Obesity is a condition where a person has a lot of extra body fat, and it has become more common in recent times. In the United States alone, 42% of the population is obese. Obesity is dangerous because people who suffer from it are much more likely to develop chronic health conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. While medical professionals strongly recommend that anyone who is obese should try to lose weight, it can be very hard to do. On top of that, the cost of Saxenda® in the United States has become outrageous, since many insurers do not cover the medication. Hence, why many Americans are now buying their Saxenda® from Canada.
Originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, Saxenda® (liraglutide) falls into the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonist class of drugs. It works by sitting on the GLP-1 receptors and causing changes to three key hormones that are involved in regulating body weight: insulin, leptin, and glucagon. In this blog post we will explore more about how Saxenda® works to help you lose weight, what else you need to do to keep the weight off, and if there are any potential side effects. Let’s get started!
What is Saxenda®?
As mentioned above, Saxenda® was originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, and it is still used for that purpose under the brand name Victoza®. But liraglutide was found to have a profound effect on weight, and is FDA approved as Saxenda® for weight loss (for patients 12 and older). It is an injectable prescription medication used for the treatment of obesity in adults, and must be prescribed by a healthcare professional. Saxenda® comes in a prefilled syringe and must be injected under the skin using pen needles that are sold separately.
How Can Saxenda® Help Me Lose Weight?
Saxenda® works with the hormones that your body produces that regulate when you feel hungry, which are insulin, leptin, and glucagon. By sitting on your GLP-1 receptors and changing how these hormones work, Saxenda® regulates your appetite.
Upon binding to pancreatic receptors, the protein instructs the body to make insulin at the right time and in the right amount. As a result, people with obesity feel more satisfied because it binds to receptors in the part of the brain that controls hunger. Additionally, it reduces inflammation and regulates blood pressure.
To avoid being broken down by stomach acid, this is a natural peptide that needs to be administered subcutaneously. The device is easy to use, and most potential side effects are gastrointestinal and transient (more information below on the side effects of Saxenda®). However, Saxenda® can ultimately lead the patient eating fewer calories and losing weight over time.
To get into hormone specifics, GLP-1 agonists help lower leptin resistance. When it comes to weight loss, leptin is probably the single most important hormone for determining if you will lose weight and how much weight you will lose. Saxenda® also helps reduce insulin resistance, which is a major positive because high insulin levels make it incredibly hard for your body to burn fat. And finally, Saxenda® acts as a glucagon suppressant, and that helps keep your blood sugar levels normal since glucagon naturally raises them.
Saxenda® will also alter your appetite by slowing down your gastrointestinal motility, causing your gastric contents to empty more slowly. A reduced appetite means you will consume less calories and should begin to lose weight. This happens in combination with an increased basal metabolic rate.
How Effective Can Saxenda® Be in Helping Me Lose Weight?
During the clinical trials for the treatment of obesity using Saxenda®, patients were given either Saxenda® 3mg daily or a placebo dose for fifty six weeks. During that time period the patients were also given counseling about lifestyle changes regarding a calorie-controlled diet and regular physical exercise. The results of the study concluded that the patients who were treated with Saxenda® achieved between 5% and 10% weight loss compared to the patients who were treated with the placebo.
Another study looked at users of Saxenda® over a three year period and found the following information:
● 56% of Saxenda® users achieved significant weight loss in year one.
● Approximately half of the patients maintained their weight loss at three years when taking Saxenda® with a reduced-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity, compared with people not on the drug.
● In the three year study, 2,254 adults with pre-diabetes and obesity with one or more weight-related conditions were given Saxenda® (1,505 people) or placebo (749 people), added to a reduced-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity. The study looked at how many people lost at least 5% or more of their body weight.
● After one year on Saxenda®, 891 people (56%) lost at least 5% of their weight compared to 182 patients on the placebo (25%).
● After three years, 747 people on Saxenda® and 322 people on placebo remained had their weight measured. 391 of those people on Saxenda® (26%) lost ≥5% of their weight at both the one and three year marks versus 74 people on placebo (10%).
More studies are available to read on the Saxenda® website.
Saxenda® as a Glucagon Suppressant
The glucagon hormone also contributes to weight loss, although it is less understood than insulin or leptin. As far as altering blood glucose levels are concerned, glucagon is the exact opposite of insulin. Glucagon helps increase blood sugar levels while insulin lowers them. Although there is not much talk about glucagon in relation to weight loss, we believe the study will become rather popular in the next few years.
In order to activate hormone-sensitive lipase, your body must naturally deplete liver glycogen stores and have low insulin levels. There is also some degree of hyperglucagonemia in states that cause insulin resistance, which contributes to consistently high glucose levels. Glucagon also interferes with normal glucose control, altering how your body burns energy.
