Xenical will help you get back to a healthy weight

Xenical is prescribed to aid weight loss and treat obesity in adults. When used in support of a healthy diet and regular exercise, Xenical can greatly improve your chances of losing weight.

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What is Xenical?

Xenical is a type of medication used to aid weight loss and treat obesity in adults. Xenical is a brand of the drug Orlistat, a weight-loss medication used as treatment for obesity. When used in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise, Xenical can greatly improve your chances of losing weight effectively and safely.

How does Xenical work?

Xenical works locally in the stomach and small intestine by blocking the enzyme lipase from digesting fat. Around a third of the fat you eat will be removed from the body via stools rather than being absorbed. While this will help you avoid gaining weight, it will not necessarily make you lose weight, so treatment with Xenical must be accompanied by  healthy diet and regular exercise to be effective. 

How long does it take for Xenical to work?

Weight loss with Xenical usually starts within 2 weeks, and can continue for 6 to 12 months. If you have not lost weight within 3 months of starting Xenical, it is likely that it is not the right treatment for you.

How will I know if Xenical has stated working?

It can be difficult to tell is Xenica has started working, as a diet that is low in fat and regular exercise should help you to lose weight anyway. It is important to remember that Xenical only works in the presence of dietary fat in your body, so it is important to make sure your diet is balanced rather than cutting our fat altogether. A doctor will be able to advise you on a suitable weight loss programme to help you lose weight effectively and safely.

How effective is Xenical?

Xenical (Orlistat) is the only type of weight-loss medication that is deemed to be safe and effective for prescription in the UK. However, the effectiveness of Xenical differs from patient to patient, and it only works when accompanied by an appropriate diet and exercise programme.


Active ingredients

The active ingredient in Xenical is orlistat.

Inactive ingredients

The inactive ingredients in Xenical are microcrystalline cellulose (E460), sodium starch glycolate (type A), povidone (E1201), sodium laurilsulfate, talc, gelatine, indigo carmine (E132), titanium dioxide (E171) and edible printing ink.

Please Note: Generic Xenical is made by a range of different manufacturers and may contain different ingredients than those listed above.


Do I need to change my diet when taking Xenical?

You will need to begin a balanced weight loss diet and exercise programme before stating Xenical, and should continue with these throughout treatment and after you stop taking Xenical.

Xenical dosage

Before taking Xenical, check with your dosage with a doctor or pharmacist. The usual dose is 1 x 120 mg capsule taken with each of the three main meals per day.

How to take Xenical

Always take Xenical as instructed by a doctor or pharmacist. It should be taken in combination with a well-balanced and calorie-controlled diet that contains a lot of fruits and vegetables and contains roughly 30% calories from fat. You should also try to distribute your daily intake of fat, carbohydrate and protein evenly across your three daily meals. Swallow one capsules with water immediately before, during or within an hour of each meal. For best results, avoid eating fat-containing foods between meals, such as biscuits, chocolate and crips. 

If you miss a meal, or know for a fact that a meal did not contain fat, you do not need to take a Xenical capsule. If you forget to take a capsule, try and remember to take it within an hour of our last meal. If an hour has already passed, just skip the dose and take your next one as planned with your next meal. Never take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

When can I stop taking Xenical?

Xenical should be taken for as long as your doctor or pharmacist prescribes, and can be taken for up to 4 years.

How to stop taking Xenical

After stopping treatment with Xenical, you should stick to a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly to avoid putting weight back on. If you have not lost at least 5% of your body fat within 12 weeks, your doctor will discontinue treatment. 

Side Effects

Xenical side effects

Like all medicines, Xenical can cause side effects in some patients. If you feel unwell while taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.

The following side effects can occur in more than 1 in every 10 patients:

  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain/discomfort
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence with discharge
  • Oily discharge
  • Oily or fatty stools
  • Low blood sugar levels

Common side effects (affecting 1 to 10 in 100 patients) include:

  • Rectal pain/discomfort
  • Soft stools
  • Incontinence
  • Bloating
  • Tooth/gum disorder
  • Irregularity of menstrual cycle
  • Tiredness

The following side effects have been reported, although their frequency is unknown:

  • Allergic reaction (rach, itching, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, and feeling of being unwell)
  • Skin blistering
  • Diverticulitis
  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Increased level of liver enzymes found in blood test
  • Hepatitis (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, itching, dark coloured urine, stomach pain, liver tenderness, loss of appetite)
  • Gallstones
  • Pancreatitis
  • Oxalate nephropathy
  • Effects on clotting with anticoagulants


Do NOT take Xenical if:

  • You are allergic to any of the ingredients in this medication
  • You have chronic malabsorption syndrome (insufficient absorption of nutrients from the alimentary tract)
  • You have cholestasis
  • You are breastfeeding

Take particular precautions if:

