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How to avoid the Alli oops (is it just a scare story?)

I lost 3lbs on the Alli diet this week.

The Alli Oops is used to describe some of the potentially unpleasant side-effects from taking the Alli weight-loss diet pills. The alli oops is a very real possibility, but in the last 3 months I’ve been taking the pills I have not really experienced the potential effects.

The only side effects of Alli that I did suffer was a single case of stomach cramps which was fairly mild and brief.

The potential effects of exceeding the fat allocation whilst taking Alli can include uncontrollable bowel movements. There are some articles and videos on the web that give useful tips such as wearing adult nappy’s (or diapers as they call them as they are invariably US based sites). I’m not sure whether these are intended as a joke or are supposed to be serious, but they don’t seam to be of much practical use. Here is an explanation of how to avoid the Alli oops.

Search the web for “alli oops” for other articles:

The side effects of alli can be reduced or eliminated by sticking within the target amounts of fat for each meal. The target is tailored to the individual, but all are within a few grams of my target which is 15g per meal (assuming 3 meals).

In addition to 15 g of fat per meal the diet also allows for a snack / treat per day at 3g of fat.

Keeping to the target is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. To stay within 15 g of fat may mean having small portions especially with some food types. The other thing is that it is often hard to tell how much fat is in some food, particularly when eating out.

Example food with typical fat content

The following is a rough guide to the fat content of some common food items / meals. This is only very approximate, the actual amount will depend upon manufacturer, portion size, type of ingredients used and even flavour.

  • Ham salad sandwich (no butter or dressing) 5g
  • Pre-made sandwich – 12g to 30g
  • low fat chocolate bar – 3g to 4g
  • Regular chocolate bar – 15g upwards
  • Low fat meal (eg. Healthy Living / Be Good to Yourself) – 9g to 14g
  • Lasagne (regular) – 30g
  • Packet of crisps – 15g
  • Low fat crisps – 6g
  • Maize snack (eg. Wotsits or bacon fries) – 5g to 6g
  • Baked crisps – 2g
  • Mcdonalds Big Mac and large Fries – 47g

Eating at home

Eating at home is much easier than eating out. Most food comes with labelling showing how much fat is contained within the food. Often this is labelled based on portion size on the front of the packaging.
Warning some packaging may show saturated fat rather than total fat – it is the total fat that is needed. This is an issue with weight-watchers food which sometimes shows saturated and sometimes total fat.
The other thing to be careful with is the portion size. This can be a entire pack (eg. ready meal), a certain weight of product (eg. cereals) or a certain number of items (eg. biscuits).

I also recommend investing in digital kitchen scales and using them to measure any portions that are based on weight especially for the first two weeks when getting used to the portion sizes.

I find ready meals are a convenient way to measure portion and fat sizes so I’ve been having them quite a bit during my diet (I’ll switch back to more home cooked food after the 6 months of my diet). I’ve also tried some of the recipes in The Alli Diet Plan book which are specifically chosen to be suitable for the Alli diet.

I’ve also modified some of normal home cooked recipes by reducing the amount of meat and carefully measuring the quantities to ensure they stay within the diet plan. My Alli food diary spreadsheet was particularly useful for calculating the quantities. If cooking your own food don’t forget to include any ingredients used for cooking especially vegetable oil if used for cooking (try fry-light instead), or margarine used in sandwiches.

Eating out

Eating out and sticking within the fat targets is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible. It is often better to designate the meal as a non-Alli meal and then carry on back on the Alli tablets from the next meal. Unless you are very confident that the meal is low-fat then don’t risk it and don’t take Alli.

Fast food is very difficult. A KFC Zinger salad with low-fat vinaigrette dressing is just within the 15g, but the Caesar dressing alone contains over 10g of fat. Subway is probably the best place for low fat with a selection of low fat subs with less than 5g of fat in a 6inch sub (do not add cheese which will really push the fat content up). Even the subway bacon sandwich comes in at less than 8g of fat, which is less than half of that of a Burger King BK Bacon Butty.

If you are in a cafe for lunch then a jacket potato with baked beans or a ham/turkey salad is generally a safe meal as long as they don’t include butter, mayonnaise or cheese. Some of the other fillings can be high in fat.

If none of the above have been available and the menu doesn’t list anything as a low-fat meal then I normally go with something that sounds healthy, but don’t take a tablet to be on the safe side. This usually means avoid meals with chips or cheese (eg. Lasagne) and looking for rice, pasta or potatoes (although they often put butter on new potatoes).

Exceeding the stated dose

Never, never, never exceed the status dose. I have never done it myself, but I’ve heard the side-effects are quite bad then. If you forget to take a tablet then just skip the tablet for that meal, never take a double dose to compensate.

It can sometimes be easy to forget if you have taken a tablet or now. I find the tablet holder that comes with Alli to be particularly useful. I load up all 3 tablets in the morning and then take them at each of my 3 meals. If that meal’s tablet is missing then I know I’ve taken the tablet.

Keeping spare clothes available?

Despite the scare stories around I have never found the need to carry any spare clothes. I have certainly never worn or considered buying any adult nappies (diapers).

You can accidentally eat more than the 15 g without realising it, but if you have a basic grasp of the fat in food then you should not unknowingly exceed it by too much and so the side effects should be fairly minimal.

If you think you may have the occasional craving that you can’t control then perhaps it may be useful to carry spare clothes, but if you know that you won’t be able to resist fatty foods more often then perhaps the Alli diet isn’t for you.

If you can stick within the fat allowance, or decide in advance when to skip an Alli pill then you can enjoy the benefits of the Alli diet with minimal risk of severe side-effects.

The fear factor

The fear of the side-effects of Alli is actually a very powerful incentive to stick to the diet plan. It’s very easy whilst on a diet to have a quick snack or eat some extra food that you should not, but the fear of the Alli oops is enough to help me control those cravings. This is something that I’ve found much harder to resist with other diets in the past.

Is it worth it?

I think the success that I’ve had on the Alli diet speaks for itself. I have no doubt that Alli has helped contribute to my weight-loss. I’m not sure how much of that is through the way that Alli is supposed to work and how much is the fear factor making me stick to the diet, but whichever it is it has had the desired effect.

The examples used are just an indication of the different fat contents of various foods. They do not necessarily indicate the best or worst values and the actual fat content of food may vary. Check the label of your food or some of the other diet related websites for more accurate information