GLP-1 agonists such as Saxenda® reduce glucagon levels while reducing insulin resistance at the same time. As a result of these changes, blood glucose levels are more normal, liver glucose metabolism is more efficient, and fat is burnt by adipose tissue. It is also for this reason that GLP-1 agonists are so useful for patients with type II diabetes.
The body relies heavily on glucagon for regulating glucose levels. You can promote weight loss and fat burning by treating both insulin and glucagon levels.
Saxenda®, Insulin Resistance and Weight Loss
The origin of Saxenda® can be traced back to the treatment of diabetes. The root cause of type II diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance accounts for the majority of the negative outcomes. It’s almost impossible for your body to burn fat when insulin levels are high. As a result of insulin, hormone-sensitive lipase is blocked from acting. High insulin turns off this enzyme, which is responsible for turning on “fat burning mode”.
Insulin prevents your body from burning fat as an energy source and promotes fat storage as well. The result is that you will store fat if you consume calories (from any source) when insulin levels are high. Low-calorie diets are not exempt from this rule. What insulin cares about is storing whatever you eat as fat, not how many calories you eat.
Saxenda® lowers blood glucose levels by assisting the body in adapting to insulin levels.
In addition to lowering insulin levels, reducing insulin helps improve other hormone levels in the body. Low testosterone (in men) and high testosterone (in women) can be caused by insulin resistance. By treating insulin levels, these hormone imbalances tend to improve, which will naturally lead to weight loss and a reduction of symptoms associated with those imbalances.
Can I Take Saxenda® and not Diet?
Liraglutide makes your brain believe that you aren’t hungry, so maintaining a calorie deficit should be easier. Weight loss occurs when your body burns more calories than you consume – this is referred to as a calorie deficit. Taking Saxenda® for weight loss does require you to remain in a calorie deficit, but you do not have to follow a precise diet plan. However, this does not give you the green light to stuff your face. Eat healthy foods and avoid certain foods as much as possible.
Cut down your portion sizes and eat fewer snacks to stay in a calorie deficit – you do not have to restrict certain food groups. Even while taking Saxenda®, excess weight won’t disappear if you consume too many calories. Dieting is important of any healthy lifestyle and the same can be said about exercise.
Saxenda® and the Keto Diet
Many people have jumped on the keto diet and have shed those pounds by having their body pump out ketones. It may be an added benefit to have both the benefits of ketosis and Saxenda® in the same regimen. However, before this drastic jump, you should speak to your healthcare professional. It may not be the safest for you to turn to an all-fat diet. You may not need to jump on the keto train, as Saxenda® can cause you to stop eating excessive calories.
Do I Have to Exercise While I take Saxenda®?
The importance of exercising when starting a weight loss journey cannot be overstated. Besides burning calories and helping you lose weight, exercise can also improve your overall fitness and prevent future health problems. In addition to burning calories, exercise also improves your mood and gives you more energy throughout the day.
Exercise doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. Finding something you enjoy is key to building a habit, whether it’s a simple walk or something more complex. No matter if you are on Saxenda® or dieting, exercise of any magnitude should be part of your day-to-day routine.
How Does Saxenda® Compare To Other Weight Loss Medications?
Saxenda® has not been directly compared with other weight loss drugs that the FDA has recently approved, which include but are not limited to Belviq®, Contrave®, and Qsymia®. It is important to note that Saxenda® is an injection weight loss treatment, so that may be a barrier to some patients who would rather take an oral medication.
Saxenda® Vs. Ozempic®
Ozempic® (semaglutide) has a longer duration of action. Semglutide is injected once a week. Liraglutide 3mg injections (Saxenda®) must be given every day. It is because Semaglutide acts in the body for a longer period of time. The use of Semaglutide results in better blood glucose control and weight loss when compared with Liraglutide, according to research. Semaglutide was associated with more side effects than Liraglutide, particularly nausea and diarrhea. You can find more information on the similarities and differences of Saxenda and Ozempic here.
Saxenda® Vs. Victoza®
Both Saxenda® and Victoza® are injectable medications that deliver liraglutide, an agonist of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptors (GLP-1). Victoza® and Saxenda® are both manufactured by a pharmaceutical company called Novo Nordisk, which has undergone rigorous development and testing processes to bring these medications to market. Victoza® is not approved to help with weight loss, while Saxenda® is. Liraglutide is also available in higher doses in Saxenda®. Saxenda® is not FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes, unlike Victoza®. This is another important difference between the two medications. You can find more detailed information on the similarities and differences of Saxenda® Victoza® here.
