements, and even counselling.

Secondly, there are some clinics that prescribe medications that curb appetite or ‘block’ fat.

Last but not least, there are aesthetic and plastic surgery clinics. They help you with weight loss through performing invasive or non-invasive fat reduction treatments.

While there are many reputable clinics and salons who have successfully help some patients slim down, I feel that not many offer a full suite of services that address all aspects of slimming.

Understanding your weight loss concerns

When I talk to my patients, there are a couple of concerns that I hear all the time. They want the process to be:

1. Fast

2. Easy

3. Safe

Those who want it fast would go to beauty salons. Those who want it safe would go to GP clinics for medications and those who want it easy would go to aesthetic doctors or plastic surgeons. What about those who want all three? There are not many places that they can go to.

What are the key principles that contribute to a successful weight loss programme?

To Dr. Terence Tan, a successful programme is one where you’ve lost enough weight to be self-motivated to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life independently.

Weight loss treatment principle 1: Go big or go home

During the first meeting with your weight loss doctor, you should undergo a full-body check-up.

It should include a full-body examination, body fat analysis, BMI analysis, waist circumference measurement, and blood pressure measurement.

From there, your doctor will work with a nutritionist to customise a weight loss plan. They will be able to determine your optimal weight, optimal daily calorie intake, and craft a nutrition strategy.

You’ll also get insights on dieting, healthy eating, exercising, and lifestyle, as well as discuss common misconceptions on dieting and nutrition. This plan must be safe and promises realistic results.

From his experience, he knows that many patients need to see rapid weight loss at phase one to be motivated to continue the fight for weight loss.

This is why he often includes weight loss medications at the start of my programmes. They can help suppress appetite and prevent fat from being digested by the body.

How long after starting on a programme can I expect to see results?

In all of Dr. Terence Tan’s patients, he noticed that there has been no lag time in weight loss. As long as there is a negative calorie balance on your daily routine, there will be weight loss.

Weight loss treatment principle 2: Safety 

Treatments all need to be scientific and safe. Even with well-studied, medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), side effects can and infrequently do occur.

Every now and then, we hear of complications resulting in people consuming off-the-counter slimming supplements and landing up in hospital. While some of these supplements might end up being effective, but don’t be the first one to test them out!

In Dr. Terence Tan’s practice, the medications he prescribed are all FDA-approved. These medications are clinically-tested and safe. The dosage and duration will be prescribed personally by him, and the patient’s progress will be closely monitored.

How safe are weight loss programmes in Singapore?

Meal replacements like Optifast and body contouring treatments like CoolSculpting have been approved by the FDA. This is a stamp of approval that indicates that they are safe and effective.


This is prescribed for patients who may not need weight loss medications but require a low-calorie diet. It’s also for patients who prefer not to consume weight loss medications.

Nestlé’s Optifast®, for instance, is a meal replacement product dedicated to clinic-use. It needs to be consumed under the guidance of a qualified nutritionist or doctor.

Although individual results vary, based on studies, the typical patient on a full Optifast diet loses an average of 22 kg in 26 weeks. It is a clinically-proven meal replacement product to help overweight patients lose excess weight, improve health, and lower weight-related health risks.


CoolSculpting is for body contouring, not weight loss. This no downtime, non-invasive fat reduction treatment is good for removing stubborn fat that still lingers on despite a lot of exercises.

It uses a cooling temperature to remove fat in the double-chin, arms, armpit area, abdomen, love handles, thighs, back or bra fat, knee and other areas.

While not all weight loss patients require a CoolSculpting treatment, it will certainly help those who desire a more sculpted body shape. The results from CoolSculpting can be considered as more long-lasting. This treatment is cleared by the US FDA, and is safe.

Weight loss treatment principle 3: Sustainability 

Weight loss treatments need to be sustainable. You need to be committed and keep going at it until you see results. Once you see great initial results, you’ll be hungry for more. Trust me, after this hurdle, your weight loss process will only get easier!

By the time you’re able to self-motivate, you wouldn’t need the help from a doctor anymore.

Weight loss treatment principle 4: Body contouring

Some of you can be too focused on just getting the numbers on the weighing scale down. In the midst of that pursuit, they forget about their body shape.

There are great machines to help you reduce fat over stubborn places in a non-invasive manner. Looking good is not just about being skinny.

For example, CoolSculpting is meant for body contouring, not weight loss. This no downtime, non-invasive fat reduction treatment is used to remove stubborn fat that will not go away with exercise.

It uses a cooling temperature to remove fat in the double-chin, arms, armpit area, abdomen, love handles, thighs, back or bra fat, knee and other areas.

How much does a weight management programme in Singapore cost?

To help with your research and better planning of your budget, Dr. Terence Tan has listed a rough guideline of the cost of the treatments that he has mentioned.

Weight loss programmes with a doctor and/or nutritionist and medications:   $660 – $990

Nutritionist counselling:                                                                                                    $100

As for CoolSculpting, the total cost will depend on how many applicators your doctor prescribes for you based on your needs and expectations. 



How do you decide which programme is best for you?

Weight loss is difficult, so you want to make sure you have a strategy that will motivate you and help you stay on track. Therefore, always ensure to let your doctor assess your suitability for any weight loss treatments.

To summarise, the 4 weight loss key points you need to remember: 

  • To lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than what your body burns each day.
  • Your food choices may not be as healthy as you think. So always check before you eat!
  • Eat within your daily caloric requirements and exercise to burn off those calories. You don’t have to avoid all your favourite foods!
  • Make your weight loss sustainable by incorporating small changes to reduce your daily caloric intake.

Now that you understand why you should achieve caloric deficit to lose weight (i.e. use more energy than you consume), you can now look forward to a healthier life!


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