Does alli work?

Diet pill’s icky side effects keep users honest

Sometimes, you can’t stop your weight-loss secrets from leaking out.

Dieters have been flocking to drugstores to pick up Alli, the first over-the-counter weight-loss pill to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, despite the scary warning: Stray too far from your low-fat diet and you just might poop your pants.

The drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, has been up front about the pill’s side effects, suggesting that first timers wear dark pants or bring a change of clothes to work until they get used to the diet pill’s potentially yucky consequences.

Still, it seems there’s no shortage of people willing to risk public humiliation to shed a few pounds. At one Los Angeles-area Walgreens, pharmacist Susie Uyu’s seen customer after customer march directly through the store toward the prominent Alli display. “I think they’re excited that it’s an over-the-counter product,” Uyu says.

And even though pharmacist Miyuki Anderson, who works at a Bartell Drugs in Seattle, warns everyone who eyes the Alli display about the messy side effects, it doesn’t stop most of them from buying the diet pill. (Anderson does, however, arm them with this helpful tip: “I tell the patients, try when you have a day off.”)

“We know it’s selling very well — better than we expected,” says Brian Jones, a GlaxoSmithKline spokesman. Jones declined to share any specific numbers. “But we don’t know if it’s going to last — there was a lot of pent-up anticipation.”

Anyone can try it
That anticipation refers to the origin of Alli; it’s the newly approved over-the-counter form of the prescription weight-loss drug Xenical. Now that it’s available in many major drugstores and grocery chains, it’s not just for the obese with a doctor’s prescription in hand — anyone who wants to lose a few can try it.

“The pill offers the promise of convenience, that someone has done the job for you,” says Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington in Seattle. “People who don’t live well, who stuff themselves with bags of snacks, in desperation they reach out for a pill.”

The drugmaker states very clearly that it’s no miracle drug, and only promises to help people toward moderate weight loss. For example, if someone were to lose 10 pounds from dieting, they’d lose 15 by combining their diet with Alli.

The diet pill works by blocking 25 percent of fat from being digested. Alli users take one pill with every meal, and to avoid an “Alli oops,” they should eat less than 42 grams of fat a day, or about 15 grams per meal. But those fat grams can be sneaky. One grande Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino contains 15 grams of fat, and if an Alli user adds even a low-fat muffin to that meal, it could get icky.

“It’s so important to understand that you must adopt a low-fat, healthy lifestyle,” Jones says. “We call them treatment effects — that’s a signal for you that you’re not staying in the guidelines. What Alli will not do is make up for not living a healthy lifestyle.”

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Cheaters share cautionary tales
But we don’t always like to bother with directions. Those who haven’t completely followed instructions offer cautionary tales on the drug company’s Web site.

“(I)’ve pooped my pants 3 times today, and sorry to get descriptive but it even leaked onto the couch at one point!” writes one user.

It can strike any time — even in the early hours of the morning. One user writes: “(Y)a know how when you start moving around in the morning ya pass a little gas. Well, I did and then went into the bathroom and to my horror I had an orange river of grease running down my leg.”

Fellow cheaters advise each other on the best clean-up methods, and some even suggest using panty liners or Depends. One frugal user noted, “I’m thinking that infant diapers might be a cheaper way to go, just use them as a large pad.”

The gross side effects might scare away the less-committed, but some experts appreciate Alli’s very real, very immediate consequences of cheating on your diet.

“It forces you to eat a lower-fat diet — if you don’t, you’re violently penalized for not doing so,” says David Sarwer, the director of clinical services at the Center for Weight Loss and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “When they eat a little too much fat, they’ll learn not to do it again.”

The drugmaker claims Alli is promoting healthier lifestyles by teaching users that weight loss involves eating healthy food and getting enough exercise — and Sarwer agrees.

“People who are struggling with their weight assume that thin people never think about what they eat,” Sarwer says. “I’ve always been impressed by patients who really rolled with the punches with some of these events. They say, ‘Well, I learned that I couldn’t do that. It taught me to eat differently.’ And that’s where I think Alli can be the greatest benefit.”

Side effects are avoidable
Some Alli enthusiasts have been conscientious enough to avoid any side effects. Carole McMahan, who’s trying to lose 10 pounds, started taking Alli the day the product hit drugstore shelves on June 15, and has been careful to follow the low-fat diet.

“No pun intended, but I’m very anal about it,” says McMahan, who’s 44 and lives in Greensboro, N.C. She appreciates the way Alli holds her accountable to her eating habits.

“I started very cautiously, and I’ve just grown more and more comfortable with it,” McMahan says. “I just follow the diet. I knew I couldn’t go out and order hot fudge cake.”

