How weight loss treatments can help you lose weight
Reviewed by our clinical team
Losing weight is all about cutting back on calories and getting more active. However, everybody is different, and that means for some people weight loss can be a lot harder – even with the right kind of diet and exercise.
For people who are overweight and really struggling to slim down, weight loss treatments like Xenical might be a good option. Or the Saxenda® daily injections, which uses an injection. Read on to find out if you might suitable.
How do weight loss treatments work?
The weight loss treatments mentioned above, work in very different ways, but both can be effective weight loss aids when used as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Xenical is the brand name for orlistat, a weight loss pill that helps to reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs from your diet. Xenical can be prescribed to any adult with a BMI over 30, or alternatively any adult with a BMI over 28 who has weight-related health issues.
Orlistat is designed to be taken with every meal that contains fat. It works by attaching to the enzymes in your digestive system that break down fat – by doing so, it prevents about one third of the fat in your diet from being digested. Instead, the fat passes out of your body in your stools.
For Xenical or Orlistat to be effective, you should do the following:
- Eat a healthy, balanced and calorie-controlled diet
- Get 30% of your daily calories from fat
- Avoid skipping meals and snacking – eat three proper meals each day
- Take one tablet with every meal you eat that contains fat – you can take it up to one hour after eating
- Don’t take a tablet if you skip a meal or eat a meal containing zero fat
- Take no more than three Xenical tablets in one day
Orlistat is available as prescription strength. A lower dose version of orlistat is available over the counter (without a prescription) under the brand name Alli. This lower strength orlistat isn’t as effective as Xenical (it only reduces fat digestion by one quarter) but it can still be a good weight loss option for people with a BMI over 28.
You can find out more about Xenical, Orlistat and Alli by reading this article: What’s the difference between Orlistat, Xenical and Alli?
Saxenda®/liraglutide for weight loss
Saxenda® (which contains the active ingredient liraglutide) is a daily weight loss injection that works by making you feel full and sated.
You can reques this treatment through an online consultation with us, or if you'd prefer to chat to someone face-to-face you can use the LloydsPharmacy Medicated Weight Loss Service,.
The injection contains the active ingredient liraglutide, which is similar to a hormone that our bodies naturally release after eating. Liraglutide works by acting on the appetite receptors in the brain, making you feel more full and less hungry.
These injections can be given to people with a BMI over 30, or to people with a BMI over 28 who have weight-related health issues. For the treatment to be effective, it should be administered once a day in a dose specified by your GP or pharmacist. You’ll also need to be on a diet and exercise regime while receiving the injections.
How quickly do weight loss treatments works?
Both Xenical/Orlistat and the Medicated Weight Loss Service are designed to be used for an initial period of 12 weeks. After the 12 weeks have passed, you’ll check in with your doctor or pharmacist to see how much weight you’ve lost.
If you’ve lost at least 5% of your initial bodyweight, treatment can continue. If you haven’t lost the required amount, treatment will stop.
One clinical study found that Xenical and Orlistat had the following effects:
- 60% of people taking orlistat lost at least 5% of their baseline bodyweight after 12 weeks
- Of these people, 62% lost at least 10% of their baseline bodyweight after one year of treatment
One clinical study found that Saxenda® had the following effects:
- 67.5% of people using the injections lost at least 5% of their baseline bodyweight after 12 weeks
- A predicted 51% of people who achieve this early positive response should achieve weight loss of at least 10% after one year
Weight loss results with these treatments vary depending upon the person. It’s very likely you’ll see better results if you stick to a low-calorie diet and exercise regularly.
Incorporating weight loss treatments into a healthy lifestyle
With both Xenical/Orlistat and the Medicated Weight Loss Service, it’s really important to follow a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, and to do regular exercise. Your GP or pharmacist should give you some tips on adopting a healthier lifestyle before you start treatment, but you can also find plenty of weight loss resources at the NHS.
As a guide, the NHS recommends that people trying to lose weight should aim to eat 600 fewer calories each day. The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week – in other words, anything that makes your heart beat faster and leaves you a bit out of breath.
If you’re taking Xenical or any other type of orlistat, it’s really important to cut back on your fat intake. A high fat content in your diet doesn’t just mean you’re less likely to see results. It can also lead to side effects like fatty or oily poos, stomach pain, and oily discharge from your rectum.
Using weight loss treatments safely
Treatments like Xenical/Orlistat and Saxenda® are safe to use and they’re also being used in the NHS. However, you should always get them through your GP or pharmacist, or through a regulated and safe service like Online Doctor. Ordering them from an unregulated website on the internet isn’t safe.
Other weight loss treatments that are available in high street pharmacies and health food shops may not be harmful, but they may be ineffective in helping with weight loss.