Is Alli Diet Supplement a Scam?

Can long-term weight loss really be achieved with the help of a pill?

alli-diet-supplementsNearly everyone has seen the television commercials promoting a new weight loss aid called Alli. These commercials promise users that they will be able to shed excess weight with the help of their little blue pill. So simple. So easy. Almost like magic. If every overweight person in the United States could lose weight so simply and so easily, the obesity epidemic would surely just go away for good.

This pill, known as Alli, has been developed for and marketed specifically to overweight adults who have struggled to lose weight for years. But really, can this be the answer to all your prayers? Maybe, maybe not.

What is Alli?

xenicalAlli is manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant, Glaxo-Smith Kline. It is a medication known as Xenical (Orlistat) which is used to treat severe obesity but in much smaller doses. Alli is typically given in 60 mg doses as opposed to the usual 120 mg of Xenical a patient with severe obesity would be given. Xenical was originally developed to be used as an “aversion therapy” drug for obese patients because of the severe side effects patients would experience when they consumed large quantities of fat in their diet. Orlistat works as a lipase inhibitor. Lipase is one of the enzymes used by the body to process dietary fat into fat stores. By inhibiting the lipase enzyme from working properly, Xenical effectively reduces caloric intake. It is meant, however, to be used in conjunction with a low-fat or fat-reduced diet, not as a way to just “get rid of fat”.

Alli has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use over the counter and does not require a prescription in order to be purchased. It is recommended for use only by people over the age of 18.

Are there any concerns associated with Alli?

FDA-Warning-AlliThe FDA began a review of Alli’s safety in 2009 after receiving numerous reports of adverse side effects. Some people who had used this supplement reported that they had sustained serious liver damage while taking it.  After concluding its study, however, the FDA was unable to link liver damage to Alli as a possible side effect or concern. They did, however, recommend that labels be added to the packaging warning people of possible side effects and telling them of potential warning signs such as jaundice or light colored stool.

Specifically how does Alli work

Alli is able to enable weight loss by decreasing the amount of fat which can be absorbed by the intestines in the digestive tract. This prevents extra calories (and some needed nutrients) from being absorbed and processed. Because it disables the body’s ability to utilize the enzyme, lipase, the body is incapable of breaking down fat and this fat is eliminated from the body in the form of feces.

When Do I Take It?

Users are instructed to take one tablet before each meal they are going to consume which will contain fat. The makers of Alli recommend that people consume no more than 15 grams of fat with each meal they are going to eat. Consuming more than 15 grams of fat with a meal can lead to some very unpleasant side effects such as severe stomach pain, diarrhea or explosive flatulence. Other people have reported that they have experienced oily spotting while using Alli.

How much weight should I expect to lose while using Alli?

In all honesty, doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota have said, after studying the effects of Alli, that it will help you lose weight but that it will likely be only a modest amount. Certainly no more than you would normally expect to lose by using a healthy diet and exercise. The average person using Xenical (or Alli) can expect to lose between 5 and 7 pounds after one year which is less than they would expect to lose if on a weight loss diet and doing regular exercise three to four times per week. As with most products of this nature, your wallet will end up being lighter than your body will  be after a year with the product.

The reason I say this is because Alli is fairly expensive. And, as with all “diet pills” there is absolutely no guarantee. It’s a jungle out there and you have to be extremely careful before proceeding with products like this. I truly believe that you would be far better off to eliminate one fast-food meal each week from your diet and skip dessert three out of seven nights each week for a  year than you would be buying and/or using a product like Alli. Experience has taught me that there is simply no such thing as a “magic pill” when it comes to weight loss. There is no easy way to get around it. You simply have to put in the time and the “sweat equity” in terms of exercising if you want to see any results that are going to be long-lasting.