In 2021, the Health Survey for England estimated that 25.9% of adults in England are obese, and 37.9% are overweight. Saxenda is an effective weight loss medication to manage obesity.
Although there are no specific foods or drinks to avoid while taking Saxenda, you’ll need to implement specific dietary habits to help this medication do its job. You can safely lose weight and enjoy a healthy lifestyle by following a low-calorie diet and regimented exercise plan.
Get vitamins and medication delivered to your door!
Do I need to follow a diet while on Saxenda?
Sticking to a diet plan while taking Saxenda to reduce fat and maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle is beneficial.
Although there are no specific foods to avoid on Saxenda, healthcare providers recommend a reduced-calorie diet that limits high-calorie food products.
It’s best to avoid unhealthy foods and foods high in sugar, including:
- Fast food.
- Fizzy drinks and alcohol.
- Processed foods.
- Food with high trans and saturated fats, such as fried foods.
- Processed carbohydrates, such as white bread.
Instead, choose healthy alternatives such as wholegrains and low-fat foods to aid your weight loss journey on Saxenda. A GP can refer you to a nutritionist or dietitian to create an effective meal plan alongside your prescription.
Should I change my eating habits?
You may want to change your eating habits on Saxenda. Choosing smaller portions is a good idea as Saxenda encourages you to feel full faster and for longer throughout the day.
Eating slower also gives your brain time to tell your body that you’re full, and it can reduce your chance of overeating while on Saxenda.
Saxenda works by reducing cravings and appetite, so you should listen to your body and stop eating when you feel full, as this is a sign that the drug is doing its job to reduce body weight.
What BMI do I need to take Saxenda?
Saxenda isn’t suitable for everybody trying to lose weight.
Healthcare professionals can only prescribe it if:
- You have a BMI of 30 and over.
- You have a BMI of 27 to 30 and have a weight-related ‘co-morbidity’ (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnoea).
Failure to meet these criteria makes it unlikely for you to obtain access to Saxenda privately.
To qualify for a prescription of Saxenda on the NHS, you must meet all of the specific NHS criteria, including:
- Having a BMI (body mass index) of 35 or higher, or a BMI of 32.5 or higher if you are of South Asian, Chinese, black African, or African-Caribbean origin.
- Being pre-diabetic.
- Possessing a high risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks or strokes.
BMI is a measurement of your height and weight ratio, used to work out if you’re a healthy weight. It’s largely used to identify obesity in the UK - and between 18.5 and 24.9 is the ideal healthy weight range for adults.
What is the recommended dose of Saxenda?
The Saxenda starting dose is 0.6mg per day for one week. The dose will increase by 0.6mg weekly until you reach a 3mg maintenance dose. However, your dose of Saxenda may differ depending on your circumstances.
Saxenda is administered as a daily injection using a Saxenda pen in the stomach, upper leg or upper arm. Speak to your healthcare provider for advice and support about your prescription.
You will have a review with your healthcare provider after three months of taking Saxenda, and usually, you will only continue if you've lost at least 5% of your body weight.
Who can’t take Saxenda?
Saxenda is not recommended if you are over 75 years old.
You should not take Saxenda if you:
- Have a liver, kidney, or pancreas condition.
- Have kidney disease or are on dialysis.
- Have had an allergic reaction to liraglutide in the past.
- Have severe heart failure.
- Have inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease.
- Have gastroparesis (a condition in which your stomach has difficulty emptying food properly).
Consult your doctor before taking Saxenda if you plan to conceive or breastfeed, as it's unclear if the drug passes into breast milk.
Do I need to exercise while taking Saxenda?
Saxenda is most effective when coupled with a consistent exercise plan, including exercises such as walking, swimming or low-impact gym workouts.
It’s useful to work out different muscles when you exercise, as this promotes the absorption of sugar from the bloodstream. Exercise converts sugar into energy, regulating blood sugar levels even after an exercise session.
Why might I need to use Saxenda?
Saxenda is the brand name for the weight loss medication liraglutide. Also known as Wegovy or Victoza, this medicine curbs your appetite and makes you feel full, promoting weight loss for those struggling with obesity.
If you have non-diabetic hyperglycemia or are at risk of weight-related conditions, you may be eligible for a prescription of liraglutide. This includes if you have an increased risk of heart attacks, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
Saxenda is part of a class of medications called incretin mimetics. It mimics GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1), a hormone produced in the intestines that tells the brain when you’re full. This means that you feel fuller faster when eating.
The medication also works by helping the pancreas to release the right amount of insulin when blood sugar levels are high.
Will I keep the weight off after using Saxenda?
Keeping the weight off after coming off Saxenda is possible, but you’ll need to stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan. 56% of people taking Saxenda for three years achieved significant weight loss after one year, with around half of them maintaining this weight loss at the three-year mark.
According to several studies funded by Novo Nordisk, patients on Saxenda lost an average of 18 pounds each. One report claims a weight loss of 13.55% after five weeks of using Saxenda alongside a controlled diet plan and 45 minutes of walking three times per week.
How do I get Saxenda?
In 2020, Saxenda was approved for use within the NHS by prescription.
A healthcare professional will first recommend lifestyle changes before prescribing Saxenda. Typically, you can only access this prescription if:
- Diet restrictions and exercise plans have been unsuccessful.
- Weight loss surgery isn’t an option.
You must go through a tier-3 weight management service to access a Saxenda (liraglutide) prescription, and a GP or prescribing nurse can refer you to this service. Saxenda is not available to buy over the counter in the UK.
Upon referral, keep in mind that there could be a waiting period, and the specialists may suggest an alternative, more suitable treatment instead of Saxenda.
Will I experience any side effects on Saxenda?
Some of the most common side effects of Saxenda include:
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, particularly if you experience vomiting or diarrhoea when beginning treatment with Saxenda.
There are also a few more serious side effects to consider while on Saxenda. If you feel severe stomach pain, seek medical advice immediately. Saxenda can cause gallbladder problems, so looking out for abdomen or back pains is important. You may also experience fever, yellowing of the skin or eyes and clay-coloured stools.
Recent research shows no significant increase in thyroid cancer or pancreatitis risk with Saxenda use.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience any severe or uncomfortable side effects when taking Saxenda.
Will Saxenda interact with my other medications?
Saxenda reduces the time it takes for the stomach to empty, which can affect the efficiency of any medicines that need to pass through the stomach quickly.
Talk to your doctor if you are taking any of the following medications before starting Saxenda:
- Medication for type 2 diabetes like sulfonylurea medication or insulin, as using Saxenda may lead to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Your doctor might adjust your diabetes medicine dosage to prevent this.
- Blood-thinning medications like warfarin, as your doctor may need to monitor you more closely when using Saxenda.
- High blood pressure or heart disease medications, including amlodipine, atenolol, bisoprolol, or digoxin may require adjustments.
- HIV medications such as atazanavir or ritonavir, as using Saxenda may have implications that your doctor should be aware of and monitor accordingly.
Do not take Saxenda with other liraglutide medicines or GLP-1 receptor agonists like Ozempic. Ozempic can cause weight loss and is a common treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Understanding how to take Saxenda
Saxenda is a common weight loss medication, recently approved for use in the UK by the NHS. This medication encourages you to feel full and helps you to lose weight safely.
By managing your calorie intake and implementing healthy eating habits, you can help Saxenda do its job.