Frequently asked questions about alli

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Information & Advice

Frequently asked questions about alli

If you are considering taking alli you probably have lots of questions. Read the most frequently asked questions and answers to help you decide if alli is right for you.

Boots

Information from

Boots

Published March 2009

alli is designed to be used with the alli weight loss programme, to help people lose excess weight. alli (orlistat 27 mg/ 60mg) is the first pharmacy-only weight loss aid - this means that alli can now be introduced over-the-counter to overweight adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 28 or above.

As the UK's leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer, Boots aims to bring you expert advice and information about new and existing health products. If you are considering taking the alli weight loss aid, you probably have lots of questions, the answers to which might aid your decision as to whether alli could help you discover a healthier, new you.

In this section, we bring you the most frequently asked questions about alli - from how to take alli, to the most suitable diet and exercise plan to follow whilst you are taking alli, to diet-related treatment effects.

We hope this comprehensive list of questions will help you decide if the alli weight loss aid is suitable for you.

Your diet whilst taking alli FAQ
The results of taking alli diet pills FAQ
Obesity and BMI FAQ
Exercise whilst taking alli FAQ
Using alli with other medicines / medical conditions FAQ
Diet-related treatment effects FAQ
Ingredients in alli FAQ



Frequently asked questions about alli

Q: What does alli do?

If you commit to a healthy lifestyle and follow a reduced calorie, lower-fat diet, alli can reward your hard work with 50% more weight loss. So for every 2 lb you lose by your own efforts, alli can help you lose 1lb more. They work in your digestive system to prevent some of the fat in your meals from being digested and absorbed. The unabsorbed fat passes naturally out of your body in your stools.

Q: Who can take the alli?

alli is an effective weight loss aid but it's not for everyone. It can be taken by overweight adults aged 18 or more with a BMI of 28 or over who are willing to adopt a reduced calorie, lower-fat diet and to make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle to succeed with alli. alli is not suitable for those:Taking ciclosporin (used after organ transplants, for severe rheumatoid arthritis and some severe skin conditions.)Taking warfarin or other medicines used to thin the blood. Who are allergic (hypersensitive) to orlistat or any of the ingredients of alli. Who have cholestatis (condition where the flow of the bile from the liver is blocked.) Who have problems absorbing food (chronic malabsorbption syndrome) diagnosed by a doctor. Pregnant or breast-feeding womenIn addition to the labelled contraindictions, people who are taking diabetes medication or amiodarone for heart rhythm problems should consult a doctor before taking alli. This is because it may be necessary to adjust the dose of their medication. While taking alli, users of medicines of high blood pressure or high cholesterol should speak to a doctor or pharmacist. This is because it may be necessary to adjust the dose of their medication. The oral contraceptive pill may be less effective if you get severe diarrhoea, so use an extra method of contraception if this happens.

It is important to read the label before taking alli.

Q: For how long can I take the alli?

Treatment should not exceed six months. If you do not lose weight after taking alli for 12 weeks, see your pharmacist or doctor for advice. You may need to stop taking the alli. You should maintain your healthy eating and lifestyle changes after you stop taking alli.

Q: How many do I take a day?

The dose is a maximum of 3 a day.

Q: When should I take alli?

Take alli just before or during a meal, or up to one hour after the meal. If you are eating a meal that does not contain fat, do not take alli.

Q: If I eat a high fat meal should I take two alli?

No. You should never take more than the recommended dose of a medicine. Take one alli at mealtimes, three times a day. This usually means one alli at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make every effort to avoid high-fat meals while on the alli programme. Taking alli with a meal containing more fat than your recommended target, may increase the chances of diet-related treatment effects.

Q: Can I take two alli with a meal to help me lose weight more quickly?

No. You should never take more than the recommended dose of a medicine. Take one alli at mealtimes, three times a day. This usually means one at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Q: Should I take alli if I know I'm going to eat a 'high-fat' meal?

