Losing weight1 can be an uphill struggle. Particularly if you have more than just a few pounds to lose.
There are times when you may get disheartened and wish there was a magic pill you could take to help you.
Unfortunately, just like unicorns, this does not exist. There are however diet pills which may help a little.
One such pill is Alli.
Unlike herbal dietary supplements for weight loss this product is a pharmaceutical one. It is available over the counter.
Let’s have a look at what it is and what it can do.
What Is Alli?
This is the only FDA approved over the counter weight loss pill.
It is produced by the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. They research, develop and manufacture pharmaceutical medications, vaccines and consumer health products.
They class themselves as a science led healthcare company. The company is the result of a merger in 2000 of Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. Each of these companies was founded in the late 1800’s.
So what makes Alli different from other diet aids? Time to see what’s in it.
There is only one active ingredient in this product and that is Orlistat.
This was approved for pharmaceutical use as Xenical in 1999. It is prescribed to treat obesity alongside a low fat calorie controlled diet. It was approved in a lower dosage for over the counter sale in 2007.
Alli contains 60mg of Orlistat as opposed to Xenical 120mg.
Orlistat2 has been shown to block fat from being absorbed into our system. It blocks an enzyme in our stomach called lipase. Lipase is essential to the digestion of the fats that we eat.
Orlistat is a fat blocker. It prevents lipase from breaking down fat. The fat that is not broken down is not absorbed. It is expelled from the body.
This product has been shown to reduce the absorption of dietary fat by about a third.
How Does Alli Work?
We have briefly touched on how the active ingredient in this product works. Let’s look a bit closer.
There have been many clinical studies on the effect of Orlistat in treating obesity. The bottom line is that it can help reduce the amount of fat that your body absorbs. It does not give you carte blanche to eat what you want. In order to lose weight and for these pills to be beneficial there are caveats.
- It is recommended that you have a BMI of 25 or over to use these pills. Not sure of your BMI? You can use a calculator to give you an idea.
- You also have to be over the age of 18.
- The other recommendation is that you follow a healthy diet and exercise plan. It also recommends that you do not eat more than 30% fat in each meal.
There are many reasons why may gain weight, from diet to medical conditions.
Most people gain weight because they eat more calories than their body uses. This causes you to store excess calories in fat cells in the form of glucose. If this glucose isn’t used up, the fat cells will grow larger.
By preventing some of the fat that we eat from being absorbed, our body turns to our fat reserves for energy. This in turn means that we may lose weight.
One of the largest studies of the effects of Orlistat was carried out in Sweden. It showed that using this combined with diet and exercise may help you lose 50% more weight than diet and exercise alone.
It is worth noting that the weight loss with this product is not fast, the above study was conducted over 4 years. The greatest weight loss was achieved at the 1 year mark. Some participants gained some weight after that.
The other health benefits to take from this are:
- Reduced Type 2 Diabetes: The participants in the above study reduced the risk by 37%.
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular issues: One study has shown that orlistat may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in obese patients.
- Reduced cholesterol levels: Orlistat may help with lowering the levels of overall and LDL cholesterol.
Alli Side Effects
There are some of people who may not take this product. The company website advises:
The Alli label instructs consumers that it not be used:
- if you are taking cyclosporine
- if you had an organ transplant (it may interfere with the medicines used to prevent transplant rejection)
- if you have been diagnosed with problems absorbing food
- if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in alli® capsules
- if you are not overweight
- if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
Ask a doctor before use if you ever had:
- gallbladder problems, kidney stones or pancreatitis
Ask a doctor or pharmacist before use if you are:
- taking warfarin (blood thinning medicine). Your medication may need to be adjusted.
- taking medicine for diabetes or thyroid disease. Your medication may need to be adjusted.
- taking antiretrovirals (HIV medicine). Your medication may need to be adjusted.
- taking medicine for seizures.
- or taking other weight-loss products
Stop use and ask a doctor if:
- If you develop itching, yellow eyes of skin, dark urine, or loss of appetite. There have been rare reports of liver injury in people taking orlistat.
- Severe or continuous abdominal pain occurs. This may be a sign of a serious medical condition.
- If you are taking medicine for seizures and your seizures happen more often or get worse.
Further to that there are reported side effects. These are:
- Abdominal pain
- Frequent and uncontrollable bowel movements
- Oily discharge from the anus
The last two of these side effects appear to be the ones experienced the most. This is because of the undigested fat leaving the body.
Some people find the oily discharge may stain their underwear and clothes. Using this product may be a messy embarrassing experience. Especially if you take it when you have consumed a high fat meal. It is recommended that you have no more than 15 g of fat in each meal, and 30g per day as a maximum.
You may also find that your bowel movements are more frequent and less easy to control. Another side effect of the unabsorbed fat.
Continued use of this product may also block the absorption of certain fat soluble vitamins. These may be vitamins A, D, E and K. It is recommended you take a multivitamin two hours before or after taking the product.
Alli Reviews & Complaints
There are many reviews for this product. Of 2882 reviews on Amazon 64% are and above giving it a 3.6 rating overall.
There are many people that have used this product and lost weight. But even the happy customers comment on the side effects of eating too much fat.
Alli is not a magic bullet, but with the proper diet and exercise, it has helped me lose 88 pounds. Yes, there are unwanted side effects if you eat too much fat (gas and oily stools mainly). But knowing those side effects would happen if I ate too much fat kept me away from really fatty meals. I will continue to take this as I try to lose my last 20 pounds or so.
Many people have commented that it keeps them on track with their diet.
LaShanda Williams reports:
I eat between 1600-1700 calories a day, workout 4x a week, and do not exceed 57g of fat per day. This product helps keep me honest, disciplined, and taught me to avoid high-fat foods. In junction with calorie counting on MyFitnessPal, I have lost 17 lbs in 50 days. I’ll continue to use this product until the end of the year, I hope to reach ~35 lbs down by December 31st.My advice is to read and follow the instructions. Use a calorie diary of your choice to create the recommended calorie deficit (given in the instructions) and take Alli to boost it. It’ll only be an additional 100-200 calories per day, but those calories add up by the end of the week.
Then we come to the people who are not so happy. There are many comments about the unpleasant side effects.
Jody Ferris writes:
Unless you want to spend everyday on the toilet. Do not use this. You literally can’t trust a. Fart.
As well as the embarrassing side effects, some people find that the product does not work.
Definitely makes you have loose stools. You would think you are losing so much water that you would lose weight, but I never had more than 5 lbs lost each time I tried it. After a while your body gets “used to it” and the weight loss stops.
Alli: Packages, Prices & Where To Buy
You can buy this product online at Amazon, Walgreens, Target, Walmart and CVS.
The company website also has a tool which allows you to search for local outlets.
See below how the official site looks like.
Refunds & Returns
The refund and returns policy will vary between retailers so its best to check with them when you order.
Alli Pros & Cons
Alli Review: Final Verdict
There are times when dieting that you may hit a plateau. You may be finding it hard to shift those last few pounds. Sometimes it’s hard finding the motivation to get started.
This product has been clinically shown to work, but it is not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. It works in conjunction with these.
From customer reviews, if you are prepared for what may be unpleasant side effects, this may be the help you need.
If nothing else, people have commented that it helped them stick to a low fat diet.
We laid out the facts, will you buy Alli? Comment below and tell us what you think!
- Goldstein, David J. “Beneficial health effects of modest weight loss.” International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders: journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 16.6 (1992): 397-415. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/1322866
- Guerciolini, R1. “Mode of action of orlistat.” International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders: journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 21 (1997): S12-23. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/9225172