The Pro’s and Con’s of Taking the Diet Pill Alli

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Alli is the only diet pill on the market that is FDA approved.  This over-the-counter weight loss aid was developed by GlaxoSmithKline.  It’s main ingredient, orlistat, is used by Xenical (Zenical).  There is twice as much orlistat in Xenical than in Alli.  Xenical requires a prescription.  

Orlistat prevents the absorption of fats from the diet.  This reduces the caloric intake.  It works by inhibiting an enzyme in the pancreas that is responsible for breaking down triglycerides in the intestine.   It prevents about a quarter of the fat you eat from breaking down.  The excess fat is not harmful.  You may recognize it in the toliet as something that looks like oil.   

Alli only works on enzymes that break down fat.  Carbohydrates and proteins are not affected.  You can still absorb those nutrients.  Alli capsules work only on the worst caloric offenders–the calorie-dense fat grams.  

It is safe when used as directed say the drug manufacturers.  It works only in your digestive system.  The manufacturer wants you to know that you won’t feel jittery, have a racing heart or suffer sleeplessness, all side effects of some other diet pills.  

Alli promises slow and steady weight loss.  It relies heavily on exercise and eating habits on the part of the consumer.  The manufacturer’s response to the question, “Are there any adverse effects?” is that “In many ways, that’s up to you.”  You are responsible for your own side effects.  If you eat fat, you will suffer diarrhea, incontinence, gas and oily anal excretions.  

These are not small complaints.  The diet pill works by blocking 25 percent of fat from being digested. Alli users take one pill with every meal, and to avoid an “Alli oops,” they should eat less than 42 grams of fat a day, or about 15 grams per meal.  The manufacturer calls the “ick” factor “treatment effects” and calls it, “a signal for you that you’re not staying in the guidelines.”

There are words of warning on the company’s web site written by consumers:

“I’ve pooped my pants three times today.  Sorry to get descriptive, but it even leaked onto the couch…”

Fellow cheaters advise each other on the best clean-up methods, and some even suggest using panty liners or Depends. One frugal user noted, “I’m thinking that infant diapers might be a cheaper way to go, just use them as a large pad.”

The gross side effects might scare away the less-committed, but some experts appreciate Alli’s very real, very immediate consequences of cheating on your diet.

“It forces you to eat a lower-fat diet — if you don’t, you’re violently penalized for not doing so,” says David Sarwer, the director of clinical services at the Center for Weight Loss and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “When they eat a little too much fat, they’ll learn not to do it again.”

The drug maker claims that Alli is promoting healthier lifestyles by teaching users how to rethink their eating and to choose healthier eating habits.  It teaches them to eat differently and they believe there’s a real benefit in that.  Unfortunately, the lessons can be very messy trials by error and experience.

Some experts point out that if you make a change in your eating habits, why is a diet pill still necessary?

A 120  supply of Alli costs about $69.00.  Some experts feel this money could be better spent on healthy food.


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