Orlistat review

Orlistat review

Orlistat is an effective weight loss drug which can be purchased over the counter or prescribed by your GP or medical professional. The higher dosed prescription version is called Xenical and is typically prescribed to patients who are over-weight or obese as part of a plan to reduce bodyweight.

Our Orlistat reviews looks at both the science and real-life experiences of those who have used the drug to properly gauge its effectiveness and side effects.

The first thing to note about Orlistat is it’s a pharmaceutical drug and should be seen in this context. It therefore differs somewhat to other weight loss supplements you may consider to help you lose weight, such as caffeine, CLA or Glucomannan, and we would only advise you take Orlistat after speaking to your GP.

How does Orlistat work?

Simply put, Orlistat prevents the absorption of some of the fat you consume in your diet (it’s thought by approximately 30%1). This aids weight loss by reducing the number of calories you consume.

It achieves this by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for digesting the fats we eat – Lipase. By supressing this enzyme a significant portion of the fat passing through the digestive system will not be broken down for absorption and will instead be expelled.

This reduced uptake of dietary fat and its subsequent expulsion is what causes two of the main side effects experienced with Orlistat use; loose, oily stools, and a reduced uptake of fat-soluble vitamins, which is why a daily multiple vitamin is recommended while you’re taking Orlistat1.

Is it effective?

In a nutshell

Effective drug for weight loss. Lowers fat absorption, reducing calorie intake. Only suitable for those who are over-weight or obese. Loose stools are a common side effect.

There have been numerous studies into Orlistat and they overwhelmingly conclude that it is an effective weight loss drug when combined with lifestyle changes, in over-weight and obese people.

In one study carried out on 743 obese patients over the course of two years, it was shown that adding Orlistat to a calorie restricted diet produced 69% greater weight loss than dieting alone2.

Another study lasting four years also found that those who take Orlistat were much more likely to sustain a weight loss program. It too found that Orlistat promotes much greater levels of weight loss (over 90% more) compared to dieting alone and a significant reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes was noted3.

Sounds promising, but what about in the real world?

People generally respond very well to Orlistat and experience significant weight loss when combined with lifestyle changes, such as a healthy low calorie diet and moderate exercise. That said, it’s important to be realistic. Orlistat is not a miracle drug and will merely amplify the effort you put in to lose weight in the first place. It also takes time (with or without Orlistat) to lose weight so don’t expect rapid weight loss in the first few weeks of its use.

Loose, oily stools and other gastrointestinal issues are common with Orlistat use and this tends to result in the person reducing their fat intake to alleviate the side effects.

How do people who have taken Orlistat rate it and what have they got to say about its effectiveness? A good place to look is the Orlistat review section on drugs.com where patients share their own experiences of the drug. It’s clear from reading the reviews that those who have stuck to Orlistat for an extended period of time and have put the work in to eat healthier are those who have experienced the great results from its use, in many cases shedding several stone of weight.

Whilst on drugs.com Orlistat (Xenical) is currently rated at over 8 out of ten it’s worth considering that many of those who are ranking it low are those who have only just started taking the drug and are unwisely expecting to see quick changes on their bathroom scales. The overwhelming majority of those who have stuck with it and changed their lifestyle have positive things to say and recommend it to others.

Plus points

  •  A proven, effective weight loss drug
  •  Its effectiveness is backed up by both scientific studies and “real life” people who have used the drug
  •  Can help with both losing weight and keeping it off
  •  May be beneficial for those with obesity related conditions, such as diabetes and hyperlipidemia1
  •  Those taking Orlistat often report that the gastrointestinal side effects compel them to reduce their fat intake whilst using Orlistat which further aids weight loss and may lead to lasting behavioural modification

Things to consider

  •  Orlistat is a pharmaceutical drug and is only suitable for those who are overweight or obese, with GP oversight
  •  It’s NOT a miracle drug. Orlistat is only effective when combined with a calorie, fat restricted diet and suitable exercise plan
  •  A multiple vitamin is recommended when taking Orlistat because its use can limit vitamin uptake. Do not take the multiple vitamin around the same time you take Orlistat
  •  Loose, oily stools are a common side effect, as are other gastrointestinal related issues
  •  More severe side effects are possible, albeit less common
  •  Although Orlistat is effective because it reduces dietary fat absorption, people should remember that not all dietary fat is bad. The likes of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega 3s) are important for optimal health

  1. Orlistat - a novel weight loss therapy. - Lucas KH, Kaplan-Machlis B. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11261530
  2. Randomised placebo-controlled trial of orlistat for weight loss and prevention of weight regain in obese patients. European Multicentre Orlistat Study Group. - Sjöström L1, Rissanen A, Andersen T, Boldrin M, Golay A, Koppeschaar HP, Krempf M. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9683204
  3. XENical in the prevention of diabetes in obese subjects (XENDOS) study: a randomized study of orlistat as an adjunct to lifestyle changes for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in obese patients. - Torgerson JS, Hauptman J, Boldrin MN, Sjostrom L. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14693982

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