Diet products either work or they don’t. Period. Let’s find out which one Orlistat is. We wanted to know what science had to say, so we decided to dig deeper into ingredients, side effects, clinical research and customer service quality. Furthermore, we examined hundreds of user comments and feedback. Then, we summarized and condensed to give you the info you need.
What is Orlistat?
Orlistat is a medicine designed to help people lose weight. It is sold under a couple of different names, including Xenical, a prescription drug, and Alli, an over the counter medication.
It works as a lipase inhibitor, which means that it prevents the body from absorbing fats from dietary sources. As a result, the body absorbs fewer calories. 
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Orlistat works inside the stomach and small intestines by bonding with certain enzymes to make them inactive.
The inactive enzymes are then incapable of breaking down triglycerides into fatty acids and monoglycerides, which the body is capable of absorbing. The unabsorbed triglycerides then pass out of the body as a waste product. 
The Company Behind Orlistat
Orlistat is the active ingredient used in Xenical, sold by Roche, and Alli, sold by GlaxoSmithKline.
Roche is a company with a long history, having been founded way back in 1896 by Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche.
The original name of the company was F. Hoffmann-La Roche & Co and the legal name of the company today is F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., but they simply go by Roche.
Hoffman-La Roche was an early pioneer of the manufacturing of medicines to battle diseases. Over the years, they have been involved in the manufacturing of many different medications.
Some of their first successes were with thyroid medications and cough syrups. The company has been involved in researching and developing everything from vitamins to chemotherapy medications.
In 1945, the company diversified and entered into cosmetics by creating the Pantene Corporation. Today, the company focuses on biotechnology and the development of new diagnostic technologies.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is a company even older than Roche, having started out as an apothecary shop in 1715.
The shop was called Plough Court pharmacy but later became Allen & Hanburys. Allen & Hanburys was later acquired by Glaxo Laboratories Ltd, and so the Glaxo part of the current company name came into play.
The Smith Kline part of the company began in Philadelphia in 1830 when Smith & Gilbert drug house opened. Gilbert later withdrew from the company.
As the years passed, several more companies were added into the mix, leaving two companies called Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. These two companies merged in 2000 and became today’s GSK. They focus on three aspects of the health industry: pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and consumer healthcare.
Rather than having a list of ingredients to report on, Orlistat is an ingredient used in weight loss supplements and medications.
For example, Orlistat is the active ingredient in the over the counter weight loss supplement Alli. The inactive ingredients in this supplement are:
- Iron Oxide
- Microcrystalline Cellulose
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Starch Glycolate 
The inactive ingredients in Xenical, the prescription version of Orlistat, are:
- Microcrystalline Cellulose
- Sodium Starch Glycolate
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Titanium Dioxide 
So, as you can see, the inactive ingredients are largely the same for both the prescription and non-prescription versions. The only difference between the two is the amount of Orlistat each contains.
Orlistat is an FDA approved medication, which means it has been reviewed for effectiveness and safety. Studies have shown it can help with weight loss.
In a double-blind study published in The Lancet, 688 participants were placed into one of two groups. 
One group was treated with 120 mg of Orlistat three times per day. The other group received a placebo. Both groups also followed a low-calorie diet.
At the end of one year, the group taking Orlistat lost more weight than the placebo group.
The participants were then followed for an additional year in which they followed a diet for maintaining weight. Those who were taking Orlistat gained 50 percent less weight than those not taking the drug.
Another study looked at the use of Orlistat to help type 2 diabetes patients lose weight and control blood sugar levels. The study took place over a 57-week period and was a double-blind placebo-controlled study involving 391 obese participants.
All participants followed a low-calorie diet and were assigned to either the placebo group or the Orlistat group. Researchers measured participants’ glycemic control, lipid levels, weight changes, and tolerance of the drug.
At the end of the study, participants who took 120 mgs of Orlistat three times per day lost more weight than those taking a placebo.
They also saw a “significant improvement in glycemic control” and “significantly greater improvements than placebo in several lipid parameters.” However, researchers noted that some participants experienced some gastrointestinal side effects. 
Another group of researchers studied the effectiveness of Orlistat depending on its dosage.
Specifically, they examined Orlistat at 10, 60, and 120 mg dosages used three times per day. Participants also followed a diet in which about 30 percent of the calories came from fat.
At the conclusion of the study, those taking the greatest amount of Orlistat lost the most weight, leading researchers to determine that weight loss does depend on dosage. 
Orlistat – Alli Over the Counter Pills
As we mentioned, Alli is available without a prescription and contains Orlistat as its active ingredient.
The official website says that users who are “committed to a well-balanced diet” can lose between 5 and 10 percent of their body weight. Reportedly, the weight loss is a result of Alli blocking about 25 percent of the fat in a person’s diet.
The makers of Alli recommend that the use of the supplement be combined with not only a well-balanced diet but also exercise and plenty of water.
There are additional tools on the Alli website to help users reach their goals, such as recipes, food trackers, and a weight tracker.
What is Orlistat 60?
You might see Alli referred to as “Orlistat 60.” This is simply a reference to the fact that Alli contains a 60 mg dose of Orlistat, instead of the 120 mg dose available with a prescription.
Alli pills even have Orlistat 60 printed on their light blue capsules to identify them as the non-prescription strength. 
Xenical – Orlistat in Prescription Form
Xenical is a higher dose of Orlistat available only with a doctor’s prescription.
According to the official website, it is meant for people with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher, or for those with additional risk factors and a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or higher.