But some Alli fans, like 25-year-old Rachelle Beaini, are just asking for it. Beaini, who lives in Henderson, Nev., and wants to lose 20 pounds, has lost 6 pounds in two weeks without a single side effect. Inspired by her success, last week she dared to eat a meal of chicken nuggets — while wearing white pants. (Still no unpleasant consequences, she swears.)

Still, as some obesity experts point out, if you’ve made a change in your eating habits, why is a diet pill necessary? Drewnowski, the Seattle public-health researcher, says that hearing “Alli oops” stories frustrates him.

“I think it’s utterly revolting, frankly,” Drewnowski says. “It controls your life — you focus on it all day. It’s like walking around with a colostomy bag.”

Instead of investing money in a diet pill, he encourages people to take the money they would’ve spent on Alli and put it toward buying healthier food. (A 20-day supply of Alli costs about $45 to $55.)

“See how much money you are spending on food daily,” Drewnowski says. “Factor in the extra amount for this drug and spend the entire amount on better food. You’ll be happier and better nourished — and not obese.”

He adds, “I can’t think that a healthy lifestyle requires carrying a spare pair of underpants.”

© 2013 Reprints

April 14, 2011— — The weight loss drugs Alli and Xenical should be removed from the market because of the growing risk of side effects that include liver damage, pancreatitis and kidney stones, according to the consumer watchdog Public Citizen.

In a new attempt to eliminate the only FDA-approved class of weight-loss drugs, Public Citizen issued a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday — its second in five years — calling for the agency to ban the class of drugs called orlistat, better known by the prescription brand names Xenical and Alli.

“These drugs have the potential to cause significant damage to multiple critical organs, yet they provide meager benefits in reducing weight loss in obese and overweight patients,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

An estimated 40 million people worldwide have taken either Xenical or Alli in the last decade. But sales have decreased substantially over the last decade. Alli sales dropped from $145 million in 2007 to $84 million by mid-2010, according to a report released by Public Citizen.

The drugs’ maker, GlaxoSmithKline, announced Thursday it is trying to sell the brands.

Breakthrough Drug that Fizzled

In 1999, Xenical, sold by prescription, was touted as a breakthrough weight-loss drug. Alli was approved in 2007 as an over-the-counter drug. The FDA banned the two market-leading pills, Fen-phen and ephedra, because of potentially fatal side effects.

Studies suggest that taking Xenical or Alli would only help people lose 4 to 6 pounds more than they would with only diet and exercise.

“The benefit was never that great, but many people thought they’d take their chances,” said Wolfe.

Drugs Block Fat Enzymes

The drugs work by blocking absorption of about a third of certain protein enzymes that enter the body. Instead, the fat passes through the body to the gastrointestinal tract until it is excreted. These medications also block fat-soluble vitamins including vitamins A, B, and K.

Some of the more common side effects of Alli or Xenical include diarrhea and stool leakage.

However, according to Dr. Donald Hensrud, associate professor of nutrition and preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the longer a patient stays on the medication, the more likely these symptoms will go away.

“The chances of having those side effects are a bit overrated,” said Hensrud. “Only about 20 percent of people get those side effects, and in most people it lasts for less than a week.”

More severe side effects reported to the FDA include liver disease, pancreatitis, and kidney stones. The FDA received 47 reports of acute pancreatitis and 73 cases of kidney stones attributed to orlistats.

While many experts say these side effects are rare, it’s not clear what segment of people who use the drug may experience these severe conditions.

Monique Paulwell of Bowie, Md. said she only took Alli four times before she began feeling fatigue, loss of appetite, a nagging headache and jaundice.

“After a battery of tests, said there had been an attack on my liver,” said Paulwell. “By the time I was admitted to the hospital, I had 48 hours to live. It was that serious.”

Paulwell said she thought taking Alli would help her lose a few pounds and maybe boost her acting career. Instead, she had a near-fatal experience her doctors told her was caused by the drug. She said she needed a liver transplant to save her life.

“What I knew is that it was FDA approved, it was safe for me to use,” she said. “But what happened was I started to feel ill almost immediately after starting to use it.”

Public Citizen Urges Ban of Alli and Xenical Weight-Loss Drugs

GlaxoSmithKline offered a statement to ABC News:

“GSK is committed to ensuring that consumers and physicians understand the safety profile of orlistat and alli,” it said. “GSK continues to proactively monitor for the safety of orlistat and share all relevant information with regulatory agencies.”

In fact, those who are overweight are already at a higher risk for liver disease, Hensrud said.

“So it might not be the medication,” he said. “It might just be the people who would probably take these medications would already experience these effects. The data is not consistent.”

