What is Orlistat?
Orlistat is a medication commonly used in the management of Obesity is it help achieve weight loss. Xenical is the branded version of this medication, produced by Roche Pharmaceuticals. Orlistat is licensed for use in people with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30. It may also be used in individuals who have a BMI over 28 and also suffer from other conditions such as high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes.
You can calculate your BMI here.
How does Orlistat work?
Orlistat acts by reducing the amount of fat absorbed from the gut into the body’s tissues. It binds to and blocks the action of enzymes called lipases, found in the small intestine. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down fats so they can be absorbed into the body cells, blockage of their action by Orlistat prevents fat breakdown and absorption. The unabsorbed fat passes through the GI tract and is out of the body in faeces. Orlistat stops absorption approximately 30% of fat from the gut.
How do I take Orlistat?
The recommended dose of Orlistat is one capsules (120mg) three times a day. Orlistat should be taken with water immediately before, during or up to one hour after a main meal.
If you miss a meal or have a meal that does not contain any fat you should leave out the Orlistat dose. On the other hand if you accidentally miss a dose of Orlistat you should take the dose as soon as you remember if it is within one hour of your last meal, if not you should continue taking the medication as normal with your next meal. Do not take any extra doses to make up for missed ones.
Orlistat should only be used as part of an overall weight loss programme. Its use should be accompanied by healthy diet and exercise, with the weight being monitored closely. Orlistat should initially be taken for a period of 12 weeks, treatment may only be continued for longer than this if the patient has achieved a weight loss target of 5%.
What diet changes should I make?
Patients should aim to have a well-balanced, mildly hypo-caloric diet (where calories burned outweighs those taken in), the diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables.
Whilst using Orlistat patients should make a diet plan where calorie intake is divided over 3 main meals. Each meal should contain an average of 30% of calories from fat (i.e. if you have a meal containing 1000 calories, only 300 of those should come from fat).
Orlistat may interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), patients are therefore recommended to take a daily multivitamin as part of their diet. The multivitamin should be taken 2 hours after taking Orlistat or before going to bed.
In addition to diet changes patients should also exercise regularly to optimise weight loss and manage obesity. Exercise should generally be taken 3-5 times a week and each session should last for 30 minutes.