All You Need To Know About Alli

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A woman came into my gym a couple of years ago and said something I'll never forget. This woman, a chunky blonde in her mid thirties, had been a regular at the gym for a couple of months, but had chosen not to use any of our personal training programs. Perhaps as a result, she had seen little in the way of progress, even though her attendance was impeccable and she seemed to have the dedication necessary to lose weight and get in the shape she desired. It was like setting out on a trip with an unlimited supply of money and time, a strong desire to get to the other side of the country, but with no idea how to get there. Her reluctance to join any of our free programs showed me she wanted to find her own way, which was why I was surprised when she came to me one afternoon.

"I'll be cancelling my gym membership," she said, her hands placed resolutely on her hips. "I won't be needing it anymore."

I was concerned as to why this was, and told her as much.

"I went to the doctor last week and he prescribed me Xenical. It's a weight loss drug. Really, all I want to do is lose about fifty pounds. I don't care if it's healthy or not." She said this defiantly, daring me to tell her she was making a mistake. I did, of course, do exactly that, but this woman wasn't having it, and she cancelled her gym membership that day.

With the advent of the new OTC weight loss drug Alli, I fear I'm about to hear someone, or a couple of someones, say the same thing that woman did. Except now the hard part has been removed from the equation. No more doctor's appointment necessary. Just walk in to your local Rite-Aid or Walgreens and pick up a starter kit. Simple as that. Start taking the drug, and before you know it, the weight will be melting off. Right? It's that easy, right?

Well, no.

First of all, it's important to understand what Alli is. The active ingredient is a drug called orlistat, which has been around for a while. It is, in fact, sold under another name by another company, and available by prescription. That drug? If you guessed Xenical, you get a bell.

Orlistat works by inhibiting pancreatic lipase, an enzyme that breaks down triglycerides in the intestine. Without it, the triglycerides are not hydrolyzed into free fatty acids and are excreted through the feces. And...what does this mean in English? Boiling it down, it means that approximately thirty percent of your dietary fat will not be absorbed. Therefore, if you consume a lot of fat in your diet, your calorie consumption will be immediately reduced.

But that sounds wonderful, Steve! I can basically eat whatever I want, never work out, and this magic pill will get rid of the excess for me. Right? It's that easy, right?


Not even GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Alli are audacious enough to try selling that course of action. First of all, without changing your diet dramatically, you are going to run head first into Alli's many side effects. These effects are present even when your diet does undergo a radical change. If it doesn't...well, let's see what the official Alli website recommends when it comes to the side effects of this wonder drug.

"You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it's probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work"

Uh, okay. It may just be me, but when a product's own website is telling me that there is a fair chance I will need to change my pants throughout the day due to an accident, I'm going to find another way. Seriously, however, Alli's reported side effects include oily and loose stool and increased flatulence. Their website also helpfully recommends taking your offensive flatulence to the bathroom where it belongs.

There are a lot of diet pills on the market. All of them, to one degree or another, "work". But just like most of these flash diet plans, the rebound rate is enormous. The best advice is as it has always been. Get in the gym, find a healthy diet, and work consistently towards a realistic and concrete goal. There are many road maps out there to help you find your way. Use one you feel comfortable with, or devise your own hybrid plan. You don't need a pill. You just need some gas in the tank and a spirit of adventure.
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