The FDA did not accept other popular weight-loss drugs such as Qnexa and Meridia in 2010. Still, the pharmaceutical advisory firm Decision Resources says it estimates that the weight-loss drug market will increase more than nine-fold over the next decade worldwide — from $477 million in 2009 to more than $4.3 billion in 2019.

Market May Do What FDA Does Not

The FDA rejected Public Citizen’s first petition in April 2006, which cited a preliminary study in rats that suggested orlistat caused pre-cancerous lesions in the colon.

It’s unclear whether the FDA will accept Public Citizen’s new petition. And in the end, some experts say that the market, rather than the FDA, may end up deciding the fate of the weight-loss drugs.

“It seems like Alli is going to wither away on its own anyway. Its market has already decreased considerably,” said Keith Ayoob, a registered dietician and director of the nutrition clinic at the Rose R. Kennedy Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the FDA allowed it to continue with restriction without pulling it.”

It’s the big news in the US slimming world, and now Alli – which works by limiting fat absorption – could soon be on sale at a pharmacy near you, after its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKlein, recently began a process to get approval from the European medicines regulator.

This summer Alli (which will be known in Europe under another name, as yet undecided) became the first weight-loss drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to be sold over the counter. In the first five weeks after its launch, sales reached more than $155m (£77m) – but its reception in the US has been dominated by headlines about unpleasant side-effects, and there are worries about its introduction in Europe.

Alli – so called because its manufacturer says it requires an alliance of a low-fat diet and exercise to be effective – is a pill that is usually taken three times a day with each fat-containing meal. It works by blocking lipase, which breaks down fats in the gut, preventing your body from absorbing about a third of the fat you eat. And because you can’t absorb undigested fats, they pass straight through your body. It is this action that leads to Alli’s unpleasant side-effects.

“It is associated with gas, bloating and oily stools. First-time users have a risk of some incontinence if they eat a high-fat meal. They get punished for it with malabsorption,” says Dr Fred Brancati, professor of internal medicine and obesity expert at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. More worryingly, however, Alli can limit the amount of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, and beta-carotene your body absorbs. GlaxoSmithKlein is upfront about the side-effects – which it euphemistically call treatment effects-and even recommends first-time users to “wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work”. It also advises users to take a vitamin supplement.

Testimonies from users on the official website,, are equally candid. “The TE I experienced was leakage. No cramping, just, uh oh, pizza oil on the back of my pants!!! Totally unexpected – no warning it was happening,” writes one. “My TE happened in the Hallmark store only mine was the worst case of gas you can amagine I kept moving from aisle to aisle so no one would know it was me,” says another.

To counter this, the manufacturer recommends a low-fat diet and limiting fat intake in meals to an average of 15g. It also stresses that taking Alli requires “hard work”, “commitment” and “dedication” and is “not a quick fix”. The official website cautions: “If you aren’t committed to limiting your fat intake and calories as part of the programme, then you shouldn’t buy Alli,” and advises plenty of physical activity too.

But if you have to limit fat in your diet to take Alli and exercise, why take the pill at all? Critics suggest that the changes recommended by GlaxoSmithKlein are what you’re supposed to do on a diet anyway. They also question how well the drug actually works. Despite the marketing hype surrounding the launch of Alli, it isn’t actually a new drug. It is a lower-dose version of a prescription-only drug called Xenical. The active ingredient in both of these drugs is orlistat; Alli contains 60mg while Xenical contains 120mg. “It’s a drug that has a modest effect in the short term, but it has limited benefit in the long term,” says Dr Lee Kaplan, director of the Weight Centre at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “If you want to lose a few pounds then it’s perfectly fine, but you’re not going to cure obesity with orlistat.”

Indeed, research found that people who took the 120mg dose of orlistat for a year lost between two and five kilograms more than people who took a dummy treatment. And while the weight might drop off quite quickly in the beginning, the drug doesn’t work for everyone and some will lose more weight than others. Research has also shown that people tend to put the weight back on when they come off the drug. This has led critics to speculate that it is the makers’ intention for people to take Alli long-term – though there is little evidence about how well the drug works in reducing weight for periods of longer than 12 months.

“The additional weight loss people have on this drug is quite minimal and this only lasts as long as they’re on it,” says Alex Sugarman-Brozan, director of the US consumer group, Prescription Access Litigation (Pal). “This isn’t the kind of drug people are supposed to take once and then stop taking. I think GlaxoSmithKlein is hoping and anticipating that people who aren’t disgusted by the side-effects will take it on an ongoing basis.”

Although it’s not clear from the official website how long the drug should be taken for, Alli users get an online personalised support programme and action plan to help ensure appropriate use. A company spokesperson explains: “Although most weight loss occurs within the first six months of using Alli, clinical studies with orlistat at the prescription dose have shown it to be safe and effective for up to four years of continuous use. The OTC dose has been clinically tested for up to one year.”

