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Alli is an over the counter weight loss medication that is also sometimes given as a prescription. It is a brand name form of the generic drug, Orlistat. What exactly is this drug and how will it help you to lose weight? Let’s examine some of the facts about Alli to help you determine if this fat burning medication could be right for you. Keep in mind, even though Alli is available over the counter, you should always talk to a doctor or nurse practitioner before you start taking it. They will be able to examine your medical history as well as your current medications or medical conditions to determine if this drug will be safe and effective for you as an individual.

What is Alli?

As mentioned above, Alli is a brand name form of a weight loss drug that contains Orlistat. It is available over the counter and helps the body to absorb less fat from the foods that you consume.

What is Orlistat?

Orlistat is the main ingredient in Alli. This drug works by blocking an enzyme in the digestive system that helps to break down fats so that they can be absorbed and utilized by the body. By blocking this enzyme, Orlistat makes it impossible for our digestive system to absorb fats as they have not been broken down into absorbable remnants. These fats are simply excreted with bowel movements. There are some side effects that come along with Orlistat. They are as follows:

  •         Changes in bowel function
  •         Oily and/or fatty stool
  •         Oily spotting with bowel movements
  •         Intestinal gas that may come along with a discharge
  •         Feeling of needing to make a bowel movement shortly after taking the drug
  •         Increased bowel movements
  •         Poor bowel control

While the above symptoms are less severe, there are some more severe potential side effects that can come along with the use of Orlistat. If you plan on taking Alli over the counter, you should be aware of these side effects and also talk with your doctor, both, before starting any drug that contains Orlistat as well as during the course of treatment. If you experience any of the following symptoms, then you should discontinue use of Alli immediately and seek medical treatment:

  • Symptoms of liver disease – These can include persistent nausea and vomiting, severe pain in the stomach and/or abdomen, dark urine, and yellowing of the eyes and/or skin.
  • Symptoms of kidney stones – These can include pain in the back, painful urination, and pink and/or bloody urine.
  • Allergic reaction – Symptoms of an allergic reaction include rash, itching, swelling (particularly in the mouth, tongue, or throat), extreme dizziness, and/or trouble breathing.

Xenical vs. Alli

Both, Xenical and Alli, contain the generic drug, Orlistat. The major difference is in the dosage. Xenical has 120 mg of Orlistat and is available by a doctor’s prescription. Alli, on the other hand has half the dosage of Orlistat and is available over the counter. Generally a doctor will look at your body mass index (BMI) to determine which of these drugs will be ideal for you. Obviously, those with a higher BMI are more likely to get a prescription for Xenical rather than instructed to use the over the counter version, Alli.

Both of these drugs come along with some warnings for individual users. If you are pregnant or nursing, you should not take any drug containing Orlistat. You should also avoid these drugs if you suffer with diabetes. Individuals with chronic malabsorption syndrome should also avoid this medication. This syndrome affect individuals in a way that prevents their body from absorbing essential and needed vitamins and nutrients from the foods they consume. These drugs may also interact with other medications and/or supplements, so you should fully discuss any and all medications you take with your doctor or nurse practitioner before starting treatment with Orlistat. Individuals who have a family history of cancer, especially breast cancer, should also never take any drugs that contain Orlistat. If you have any questions or concerns regarding these warnings, talk to your doctor. You should be talking with them anyways before starting any kind of weight loss treatment, diet plan, new exercise routine, etc.

Orlistat vs. Phentermine Hydrochloride

One major difference between Alli (Orlistat) and Phentermine Hydrochloride is that Phentermine is available by prescription only. While Orlistat is sometimes given as a prescription, it is also sold over the counter. One of the main reasons for this is that Phentermine is a schedule IV drug classified as a stimulant. The side effects that Phentermine can cause come along with far more risks than those of Orlistat.

Another major difference is their mode of treatment. Phentermine 37.5 works as an appetite suppressant. It is believed to work neurologically by releasing norepinephrine in the hypothalamus. This region of the brain is responsible for controlling hunger, metabolism, etc. The release of norepinephrine likely helps our brain to “tell us” that we feel more full and satisfied than we actually may be at the time. Orlistat, on the other hand, works by preventing an enzyme in our digestive system from breaking down fat to absorb. This causes our bodies to excrete this fat during bowel movements.

Depending on your medical history, current medications, current medical conditions, as well as other factors, your doctor will help you to determine which of these drugs may be more ideal or safe for you. Never try to make these decisions on your own without the help of a medical professional. Nothing is worth risking your health and safety over. Best of luck to you in your weight loss pursuits! Never lose your hope or your motivation! You can do this!

Dietary Weight Loss Supplement Alternatives

phenofen - phentermineIf Alli is not right for you and you are unable to get a prescription for a weight loss drug, like phentermine, then you can always try other dietary supplements like PhenoFen 37.5. This supplement helps boost weight loss and also has a few other benefits that can help you along with your weight loss and health goals. It can help to increase energy, support bone health, and can even help to promote release of stress. Who doesn’t want all of that?! As with any supplement, you should talk with your doctor or nurse practitioner before starting use of PhenoFen. He or she will be able to look over the ingredients as well as your medical history, including allergies and other medications or supplements that you are taking, to ensure that it is the safe and right supplement for you. Don’t lose hope, and take all of the healthy steps that you can to keep you on track!


Alli: Everything you Need to Know. (n.d.). Retrieved from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/alli-orlistat-for-weight-loss#1
Xenical. (n.d.). Retrieved from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-17218/xenical-oral/details#side-effects
Xenical vs Alli. (n.d.). Retrieved from MedExpress: Online Doctor & Pharmacy: https://www.medexpress.co.uk/health-centre/xenical-vs-alli/