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Weight Management

Can Orlistat Help Me Keep the Weight Off?

Duncan Reid: Patient Safety & Professional Services Manager | minute read
weightloss image, man running outside

Orlistat, popularised by the brand name Xenical, has become a prolific weight-loss treatment. Working by blocking the absorption of some dietary fat, orlistat has been proven to be an effective treatment to assist with shedding weight alongside a calorie-controlled diet and exercise program. But what happens when you stop taking orlistat? Is it possible to keep the weight off?

Maintaining weight loss after Orlistat

Studies on orlistat’s effectiveness for long-term weight management are somewhat mixed. While it might offer some support during the initial weight loss phase, maintaining the loss after stopping medication requires dedicated effort. Here’s why:

  • Focus shifts: during treatment, the medication can provide a ‘safety net’, allowing for some dietary wiggle room. Once treatment has ended, the responsibility for managing calorie intake and healthy habits falls entirely on you. 

  • Lifestyle habits are key: sustainable weight loss hinges on long-term, meaningful changes to your diet and exercise routine. Whilst orlistat is a helpful treatment to help kickstart your weight-loss journey, it is not a substitute for healthy lifestyle habits.

Remember, weight-loss medication isn’t a ‘magic bullet’ that will keep you at a healthy weight forever. It’s more of an assistive stepping stone on your path to weight management.

Strategies for maintaining weight loss after orlistat

Don’t view the end of your orlistat treatment as the end of your weight loss journey, consider it the start of a new chapter on a healthier life. Here are some key tips to help you maintain your hard work.

Consider a gradual transition

Depending on your prescription and the advice of your doctor, you may be able to gradually taper off orlistat while reinforcing healthy eating habits. This may help ease the transition and prevent a sudden return to prior unhealthy patterns.

Focus on portion control

One of the biggest slip-ups people can make when struggling with weight gain is ignoring portion control when making meals. Introducing a mindful approach to portion sizes could potentially be the difference maker when maintaining your weight loss. Take simple steps such as measuring/weighing ingredients when cooking and calorie counting to help maintain your newfound healthy lifestyle.

Prioritise nutrient-dense foods

Packing your meals with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep the calories down and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Find the right exercise for you

Regular physical activity is crucial for weight management. It’s recommended that you aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. However, this is going to be a hard target to hit if you don’t enjoy the exercise you partake in. Branch out and try different physical activities until you find your perfect fit. Inject some added fun into your routine by partaking with friends/loved ones or put on the perfect playlist to help you get pumped up.

Seek support

Your weight loss journey may make you feel like you’re on your own, which could risk you falling into old unhealthy habits. Consider joining a weight loss support group or working with a registered dietitian for continued guidance, motivation, or even a sense of community.

Additional considerations

It’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different; what works for one person might not work for another. Discuss creating a personalised weight management plan with your doctor that incorporates healthy lifestyle changes after your orlistat treatment. Consider:

  • Identifying triggers: reflect on what previously led to weight gain. Identify the situations or emotions that trigger unhealthy eating habits to help develop coping mechanisms. 

  • Celebrating non-scale victories: it’s not all about changing the numbers on the scales. Weight loss is about seeing healthy changes within yourself and your overall well-being. Look out for improvements in your energy levels, strength, and overall self-esteem, and take pride in your progress.

  • Being patient and kind to yourself: just as weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, maintaining your weight management is a marathon, not a sprint. Setbacks may happen along the way and it’s important not to get bogged down and be hard on yourself. Be patient, learn from your mistakes, and recommit to your goals.

By focusing on healthy habits and seeking support when you need it, you can increase your chances of maintaining your weight loss goals even after your orlistat treatment. Weight management is a lifelong journey and orlistat can be a small stepping stone on that path.

If you require support in your weight loss journey, our team of expert pharmacists and GPs at Pharmacy2U are on hand to support. Our consultation process will first ask you for information around your health, before having a qualified GP review your medical status. From there, the GP may prescribe appropriate treatments that can help you overcome the specific challenges you’re facing.