But some experts suggest that it is difficult enough for people to lose weight under regulated conditions with medical guidance, and are sceptical that many people buying Alli will have the motivation to reap the full benefits. Moreover, there are limited studies looking at the long-term benefits of Alli and research suggests the optimum dose of orlistat is 120mg, three times a day. So why is GlaxoSmithKlein selling something that contains only 60mg?

The company says there is little difference in the effects of the two doses – both are effective in aiding weight loss. Kaplan disagrees. He says that orlistat was never successful when it was only available on prescription. “It’s clearly a business decision. This wasn’t an efficacy decision. If the drug was efficacious it would be a blockbuster drug at 120mg, and it’s not,” he says. “Essentially, it’s a failed prescription drug from a marketing perspective. Here’s a situation where you have a drug that wasn’t a big success-a very modest success as a prescription drug-and they’re hoping, through marketing approaches and direct-to-consumer advertising, that it can be more successful as an over-the-counter drug.”

It is this that has led Pal to award GlaxoSmithKlein one of its Bitter Pill awards, “With Allies Like This, Who Needs Enemas?”

Sugarman-Brozan is concerned that people with eating disorders might abuse it – but Kaplan isn’t convinced. He says the drug isn’t effective enough to be abused. In the end, he thinks the market will decide how well Alli works. “There will be high enthusiasm for these kinds of drugs, because obesity is so difficult to treat. People who are overweight will try them. But if the drugs don’t work, they’ll stop using them,” he says. “It’s a question of: is this good enough to generate a response that people will want to pay for? And I think people will try to do it once or twice or three times. But I don’t think over the long haul there’s going to be a lot of durable enthusiasm for something like this.”

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  • Alli is the only FDA-approved over-the-counter weight loss product available.

    This is great news for those of you that are skeptical about purchasing a non-FDA approved natural weight loss supplement.

    This diet pill is the reduced-strength version (60 milligrams vs. 120 milligrams) of Orlistat (Xenical), a prescription drug used to treat obesity.

    Since Orlistat first became available as prescription medicine in 1998, more than 40 million people have tried it and of these, more than 10 million have used Alli.

    Does Alli work?

    Is it really safe?

    Read my Alli review below to find out if this natural diet pill may work for you.

    How Does Alli Work?

    Alli label

    Alli encourages weight loss by decreasing the absorption of fat in the intestines, which reduces the number of calories absorbed.

    For example, an enzyme called lipase is found in our digestive tracts and helps to break down dietary fat into smaller components so that it can be used or stored for energy.

    Alli works by disabling lipase, which prevents the enzyme from breaking down the fat while it’s in your digestive tract.

    The undigested fat continues through the intestines and is eliminated through your bowel movements.

    You are instructed to take Alli with fat-containing meals; up to 3xs a day.

    Because Alli prevents the absorption of fat in your intestines it is recommended that an individual consumes no more than 15 grams of fat with each meal.

    If you consume a meal that has more than 15 grams of fat in it, you may suffer from some of the unpopular Alli side effects such as urgent bowel movements, diarrhea and gas with oily spotting.

    Peace of Mind with Orlistat

    If you are looking for a natural diet pill that offers plenty of scientific examination, Orlistat is by far the most studied weight loss medication in the world.

    In fact, there have been more than 100 clinical studies that have involved in excess of 30,000 patients with this diet medication.

    The reason Orlistat has been approved by the FDA is that it has been proven to block up to 25% of the fat that you consume from being absorbed.

    This weight-loss method is favored over other weight loss supplements that otherwise affect your nervous system or act as an appetite suppressant.


    • Alli is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter use as a weight loss aid. Its the only weight loss product with FDA approval.
    • Alli doesn’t stimulate the nervous system or act as an appetite suppressant.
    • Alli claims that you can lose up to 50% more weight than you would if you were to pursue dieting alone.
    • Alli should not affect your heart rate, liver, brain or cause sleeplessness.
    • Alli does lower cholesterol and risk of type 2 diabetes with extended use.


    • If you consume a meal with more than 15 grams of fat, you may experience side effects.
    • Alli is not as powerful as some other diet pills but is still proven for long-term weight loss if taken correctly.
    • Orlistat decreases the absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins (ie. Vitamins A, D, and E) and thus you will need to supplement your diet with these nutrients after taking Alli.

    Where do I Buy Alli and How Do You Start?

    If you are located in the US, you can purchase Alli from Amazon here: .

    If you are located in the UK, you can purchase Alli via an authorized distributor here: click to purchase here.

    Alli is not only a diet pill but a fully comprehensive holistic system.

    If you go to you will discover that the Alli plan includes community support, achievable goal setting (or steps), educational nutritional insight, online tools and the Alli capsule (helps you to understand how to eat healthier).