Additional risk factors may include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
What is Orlistat 120 mg?
Again, you may find Xenical referred to as Orlistat 120 mg, which is the prescription dosage of the drug.
Note that this is the dosage found to be effective in the scientific studies we mentioned earlier. However, to get Orlistat in a 120 mg dosage, you’ll need to see your doctor and meet certain criteria to receive a prescription.
Orlistat Side Effects
Many of the side effects associated with Orlistat are digestive symptoms, probably due to the non-absorption of fats.
The most commonly occurring side effect is a change in bowel moments, which often occurs during the first couple of weeks of taking the supplement.
Side effects may go away, but it is possible for it to continue for a person’s entire duration on the medication.
Orlistat side effects may include:
- Oily Spotting
- Increased Urination
- Increased Bowel Movements
- Irregular Bowel Movements
- Stomach Pain
Other potential symptoms may include rectal pain, headaches, anxiety, and irregularity of the menstrual cycle. 
The FDA has also published information as to the frequency of certain side effects. In the first year of taking prescription strength Orlistat:
- 26.6 % of users reported oily spotting.
- 23.9 % reported gas with discharge.
- 22.1 % experienced urgent bowel movements.
- 20 % had fatty or oily stools.
- 10.8 % had an increased number of bowel movements.
- 7.7 % suffered fecal incontinence.
For 8.8 % of Orlistat users, side effects were serious enough for them to discontinue use. 
In addition to Orlistat side effects deemed mild or moderate, more severe side effects may occur. Users who experience any more severe side effects should discontinue use and contact their doctor 
Orlistat should not be taken by people who those who are pregnant or allergic to Orlistat. The ingredient should also be avoided if you have gastrointestinal issues.
Claimed Orlistat Benefits
The official website for Xenical states that the drug is used to “increase weight loss in people with obesity” and that it should be used in combination with a low-calorie diet.
The Alli website claims the use of their supplement causes weight loss of up to 5 to 10 percent of body weight. They also say their product can prevent the absorption of 25 percent of dietary fat.
Does Orlistat Work?
Based on the scientific research, Orlistat does help users achieve a modest weight loss.
Studies indicate that users lose more body weight when using Orlistat and following a low-calorie diet in comparison to people who only reduce calorie intake.
In those trying to maintain weight, taking Orlistat helped them to gain back less weight than people on a maintenance diet alone. However, we were unable to locate any research indicating whether weight lost using Orlistat was able to stay off in the long run.
The amount of weight lost with Orlistat is also contingent upon the dosage. Those who take a higher dosage of the drug lose more weight. This suggests that the non-prescription dosage found in Alli may not be as effective as prescription strength Xenical.
What Are the Orlistat Alternatives?
Orlistat is not the only prescription drug available for weight loss. Other medications include:
There are also many weight loss supplements on the market they claim to do all sorts of amazing things.
Some of them say they will suppress appetite so that you eat less and lose weight. Others say they burn fat, even when you’re sleeping.
While some of them may have a slight effect on your weight, many are ineffective. It’s important to do your research and talk to your doctor before trying anything new to help with weight loss. Look for products that are backed by real clinical research.
Directions for Taking Orlistat
Xenical should be taken according to the prescription written by the doctor. Often, though, you take one capsule with a meal, or up to one hour afterward.
It should be used in conjunction with a low-calorie diet in which no more than 30 percent of the calories come from fat.
The Alli website states that users should take one capsule with each meal that contains fat, up to three capsules per day.
Alli users should follow an exercise program and a low-calorie, low-fat diet. Also, the Alli website recommends taking a multivitamin at bedtime.
Orlistat and Weight Loss
Orlistat is one of the most popular weight loss drugs on the market. It is FDA approved for weight loss and has been the subject of numerous clinical trials.
However, it is not a miracle pill for weight loss.
Instead, it must be used in conjunction with a proper diet and exercise, both of which can help a person lose weight on their own. Orlistat slightly boosts the body’s ability to lose weight by blocking the absorption of fat in the foods a person eats.
While Orlistat may help with weight loss, using the drug is not without its pitfalls.
The side effects are, at their least severe, unpleasant. The fats that the body is not able to absorb due to the drug must be expelled as waste, which can make the need to use a bathroom urgent. Some users have even reported having “accidents.”
Some of the side effects are also quite severe, so it is important to consult a doctor to determine if Orlistat is safe for you to use based on your health.
What Users Are Saying
“It is a great product for weight loss but you have to be consistent with it.”
“Works great but be careful with the loose stool if you eat very fatty food.”
“The effect is overstated. I wouldn’t recommend”
The Bottom Line – Does Orlistat Work?
Are you heading out to buy Orlistat? Well, we like that we found some positive customer comments. It’s also FDA-approved. While it’s used to treat obesity, research shows it could lead to adverse reactions. Also, we’re hesitant about making suggestions about this one due to customer reports relating to negative side effects and the lack of results.
We want you to feel safe when you lose weight, so we suggest you go with a supplement containing ingredients shown to work that’s not connected to harmful side effects.
Among the best products we’ve seen this year is one called Dietspotlight Burn. The supplement contains four clinically-tested ingredients promoting weight-loss by helping accelerate metabolism and ignite fat loss. There’s no chatter about harmful side effects, but the results reported by dieters are amazing.
Also, the company behind Dietspotlight Burn is offering customers a Special Trial Offer. This is an excellent sign of confidence in their supplement.Learn More About Burn HD »