Red apple with tape measure wrapped around it on blue background, orlistat and xenical do they work for weight loss, e-Surgery

Can Pills Really Reduce Your Weight?

Weight loss pills can sound like a fantasy. After all, there are plenty of diet pills and supplements marketed with ‘natural’ ingredients which simply don’t work, including some that can be actively dangerous. 

Plenty of people are now turning to Fat Burners to aid their weight loss, with mixed results. With a range of products containing ingredients from caffeine and green tea extract to glucomannan fibre, there’s no simple answer as to whether these supplements are effective or not. 

So, are there any weight loss medications that actually work, that are known to be safe and reliable? Yes – Orlistat and Xenical.

These medications are prescribed nationwide by doctors and pharmacists, because they can help treat obesity [1]. Let’s take a look at how they work and whether you should be taking them.

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How Does Orlistat / Xenical Work?

Orlistat and Xenical are the exact same drug, just with different names. Xenical is the branded version of Orlistat. So they both work the same way – simply put, they block some of the fat intake from your diet.

Orlistat attaches itself to enzymes in the body known as Lipases, which are responsible for fat digestion. Orlistat blocks a portion of this digestive process, so around one third [2] of dietary fat is then un-absorbed by your body. Where does it go? Well, like other undigested matter, it’s passed out when you poop. Perhaps an unattractive sounding solution! But proven to be very effective.

How Do You Take Orlistat / Xenical?

Orlistat and Xenical capsules are taken orally, and should be taken with your meals (unless it’s a fat free meal). Try and avoid grabbing fatty snacks between main meals, as this will inhibit the effectiveness of the medication.

Orlistat capsules certainly work when taken as prescribed, but they aren’t magic. Your diet is the main contributor to your weight, and so it makes sense that you should be controlling your calories and making sure your meals are nutritionally balanced between carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Orlistat is always recommended as part of a wider obesity treatment, alongside dietary planning and frequent exercise when possible.

Looking for some healthy and diverse additions to your diet? These 5 Super Foods Could Boost Your Immune System.

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Should I Be Taking Orlistat / Xenical?

Neither Orlistat or Xenical are ‘over the counter’ medications, meaning they both require prescriptions to be taken as a treatment for weight loss. 

It’s important to remember that Orlistat is a medical treatment, and not a counterpart to a fad diet. It’s a medication specifically prescribed to people with:

• A BMI (Body Mass Index) of 28 or more, alongside weight-related conditions including diabetes and hypertension.

• A BMI of 30 or more.

Weight alone isn’t the only indication of health, as muscle contributes to your overall body weight as well as fat. Sometimes, muscular people can be classified as overweight via BMI even if they’re a healthy weight. It’s more accurate to look at total body fat percentage. This should all be discussed with the medical professional who prescribes you Orlistat or Xenical.

Weight loss medications such as Orlistat or Xenical are typically prescribed after you’ve been trying to lose weight through lifestyle changes, and so it’s advised by your prescriber that you continue to exercise and diet throughout your treatment, with Orlistat being an effective ‘helping hand’ in your weight loss journey.

Looking for exercise inspiration? Try these 9 Ways To Stay Active At Home.

After 3 months of taking Orlistat or Xenical, you should have a check up with your doctor or pharmacist. If you haven’t lost at least 5% of your body weight, but you’ve been taking the medication as prescribed while following dietary and exercise advice, then it may be necessary to stop your treatment.

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Orlistat and Xenical capsules may not be recommended as treatment if:

  • You are allergic to any of the ingredients
  • You have Chronic Malabsorption Syndrome
  • You have Cholestasis
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding

Are There Orlistat / Xenical Side Effects?

As with any medication, there’s a chance you experience side effects. With Orlistat, side effects are generally caused by the fat leaving your body, which is why a low fat diet is still recommended alongside treatment. They’re also less likely to occur the further into treatment you are.

The following side effects may occur in more than 1 in 10 people:

• Headaches

• Abdominal pain and/or discomfort

• Increased or urgent need to open bowels

• Oily or liquid stool

• Lower blood sugar in diabetics

• Temporary susceptibility to upper respiratory conditions and / or flu

There is one possible side effect that is relevant to women in particular: the oral contraceptive pill may not be absorbed by the body if you are experiencing diarrhea, and so it’s recommended additional forms of contraception are used [3].

Following a nutritionally balanced low fat diet will often reduce the chances of possible side effects, especially stomach and bowel related side effects. Orlistat does not mean you can eat anything you like, you should still reduce the amount of fat in your diet as much as possible. For more information, make sure to consult your Orlistat or Xenical Patient Information Leaflet [4].

What Medications Interact With Orlistat / Xenical?

Make sure to talk to your doctor, pharmacist or prescriber about your current medications before you take Orlistat / Xenical. It’s possible that this medication could strengthen or weaken the effects of other medication, including:

• Anticoagulants

• Ciclosporin

• Iodine salts and / or Levothyroxine

• Amiodarone

• HIV medications

You may also be recommended supplements containing beta-carotene and Vitamin E, as Orlistat can reduce the absorption of these fat soluble nutrients.

Can I Buy Orlistat / Xenical Online?

Orlistat and Xenical are both available from reputable online prescribers such as e-Surgery, available from just £16.95 and delivered quickly and discreetly to your front door in our eco-friendly recyclable packaging.

There’s certainly a lot of information to digest about Orlistat / Xenical, but in practical application it’s a simple and effective treatment. Simply remember to eat a capsule with each meal, stick to your balanced low fat diet, and keep up the exercise. It really can make a significant difference to your weight, with Orlistat and Xenical being prescribed by doctors daily as the number one weight loss drug for a safe and effective treatment for obesity.


  1. Evaluation of Efficacy and Safety of Orlistat in Obese Patients | PubMed
  2. Biochemistry: Lipases | PubMed
  3. Obesity – Treatment | NHS
  4. Orlistat 120mg Hard Capsules Patient Information Leaflet | EMC

Further Reading

  1. Orlistat | National Institute For Health And Care Excellence
  2. Orlistat Capsules | PatientInfo
  3. Start The NHS Weight Loss Plan | NHS
  4. Obesity and Overweight | WHO