Saxenda (Liraglutide) for Weight Loss
Over the past few decades, obesity has become one of the largest threats to physical health. Whether you’re suffering from poor weight management due to genetics, Type 2 diabetes, or a lack of exercise and healthy eating, having to live with obesity can cause a range of health conditions that can negatively affect your overall health, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and inflammation.
To help combat the ever-growing epidemic of obesity, pharmaceutical manufacturers have produced several weight-loss drugs for people struggling with obesity due to weight-related medical conditions. However, many of these weight loss medications were only available to Type 2 diabetics as companies first concentrated their efforts on the treatment of diabetes. This made finding an effective approved medication difficult for patients struggling with obesity management who simply couldn’t lose weight with traditional methods such as dieting and increased physical activity. Luckily, that began to change thanks to diligent research and advancements in modern medicine.
In 2010, the FDA approved using Liraglutide as a treatment to help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. However, researchers found that the liraglutide treatment, sold under the brand name Victoza, not only helped Type 2 diabetics lower their blood sugar but also helped them lose weight in the process. Prompted by these promising results for weight loss, researchers began to explore whether or not liraglutide could also work as a weight loss treatment for people without diabetes.
Four years later, a higher dose of Liraglutide was finally approved for weight loss in 2014 under the brand name, Saxenda. As one of the first Type 2 diabetes medications approved for weight loss, Saxenda has proven to be one of the most effective prescription drugs for people suffering from obesity. Thanks to the introduction of Saxenda, researchers are now taking a closer look at other Type 2 diabetes medications as possible treatments for weight loss in overweight and obese patients.
But exactly how does Saxenda help with weight loss? In this article, we’ll break down how Saxenda can help you lose weight and discuss the pros and cons of using the medication to help you determine whether or not it may work as a possible treatment option for you.
What Is Saxenda?
Saxenda is a prescription weight loss medication used to treat obesity and weight-related conditions for adults with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 27 kg and children between the ages of 12 and 17 years old with a body weight over 132 lb. The medicine comes in the form of an injectable pen that is given once a day and is usually combined with a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise to help stimulate weight loss. With liraglutide as the active ingredient, Saxenda injections help control appetite and digestion, which has been proven to be an effective method for overweight or obese patients attempting to lose weight.
How Does Saxenda Work for Weight Loss?
Like other injectable weight loss medications such as Wegovy, Saxenda is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that mimics the GLP-1 hormone naturally produced by our bodies to send signals to the brain to reduce appetite and hunger cravings. As that occurs, the GLP-1 receptor agonist slows down digestion in the stomach, allowing you to eat smaller portions and feel fuller after meals. In addition, Saxenda also stimulates the pancreas to release insulin to lower blood sugar, which also helps reduce calories and promote weight loss.
Benefits of Saxenda
In a clinical trial, adults with Type 2 diabetes and a BMI greater than 27 or a BMI of 30 kg that committed to a low-calorie diet while taking a daily 3 mg dose of Saxenda were able to lose 5-10% of their body weight after 56 weeks of treatment. Not only that, Type 2 diabetics who used 3mg of Saxenda daily were also able to see significant improvements in glycemic control after the same 56-week timeframe. It is important to note that although the research showed promising results in regulating blood sugar levels in Type 2 diabetics who used Saxenda, the medication is currently not approved as a primary treatment for Type 2 diabetes. However, since Saxenda is FDA-approved to treat weight conditions related to Type 2 diabetes, patients with the condition can still use Saxenda for weight loss and gain the extra benefit of having more control over their blood glucose levels.
During another study, adults without Type 2 diabetes with a body mass index of 30 or higher lost up to 8% of their body weight after 56 weeks of using Saxenda for weight loss. Another study focusing on the use of Saxenda in children 12 and up revealed that adolescents were also able to lose 3% of their body weight after using Saxenda as a weight loss treatment for the same 56 weeks. Based on the research, Saxenda has been proven as an effective treatment to help adult, and adolescent patients with or without Type 2 diabetes achieve considerable weight loss through daily injections.
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How Should I Use Saxenda Injections?
Saxenda injections are administered once a day through a pre-filled injector pen. These injector pens should remain stored in the refrigerator until they are ready for use. However, once you start to use the pens for injection, they can be kept at room temperature for 30 days as long as they’re being used during that time. After an injection reaches room temperature, it cannot be placed back in the refrigerator and will either need to be used or thrown away.
Each time you prepare for your next dose, you will need to check the medication inside the injector pen to ensure that it has remained clear, colorless, and free of particles before injection. If the medication doesn’t meet this check, you should avoid using the pen and discard it as soon as possible.
Saxenda injections are normally injected as a shot under the skin of your stomach, upper leg, or upper arm and can be taken with or without food. Always dispose of used needles after each shot and use a new needle for each injection to avoid infection.
