Orlistat vs Saxenda® – which is right for you?
Reviewed by our clinical team
Orlistat and Saxenda® (liraglutide) are both medicated weight loss treatments. Both Orlistat and Saxenda® have been proven to be safe and effective during clinical trials.
What is Saxenda® and how does it work?
Saxenda® is taken as a daily injection and works by making you feel less hungry. The treatment is suitable for people with a BMI (body mass index) greater than 30 or greater than 27 if experiencing other weight related conditions. BMI is used in healthcare to measure if you are a healthy weight.
If suitable, Saxenda® can be accessed privately through LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor following an online consultation. Some people can also access it for free on the NHS.
With lifestyle changes, around 60% of people who use Saxenda® lose at least 5% of their body weight.
What are the side effects of Saxenda®?
Very common side effects of Saxenda® are likely to affect more than one in ten people and include:
- Feeling sick (nausea)
What is Orlistat and how does it work?
Orlistat is a generic prescription treatment that prevents a third of dietary fat from being digested. Again, your BMI must be over 30 (or 28 if you have other associated risk factors) and can only be prescribed following a consultation with a clinician. Once prescribed, it's taken as a tablet, three times a day.
The active ingredient in Orlistat is orlistat – this active ingredient can also be found in Xenical and Alli. These treatments work in the same way but there are some key differences. Read about the key differences between Orlistat, Xenical and Alli here.
Orlistat can be prescribed following a suitability assessment at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor. Some people can also get if for free on the NHS.
Around 45% of people who take Orlistat lose around 5% of their body weight.
What are the side effects of Orlistat?
The side effects of Orlistat include pain and discomfort in the stomach. Side effects are caused by the fat passed out via stools. As a result, people taking Orlistat might experience oily spotting in their underwear, flatulence and an urgency to use the toilet. A low-fat diet makes these side effects less likely.
What’s the differences between Orlistat and Saxenda®?
Some of the key differences have been summarised in the table below:
|How it’s taken||Daily injection||Capsule taken three times a day|
|How it works||Makes you feel less hungry||Reduces fat absorption|
|Effectiveness*||Around 60%||Around 45%|
*% of people losing more than 5% of body weight
Which is better for weight loss?
Both Saxenda® and Orlistat are effective weight loss treatments. When considering either treatment, you will need a clinical consultation to determine suitability. For example, you will be asked about current and recent uses of other medicines as well as your medical history.
Lifestyle factors should also be considered, such as the ability to inject daily at the same time (Saxenda®) or the likelihood of having three low-fat meals a day when taking an Orlistat tablet.