With the steady rise in obesity, the demand for weight loss drugs continues to grow. Although these drugs aren’t a shortcut to perfect health, they can certainly help speed up the weight loss process. If you’ve ever done any research into diet pills, then there’s a good chance you’ve already come across one of the most popular options: Orlistat.
What is Orlistat
Orlistat is the generic name for an extremely popular weight loss drug. It’s sold as a prescription-strength drug under the name Xenical, but it’s also available as an over-the-counter medicine, marketed as Alli.
But just how effective is orlistat, and what are the side effects? Here’s everything you need to know about this popular fat blocker.
What are alli and Xenical?
Xenical, the prescription-strength form of orlistat, is often prescribed to help treat obesity. This means it’s only prescribed to patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over. If a patient has other risk factors like hypertension, hyperlipidemia or diabetes, Xenical will be considered if they have a BMI of 27 or higher. However, Xenical alone is not a solution for obesity, and it’s only prescribed as an adjunct to a healthier lifestyle.
Like most prescription weight loss drugs, Xenical is only prescribed after other solutions have failed. Doctors will first recommend a calorie-reduced diet and a more active routine to help patients lose weight.
Orlistat is also available as an over-the-counter medicine, marketed under the name Alli. Alli is widely available in the United States and the United Kingdom, and with a 60mg dosage, it’s half the strength of Xenical.
How does orlistat (Alli) work
Orlistat is what’s known as a ‘fat blocker’, and helps block the absorption of dietary fats, reducing your overall calorie intake.
It works by blocking pancreatic lipase, which is the enzyme that breaks down triglycerides in the intestine. Triglycerides are the main form of fat in your body, and without this enzyme, the triglycerides in your diet can’t be hydrolyzed into absorbable free fatty acids. Any undigested fat then passes through the digestive tract and is expelled in your bowel movements. This is what’s known as steatorrhea.
However, orlistat doesn’t block all calorie absorption, as doing so would leave you with no calories to survive on. Because of this, it’s important to remember that a reduced calorie intake is still essential to losing weight when using orlistat.
Orlistat side effects
Like all medicines, orlistat can cause uncomfortable side effects. These are likely to be more pronounced through the use of Xenical, but side effects can also occur in the over-the-counter version of orlistat.
Though not all orlistat side effects are serious, it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering taking the weight loss drug. That way, you can monitor your health and note anything that feels unusual as your body adjusts to the medicine.
Some of the most common side effects of orlistat are:
- Bladder pain
- Fatty, oily or loose stools
- Increased flatulence, sometimes with discharge
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
- Cold-like symptoms
- Back pain
Check with your doctor if these symptoms are causing you severe discomfort, or if they continue as your body adjusts to the medicine. You may be given something to help treat the side effects or be prescribed an alternative medicine.
Less common side effects include blood in your urine, shortness of breath, difficult or painful urination, confusion, dramatic mood changes, an increased heart rate and severe abdominal pain. If you experience any of these more serious side effects, seek medical advice immediately.
Not everyone will experience side effects on orlistat. However, due to the medicine’s mechanism of action, uncomfortable bowel side effects are common with this drug. Because of this, many people prefer natural weight loss solutions.
Orlistat vs phentermine
Phentermine is the most popular weight loss drug in the US, and is more widely-prescribed than orlistat. The effectiveness of phentermine is often compared with that of orlistat. However, although they’re both prescribed to help treat obesity, the two drugs are actually very different. Whilst orlistat works as a fat blocker to prevent fat from being absorbed by the body, phentermine is a stimulant that has an anorectic effect. It works by stimulating the release of catecholamines, which help stop hunger signals and diminish your appetite.
Both orlistat and phentermine are proven to be effective weight loss aids, but phentermine is only recommended for short-term use. Orlistat can be prescribed indefinitely if it proves effective for treating obesity. However, orlistat is more expensive than phentermine, and a long-term prescription can incur huge costs. Because of this, phentermine remains doctors’ first choice for prescriptions.
Unlike orlistat, phentermine isn’t available as an over-the-counter drug. This makes Alli a popular option for people whose BMI doesn’t fall into the obesity category.
Find out more in our Ultimate Guide to Phentermine
Now you know a little more about orlistat, you can make an informed decision about whether Alli or Xenical are right for you. However, if you want to avoid the side effects associated with orlistat, or if you’re hesitant about weight loss drugs altogether, you should consider a natural alternative.
That’s where PhenQ comes in.
PhenQ is a prescription-free, natural alternative to phentermine, and combines the effects of both an appetite suppressant and a fat burner into one handy pill. Because it’s made of 100% natural ingredients, it’s easy to buy and completely safe to use, making it a great option for people who can’t get prescription drugs.
Like any weight loss solution, PhenQ is designed to complement a healthy and active lifestyle. By suppressing your appetite and helping your body burn more fat, PhenQ helps you achieve your weight loss goal faster than dieting alone. Plus, by boosting your energy levels, this natural solution helps you feel more motivated to work out!
Losing weight has never been simpler.