Your physician will determine the best dosage level for your Saxenda injections. Typically, physicians will start patients off with 0.6 mg of Saxenda and gradually increase the dose by 0.6 mg until the recommended Saxenda dosage of 3 mg. Once you reach the recommended dosage, you will need to remain consistent with the treatment in order to achieve results.
Because Saxenda affects the digestive system, the medication may increase the risks of certain stomach issues and other side effects, such as:
- Stomach pain
Depending on your medical history, Saxenda may also cause or increase the risk of worsening more serious health conditions, such as:
- Thyroid cancer
- Low blood sugar or (hypoglycemia)
- Kidney damage
- Gallbladder complications
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
Patients who take Saxenda with these pre-existing conditions are at higher risk of experiencing or worsening these health issues. You will need to fully disclose your complete medical history and any previous health conditions with your physician so they can determine if Saxenda will be a viable weight loss treatment for you. If it turns out that Saxenda may not work well with your body, your physician may also offer other alternative options, such as Slim Weight Loss.
Is Saxenda Addictive?
No. Saxenda shots have not been shown to be addictive, so you should not experience any withdrawal symptoms from discontinuing the medication.
How Much Weight Can You Lose With The Saxenda Pen?
Your weight loss results on Saxenda depend on your dosage level and your body’s response to treatment. However, in clinical trials, patients who used Saxenda for weight loss lost an average of 12-23 pounds over the course of 56 weeks.
What Foods Should I Avoid While on Saxenda?
Although there aren’t any specific food restrictions while taking Saxenda, committing to a low-calorie diet is typically the best way to achieve weight loss while using the medication. To ensure you’re reducing your calorie intake, your physician may provide special dietary instructions to eliminate certain foods high in sugar from your diet. These dietary recommendations are typically personalized based on your medical history and your specific goals for weight loss. Before starting treatment, here are some foods you should consider avoiding if you plan to lower calories while taking Saxenda for weight loss:
- Processed foods (such as packaged cookies, chips, and cakes)
- Spicy high-fat foods (such as fried foods and fast food products)
- Sugary drinks (such as sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened fruit juices)
- Foods high in saturated fat (such as sausages, bacon, butter, and cheese)
While avoiding these foods, you can still build a balanced low-calorie diet while taking Saxenda. Foods that you can try to help support your weight loss while on Saxenda include:
- Vegetables and fruits such as Brussels sprouts, artichoke, carrots, melons, and berries
- Sources of lean protein like red meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and beans.
- Whole grains such as brown rice, bread, and pasta.
Who Should Not Take This Medication?
You should avoid using Saxenda as a weight loss treatment if you or your family have a history of thyroid tumors or thyroid cancers such as medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). Patients who suffer from endocrine system complications such as Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome (MEN) should also avoid using Saxenda. Your physician may also suggest that you avoid using Saxenda as a weight loss treatment if you suffer from other pre-existing conditions such as:
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Reduced kidney function
- Low blood sugar
- Abnormally fast heartbeat
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid using Saxenda as the medication may cause adverse effects in unborn and newborn babies. Make sure to disclose your full medical history and any new life changes with a healthcare professional so they can determine whether or not you will be able to use Saxenda as a weight loss treatment.
At Slim Weight Loss Clinic, we specialize in weight loss treatment for people struggling with weight management and obesity. Our team of physicians and wellness experts combines effective weight-loss medications and dietary plans to help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Contact us at 1-866-226-1982 and schedule a consultation to find out how our weight loss programs can help you to change your weight loss goals.
When is the best time of day to take Saxenda?
Saxenda can be taken anytime during the day, with or without food. However, once you choose a timeframe that works for you, it is recommended that you continue to administer your Saxenda injections at the same time every day for consistency to achieve the best results.
Can I stop Saxenda anytime?
Technically, yes. But that will also depend on how your body responds to the medication. Because Saxenda is not addictive, many people are able to stop taking the medication without experiencing withdrawal or any serious issues. However, since Saxenda does affect your digestive system, it is recommended that you gradually reduce your dosage and taper off the medication so your body can adjust to the change. In some patients, the sudden discontinuation of Saxenda treatment may lead to feelings of nausea.
Why do some people have trouble losing weight on Saxenda?
There are several reasons why some people have trouble losing weight while using Saxenda. In some cases, patients will need time for their bodies to adjust to the treatment before the medication can have a significant effect on their weight. Your eating patterns may also affect your weight loss results while using Saxenda. Patients who consume too many calories in their diet will find it more difficult to lose weight with Saxenda. Increased physical activity is also required for Saxenda to be effective, so if you’re not getting enough exercise while using the medication, you’ll be less likely to lose weight.
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