Anyone who is overweight or obese knows how badly it can affect both their health and their self-esteem. Luckily, there are a few medications that can help with weight loss. Generally, the person has to be genuinely trying to lose weight to have these medications work. One of the best of them is orlistat.
What is Orlistat?
Orlistat is a medication that is used to help weight loss along in those who are already on their weight loss journey. There is both a prescription version and an over-the-counter version of the drug. Studies have shown that this drug can help those who are dieting to lose more weight than they would have without it. The prescription version of this drug is a stronger dose than the version sold over the counter. For the best results, orlistat is taken along with the patient eating a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet. Some doctors prescribe orlistat weight loss pills for people who have had weight loss surgery to make it easier for them to keep off the weight they've lost.
How Does Orlistat Work?
Orlistat weight loss pills are lipase inhibitors. Lipase is an enzyme located in the digestive tract. This enzyme is used to break the fat that you consume into tiny components. Then, this fat can be either used right away or stored as fat for energy later. This medication keeps your bowels from absorbing around 1/4 of all of the fat you eat when you take it with a meal. When that amount of fat isn't absorbed by the body, it will be lost through the patient's bowel movements.
There is some evidence that orlistat helps patients to reduce a type of belly fat that is the more dangerous type. This fat type, called visceral fat, is linked to serious diseases and conditions such as strokes, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Who Takes Orlistat?
Orlistat weight loss pills can be prescribed to people who are already dieting, exercising and working to lose weight. The patient also must be overweight or obese. To figure out if you are overweight, it's a good idea to calculate your BMI. To do this, find your weight in kilograms and your height in meters. Then, square the height measurement and divide it into the weight measurement. This indicates how much of your body is fat. If your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you are a healthy weight. If it is anywhere from 25 to 29.9, you are overweight. If your BMI is 30 or above, you are considered obese.
The prescription version of the drug, called Xenical, is approved for people 12 and up. The version that is over the counter is for people 18 and up.
This medication is taken with meals that have a small amount of fat. If you forget it during a meal, you can take it for up to an hour after your meal. If you eat a meal that contains no fat, your doctor may want you to skip that dose. Do not take it more often than it is prescribed.
Orlistat helps to keep some of the fat you eat from absorbing, but it also fights fat in another way. If you take orlistat with a meal that is high in fat, you will likely have some digestive side effects that are unpleasant. Pay close attention to your diet as you take this medication. Try low-fat products, lean cuts of meat and other low-fat foods. Up to 30% of the calories you consume during a meal should be from fat. If you eat a fattier diet, you may learn from the side effects that it's better for you to eat a healthier meal.
Why You Need a Multivitamin
If you're taking orlistat, blocking the absorption of some of the fat you eat also has an unintended consequence. It can keep your body from absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. These include beta carotene, vitamin K and vitamins A, D and E. When you take your multivitamin, you can replace some of the vitamins that your body was unable to absorb. However, it's important not to take orlistat and your vitamins at the same time.
How Long Do You Take Orlistat?
The amount of time that you stay on this medication is ultimately up to your doctor. Studies on this drug and how long it takes to get the best results will likely influence your doctor's planning. If a person is eating a healthier diet and exercising as well as taking orlistat, they can expect to lose about a pound every week for the first month. After a year, the patient will have lost at least 5% of her weight from the beginning of the program.
Most of the weight loss that happens with this drug will happen in the first few months of taking it. If you continue to diet and exercise but have not lost at least that 5%, your doctor might discontinue its use.
The Weight Loss You Can Expect
Orlistat isn't for large changes to the body. It simply allows you to lose a little bit more than you would have with exercise and diet alone. On average, orlistat can help patients to lose about 5% of their body weight or more. This amount of weight loss is clinically significant, as it takes 5% and up for the patient to lower their risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more.
When patients did restrict their calories and get more physically active, the average that patients lost was 5.7 more within a year of taking it than people did with only exercise and dieting. Some studies, including a multi-year Swedish study, have found that the amount of weight lost with orlistat may be as high as double the amount with traditional exercise and dieting.
Your Medical History
Make sure that you talk to your prescribing doctor about your complete health history and tell him about all the medications that you are taking. Like any medical drug, there are some people who shouldn't take it. If you are pregnant, are breastfeeding or you may become pregnant soon, you should not take this drug. You should also not take it if you aren't overweight.
There are some medications that can interact badly with orlistat. If you have a transplanted organ, the anti-rejection drugs can react badly with orlistat. The blood thinner warfarin is also not to be taken with this drug. Certain thyroid and diabetes medications as well as cyclosporine will also keep you from taking orlistat.
If you're trying to lose weight, it can easily take a long time for you to notice any significant results. The key is to keep yourself motivated. Orlistat can help with this because it allows you to drop pounds faster, leading to weight loss you notice early on. It's important not to give up on your weight loss journey before you see the results you desire. Even if it takes a long time to meet your weight loss goals, it's all worth it in the end. Not only will you have a boost of self-esteem and confidence, but your body will be healthier with less fat on it.
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