If you have a special occasion and know you are going to be eating a high-fat meal, do not take alli with that meal. Taking alli with a meal containing more fat than your recommended target, may increase the chances of diet-related treatment effects.

However, it's important you make every effort to avoid high fat meals or snacks while on the alli weight loss programme.

Q: What if I miss taking alli?

If you forget to take alli and more than an hour has passed since your meal, do not take. Just wait until your next meal and take alli then. Never take two alli at the same time.

Q: What if I eat more than three meals a day. Should I still take alli with each meal?

No, take no more than 3 alli per day. Just choose 3 meals that contain fat and take with those meals.

If you are eating more than 3 meals a day, you may need to check you are not exceeding your daily calorie target.

Q: If alli only works on the fat in my food, how do I lose the fat in my body?

As you eat fewer calories on a reduced calorie, lower-fat diet - and use alli to prevent absorption of some of the fat you eat - your body will automatically tap into its fat stores and use them for the energy it needs. This leads to weight loss as your body burns its fat.

Q: What happens if alli is taken with a fat-free meal?

Nothing, because there's no fat for alli to work on. Don't take alli if you're going to eat a meal that doesn't contain fat.

Q: How long does alli remain in my body?

Since the time it takes people to digest food varies, the active ingredient in alli can remain in your body for up to 48 to 72 hours, mainly because the time taken for food to pass through the digestive system varies from person to person. However, it only affects the fat absorption of meals that are eaten within a short time of taking alli.Only a very small amount of orlistat is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Q: Why should I take a multivitamin when I'm taking alli?

You should take a multivitamin every day because alli can lower the levels of some fat-soluble vitamins absorbed by your body. The multivitamins should contain vitamins A, D, E and K. You should take the multivitamin at bedtime, when you will not be taking an alli diet pill, to help ensure that the vitamins are absorbed.

Q: Why should I take the multivitamin at bedtime?

If you take the multivitamin with a meal, at the same time that you take alli , then alli could cause some of those vitamins to be lost. So it's best to take the multivitamin at a time when you won't be taking alli, such as bedtime.

Q: What sizes do the alli packs come in?

alli is available in packs of 120, 84 (1 month's supply) and 42 (2 week's supply).

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Frequently asked questions about alli and your diet

Q: The alli weight loss programme allows me to eat more fat than some diets. Why not cut out more fat?

Alli works on preventing fat absorption, and because of this, you can enjoy the benefits of having more options when you make food choices. Taking alli without having much fat in your diet would have little effect.

Fat is an essential part of a balanced diet. The right amount of fat helps the body absorb vitamins and perform other essential functions with alli weight loss programme. You just need to limit your intake to around 15g of fat per meal*. Also, the aim of the alli programme is to help support you to start eating a balanced healthy diet for the long-term.

*based on a diet of 1400 calories a day

Q: Does alli discriminate between types of fat, or does it prevent the absorption of both good and bad fats?

alli prevents the absorption of some of the fat in the meals you eat but does not discriminate between types of fat. Eating too much fat, whether it's "good" or "bad" fat, can contribute to weight gain and may cause diet-related treatment effects, so try to stay within your daily fat targets. Saturated fats, found in dairy and animal products are proven to be less healthy for the body than monounsaturated (olive oil for example) or polyunsaturated fats (corn oil for example). However, all fat types have the same number of calories and are affected by alli in the same way.

Q: How do I work out how much fat is in a meal?

The alli weight loss programme gives clear advice on how to read food labels and check the fat content in your meals. It also includes a guide to the fat content in a range of foods. Before you begin taking alli, you'll need to set your fat and calorie targets according to your current weight and activity levels. It's important to stay within your recommended fat and calorie targets per meal.

Q: Can I use my favourite diet in place of the eating plan?

In many cases, yes. However, for best weight loss results, you should follow the reduced calorie, lower-fat diet in the alli programme. alli can work well with diets that emphasise balanced meals containing moderate amounts of fat. It does not work well with diets that encourage you to 'save up' fat and calorie allowances and then splurge on a high-fat meal or dessert. You would not need alli with a very low-fat diet because they would have little effect. However, many people find very low-fat diets difficult to sustain because of severe restrictions on the food they can eat.

