I have no intention of turning weekends at Big Girl into a fitness and weight loss zone, but while I was watching television last night, I kept seeing a commercial for a new over-the-counter weight loss supplement called Alli. It’s approved by the FDA, and the commercial seemed to encourage a healthy lifestyle in general rather than focusing on making everyone a size 2. It looked as though the idea was to get people choosing a rounded, healthy diet combined with moderate exercise and only adding the drug for a small boost to the improvements possible through these sound ideas. It certainly sounded on the surface as though it might be a better choice for those looking to lose some weight than so many of the fad diets that drop pounds more quickly, but wind up encouraging dangerous yo-yo dieting.
So I decided to check out their website. Not so much because I was planning to use it myself, but for the sake of general information.
How does it work? The website tells us that the active ingredient attaches itself to some of the natural enzymes in the digestive system, blocking absorption of about 25% of the fats you eat. This is combined with a strict meal plan that limits your intake of fats to no more than fifteen grams per meal and a sensible exercise program. One pill is taken with each meal, and the pounds melt away half again the rate they do without the pills.
Now for the downside. I worry about something that simply removes a large proportion of the fats consumed, because it seems to make no distinction between the sorts of fat you eat. Ice cream, cheeseburgers, olive oil, and salmon; the fats in each of these foods appear to be treated the same way by this pill. So while unhealthy saturated fats and transfats are whisked away, so are mono and polyunsaturated fats and omega3 fatty acids, all of which contribute to good health. These are the fats that raise HDL (good) cholesterol and allow our bodies to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D and E. In fact, the Alli website recommends using a multivitamin to counteract the effects on these essential vitamins.
Call me wacky, but I’m not wild about spending $60 a month on pills and then having to add multivitamins on top of that because the first set of pills isn’t allowing my body to absorb important nutrients naturally.
And since the company doesn’t set the specific extreme low-fat diet to go with the pills, they encourage you to pick from among the diet plans being marketed…the very ones I was concerned about because so many of them tend to encourage relying on pre-packaged foods so you don’t learn to create healthy, balanced meals for yourself and wind up buying the diet again as you ride a roller coaster of weight loss and gain which is ultimately far worse for your system than a few steady extra pounds.
But worse than this is the set of side effects euphemistically called ‘treatment effects.’
As hard as they tapdance around the subject, essentially they’re talking about diarrhea, flatulence and general…rear end leakage. In fact, they go so far as to say:
Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work
As far as I’m concerned, any diet plan that actually recommends bringing a change of clothing to work because I’m likely to soil myself in the middle of the day is a diet plan to avoid.
Also, according to the Mayo Clinic web site, the expected results don’t sound worth the public humiliation of having to change clothes during the day at the office. They approximate a weight loss of some three extra pounds a year via this method as opposed to diet and exercise alone.
I think I’ll keep the extra three pounds and the $60 and the price of the multivitamins and the Jenny Craig food – not to mention the dry cleaning bills.
Besides, there’s a sale on at IGIGI. With that kind of money in my pocket, I can put together a superfantastic wardrobe for the body I already have. The small boost to self-esteem gained by looking fabulous already will encourage me to treat my body well and keep healthy, whether that results in weight loss or not.