The Diet Channel Weighs in on alli™

Thursday, June 14, 2007 - 5:39pm

By John Messmer, MD

So often when trying to lose weight, weeks of dieting result in just a few pounds lost. It can be discouraging, particularly in this age when everything happens fast. What some dieters do not realize is that it took a while to put the pounds on so the weight certainly will not come off quickly. In fact, rapid weight loss often leads to regaining all of the lost weight and more.

Introducing the weight loss boost people are looking for

Once you've made the commitment to eat properly for life, it's just a matter of time until you make progress. But even the most committed person sometimes feels like they need a boost--an aid in the dieting process. That's where alli, the first FDA approved diet aid, comes in. It's pronounced Al-eye. Like the homonymous "ally," it is designed to give support to a proper diet and exercise program. The ingredient is orlistat, previously available as Xenical in prescription form but at half the dose of the prescription version.

What alli accomplishes to aid weight loss

Here's how it works: Fats cannot be absorbed in the form found in foods. Enzymes called "lipases" break the fats down into absorbable parts; alli inhibits the lipases so about 25 percent of the fat does not get absorbed. Since fat has 9 calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrate's 4 calories per gram, this can help significantly. The unabsorbed fat passes out in the stool.

Is alli your new weight loss ally?

GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer, has made it clear that this is not a quick weight loss medication, and it is not for everyone. Rather, it is meant to supplement a low-calorie, low-fat diet and exercise program.

It is important that users of alli realize they must still reduce the fat in their diets. Why? Because undigested fat is oily and if too much passes into the stool, it can leak out uncontrollably, causing soiling.

A very low-fat diet can do the same thing as using alli, but we like fat because it adds taste and texture to what we eat. Using alli allows us to keep our diets palatable with a little fat while cutting some of the calories.

How to incorporate alli in your new weight loss routine

It is taken up to three times a day with meals that contain fat and is used in conjunction with online support and a food journal. Just as it reduces fat absorption, it cuts the absorption of fat soluble vitamins so a daily multivitamin is recommended at bedtime. Once the weight loss goal is achieved, alli can be used to help maintain the losses although by that time, many people have learned to eat better and if careful, may be able to keep the weight off.

Expect to pay between $65 and $75 per month for alli. It will be available over the counter so a prescription is not needed, but before using it, be sure to read the information available in the starter pack to get the best results.