You might have heard that Orlistat (and its generic equivalent Xenical) can help you lose weight, but do you know how it works? Understanding the drug and its mechanism is an excellent way to determine how well it will work for you and if it will cause you any problems, interacting with your medications and medical conditions.
The premise behind Orlistat is quite simple. Your body takes fat and stores it up in the body if it doesn't use it right away. Orlistat blocks the fat as it comes in, pushing it out of the body. This won't block every gram of fat that you consume, but it will block a large percentage of it. To increase the medication's efficiency, you will need to couple this drug with a low-calorie diet.
So, now you know what it does, but let's take a closer look at how it does it.
Certain enzymes in your body are responsible for breaking down fat as it enters your digestive system. These are called lipases, and they pass the fat onto the other parts of the body, allowing them to be stored in your hips, legs arms, belly and other parts of the body.
Orlistat moves to your gut when digested, the same place the lipases are working. It blocks these enzymes and forces the fat to be expelled from the body. The fat leaves the body usually through the faeces, causing what is known as steatorrhea. Steatorrhea refers to when fat is mixed with faeces as it exits the body, so your bowel movements may be more frequent while taking this medication.
A single dose won't be enough to last you for the entire day. You will need to take the drug three times a day, to ensure it is taking effect as you eat. If you eat more throughout that day than just during the three main meals, then you may be sending more fat through your body than Orlistat can process effectively.
That is a major concern with this drug- that you will be consuming too much fat for Orlistat to block. That's why your doctor is likely to recommend that you decrease your caloric intake while you are medicating with Orlistat. You will have to line up your diet with your drug dosage carefully, and as you increase your dosage according to your doctor's recommendations, you will need to change your diet to accommodate it. Orlistat should not be used for self-medication. If you believe that you need to use it to lose weight, then talk to your doctor and see what recommendation they give you.