Jessica Matthews by Jessica Matthews


In the words of noted economist Adam Smith, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." And when it comes to a magic bullet for weight loss, there’s not one of those either. However, there is now the first Food and Drug Administration approved over-the counter diet pill named Alli (pronounced ally), which is the half-strength version of the prescription weight-loss drug Xenical (Orlistat).

How does it work?

For best results, Alli should be taken before every meal that contains fat. It works by decreasing the amount of fat absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract during the digestive process. Research has shown that when individuals used Alli in combination with diet and exercise they lost up to 50 percent more weight on average than if they had only dieted and exercised. For example, if you would normally lose 8 pounds over a six-week period, taking Alli may help you lose approximately 12 pounds over that same period of time.

Are there any side effects?

As with any drug, Alli has several documented side-effects including excessive flatulence with an oily discharge, frequent and difficult-to-control bowel movements, and loose stools. These side-effects appear to be related to your diet. If you consume too much fat after taking Alli, you will be more likely to experience the unpleasant side-effects associated with its use (Note: The Alli starter kits recommend that users consume a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet of meals containing no more than 15 grams of fat).

So all I have to do is take this pill and I’ll lose weight, right?

Not quite. Those individuals hailing Alli as the next magic bullet for weight loss should bear in mind that most weight-loss experts contend that without the contributory effects of diet and exercise, Alli's beneficial weight-loss effects will be very limited. Simply taking the pill without altering one's lifestyle (i.e., exercising regularly and adhering to a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet)will produce little or no noticeable results.  

The bottom line is while Alli may aid in the weight loss effort, diet and exercise are still key to long-term weight loss success. I guess the old saying is right- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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