What Is Orlistat and What Is It Used for?
Orlistat is a generic brand of medicine used to treat obesity; this is where you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over. Orlistat can also be prescribed when your BMI is 28 or over, and there are other risk factors present, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Orlistat helps your body to lose weight by preventing up to one-third of dietary fat from being absorbed by the body. By using Orlistat, you could stand to lose up to 5% of your body weight in the first 3 months of treatment.
Orlistat is the only prescription-only medicine licensed in the UK to aid weight loss, making it a safe alternative to buying unregulated treatments online. However, the treatment should only ever be used in conjunction with a low-fat, low-calorie diet and an active lifestyle. Read our Orlistat Diet Plan for more information on what you should and shouldn’t eat when using this treatment.
How Does Orlistat Work?
Orlistat helps you lose weight by blocking the enzymes in your gut that digest fat. Nearly a third of the fat you eat is blocked by Orlistat, and any undigested fat is passed through your stools instead of absorbed into your body.
We understand that achieving your weight loss goals is a holistic process. That’s why we recommend combining Orlistat with a balanced, low-fat diet and regular exercise for the most effective results. If you’re having a meal without dietary fat, there’s no need to take Orlistat at that time. We understand that every meal is different, and we want to ensure that you’re using Orlistat when it can be most effective for you.
Orlistat capsules (as well as the branded version, Xenical, and the over-the-counter brand Alli) are the only licensed prescription treatment to aid healthy weight loss. This means they have gone through strict medical trials to ensure that they are both safe and effective to be prescribed by a medical professional for their intended purpose. This leaves you safe in the knowledge that the Orlistat product you buy has undergone strict regulation in their manufacture, storage, prescribing and dispensing to ensure you receive a safe and effective product, where you can be 100% certain of the ingredients.
There are many weight loss aids, supplements, herbal remedies and other preparations that are available that claim to help you lose weight. Often, these are not licensed as medical products but as foods or supplements, meaning they do not undergo strict regulation or examination before being released onto the market or during manufacture. This can lead to you needing to know exactly what is in the weight loss products you buy, which could be potentially dangerous.
Common culprits include:
- Duromine short-term diet pills
- Ephedrine lipolytic stimulant
- Phentermine stimulant diet pills
- Zantrex rapid weight loss supplement
How Does Orlistat Help With Weight Loss?
When combined with a low-calorie diet and exercise, Orlistat can help you to lose an extra 1lb for every 2lb you would lose through diet and exercise alone.
In clinical trials, almost twice as many obese patients who received Orlistat achieved an average weight loss of 10% or more of their body weight in one year compared to those relying on dietary changes alone. In addition, a significant number of patients who stopped Orlistat regained up to 35% of the weight they had lost.
How to Take Orlistat
Orlistat may be taken up to 3 times daily, 7 days a week. You may choose to take Orlistat with your meal or up to one hour after you’ve eaten.
For a meal containing between 1g and 15g of fat, you may take an Orlistat capsule with your food or up to 1 hour after eating. This will help to block up to one-third of the fat you consume whilst limiting any potential side effects.
Do not take Orlistat weight loss supplements if:
- You eat a fat-free meal (there will be no fat for Orlistat to work on)
- You skip a meal
- You eat a high-fat meal, as this will increase the potential gastrointestinal side effects
Losing Weight With Orlistat
While Orlistat may help you to lose weight, it shouldn’t be seen as a miracle treatment. To get the best results from Orlistat, you should:
- Maintain a healthy, balanced diet, and avoid high-fat junk food.
- Exercise regularly — it’s recommended to engage in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day.
- Be aware that Orlistat blocks some dietary fats from being absorbed. As a result, some fat-soluble vitamins may not be absorbed properly. For this reason, we recommend everybody who takes this medication also take multivitamins.
- Understand that weight gain is a natural part of life — as we age, we gain weight more easily, so as long as you’re maintaining a BMI between 18.5 to 24.9, there’s little need to take excessive weight loss measures or use weight loss supplements.
At The Independent Pharmacy, we know how overwhelming it can be to start your weight loss journey. It’s a task that requires discipline, but if you persist, the results will be invaluable. To make the most of your efforts, read our weight loss guide that will help you to ensure your journey is safe and effective.
Each capsule contains the active ingredient: Orlistat 120 mg.
Orlistat capsules contain the inactive ingredient: microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate, sodium lauryl sulfate, povidone, and talc. Each capsule shell contains gelatin, titanium dioxide, and FD&C Blue No.
Side Effects of Orlistat
If you do experience side effects from Orlistat they may include:
- Abdominal pains
- Bloating or wind
- Urgent need to open the bowels
- Oily, fatty, or liquid stools
These side effects are most common at the start of treatment and are most likely to occur after eating a high-fat meal.
We understand that experiencing side effects can be concerning. If you do notice some of these symptoms, please know that you’re not alone, and we recommend consulting your healthcare provider for personalised advice.
Important: By restricting your intake of dietary fat to less than 15g per main meal you will decrease the chances of these side effects.
Other less common side effects when taking Orlistat may include:
- Rectal pain/discomfort
- Soft stools
- Incontinence (stools)
- Tooth/gum disorder
- Irregularity of menstrual cycle