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Can You Take Orlistat on an Empty Stomach?

Discover why you need to take Orlistat with food, whether you can take it on an empty stomach and how to get the best out of your medication.
woman holding her hands over her stomach

If you’re considering taking Orlistat for weight loss, you may have discovered that you need to take your medication with food.

This can mean taking the capsules just before a meal, with a meal, or up to an hour after you eat a meal.

Some patients find that taking their medication with each of their three main meals makes taking Orlistat easier to remember, as the treatment becomes a part of their daily routine.

Although this may be convenient for some, others may wonder why they need to take their medication with food in the first place, which is why we’re here today.

Let us explain why you need to take Orlistat with food and why you shouldn’t take it on an empty stomach if you want to get the most out of your treatment and ultimately lose weight.

Why do you need to eat before taking Orlistat?

You need to take Orlistat with food because it needs to work with your food, rather than working in isolation.

As a fat binder, Orlistat needs some dietary fat to bind to before it can work to reduce your calorie intake.

When it binds to the fat you eat it stops your body from digesting it so it can leave your body with your poo

This reduces your fat intake by a third, effectively reducing your calorie intake and helping you to lose weight over time.

The usual dosage of Orlistat is one capsule with each of your three main meals a day, this is the same whether you’re taking the over-the-counter or prescription version of this medication.

Although the strength of your medication will be different, with over-the-counter remedies providing 60mg of Orlistat while prescription medications have 120 mg in each capsule, the dose will remain the same and should always be taken with a meal.

What happens if you take Orlistat without eating?

If you take Orlistat without eating then nothing much will happen — good or bad!

Your medication won’t be able to bind to undigested fat as your stomach will be empty, so it won’t be able to work.

Orlistat works as a fat binder, so if there’s no fat for it to bind to it can’t do its job effectively.

This is why your patient information leaflet will tell you that you won’t need to take your medication if you miss a meal or eat a meal with no dietary fat at all.

Taking unnecessary medication isn’t a good idea, so make sure that you follow your prescriber’s advice carefully and only take Orlistat when you need to.

This will help you get the best out of your weight loss treatment, especially when paired with a balanced diet and exercise.

Foods to avoid

Although you should make sure to take Orlistat with a meal, there are certain foods you may wish to avoid for the duration of your treatment.

This especially applies to high-fat foods, as your diet should contain no more than 30% fat while you’re taking this medication.

If you eat very fatty or starchy foods, Orlistat will still bind to around a third of the fat from them, meaning that you’ll have more to pass.

This may not sound serious, but it can lead to unpleasant side effects, such as oily stools and oily discharge when you break wind.

This happens because your body needs to remove the extra undigested fat and there’s only one place for it to go!

This is why we recommend eating a diet that is made up of less than 30% fat and that you spread your fat intake out throughout the day, as this will help you to avoid side effects.

How to get the best results from Orlistat

To get the best results from Orlistat you should take it with your three main meals every day, but that isn’t the only thing you can do to boost your results.

Every weight loss plan needs to be built around a healthy, balanced diet and a regular exercise routine.

Using Orlistat alongside these healthier lifestyle changes will help you to reduce your daily calorie intake and see consistent weight loss results.

If you’re unsure about the best way to make changes to your usual diet or want advice about getting regular exercise, you should ask your healthcare team or use online resources like those in our advice sections to steer you in the right direction.

If you’d like to learn more about Orlistat and how it can help you with your weight loss journey, our advice section is full of useful information.

Here are some of our favourites that will help you get to know this medication better.

Content Written By

Laura Henderson

Laura Henderson

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