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allī: MIRACLE OR SCAM?

There’s been a great deal of hype regarding this new diet pill. If you have been following my website, you already know that, generally, I am not a fan of diet pills. However, I thought because of the hoopla surrounding this pill and the enormous amount of people who are taking it, a comment was warranted to help put it in the proper perspective.

I have frequently emphasized that knowledge is a powerful tool for success in any endeavor and it is no less important in the healthy endeavor to lose weight and keep it off. The question is can allī help?

First, you need to know how it works. Allī blocks the enzyme lipase in the intestine. Lipase helps to break down fat that is in your digestive tract. If the enzyme is disabled, your body is unable to absorb much of the fat you ingest and thereby reduce the amount of calories your body takes in. This certainly can help to reduce your caloric intake.

It is recommended that you don’t ingest anymore than 15 grams of fat with any meal in which you take allī because of the side effect of diarrhea — large amounts of fat left in the intestine act as a laxative. So what does that mean in calories? As you might already know there are 9 calories to every gram of fat. So if you avoid absorbing the calories from the 15 grams of fat in each meal, you decrease your caloric intake by 135 (15 x 9 = 135) calories. If you are eating 5 meals a day, that could mean that you could avoid up to 675 calories per day, which could translate into approximate 1½ pounds in a week.

I recommend that women should eat about 300 - 350 calories (men, 400 - 450) five times per day. What this means is you could eat a meal that is 435 - 485 calories more and still be on track if you take an allī with your meal, as long as there were 15 grams of fat in that meal. Remember, not all small meals have that much fat in them, especially if you are learning to eat healthier.

How could that be applied practically? Let’s say you decided to splurge and have a McDonald’s quarter pounder burger, which has 18 grams of fat and 420 calories. If the allī blocks all the fat from being absorbed then your meal will essentially contain only 258 (18 x 9 = 162 and 420 - 162 = 258) calories. But remember the possible consequences — the runs!) Now if that’s the only meal you eat with allī then you might not have any gastrointestinal problems.

Let’s suppose you’re really starving because you got so busy you missed a meal. You’ve decided to have a Lean Cuisine for dinner, but you know from past experience one dinner is just not enough to satisfy you so you decide to have two. The average Lean Cuisine meal has 290 calories and about 7 grams of fat. If we double the numbers for 2 dinners we arrive at 580 calories and 14 grams of fat. If we take an allī, we can subtract 126 calories which means you will still have ingested 454 calories — too much if you are a woman.

If, on the other hand, you added a salad (McDonald’s Caesar Salad at 90 calories and 4 grams of fat with Italian dressing at 50 calories and 2.5 grams of fat), you would now have a more filling meal with a total of 430 calories and 13.5 grams of fat. If you took an allī with this meal you would now avoid 121.5 calories, giving you a meal with a total of 308 calories — a meal that is in acceptable range.

You may have already heard of all the gastrointestinal side effects — diarrhea, gas with oily anal discharge, more frequent bowel movements, and sometimes hard-to-control movements. I doubt that anyone would put up with these symptoms for any length of time, but remember these will only occur if you allow yourself to ingest too much fat in a day along with the allī taken regularly.

The reason that I am so against diet pills is that if you are going to succeed in an effective weight loss program, you need to change your habits, and diet pills generally don’t help you do that. Clearly, just taking allī and doing nothing else is not going to work very well, and more than likely, you will end up with the dreaded side effects.

Taking other diet pills that suppress your appetite (see previous blog on this subject) also is an ineffective form of long-term weight loss.

But what I have come to appreciate is that just as I have advised people that sometimes they can do South Beach or Atkins and sometimes simply calorie counting, sometimes taking allī may work if done in an intelligent and knowledgeable way.

We are not all perfect and even as we improve our dietary habits, we will crave foods that don’t quite fit into our plan. With allī, as noted above, it could help us indulge from time to time without getting too far off track.

So in the end, I have concluded that allī is not a miracle nor is it a scam, but it could be another useful tool to help you toward a successful weight loss program.