As you may have noticed, it’s not too hard to find a drug or supplement that claims it can help you lose weight. While some weight-loss medications need to be purchased through a prescription from your physician, most can be purchased over-the-counter at your local supermarket or drug store.
One weight loss aid that has received quite a bit of press (some good, and honestly, quite a bit that isn’t so great) is Alli. But then again, any medication that comes with a laundry list of possible side effects including “gas with an oily anal discharge” is bound to get peoples’ attention. But I’m getting ahead of myself here—before we get to the potential side effects, let’s start off by taking a closer look at what Alli is, and how it works.
Alli is a reduced-strength version of orlistat, a drug that helps treat obesity. When sold as a prescription, orlistat goes by the name of Xenical. Alli is meant for overweight adults over the age of 18, and it is intended to be combined with a healthy, low-fat diet and an exercise program.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, Alli works by reducing the amount of fat that is absorbed by the intestines, which in turn reduces the number of calories that your body will absorb. More specifically, Alli gets into the digestive tract and prevents lipase, a naturally-occurring enzyme, from doing its job of breaking down fats from the foods we eat. So with lipase not allowed to do its job, the fats just keep on heading down through the intestines and are eliminated.
You can take Alli up to three times a day, and because of its effect on fat processing, you are only supposed to eat up to 15 grams of fat with each meal. If you eat more than this, you can run into the not-so-pleasant side effect noted above, as well as diarrhea and the urgent need to get to a bathroom immediately to have a bowel movement (which is fine if you’re at home, but if you are on a long line at Target waiting to check out, it could cause some problems).
Additional side effects, according to the Drugs.com website, include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
So, does Alli work? From what I have read, it looks like Alli can help you lose weight, but probably just a few pounds more than you could do on your own through cutting calories and getting more exercise. There have been some studies conducted on orlistat, but only the Xenical-version (which offers a dose of 120 mg, as opposed to 60 of Alli). The results show that the average person on Xenical lost just five to seven more pounds over the course of a whole year, compared to someone who just dieted and exercised.
There have also been some pretty serious concerns about Alli and its effect on the liver. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) heard about some cases of liver damage in people who took Alli. Although no definite cause and effect was proven, if you do decide to take Alli, it would be wise to keep your eyes open for any sign of liver issues, like jaundice, brown urine, weakness or fatigue.
Have you ever tried Alli? If so, what did you think of it? Did it help you lose weight, or were the side effects too much?