Orlistat is a weight loss medication that can be used in individuals with a BMI of 30 or more, or a BMI of 28 of more if you have a weight-related medical condition such as diabetes. BMI (Body Mass Index) is calculated by dividing your weight (KG) by your height (m) squared. Values between 25-29.9 are categorised as overweight, while values above 30 are categorised as obese.

You can work out your BMI yourself, or use a BMI calculator like this one from the NHS.

How Does Orlistat Work?

Orlistat is categorised as a lipase inhibitor. Orlistat works by blocking the actions of the enzyme lipase, which normally breaks down fats in the food you eat so they can be digested.

Orlistat blocks this breakdown, and thus prevents around 1⁄3 of dietary fat you consume from being digested. By blocking fat digestion, it also reduces the number of calories absorbed by the body. The undigested fats pass out from your body in your stools.

How to Take Orlistat?

Orlistat capsule is an oral medication. Its recommended dosage is 120mg, taken three times a day with fat-containing meals. If you miss a meal, eat one with no fat or containing more than 15g of fat, you should not take the medication as it can lead to some unpleasant side effects for your digestive system.

The most common side effects of orlistat are:

  • Pain in your stomach area
  • Diarrhoea
  • Oily stools
  • Difficulty controlling bowel movements
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches

Some of these side effects may be reduced by reducing your fat intake. However, you do need some fat in your diet for orlistat to work.

What Makes Orlistat Effective?

Orlistat is the most effective when it is coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Orlistat will not have major effects on the body when it is taken alone. By eating a low fat diet and reducing calorie intake, along with regular exercise, you will start to notice weight loss effects.

Most people on orlistat will take it for around 3 months. However, if there is not a reduction of 5% of your body weight during those 3 months, the treatment time frame can be extended. A 6-month dose-ranging study group found that orlistat reduced the weight of patients taking 120 mg three times a day for 6 months by 39% (alongside a low calorie diet).

How Long Can I Take Orlistat?

Orlistat is designed to be used to help you reach a healthy weight; the idea being that once you have reached this weight, you will stop using this medication. This means it should only be taken for 6 months at the longest. If you still require a weight loss treatment after 6 months, speak to your doctor or pharmacist for more options.

Alternative Treatments

Some patients may find they experience side effects when using orlistat, as listed above. In these cases, we do supply alternative weight loss treatments. Alli and Xenical are both branded versions of orlistat, containing the same active ingredient. This means you may experience the same side effects with them as you would with orlistat.

However, Alli has a lower dose of the active ingredient, which may reduce the severity of side effects, in exchange for a lessened effect on weight loss. Alli is available over the counter without a prescription, though you will still need to answer a few questions to check it is suitable.

We also supply weight loss injections, such as Saxenda. Rather than preventing your body from digesting fats, Saxenda works by reducing your appetite. This makes you eat less, and when combined with a calorie-controlled diet and exercise, can lead to weight loss. Saxenda is taken as a daily injection, into the belly or upper thigh.

How to Get Orlistat?

You cannot purchase orlistat over the counter without a prescription. When requesting orlistat from Simple Online Pharmacy, we will ask you to complete an online assessment with us which will be reviewed by one of our doctors before we prescribe it to you. If there are no concerns (such as heart disease or high blood pressure), they can prescribe you orlistat. We can arrange discreet delivery straight to your doorstep, with options for next day delivery.

Alli contains the same active ingredient as orlistat, though at a lower strength. This means it is available over the counter from some pharmacies, and can be an easier option for those who experience side effects from orlistat.