Weight Loss Supplement: Alli Review

Alli review as a weight loss supplementChoosing a weight loss supplement is a daunting task. In this Alli review, we tell you whether this weight loss supplement lives up to the hype. Alli™ is the only FDA approved over-the-counter weight loss product. It is simply a lower dose product of the prescription drug Xenical (orlistat) and includes 60 mg capsules and an individually tailored weight loss program with an online action plan, called myalliplan.™ The FDA approved Alli for over-the-counter use on February 7, 2007.

Alli Claims:

  • Prevents your body from absorbing 25% of fat consumed
  • Lose approximately 50% more weight than with dieting alone
  • Will not cause jitteriness, sleeplessness or a racing heart




Alli’s main ingredient, orlistat, restricts the absorption of high-caloric fats from the diet, thus reducing overall caloric intake. The undigested fat simply passes through the GI and is expelled. Due to the expulsion factor, users are cautioned to limit their fat intake to an average of 15 grams per meal.


Scientific Support for Alli:

Orlistat inhibits lipase, which is the enzyme that breaks down fat for digestion and  thereby restricting the absorption of fat in the GI tract.


According to Medical News Today, orlistat has been used for about nine years in 145 other countries. More than 100 clinical studies have been performed with over 30,000 patients.


One comparative study, published in the Archives of Family Medicine, included 796 obese patients with a BMI of 66-97 lbs/m². Patients treated with 60 mg of orlistat lost more weight, about 15 lbs. (7kg) compared to those treated with a placebo, who lost an average of 8 lbs. (4 kg) over the course of one year. All patients were on a reduced-energy diet, supplied as 30% fat, 50% carbohydrates and 20% protein.


More patients treated with orlistat lost 5% or more of their initial weight in one year (48%) compared with placebo (30.7%). And, approximately 34% of patients taking orlistat sustained weight loss over 2 years, compared with 24% of the placebo group.


The conclusion of the review is that Alli appears to be effective in reducing total calories absorbed, which would facilitate weight reduction as long as extra calories are not consumed to negate the overall caloric intake.


Alli Safety:

Studies show Alli causes adverse gastrointestinal effects such as loose stools, hard to control stools, and gas with oily discharge.


Research has also found that the drug alters the absorption of nutrients, particularly vitamin D and beta-carotene, such that certain users need to compensate with vitamin supplements in order to not develop vitamin deficiencies.


In April, 2006, a group of doctors petitioned the FDA to ban orlistat and deny OTC status to the lower dosage Alli, offering testimony that orlistat increases the risk of colon cancer.


The Public Citizen’s Health Research Group cited unpublished studies on orlistat, showing:

  • Orlistat increases the precursor markers to colon cancer by 60% in rats. 
  • When eating a high fat diet and taking orlistat, the cancer risk increased 2.4 fold.
  • Fat soluble vitamin E depletion, due to orlistat’s fat blocking action, raises the risk of colon cancer even further.
  • Recorded adverse reactions to orlistat include: 39 cases of increased abnormal blood thinning; several cases of bleeding episodes; 10 hospitalizations, four with life threatening reactions, and one death.
  • Dangerous thinning of the blood can occur in people taking drugs like warfarin (anti-coagulant), or who suffer from vitamin K deficiency.
  • The safety analysis of the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group is that Alli “has marginal benefits, common and bothersome G-I tract reactions, significant decrease in absorption of fat soluble vitamins, and problematic use in the millions of people using warfarin or cyclosporine.” 
  • The FDA denied their petition on the same day they approved Alli as an OTC.


Cost of Alli:
One month’s supply of Alli is about $ 50-60.

Alli sales could total several hundred million dollars a year, according to Gbola Amusa, analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein.


One 60 mg capsule, three times a day with reduced-calorie, low-fat meal.


It is my medical opinion that Alli is a ridiculous drug that you should avoid for the following reasons:


Even Dr. Vidhu Bansal, who led GlaxoSmithKline’s Alli clinical trials, says that people who are looking for a quick fix shouldn’t bother buying the drug: "People have to be committed to losing weight. They have to accept that they have to make a lifestyle change to get healthy." Unfortunately, the only lifestyle change the Alli pills encourage is to eat less fat—a lifestyle behavior that may cause you to be vitamin deficient and more fat in the long run. 

Why avoid fat when eating fat can make you thin and feel full? Try coconut oil for yourself and see what people are raving about.



Archives of Family Medicine 2000 Feb;9(2):160-7. Orlistat in the long-term treatment of obesity in primary care settings.

Diabetes Care 25:1033-1041, 2002. Clinical Efficacy of Orlistat Therapy in Overweight and Obese Patients With Insulin-Treated Type 2 Diabetes.

Medical News Today, February 11, 2007. FDA Approves Alli (Orlistat 60 mg capsules) Over-the-counter.

Raina Kelley,The Word Is ’Leakage’: Accidents may happen with a new OTC diet drug.” Newsweek. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19263093/site/newsweek/&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GFRG

  • You will probably have to wear a Depends Undergarmet while taking Alli as this is a drug that causes the fat in your food to leak out of your anus in the form of oily gas, and loose stools. It also causes intestinal cramping if you eat more than 15 grams of fat at a meal. This is not healthy! I’m incredulous that anyone would put their body through such gastrointestinal hell to lose 15 pounds.
  • This drug rests on the flawed premise that the fat in your food causes you to be fat. This is one of the top nutrition myths of all time. In reality, it is processed food and the excess carbohydrates that cause weight gain not fat.
  • Eating fat can actually help you lose weight because fat causes satiety--you will feel full for a much longer period of time after you eat a higher-fat meal than if you ate a low-fat meal. When you substitute fat for carbohydrates in your diet, you will likely eat more because you’ll be hungrier and you’ll gain weight from the high levels of insulin triggered by high-carb diet.
  • Dietary fat is necessary for absorption of vitamins which is why the research shows that Alli causes vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin deficiencies can lead to disease and weight gain.
  • Alli does not treat the cause. You have to change your lifestyle for permanent weight loss to be successful and you need to eat a diet based on natural food! You can decrease the fat in your diet but you’ll likely replace it with carbs which will just make you more fat. And because the side-effects are so embarrassing, most people will not continue to take Alli for very long.

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created Enlita.com to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)