They're also likely to feel far hungrier when there is little fat in the diet. The alli programme allows you to choose from a wider variety of foods, and to eat enough fat to feel fuller.

At the other end of the spectrum, low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets tend to be very high in fats. Don't use alli with these diets. Not adapting to a lower-fat diet can increase the chances of diet-related treatment effects.

Q: What about alcohol?

Alcohol adds calories to your diet. A 175 ml glass of white wine contains 130 calories and a 300 ml bottle of premium lager has 177 calories. So you can have a drink with your meal, but be sure to allow for the calories.

Q: My family don't need to lose weight but I do, and I do all the cooking. Are the recipes suitable for us all?

Some of the recipes are written for 2 or more, and are adaptations of family favourites. We can all benefit from eating a reduce calorie, lower-fat diet, so your family will enjoy many of the recipes in the alli diet book.

Young children need more energy than adults for the purpose of growing and living. When eating as a family on the alli programme, young children should enjoy larger portions of meals and supplement with healthy snacks to help keep their energy levels up throughout the day.

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Frequently asked questions about the results of alli

Q: How much weight can I lose?

It largely depends on your own efforts. If you follow the alli weight loss programme and increase your activity level, your results will be more successful. In clinical studies, on average, people taking alli and following a reduced calorie, lower-fat diet for 6 months lost 10 lbs (4.4 kg). We recommend you aim to lose about 1-2 lbs a week when you follow the alli programme.

Q: How long will it take to get results?

You should begin to lose weight within two weeks after starting to use alli. Weight loss with alli should be gradual, however. How much weight you lose will, of course depend on how closely you follow the alli programme. Physical activity can also improve your results. We recommend you aim to lose about 1 - 2 lb a week when you follow the alli programme.

Q: I lost weight at the beginning with the alli weight loss programme, but I'm no longer losing weight. What happened?

First, check to see whether you've lost 5% or more of your body weight. If so, you may have reached your goal. Celebrate! If you've lost some weight but haven't reached your goal, it may be that you have reached a plateau. When this happens, your body, at its new lower weight, no longer needs as many calories. To continue losing weight, reset your calorie and fat targets based on your new weight. You may also want to talk to your pharmacist or doctor. Remember, you should not take alli for longer than six months.

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Frequently asked questions about obesity and BMI

Q: What is obesity?

Obesity can be defined as an excess accumulation of body fat sufficient to endanger health. It is a disease (not a personal weakness) that requires long-term treatment and management to achieve and sustain weight loss. Experts agree that the primary cause of obesity is the excessive intake of calories, generally as fat. Obesity results from too many calories being consumed, with insufficient or decreased physical activity. The correlation between energy intake, expenditure, and resulting body fat distribution varies by individual. In general, it's easiest for the body to store excess calories in the form of fat. It's harder for the body to convert excess carbohydrates or protein into fat.

Q: Why does obesity need to be managed?

Obesity is associated with an increase in serious health risks including the following:

High blood pressure
Diabetes
Heart disease
Stroke
Certain forms of cancer
Osteoarthritis

If you have a question about obesity or your personal health, check with your doctor.

Q: How is obesity measured? The most widely accepted measurement of obesity is known as the body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated by the weight (kg) divided by the height (in metres) squared.

The BMI is graded as follows to indicate the degree of risk to health.

BMI 18.5 (underweight)
BMI 18.5-24.9 (desirable weight)
BMI 25-29.9 (overweight)
BMI 30-39.9 (obese)
BMI >40 (severely obese)

Other methods of measuring obesity used by healthcare professionals include:

  • waist circumference - measuring how much fat is stored in the stomach area, which is well known to be closely linked with the risk of developing heart disease.
  • height-weight ratio - using an appropriate measurement of a persons frame size - small, medium, large - height/weight tables can be used to estimate ideal weight.
  • measuring percent of body fat - using skin fold test.