    Once you’ve purchased Alli, you can activate your free myalliplan membership and access helpful online tools and features, including:

    • Alli Overview 10-day program with steps to guide you through your first week of myalliplan.
    • Personal myalliplan home page where you can chart your progress, check out the latest steps, meal plans, and more.
    • Interactive tools help you avoid hidden calories hiding in popular foods.
    • Online journal so you can record your thoughts along the journey.
    • Lessons from clinical experts in weight loss-health professionals who know what you’re up against.
    • Healthy and delicious recipes, smart meal plans, and dining out guide – all the tools you need to achieve a healthy, sustainable weight and a happier state of mind.

    If you are interested in trying Alli, I’d recommend purchasing the Starter Pack, which includes weight loss capsules, the shuttle (a carrying case that makes it easy to take Alli capsules with you), myalliplan personalized online program developed by nutrition and weight management experts and reference booklets.

    As part of the Alli Starter pack, you will also receive helpful and easy-to-carry guides that include:

    • Welcome Guide.
    • Companion Guide.
    • Healthy Eating Guide.
    • Calorie and Fat Counter.
    • Daily Journal.
    • Quick Facts Cards.

    How long do I need to take Alli?

    According to the Alli manufacturer, the most significant weight loss occurs within the first 6 months.

    It is important to adhere to a low-fat diet and exercise routine to assist the body in natural permanent weight loss.

    And again, please understand that the manufacturers of Alli consider this diet pill to be a weight-loss aid and not a miracle pill.

    You will see the most dramatic results if you make an effort for daily exercise combined with healthy eating habits.

    It isn’t a wonder drug but can help you lose weight if you make the effort. The recommended dose is one 60mg capsule with each main meal containing fat.

    Heres a recent news clip on Alli in the news.

    Listen and find out how one man lost more than 30lbs as part of a new healthy diet!

    It also talks about the more fat that you consume as part of your daily diet will also inevitably increase the side effects (possibility of frequent bowel movements) but is still considered very safe.

    Actual Customer Reviews:

    • 5.0 out of 5 stars, November 28, 2011, Timi Mafua (Kent, WA United States)

    You can read a million reviews positive and negative about this product. For me, it has worked. I have lost 26 pounds in the last 6 months. The facts? You need to eat right, exercise and limit your fat intake. If you do that, this product will give you the extra help in eliminating some of the fat you take in. Its not magic and it wont help you if you arent willing to do the work. No side effects if you arent eating cheese burgers, fries, pizza, etc. The product came within a few days of purchase, was not over-packaged and the price was right. I would purchase from this seller again.

    • 5.0 out of 5 stars, October 21, 2011, Chase b

    As soon as this stuff was over the counter I picked it up and started taking it. It has been a great experience for me with fortunetly none of the side effects people talk about. I was able to lose about 30 pounds with the help of Alli, diet and exercise, and also some appetite suppressants.

    • 5.0 out of 5 stars, October 17, 2011, Molly n Britts Mom (Southern CA United States)

    I’ve been taking Alli for 6 months and have lost 50 pounds. For every one pound you would lose on your own, you lose an extra two with Alli. Combine this with a low carb diet and it works! I have very little time to exercise but I can tell you that in 6 months I have dropped 5 dress sizes.

    • 4.0 out of 5 stars, October 6, 2011, Sara Ludwig (Charlottesville, VA)

    I really like what Alli has done for me since I have started using it. I have lost and kept off 10 stubborn pounds that would not come off before I purchased this product. Alli, combined with a sensible diet and daily walks, keeps those extra pounds off. I was not bothered by side effects (probably because I stuck to the guidelines which is strongly advised)and was able to get it at a reasonable price from Amazon. Compared to the big drugstore chains, and even Target and Walmart, Amazon had the best value.

    Alli Diet Pill Review Conclusion

    I tend to favor the natural diet pills that work with your digestive tract rather than affect your nervous system or act as an appetite suppressant.

    Does Alli work? Yes. But only if you are committed to losing weight naturally and for the long-term. It isn’t as fast-acting as the other natural diet pills available, but you will see results.

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    Alli Review – 18 Things You Need to Know

    • User Comments
    • 19 Answered Questions

    Fact Checked | Overview | Ingredients | Side Effects | Benefits | Price | Where To Buy | Directions | Food List | Is It Safe | Results | Bottom Line | Alli Alternatives | Q&A

    FDA-approved Alli’s only ingredient is the fat-burning orlistat, which has been around for more than a decade. The company claims it is a clinically-proven way to lose up to 5-10% of body weight, but is it safe? We were concerned when we found a long list of side effects attached to it.

