Orlistat is a drug used in the treatment of obesity. Its primary function is preventing the absorption of fats from the human diet, thereby reducing caloric intake. Orlistat works by inhibiting pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that breaks down triglycerides in the intestine. Without this enzyme, triglycerides from the diet are prevented from being hydrolyzed into absorbable free fatty acids and are excreted undigested.
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What is Orlistat?
Orlistat is a weight loss medication used to assist people who are overweight in reducing their BMI. It is indicated in people with a BMI over 30, or 28 for those with additional risk factors. Orlistat is the generic version of the better-known brand, Xenical. They come in capsule form, and the prescription only version contains 120mg of the active ingredient.
How Does it Work?
Orlistat capsules work by preventing around 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. Orlistat works in the same way as the over the counter medicine Alli. They contain the same active ingredient (Orlistat), however, the prescription version is twice the strength (120mg instead of 60mg).
Because Xenical is no longer the only manufacturer of Orlistat, this has helped lower the price of the generic form of the drug. By decreasing the amount of fat the body absorbs and improving your diet and exercise routine, it is possible to achieve significant weight loss.
Before using Orlistat or Xenical, you should read the patient information leaflet.
Losing weight with Orlistat
Orlistat helps you avoid gaining weight by reducing the amount of fat absorbed by your body. However, it does not necessarily cause you to lose weight. Therefore, it’s still important to stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan. In combination, the drug can be successful in reducing your weight into a more healthy BMI range.
Orlistat (Xenical) is usually recommended if you have made a significant effort to lose weight through diet, exercise or changing your lifestyle.
Even then, orlistat is only prescribed if you have:
- a body mass index (BMI) of 28 or more and other conditions related to weight, such as high blood pressure
- a BMI of 30 or more
Treatment with Orlistat (Xenical) must be combined with a low-calorie diet and other weight loss strategies, such as doing more exercise.
Orlistat is recommended to be taken over a 12 week period and most people can expect to lose around 5% of your original body weight if combined with a good lifestyle and regular exercise. The medication itself should reduce the amount of dietary fat absorbed by your body by around 33%, so this gives you a good opportunity to lose weight if you increase the amount of exercise you do.
The usual dosage of Orlistat is 120mg three times a day (with your meals). As it works to reduce the fat absorbed by your body, you do not need to take a dose if you skip a meal. You also don’t need to take a dose if you have a 0 fat meal, as there will be not fat for the body to absorb!