Weight loss is difficult and often frustrating, but there are products marketed to help out in the war against fat. One of these, Alli, is typically considered quite effective and is an over-the-counter (OTC) version of the prescription drug Xenical. Unfortunately, Alli does have a number of side effects. You should inform yourself and consider whether the side effects are worth the boost in weight loss.
According to the Alli website and Alli consumer product information, users experience certain bowel changes and gastrointestinal effects, especially the first few weeks of using the diet aid. Alli works by blocking the absorption of some amount of dietary fat and allowing this fat to pass through the bowel. Unfortunately, the end result of this, especially if the user consumes more than the recommended 15 grams (g) of fat in one setting, can be uncontrollable urgent bowel movements, diarrhea and an oily discharge or spotting with gas. The company calls these “treatment effects” and recommends you begin Alli at a time when you can stay close to home, wear dark-colored pants and carry a change of clothing. Bowel issues will be reduced if you stick to the recommended 42g (or fewer) of fat per day, spread into servings of fewer than 15g at each meal.
While there is no proven link between liver failure and Alli, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did begin a safety review in 2009 after multiple complaints of serious liver injury. If you are taking Alli and begin to experience weakness or fatigue, brown urine or jaundice, consult your health care provider immediately. If you are not in good health, or already have liver function issues, consult your doctor before beginning Alli and discuss if it is appropriate for you.
Alli may interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals in the body. For healthy individuals, a daily multivitamin can mitigate this effect, according to Gary Foster, M.D., of the Center of Obesity Research and Education located at Temple University in Philadelphia. Be sure to take your vitamin at a time when you are not taking Alli, like bedtime. If absorption issues are already present due to another medical condition, like prior gastric bypass surgery or irritable bowel syndrome, the manufacturer of Alli, GlaxoSmithKline recommends consulting your physician before taking the diet aid.