Q: Over the holidays I've seen a lot of advertising on the weight loss product, Alli. What is it and does it work?
A: Alli, the only FDA approved over-the-counter weight loss product, is being marketed as a safe and effective weight-loss drug. Alli is for weight loss in overweight adults, 18 years of age and older.
When used in conjunction with a low-fat diet and regular exercise, Alli claims to increase weight loss results by 50% when compared to dieting alone. For example, if a person could lose 5 pounds with dieting, they would lose an additional 2-3 pounds with dieting and Alli. According to the manufacturer, most people in their studies lost 5-10 pounds over a 6-month period.
According to Tandalayo Kidd, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University, Alli is not an appetite suppressant. One-half the strength of the prescription drug Xenical (used to treat obesity) and marketed under a different name, Alli works in the digestive system by blocking the absorption of fat, thus decreasing the number of calories absorbed. Due to this fat blocking ability, persons taking this product may experience side effects such as some gas with oily spotting, loose oily stools or more frequent stools that may be hard to control.
Alli can be taken up to 3 times a day with meals. To decrease the side effects associated with this product, the manufacturer recommends consuming no more than 15 grams of fat with each meal.
Alli's fat blocking ability may also contribute to the decreased absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Deficiencies in these nutrients are associated with increased risk of infections, impaired night vision, muscle weakness, anemia, weak bones, and bruising. Taking a multi-vitamin at a time other than when Alli is being taken, preferably at bedtime, may help prevent deficiencies of the fat-soluble vitamins.
People who are not overweight, have had an organ transplant or have problems absorbing food should not take Alli. Also, anyone being treated for thyroid disease or diabetes or taking blood thinners should consult their health care provider before taking Alli.
If a person is willing to work hard to gradually lose weight, commit to following a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet, commit to eating smaller portion sizes, and make time to be physically active, Alli claims that it can then help them be successful at losing weight. However, if a person is willing to do those things, it is highly possible that they can successfully lose weight without Alli and its side effects.
Q: To "lose weight" has to be the top New Year's resolution, right? Any suggestions on how to keep motivated?
A: You're right - "losing weight" seems to always be on the "Top Ten" list - but here are a few others that seem to be popular New Year's resolutions:
¢ Lose weight
¢ Eat better
¢ Stop smoking
¢ Quit drinking alcohol
¢ Exercise more
¢ Find a better job
¢ Stick to a budget
¢ Save or earn more money
¢ Reduce or get out of debt
¢ Enjoy life more
¢ Enjoy more quality time with family and friends
¢ Be more patient at work and with others
¢ Find my soul mate
¢ Learn something new
¢ Volunteer and help others
¢ Get more organized
I laughed when I read the quote from an unknown author, "A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other." If only it lasted a year! Despite the number of people who make resolutions, only about two-thirds of people maintain their New Year's resolutions after two months.
Regardless of the resolution that you may choose, here are some ideas that may help you keep it:
¢ Choose a goal that is achievable. For example, do not say "I will not eat chocolate" but rather, "I will eat healthier snacks."
¢ Talk about it. Do not keep your resolution a secret. Tell those close to you so they can offer support. You may find that someone else wants to do the same and you could "buddy up" and work together to achieve it.
¢ Plan ahead and think of ways to make your plan successful. Decide how to deal with setbacks.
¢ Reward yourself. If your resolution is to exercise more, a reward could be a new exercise shirt. If your resolution is to lose weight, try not to reward yourself with food, but instead treat yourself to something else to enjoy.
¢ Track your progress. Write down short-term goals that will lead you to achieving your long term goal.
¢ Don't beat yourself up if you get off track. Everybody has a bad day. Just remember, tomorrow is a brand new day!
¢ Stick to it. It takes at least 30 days to prepare to make a lifestyle change and another month for the behavior to become a habit. Maintenance is marked by doing an activity for six consecutive months. Lifestyle change is not a straight shot; you will often cycle through preparing for and taking action before getting into maintenance.
¢ Keep trying. Remember, changing your lifestyle does not have to begin only on Jan. 1. It can happen any time.
- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.