    Our crew is hesitant to recommend a drug that could cause anything from rashes to back pain to bowel leakage. We investigated every aspect of Alli, examining if the pros outweigh the cons. We provide you with a summary of our conclusions.

    Alli can be purchased through their .

    Alli Readers: Noom is offering our readers a 14-day trial, for a limited time. for this special offer! Overview

    What is Alli?

    Alli orlistat is a weight loss supplement containing 60 mg of the prescription drug orlistat, which helps dieters lose up to 50% more weight than with diet and exercise alone.

    Its speed is slow, as it takes about two months to see results. Dieters 18 and older who are overweight or obese can benefit from it if they are already following a low-calorie diet.

    Taking Alli with meals helps your body absorb less of the fat in your food, resulting in lower calorie intake and, ultimately, weight loss. The body then excretes these fats. This FDA-approved weight loss supplement, the first of its kind, targets fat deposits in the body, improving your current dieting efforts.

    It is important to remember that Alli is not a “miracle pill.” It will not cause large amounts of weight loss in a short amount of time.

    Orlistat is the over-the-counter version for managing obesity. Xenical is its prescription name.

    Alli Competitors

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    ×Explanation of Price

    This is how much it costs to start on the respective program. We always recommend trying a product before making a large investment.

    • = Initial product cost is less than $5
    • = Initial product cost is between $6 and $50
    • = Initial product cost is between $51 and $150
    • = Initial product cost is $151 or more

    Alli Company Profile

    There was some controversy over the company’s marketing and illegal actions; they received a fine from the DoJ for unlawful promotion of prescription drugs and failure to report safety data.

    Scroll below for one of the best products we’ve seen over the last year.


    Alli Ingredients

    The only active ingredient in Alli OTC is:

    • Orlistat

    This ingredient is responsible for its fat-blocking properties. It does this by blocking the fat-breaking enzymes in the body. The body does not absorb fat that it does not break down and it thus eliminates it.

    The rest of the ingredients are inactive, contributing to the appearance, stability, and taste of the weight loss supplement.


    Alli Benefits

    There are health benefits of using Alli. Some of the benefits include:


    Alli claims to block small amounts of fat from the body by absorbing them.

    Easy to Use

    According to the packaging, you can take Alli up to three times a day with appropriate meals.


    It may block the enzymes that cause weight gain (see research in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity).

    Is It Safe

    Is Alli Safe?

    The FDA approved it for use by people over 18 years of age. It is best to have a BMI of at least 25 when taking Alli. Blocking fat in underweight individuals can be dangerous and can cause serious health problems.

    Check with a doctor before using Alli if you are on any other medications, especially medications for weight loss.

    Alli’s ingredients are simple and clinical proof supports them. Follow the instructions accordingly and never share the medication with anyone who may not need it.

    What Does Alli Do?

    It can help dieters lose up to 50% more weight than dieting and exercise alone.

    It does this by blocking a portion of the fat in food eaten. They recommend users do not eat more than 5 g of fat per meal when using Alli.

    With fat containing ten calories per gram, this can result in significant calorie reductions.

    Alli functions by interrupting fat digestion and blocking 30% of the fat users consume, leading to calorie reduction.

    Does Alli Work?

    When used correctly, it can help dieters lose an additional pound for every two pounds they lose on their own. You should only take it with low-fat meals. It is not a “miracle pill,” allowing dieters to eat whatever they like and still lose weight.

    By following a low-calorie, low-fat diet and exercise plan, and adding Alli, it could work. Although it can help you lose weight over time, it is important to remember that it is usually not significant.

    You must use it in conjunction with a diet fitting within your weight loss goals and an exercise program to be effective.

    It is also important to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

    Side Effects

    Alli Side Effects

    Some people who use it report side effects. Loose, watery and oily stools are one of the more common complaints.

    On the official website, Alli warns of potential gastrointestinal related side effects. These effects should only occur when first starting use, though.

    According to LiverTox, additional side effects from its ingredients may include:

    • Poor bowel control
    • Dehydration
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Skin rash
    • Back pain
    • Weakness
    • Dark urine
    • Flu-like symptoms
    • Clay-colored stools
    • Itching
    • Loss of appetite
    • Sore throat

    The undigested fat deposits typically appear in stools in fatty deposits that can be orange and oily, states the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Many dieters report finding this oil staining their underwear and clothes. Overall, it can be a messy experience to use Alli, and this is more likely when you take it combined with a high-fat meal.

    There is also an extreme sense of urgency to defecate when using Alli. They suggest that, if you are using Alli away from home, you bring an extra change of clothes with you for this reason.

    Some people also report an increased number of bowel movements during the day. This is due to undigested fat moving through the digestive system.

    If you experience any of the other above side effects, stop using Alli and consult your doctor.

