If you are overweight but are struggling with losing the excess weight, your doctor may give you a prescription for Orlistat to give you a little bit of a helping hand. It is a weight loss medication that has been proven to be effective in helping patients with a high BMI get down to a weight that is more manageable and healthy. However, it is not a magic pill; as a patient, there are some things that you can do to help make it more effective and get the results that you hope for. Here, we shall take a look at what to do to get the best results from Orlistat.

What is Orlistat?

Orlistat has been shown to be a safe and reliable medication for weight loss. It is generally only prescribed to people with a BMI (body mass index) of over 30, or a BMI of more than 28 if they have risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type two diabetes as a result of their weight.

Orlistat works by preventing fat from being digested after you eat it. Fat that is not digested is not stored by your body and is removed from the body in your faeces. This will prevent you from gaining weight. However, this does not guarantee that you can lose weight. When taking Orlistat, you still need to be eating a healthy, balanced diet and participating in regular exercise.

How do you take Orlistat?

Typically, Orlistat is taken as a 120mg capsule three times a day with each of the main meals. It only needs to be taken if the meal contains fat, so if you skip meals or eat any completely fat-free meals, it does not need to be taken at that time.

Diet and Orlistat

Orlistat 120mgAs we mentioned above, Orlistat is not a magic pill. You can’t take it and expect to lose weight while eating a poor diet. To get the best out of it, you need to be eating a nutritionally balanced diet. 

It is important to eat a hypocaloric diet while taking orlistat. This means that you consume fewer calories than you expend. A calorie deficit is another term for this. A general rule of thumb is to eat 500-600 calories less per day than you usually would.

As well as making sure that you are consuming fewer calories than you burn, you should also ensure that you are eating at least five portions of fruit or vegetables every day and that you spread your daily consumption of fat, carbohydrates and protein equally over your three main meals. You should also make sure that 30% of your daily calories come from fat.

How can you reduce the amount of fat you consume?

For some people, it can be tricky getting the fat consumption down to 30%, but here are some things that you can do to lower your fat intake:

  • Swap full-fat milk for skimmed or semi-skilled milk
  • Ditch the butter and use low-fat spreads
  • Poach, grill or steam instead of using the frying pan
  • Buy leaner cuts of meat, or at the very least cut the fatty parts off.
  • Swap out chocolate, biscuits and cakes and unhealthy snacks for fruit or things like rice cakes

Get plenty of exercise

Exercise is just as important in your weight-loss journey as food and will help you to get the best results from Orlistat. You should be aiming to take part in some sort of physical activity every day, or 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise each week.

Of course, you can do this by hitting the gym, taking part in fitness classes, following at-home workouts or going for a run. You can also increase the amount of moving you do in your everyday life – taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking at the furthest end of the car park when you go shopping to walk that little bit further, getting off the bus or train a stop early and walking the rest of the way and generally just trying to move a little more.

In conclusion

The general aim is to lose around 5% of your body weight in the first twelve weeks of taking Orlistat. If you haven’t managed to do that, your doctor may stop the prescription and look at alternative ways of helping you to shed the stones.

By following the above points – eating a well-balanced diet that is hypocaloric, making sure that less than 30% of your calories come from fat and getting the recommended amount of exercise, you will be doing everything that you can to get the best results from Orlistat. 

Although all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it should not be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please speak to your doctor.

Authored May 27, 2021 by Joseph Issac, MPharm
Reviewed May 27, 2021 by Prabjeet Saundh, MPharm