Orlistat a weight loss pill that is available by prescription as “Xenical” and a less potent over-the-counter weight loss pill called “Alli” (you might have seen the commercials).
It has been developed and marketed primarily by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline and has seen widespread success in sales as well as some consistent, if modest weight loss results. If you want something that has been well-studied and proven, Orlistat is a good option but its definitely not any cheaper than your average weight loss pills and you could be in for a surprise with the side effects.
What’s in Orlistat?
Orlistat is basically just the trade name of a single chemical:
This is a chemical derivative of the pancreatic lipase inhibitor lipstatin. If you’re not familiar with enzymes, lipase is excreted by the pancreas into your stomach and intestines to emulsify and break down fats so that they can be absorbed into the body, used as energy, or (the bad one) stored as body fat. By keeping lipase from doing its job, the dietary fat you take in just flows straight through you and out the other end. It can make for some unpleasant experiences in the bathroom, but it has been proven to promote weight loss.
As for how MUCH weight loss, well, the results have been pretty modest for prescription weight loss pills or otherwise. Over the course of a year, people given Orlistat in addition to a restricted diet and regular exercise lost between 4-6 pounds more than the control group. Though the results were statistically significant, 6 pounds isn’t exactly a good value after buying a years worth of weight loss pills.
Is Orlistat Safe?
Orlistat is generally considered safe. There are a number of side effects associated with regular use, but these are basically more disgusting/uncomfortable than they are dangerous. Commonly experienced side effects include:
- Oil leakage onto underwear or clothing.
- Excess gas
- Loose, oily stools
- Difficult to control diarrhea
- Rectal discomfort
- Stomach pain
- Irregular menstrual periods
Since Orlistat blocks your body’s absorption of some fat-soluble vitamins, you should supplement it with a daily multivitamin containing Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B-Carotene.
How Much is Orlistat?
A one month supply of Orlistat (in OTC form of Alli) sells for $55 but does come with a 90 day money-back guarantee. If you run the numbers, in order to get the clinically proven results of 6 extra pounds of weight loss, you’ll be buying a year’s worth for about $520 or more. Since you’ve got 90 days to decide whether or not to return it but should only be expecting less than one pound lost, it will be pretty tricky to figure out whether Orlistat is working for you.
Are There any Cons to Orlistat?
- Very weak weight loss results
- Uncomfortable/embarrassing side effects
Is Orlistat Worth Purchasing?
We definitely like that Orlistat has scientifically proven effects that can promote weight loss from excess fat intake but unfortunately the the results are less than impressive for the price. While its important to be realistic about weight loss and put in the time and energy to diet and exercise, the side effects of Orlistat almost make it seem like it would be more difficult to hit the gym.
For instance, can you imagine being on the treadmill or elliptical only to realize that you’ve got oily leakage seeping through your shorts? Not the kind of risk I want to take for $55 a month. There are definitely better weight loss pills out there for the same money that can help you out rather than embarrass you at the gym.