    This supplement comes with some side effects related to digestion and nutrient deficiencies. It could also interact badly with some types of medication.

    The company claims that the best dose is 120 mg three times daily.

    Food List

    Foods to Eat & Avoid on Alli

    Just because you use Alli doesn’t mean that you have to limit the foods you eat. Some foods to eat and avoid with Alli include:


    • Fruit and vegetables
    • Low fat & fat-free milk and cheese
    • Lean meats
    • Three meals and two snacks on a day
    • Broth-based soups

    Don’t eat

    • Red meat
    • Fat-heavy protein
    • Oils and butter
    • High-fat
    • Fried foods
    • Cream-based soups

    Alli Alternatives

    The most straightforward alternative would be to get a prescription for Orlistat from your doctor. This is a stronger version of Alli OTC.

    Additional alternatives to Alli include:

    • LA-3
    • Demograss
    • Thermo CLA
    • Plexus Block


    Alli Cost

    Since Alli is available at so many retailers, there are a couple different price tags for the supplement.

    On Amazon, you are able to purchase 60 and 120 count bottles for $37.94 and $59.84, respectively. On the Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy websites, you can purchase a 60 count bottle for $49.99.

    On Walmart’s website, you can buy the 60 count bottle for $62.99 and the 120 count bottle for $122.20. There are also a couple different bundle options you can choose from. On the Target website, you can purchase a 60 count bottle for $39.99.

    On the official Alli website, there are coupons available so you can save money. The coupons offer $5 off a 60 count pack and $10 off a 120 count pack. You can use these in store by printing them directly from their site.

    Where To Buy

    Where To Buy Alli

    When you click the “Buy Now” option on Alli’s official website, you are given a couple of options for online retail purchase.

    Online, you can purchase from Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy, and Target. The official website also offers a map where you can find a local store near you where you can buy Alli.

    What About Alli Reviews?

    There are many weight loss reviews for this product. To get an idea of what consumers are saying about it, we will examine some of the reviews that actual users posted.

    Many of the positive reviews state that users have lost weight when they used it correctly. These users state that they are satisfied with the product and that it is good for short-term use with a low-fat diet and exercise.

    But there are some negative reviews online as well. Some people state the negative side effects as the reason why they would not purchase Alli again. Some users reported severe nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal issues when taking the product.

    Other reasons for negative reviews is the cost. A lot of consumers feel that Alli is too expensive for the results that they got when using the product.

    The reviews are mixed and can be somewhat unfair since many people are misusing the product, such as taking it with fatty meals then reporting unwanted side effects.

    These side effects don’t usually happen when you take it with meals containing less than 15 grams of fat.


    Alli Directions

    According to the packaging:

    • You can take the product up to three times per day with a full glass of water before a meal containing not more than 30% fat.
    • You can also take it up to one hour after eating, and it would still be effective.
    • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use this product. Only dieters who are 18 years of age or older and not underweight should use it.


    Alli Results

    Many people report satisfactory results when using the weight loss pills along with a diet or nutritional programs such as Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem.

    It is best for short-term use only, and people report that it loses its effectiveness after about six months.

    Alli and Weight Loss

    The weight loss with Alli will not be significant. Dieters report only losing a few pounds more than with diet and exercise.

    Typically, many people lose about 7 lbs in six months. However, it is only good for short-term use, and will not produce significant weight loss. The cost may outweigh the benefits. Its results are positive but minimal.

    If someone has a small amount of weight to lose, and they are willing to persevere with the side effects, Alli capsules can be beneficial. However, it will not suppress appetite or increase metabolism.

    For those who eat occasional high calorie, fatty meals, Alli is not useful. However, for the dieters who can stick to a healthy meal plan, it may be an excellent choice to help them lose more weight than dieting alone.

    Alli also offers online resources to users to help them with their weight-loss goals. When you make an account on their website, you are given access to healthy recipes, meal planners and trackers, food reports, and weight trackers. It is unknown whether you need to buy the product before receiving these resources.

    “This is a great diet supplement. It does EXACTLY what it says it will do. This product will cause loose bowel movements after eating a meal with high fat content. If you can deal with that one side effect; then this pill is a fantastic product!”

    “I didn’t lose any weight and my hair thinned.”

    “Seriously been on this a week and it upsets my stomach and I literally get orange oil LEAKS all the time. It makes me feel so gross. And I eat healthy.”

    Bottom Line

    The Bottom Line on Alli

    We like that the FDA approved Alli and that research proves the effectiveness of Orlistat. One of the main concerns related to side effects from Alli. Bowel leakage is an incredibly embarrassing situation, and we’re not sure it’s worth it when there are other available options.