Q: What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Body mass index (BMI) is a formula, defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared. Your BMI score is used to indicate if your weight is healthy for someone at your height. Find out your BMI now by using our BMI calculation chart. *******(link to boots.com BMI calculator)******

I am overweight and I want to lose some weight but I think my body mass index (BMI) is less than 28. Can I take alli weight loss aid?

No. You should not take alli if your BMI is less than 28. alli is used for weight loss in adults who are overweight with a BMI of 28 or above. Use the BMI calculation tool to find out your BMI and see if it's in the right category for you to use alli. (You need to know your weight and height.)

Alternatively, you can ask your pharmacist to work out your BMI, or use the chart below to see if alli can help you lose weight and improve your health. Find your height on the chart and if you weigh less than the weight shown for your height, do not take alli.


Height Weight   Height Weight
1.50m 63kg 4' 10'' 9st 8lbs
1.55m 67.25kg 5' 0'' 10st 3lbs
1.60m 71.75kg 5' 2'' 10st 13lbs
1.65m 76.25kg 5' 4'' 11st 9lbs
1.70m 81kg 5' 6'' 12st 5lbs
1.75m 85.75kg 5' 8'' 13st 2lbs
1.80m 90.75kg 5' 10'' 13st 13lbs
1.85m 95.75kg 6' 0'' 14st 10lbs
1.90m 101kg 6' 2'' 15st 8lbs

Q: Is there a benefit in losing 5% of my weight?

If you are overweight, yes. Obesity experts in the UK agree and widely available research demonstrates that moderate weight loss is beneficial. Achievable, realistic weight loss of 5% can result in significant improvements in overall health, including decreased risk of heart disease. Slow, steady weight loss is the healthy way to reduce body fat. alli and the alli weight loss programme help you lose weight gradually and show you how to sustain your goals over the long term, if you're prepared to make positive lifestyle changes.

Q: I've lost some weight by taking alli. Can I continue to use alli to stop me from regaining weight or to help me maintain my weight?

alli is designed to help you to lose weight. It should not be taken for more than six months. If you have lost some weight by taking alli but are not losing any more, you may need to re-set your calorie and fat targets, taking into account your current weight and activity level. If you are satisfied with the weight loss you have achieved, continue to follow a reduced calorie, lower-fat diet and keep up your activity levels. People who lose weight and maintain the loss make lifestyle changes, which include changes to what they eat and how active they are.

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Frequently asked questions about exercise and the alli weight loss plan

Q: How much exercise do you recommend while taking alli?

You don't have to go to the gym or hire a personal trainer to make a real difference in your health. Studies show that moderate exercise - such as walking for 30 minutes every day - can result in improvements in overall health. You can add exercise to your activities throughout the day by adding a little extra walking to the things you already do. What's important is including activity regularly in your routine. Start gently and work your way up. Consistency is your goal ie. (exercising most days of the week at a similar level). Remember to consult your doctor before you start any new exercise programme.

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Frequently asked questions about using alli with other medicines / medical conditions

Q: Is the alli weight loss programme suitable for everyone?

No, alli is an effective weight loss aid but it's not for everyone. It can be taken by overweight adults aged 18 or more with a BMI of 28 or over who are willing to adopt a reduced calorie, lower-fat diet and to make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle to succeed with alli.

There are some people who must not take alli because they have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medicines.

alli is not suitable for those:

  • Taking ciclosporin (used after organ transplants, for severe rheumatoid arthritis and some severe skin conditions).
  • Taking warfarin or other medicines used to thin the blood.
  • Who are allergic (hypersensitive) to orlistat or any of the ingredients of alli.
  • Who have cholestatis (condition where the flow of the bile from the liver is blocked).
  • Who have problems absorbing food (chronic malabsorbption syndrome) diagnosed by a doctor.
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding women.

