What is Orlistat and what Is It used for?
Orlistat 120mg is a prescription-only weight loss aid for adult patients with a BMI over 30 or for those with associated risk factors (such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol) and a BMI above 28. It is currently the only approved weight loss medication in the UK and combined with a healthy lower-calorie, reduced-fat diet and exercise it can help you lose more weight than by dieting alone.
What is the active ingredient in Orlistat?
Orlistat is the generic name for the active ingredient orlistat at a dose of 120mg.
How does it work?
Unlike an appetite suppressant, the drug reduces the amount of fat absorbed by your body from your food. Orlistat attaches to the stomach enzyme lipase, effectively blocking it from breaking down and digesting some fat molecules. As a result, the fat passes straight through your system and is excreted.
How should I take Orlistat?
Swallow a pill whole with water three times a day, either before, during or up to one hour after meals. It is not recommended you take the medicine for more than 6 months and if you don’t see any results after 3 months, discontinue the treatment. You should not take a slimming capsule if you skip a meal or if you eat a meal deficient in fat. Taking orlistat makes it more difficult for your body to absorb certain vitamins so it is important to take multivitamin supplements of vitamins A, D, E, and K at bedtime.
Is Orlistat effective? How fast does it work?
With a healthy diet and an exercise regime, Orlistat can help you lose 5% of your initial body weight after three months of treatment.
It begins to work as soon as you take it and you can see results depending on your lifestyle changes.
Can I take Orlistat?
The tablets of 120mg orlistat are for those who are medically obese, that is, with a BMI of 30 and above. It is especially useful for those who suffer from a chronic disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. You should not take this medication if you are pregnant.
How does it help lose weight that I already have?
Orlistat prevents your body absorbing a quarter of the fat molecules that you eat. Without this extra fat, your body starts to utilise stored fat to obtain energy for daily activity.
What is the difference between Orlistat, Xenical, and Alli?
These all possess the same active substance, orlistat. Xenical is the branded variety of 120mg orlistat, Alli is the brand name for 60mg of orlistat, and Orlistat is orlistat in its generic form (also 120mg). The lower 60mg dose present in Alli is recommended if you are overweight (BMI 28+), while the higher dose of 120mg in Xenical and Orlistat is to help weight loss in obese (BMI 30+) patients. While Xenical and Generic Orlistat are prescription-only medication, Alli is available over the counter from UK pharmacies.
What are the side effects of Orlistat?
The main side effects of Orlistat inlcude:
- oily rectal discharge
- passing gas with oily discharge
- abdominal pain
- low blood sugar
- urgent need to have a bowel movement
- liquid oily or fatty stools
- increased number of bowel movements
- being unable to control your bowel movements
All medications can cause side effects. You may not experience any of them. The majority of the common side effects experienced with Orlistat are related to the way it works in your digestive system. These side effects are usually mild, occur at the beginning of treatment, and particularly after high fat meals. Normally these symptoms will subside as you continue treatment and follow your recommended diet.
The most common side effects of Orlistat, which may affect more than 1 in 10 people include headache, abdominal pain or discomfort, urgent or increased need to open the bowels, wind, oily discharge or oily/fatty stools.
Always read the patient information leaflet before commencing treatment.
- The patient information leaflet can be found here.