Saxenda® Vs. Wegovy®
Our bodies naturally produce GLP-1 hormone, which Wegovy® and Saxenda® mimic. When you eat, your body releases GLP-1. The brain uses it to regulate blood sugar levels and appetite. Their active ingredients, however, differ: Saxenda® contains Liraglutide, while Wegovy® contains Semaglutide (similar to Ozempic®). The injection of Wegovy® is administered once a week, while the injection of Saxenda® is administered every day. NovoNordisk manufactures Wegovy® and Saxenda®, which are FDA-approved for treating overweight and obesity.
How Do I Take Saxenda®?
Saxenda® is an injection weight loss treatment and must be taken under the skin, which is called a subcutaneous injection. This injection is given in your stomach area (abdomen), upper leg (thigh), or upper arm. You may administer your own Saxenda® injection or have someone else do it for you. Never inject Saxenda® into a vein or muscle.
When Should I Take Saxenda®?
The time of day when you take your Saxenda® dose is totally up to you. It can be taken with or without food, which greatly increases flexibility. Remember that once you decide on a time which is convenient to you and your schedule, your Saxenda® dose will be most effective if it is taken at the same time each day.
How Long Will Saxenda® Last?
Saxenda® comes in a 3ml prefilled injection pen, and when you first start Saxenda® a single pen will last seventeen days. Your first full pack of five pens will last six weeks. A Saxenda® treatment plan mandates that you gradually increase your dose in 0.6mg intervals under the supervision of your prescribing healthcare professional. This continues until you reach what is called a maintenance dose, which is 3mg daily. This is the dose at which you will continue to take Saxenda® during your maintenance period. Once you have passed the four week dose escalation period and reach the maintenance dose, a 3ml prefilled injection pen lasts six days, so a pack of five pens lasts thirty days.
How Long Does Saxenda® Take To Work?
Saxenda® is a prescription medication, not a quick-fix weight loss drug. It is designed to be used at the same time as a healthy lifestyle that will help support your long term weight loss and health (this includes avoiding certain foods). That being said, by your four month follow up appointment, you should have lost at least 4% of your total body weight. If you attend your four month follow up appointment and this is not the case, you and your prescribing health care provider may need to reevaluate your weight loss treatment plan.
What are the Side Effects of Saxenda®?
Every medication has potential side effects, and Saxenda® is no exception to that rule. Many patients who take Saxenda® will not have any side effects, while others might experience some mild side effects. Serious side effects are much more rare. If you find yourself experiencing side effects, be sure to contact your doctor right away. You may need to adjust your dose of Saxenda® and give your body more time to get used to the medication.
The most common side effects of Saxenda® reported to the FDA are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, low blood sugar, and increased appetite. Rare but serious side effects of Saxenda® include elevated heart rate, pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, kidney problems, and suicidal thoughts. People with a family history of thyroid cancer or who have had thyroid cancer themselves should not take Saxenda®.
Common Side Effects
● Dry Mouth
Serious Side Effects
● Blurred vision
● Fast heartbeats
● Low sodium
● Severe nervous system reaction
● Skin Flushing
What is the Long-Term Outlook of Weight Management and Saxenda®?
Most people who do not utilize medication or surgery are unsuccessful in their attempts to lose weight and keep it off. Many people who try diet and exercise alone to lose weight are unable to accomplish it, let alone keep that weight off in the long term. This discourages people from ever trying to lose weight and makes it more likely that they are going to develop serious medical conditions in the future due to their obesity. That is why a medication like Saxenda® is so helpful, because it has been scientifically proven to help you lose weight and is better than eating healthy and regular physical exercise alone.
This is especially important when you consider that most people who lose weight gain it back within a year’s time. That can be a frustrating experience that is detrimental not only to your physical health but to your mental health as well. Taking a medication like Saxenda® can help you keep the weight off since it is taken daily for a long time. Taking and keeping excess weight off the body reduces stress on its systems, which also reduces the risk of developing various serious medical conditions. If you are obese, losing weight is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall help, and Saxenda® may be able to help.
How do I get Prescribed Saxenda® for Weight Loss?
This conversation would have to be between you and your prescriber. Saxenda® does require a prescription for usage and should not be taken without the recommendation of a healthcare professional.
Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, or independent prescribers can make this decision. Medical guidelines and eligibility criteria must be followed by all medical professionals. There is no guarantee that you will be prescribed Saxenda®. A number of factors are taken into consideration, including weight, BMI, lifestyle, history, and general health. As a result, your prescriber can make informed decisions about your care and whether to recommend weight loss treatments. There are a variety of treatment options for patients with type 2 diabetes, including Byetta®, Trulicity® and other GLP-1 receptor agonists.
Saxenda® should never be bought from someone who has stopped taking it, even if you are already using it. The only medicine you should take is one that has been prescribed specifically for you by a healthcare professional.