In addition to the labelled contraindictions, people who are taking diabetes medication or amiodarone for heart rhythm problems should consult a doctor before taking alli. This is because it may be necessary to adjust the dose of their medication. While taking alli, users of medicines of high blood pressure or high cholesterol should speak to a doctor or pharmacist. This is because it may be necessary to adjust the dose of their medication.
The oral contraceptive pill may be less effective if you get severe diarrhoea, so use an extra method of contraception if this happens.

It is important to read the label before taking alli.

Q: Is alli suitable for someone under 18 years of age?

No. alli is not to be used in those aged under 18 years.

alli is used for weight loss in adults (18 years and over) who are overweight with a BMI of 28 or over.

Q: Is alli suitable for the elderly?

alli is indicated for use by overweight people 18 years of age or older, including older adults. If you have specific issues or health concerns, please check with your pharmacist or doctor.

Q: Can alli affect other medicines I'm taking?

Yes, alli may affect some medicines you have to take.

alli is not suitable for those:

  • Taking ciclosporin (used after organ transplants, for severe rheumatoid arthritis and some severe skin conditions).
  • Taking warfarin or other medicines used to thin the blood
  • People who are taking diabetes medication or amiodarone for heart rhythm problems should consult a doctor before taking alli. This is because it may be necessary to adjust the dose of their medication.

While taking alli, users of medicines of high blood pressure or high cholesterol should speak to a doctor or pharmacist. This is because it may be necessary to adjust the dose of their medication.
The oral contraceptive pill may be less effective if you get severe diarrhoea, so use an extra method of contraception if this happens.

Take a multivitamin every day at bedtime to ensure you get enough vitamins A, D, E and K.

It is important to read the label before taking alli.

Q: Is it OK if I take ciclosporin with alli?

No. Do not take alli with this medicine. Ciclosporin is a medicine that can be used after someone has had an organ transplant, severe rheumatoid arthrititis or certain severe skin conditions. You must not take alli if you are taking a medicine containing ciclosporin since alli can lower the levels of ciclosporin in the body.

If you have any further questions about this, please check with your doctor.

Q: Is it OK if I take warfarin (or other oral anticoagulants ) with alli?

No. Do not take alli with this medicine. Warfarin (or other oral anticoagulants) are used to thin the blood. You must not take alli if you are taking warfarin or other blood thinning medicines since your blood clotting function (INR; international normalised ratio) test result could change.If you have any further questions about this, please check with your doctor.

Q: I have a problem with my liver called cholestasis. Is it OK for me to take alli?

No. Do not take alli if you have this condition. Bile is normally produced in the liver and helps the body to digest fats. Cholestasis is a condition where bile cannot flow from the liver into the digestive system. It can develop if a channel where the bile flows becomes blocked, or because the normal process of making bile is disturbed.

If you have any further questions about this, please check with your doctor.

Q: I have problems absorbing food (chronic malabsorption syndrome). Is it OK for me to take alli?

No. Do not take alli if you have chronic malabsorption syndrome (problems in absorbing food). Some people may not absorb food properly for a variety of reasons. As a result, some of the nutrients in food cannot be absorbed.

If you have any further questions about this, please check with your doctor.

Q: Is it OK to take amiodarone with alli?

Please talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking alli if you are taking amiodarone. It is possible that the medicine in alli will interfere with the absorption of amiodarone into your body. Your doctor may need to adjust the dose of amiodarone if you take alli.

Q: I've got diabetes. Can I still take alli?

Yes, you can take alli if you have diabetes. If you are taking a medicine for diabetes, please tell your doctor before you start to take alli. Your doctor may need to adjust your anti-diabetic medicine if you lose some weight. This is because losing weight can improve your blood sugar levels.

Q: Is it OK to take acarbose with alli?

Please talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking alli if you are taking acarbose. Acarbose is a medicine used to treat diabetes.

Q: I've got high blood pressure. Can I still take alli?

Yes, you can take alli if you have high blood pressure. Please tell your doctor that you are using alli if you are using a medicine for high blood pressure. Your doctor may need to adjust the dose of this medicine if you lose some weight. This is because losing weight can improve your blood pressure.