  • You eat a meal that is high in fat while taking Xenical. Gastrointestinal side effects are likely to increase if Xenical is taken with a high-fat meal.
  • You regularly take an oral contraceptive. Possible failure of your contraceptive may occur if you experience severe diarrhoea while taking Xenical, so you are recommended to use additional contraceptive methods.
  • Inform your doctor if you suffer from kidney problems, as Xenical can be associated renal stones in patients with chronic kidney disease

Drug interactions

Before taking Xenical, inform your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medications, including those purchased over the counter without a prescription. Remember that weight loss can affect the dose of medicines taken for other conditions and adjustments may need to be made to your dosage of other medications. In addition, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following:

  • Anticoagulants, such as warfarin
  • Ciclosporin
  • Iodine salts and/or levothyroxine
  • Amiodarone
  • Medicines used to treat HIV
  • Medicines for depression, psychiatric disorders or anxiousness
  • Medicines used to treat epilepsy
  • Acarbose (used to treat type 2 diabetes)

How to minimise the side effects of Xenical

The most common side effects of Xenitol are gastrointestinal, as this medication is not absorbed by the body and works locally on the stomach and small intestine. The best way to minimise side effects is to maintain a low-fat diet that contains on average less than 30g of calories from fat. Taking Xenitol with a high-fat meal can lead to abdominal cramps with oily stools or diarrhoea, as your body is expelling an additional third of the fat you are eating. Fill your plate with wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water and choose lean cuts of meat and poultry over fatty or red meats.

Xenical and alcohol

Whilst taking Xenical, you should drink no more than the recommended maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week. Xenical may increase blood concentration of alcohol, so it is best to avoid drinking immediately after taking your dose.

Will Xenical affect my period?

Xenical can disrupt menstruation because it disrupts the absorption of fats by the body. If your period is irregular, delayed, or stops altogether, it may be that your body is not absorbing enough fat and treatment with Xenical should be stopped. Speak to your doctor for advice if you are worried that your menstrual cycle has changed whilst taking Xenical.

Treatment Options

Can I use other weight loss treatments with Xenical?

Xenical is the only weight loss treatment that is proven to be effective and safe. Remember that Xenical only works if dietary fats are present in the body. If taken in combination with appetite suppressants, Xenical is may not be effective.

Orlistat vs Xenical

Xenical is a brand name of the medication Orlistat, which is the generic name. They work in the same way and the active ingredient in both is orlistat. Orlistat is slightly cheaper to buy than Xenical.

Xenical vs over the counter weight loss treatments

Xenical (Orlistat) is the only weight-loss medication that is proven to be safe and effective. A variation under the brand name Alli can be purchased over the counter under the supervision of a pharmacist and contains a lower dose of orlistat. Unfortunately, other over-the-counter slimming products tend to lack clinical evidence to suggest they are effective, and often come without appropriate information on the packaging. You should avoid over-the-counter products which promise a ‘quick fix’, as losing too much weight too quickly can do more harm than good. Losing weight healthily and sensibly by making long-term changes to your lifestyle is by far the most effective method, and no weight-loss product will help you to lose weight if you maintain a high-calorie diet. Some weight-loss products do come with additional dietary advice, but make sure you seek the advice of a healthcare professional before purchasing them.


Is Xenical an appetite suppressant?

Xenical is not an appetite suppressant. It works by limiting the amount of fat absorbed by the body.

Do I need to exercise when taking Xenical?

In order to lose weight effectively and healthily, you should exercise regularly while taking Xenical. Exercising regularly helps to boost your metabolism and contributes to burning extra calories. A doctor can provide you with an effective weight loss programme that is right for you. 

What should I do if someone has an eating disorder and is taking Xenical ?

Xenical is only prescribed for treatment of obesity where other weight-loss methods have previously failed. If you suspect that someone you know is using Xenical to lose weight because they have an eating disorder, you can let them know you are worried about them and suggest they talk to a GP. This can be difficult, as people suffering from eating disorders are often very secretive about it and may not want to accept help from others. The NHS website offers advice on how to help if someone you know has an eating disorder.

Can I take Xenical to prepare for surgery?

Xenical can be taken in preparation for weight-loss surgery. Surgery is often a last resort and should only be undertaken where other weight-loss methods have failed. Often, surgeons will not operate unless a patient is below a certain weight, so Xenical may be incorporated into a weight-loss programme prior to surgery.

Can I take Xenical after weight loss surgery?

Xenical should only be taken following surgery under the instruction of a doctor. You are unlikely to need Xenical having had a gastric band fitted, but it may be prescribed following liposuction to help you keep off the lost weight.

How much weight can I lose on Xenical?

The amount of weight you can lose on Xenical depends on the diet and exercise programme you follow while taking it. While Xenical only works if accompanied by a diet that is low in fat, it will not work if your diet contains less than the necessary amount of fat required by the body.

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