    We are in full support of living a healthier life, and we also know that means being at your healthy weight. Sometimes, the changes that are needed are difficult, but they don’t have to be with a clinically-proven system in place.

    One of the best weight-loss apps we have seen is one called Noom. With personalized meal plans, human coaching, and extensive food logging, and more, Noom makes it easy to make healthier choices, lose weight, and understand your own eating habits.

    For a limited time, Dietspotlight readers can get a 14-day trial with 100% access to everything Noom has to offer.

    Learn More About Noom “

    Update (8/25/09): New concerns have been linked with orlistat. Read about them.

    Have we finally discovered the weight-loss pill that will whip us into swimsuit shape? Alli, the first OTC weight-loss drug to be approved by the U.S. FDA, will be available starting June 15. But before you hightail it to your nearest CVS, you’ll need to know what it can do—and what it can’t. Here’s the lowdown:

    What is it? Alli (AL-eye) is the drug orlistat, which has been dispensed legally as a prescription drug for obesity since 1999. The prescription version (XENICAL) is double the dosage of Alli (120mg vs. 60mg).

    How does it work? It blocks the absorption of fat — approximately one-fourth of the total fat in your food, says creator GlaxoSmithKline. Fat that’s not digested won’t make it to your hips, or any other part of your body.

    Is it effective? The experts say yes, though some more strongly than others. Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University, is so excited about Alli that he wrote the first chapter of the weight-loss booklet Are You Losing It? that’s sold in conjunction with the drug. In his experience, Alli can help you lose 50 percent more weight than you would without it; if you would normally lose 10 pounds with diet and exercise, adding Alli would help you lose 15.

    Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University is a little more guarded in his assessment. “The typical person loses weight, but I’m not entirely sure how much they are losing versus how much they would anyways. For some, the medication may offer a jumpstart or even permanent support for weight loss.”

    Are there side effects? Yes. Because “blocked” fat passes right out of your body, Alli can cause diarrhea, cramping, and the horrible-sounding “gas with oily spotting”. These side effects get worse with fatty meals, so reducing your fat intake (less than 15 grams per meal) can keep you from running to the bathroom.

    What’s the catch? It’s no magic pill. In order for the drug to work you’ll have to eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet, and exercise on a regular basis. “If all you are going to do to lose weight is take this pill, you will be disappointed,” says Foster, “This is not a quick fix, ‘lose 10 pounds for the beach’ kind of thing.”

    Is it safe? The FDA feels it is, and Foster explains why, “It doesn’t work in the brain or the heart. It’s not absorbed into the body. It stays in the gut, and because of that, it’s the safest weight-loss medication ever studied.” Though there have been questions regarding a link between XENICAL and colon cancer found in a study involving rats, the FDA didn’t find causation from one to the other.

    How much does it cost? A “starter kit” with a food journal, healthy eating guide, and 60 capsules of Alli costs about $50.

    Where can I find out more? Read up on Alli on the or go to, the official web site from GlaxoSmithKline.

    Does Orlistat, OTC Diet Pill Alli, Live Up To Its Name?

    Orlistat, known by the brand name Alli, works by decreasing the amount of fat absorbed by the body. It is the OTC version of Xenical, a prescription weight loss pill. The good news: Orlistat has been tested and the prescription version has been used since 1999.

    Last fall Dr. James Anderson, head of the UK College of Medicine Metabolic Research Group, and his colleagues examined the effects of OTC strength (60 mg) orlistat on mildly to moderately overweight individuals. The study was the first of its kind. Previously, the drug’s effects had only been studied in obese individuals. Study participants took either orlistat or a placebo three times daily with meals for 16 weeks. Results of that study showed those taking OTC-strength orlistat did lose more weight than those taking the placebo.

    “Our research showed that people taking orlistat and following low-fat diets lost almost five percent of their initial body weight, about seven to15 pounds, over four months,” Anderson said. “While two to four pounds a month isn’t dramatic, steady weight loss of this amount can have major health benefits. For example, the reduction in LDL-cholesterol, the bad-guy cholesterol, of 10 percent can reduce risk of heart attack by 20 percent.”

    Any successful dieter knows that long-term weight loss is about lifestyle changes not quick fixes. While taking Alli may help you lose weight, it won’t do all of the work for you. Anderson stresses a healthy diet and exercise plan are absolutely necessary to lose the weight and keep it off.

    “This is the first over-the-counter medicine that has proven effectiveness. It is my hope that people will take one capsule before each regular meal, breakfast, lunch, and supper, and alter their fat and calorie intake,” Anderson said. “If they commit to exercise six days a week, most people can lose weight steadily. All of us are in this for the long haul and need to keep up healthy behaviors, not for days or weeks, but for months and years. Doing regular physical activity and making good food choices will help us be trimmer and give us more energy.”

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