Q: I've got high cholesterol. Can I still take alli?

Yes, you can take alli if you have high cholesterol. Please tell your doctor that you are taking alli if you are using a medicine for high cholesterol. Your doctor may need to adjust the dose of this medicine if you lose some weight. This is because losing weight can improve your cholesterol levels.

Q: I'm taking the contraceptive pill. Is it OK for me to use alli?

Yes, you can take alli if you are on a contraceptive pill. The oral contraceptive pill may be less effective if you get severe diarrhoea, so use an extra method of contraception if this happens.

Q: What should a woman do if she becomes pregnant while taking alli?

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding must not take alli. If a woman discovers that she is pregnant while taking alli diet pills, she should stop taking the alli and talk to her doctor.

Q: Can I take antibiotics while taking alli?

Yes. There are no known drug interactions with antibiotics.

Q: What about taking alli with other weight loss treatments?

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about other weight loss treatments you are taking.

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Frequently asked questions about alli and diet-related treatment effects or side effects

Q: What are diet-related treatment effects?

alli works by preventing the absorption of some of the fat you eat and so as a result of the way it works, you may notice an effect on your bowel movements. These effects are related to your diet and if you stick to your fat targets they should be manageable. However, if you eat too much fat, these changes are more likely and may include wind (flactulence), with or without oily spotting, sudden bowel motions or soft stools, fatty or oily stools.

It is important to remember that these diet-related treatment effects are largely due to what you eat. If you stick to your recommended fat targets, you are less likely to have any problems.

In a 3-month study of alli use, less than 9% of subjects on alli dropped out due to these effects. In fact, many users have told us that the effects were a signal that alli were working and helped them maintain healthier eating patterns.

All medicines can have side effects so you should check with your doctor if anything unusual or severe occurs when using alli.

Q: Can I take anti-diarrhoeal products to help manage diet-related treatment effects?

No - diet-related treatment effects are related to the way the product works, and how much fat you consume when taking alli. Anti-diarrhoeal products would not help diet-related treatment effects.

It is important to remember that these diet-related treatment effects are largely due to what you eat. If you stick to your recommended fat targets, you are less likely to have any problems.

Q: I think I passed some blood with a bowel movement as there was some redness in the toilet bowl water and on the toilet tissue. What is happening? Is it because I'm taking alli?

If you think that you are passing blood when you go to the toilet, speak to your doctor.

There are several reasons why someone may pass blood when they go to the toilet. Although some are minor, others are more serious and will need medical attention.

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Frequently asked questions about ingredients in alli diet pills

Q: Does alli contain soya or nut traces?

No.

Q: Is alli suitable for a vegetarian/vegan?

alli contains gelatine which is of animal (bovine) origin.

Q: Is alli suitable for a halal diet?

We cannot guarantee the gelatine in alli is halal.

Q: Does alli contain any pork derivatives?

No.

Q: Is alli Kosher?

There are no porcine (from a pig) products in alli. The gelotin is bovine (from a cow) in origin.

Q: Does alli contain sulphur?

Yes. alli may contain trace amounts of sulphur, in the form of sodium lauryl sulphate.

Q: Does alli contain traces of gluten, dairy, shellfish, or caffeine?

No.

Q: Alli is bright blue, is the colour ingredient safe?

alli (orlistat 27 mg/ 60 mg) contains the colouring agents titanium dioxide (E171), indigo carmine (E132) and Opacode S117822/23 black ink, which consists of shellac, iron oxide (E172) and propylene glycol. All of the components of these colouring agents at the concentrations present in the finished product have an approved regulatory status for use in foods and oral cosmetic and medicinal products marketed in the European Union and the United States.

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We hope this answers all the questions you have got about alli, to help you make an informed choice as to whether alli is suitable for you as a weight loss aid. If you are still unsure, please pop into your local Boots to consult the Pharmacist - they will be happy to help.

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