What is Orlistat?
Orlistat (the generic version of Xenical) is a proven weight loss treatment licensed for supply in the UK. There are 2 different strengths available. 60mg (Alli and Orlos) can be bought over the counter, 120mg is prescription only but available through the consultation service here at SimplyMeds Online.
Orlistat was given its legal license for sale in 2009 by the European Medicines Agency. It is a safer alternative to the older appetite suppressing medicines that used to be available on the market. Older medicines such as Sibutramine were loosely based on amphetamines and thus presented a danger to the patient using them. Patients would often experience many unpleasant side effects as well as other long term health problems. Orlistat works via a completely different route and doesnt present the same dangers to the patient.
How Does Orlistat Work?
Orlistat 120mg capsules are the generic version of the Roche product, Xenical. Roche is no longer the only license holder for the production of Orlistat and thus Xenical is no longer the only prescription product available for weight loss. This has resulted in a significant price reduction of available Orlistat.
Orlistat works by preventing about a third of the fat from the food you eat from being digested. The undigested fat is not absorbed, and is passed out with your faeces. Combined with a balanced diet and exercise it can be a safe and effective way to help you with your weight loss goals.
The active ingredient attaches to the enzymes in your small intestine (lipases) and blocks those from breaking down some of the fat you have eaten during your meal. The undigested fat cannot be absorbed and leaves your body when you go to the toilet.
How Effective are the Capsules?Clinical studies have found that, if used correctly, Orlistat help patients lose 50% more weight loss compared to dieting alone. As Orlistat works directly to stop dietary fat absorption, results are usually seen quite soon after starting treatment, although this is very heavily dependent on the individuals lifestyle and diet. it is recommended that the treatment be taken for at least 12 weeks to assess the rate of weight loss and whether the treatment is suitable for a longer period of time. Patients should achieve at least a 5% reduction in their overall weight within 12 weeks. As the capsules block fat absorption, Orlistat use can also result in a slight decrease in a patients serum cholesterol.
Who can use Orlistat?
The treatment can be used by patients who have a BMI (kg/m2) greater than 30 or over 28 if you also suffer from other weight related conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes (to use the NHS BMI calculator please CLICK HERE). Should your BMI drop below this point, you should consider another more suitable method for weight loss in the longer term.
Orlistat (Xenical) is usually recommended if you have made a significant effort to lose weight through diet, exercise or changing your lifestyle.
Orlistat is not recommended for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
How to take Orlistat
The usual dose of Orlistat is one 120 mg capsule taken with each of the three main meals per day. It can be taken immediately before, during a meal or up to one hour after a meal. The capsule should be swallowed with water.
Skipping Meals - There is no point taking this medication if you have not had or are not having a meal. Orlistat only works in the presence of dietary fat. Therefore, if you miss a main meal or if you have a meal containing no fat, there is no need to take a capsule.
Forgetting a Capsule - Weight loss is a steady gradual process and because of this, forgetting a single capsule will not hinder your end weight loss goal. Every capsule works only for the meal it is taken with/before. The treatment should just be continued as normal for the next meal.
Orlistat should be taken with a well-balanced, calorie controlled diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables and contains an average of 30 % of the calories from fat. Your daily intake of fat, carbohydrate and protein should be distributed evenly over three meals. This means you will usually take one capsule at breakfast time, one capsule at lunch time and one capsule at dinner time.
To gain optimal benefit, avoid eating fat containing foods between meals (snacking) for example biscuits, chocolate and savoury snacks.
Alcohol and Orlistat - Alcohol does not directly interact with the mechanism by which orlistat works and it is safe to consume alcohol whilst on this treatment. This is a double edged sword however. Although alcohol is fine with Orlistat, it conntains a large amount of calories and excessive consumption will be counter productive for weight loss. Consistent weight loss also requires willpower and alcohol can sometimes negatively affect the food choices you make whilst under its influence.
Orlistat can hinder the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Patients are advised to take a daily multivitamin as part of their diet. The multivitamin should be taken at least 2 hours after taking Orlistat or before going to bed.
High fat diets should be avoided when taking Orlistat and Orlistat should not just be used when you are having a high fat meal. There is a higher incidence of unwanted side effects (including flatulence, oily stools, bloating etc) when Orlistat is taken with a high fat diet.