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My Alli? I Don’t Think So | Manolo for the Big Girl

My Alli? I Don’t Think So

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.

8 Responses to “My Alli? I Don’t Think So”

  1. Wendy September 2, 2007 at 4:02 pm #

    Eat as much fat as you like and lose weight, but be prepared for smelly, greasy, unpredictable and uncontrollable farting?

    How credulous do they think we are? How credulous are we?

  2. chachaheels September 3, 2007 at 8:55 am #

    Thanks for exposing this “drug”, which sounds to me like a recycling of the unmarketable Olestra, in a pill form. Comedians did that “food additive” in by joking that olestra potato chips should always be sold with a coupon for a package of Depends–so when the fatty, leaky diarrhea strikes, you’re prepared.

    The truth of the matter is, fats are really important foods, and yes, even the saturated fats are absolutely vital. The kind of pseudo-foods we’re being bombarded with, which are laden with rancid fats, fats made from crazy genetically modified foods which were never intended for human consumption, hydrogenated fats, and msg (to substitute for real foods, such as the meats and vegetables we’d actually use instead) are the foods behind the obesity “problem”. There’s something so cynical about telling people who are termed overweight that they should load up on Jenny Craig meals (an example of truly bad, truly nourishment-free foods) and body-depleting medicines in order to be seen as acceptably healthy. So cynical it sounds like another long term profit plan for Big Pharma as well as Big Diet. How insulting.

    It’s no accident that low fat regimes, combined with scientifically ungrounded campaigns to get us to avoid eating real foods like butter and dairy, meats, properly grown fresh fruits and vegetables we can prepare ourselves, and whole grains (which are pretty much no longer available in commercial foods) for the past 30 years have coincided with soaring rates of chronic heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It’s disturbing to think people who want to drop weight are now being sold health-destroying drugs which won’t do much good for their efforts to lose weight, either. Being healthy will never equal being thin at any cost.

  3. Angel September 3, 2007 at 9:23 am #

    I enjoyed reading this. It’s very real. I agree that Alli is not the answer. Why would you want to put something into your body that can give you those side effects? Disgusting.

  4. Jen September 4, 2007 at 4:17 pm #

    Actually, it’s not that bad. I’ve heard a lot of Alli-bashing, and I’d like to present the other side of it. I’m on Alli, basically because I’ve been dieting/exercising steadily for a few months and hit a plateau. I had been following the Beck Diet Solution book (which is awesome), but after a while I just hit a brick wall with my weight loss. Alli was definitely a last-ditch effort for me, but it’s working out. As long as I keep my fat grams under 15 grams a meal (easier than it sounds), there are no treatment effects. Granted, I’ve had to make a few emergency bathroom trips, but to experience those other fun treatment effects they talk about, you basically need to eat peanut butter, chips, and pizza 24/7. Plus, the pill only affects the meal you take it with. So, if you’re going out for a nice dinner or eating 2 pieces of chocolate mousse cake for your birthday last week (oops), you don’t take a pill and you’re fine. I’ve been on Alli for about 3 weeks, and I take it with nearly every meal I eat; I’ve lost 5 pounds and counting. I’m really satisfied with it.

  5. Jezebella September 5, 2007 at 1:09 am #

    Don’t you think you’d be losing the weight anyway with a diet where you keep your fat grams to that minimum level? I think you would.

  6. Jezebella September 5, 2007 at 1:10 am #

    Oops, I meant maximum level.

  7. Jen September 5, 2007 at 7:22 am #

    I wasn’t, that’s the problem. No matter how obsessive I got about keeping track of what I ate, and no matter how much I exercised, I couldn’t lose. I had to work out like a fiend just to maintain my weight, let alone lose any. Alli has helped me take a little more control.

    Wow, I totally did not mean to sound like an infomercial there.

  8. chikwendu February 27, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    I’m pretty sure some people will not like it