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How does Saxenda work?

How does Saxenda work?

This content has been reviewed and approved for quality and accuracy by James O'Loan (GPhC: 2084549)

Losing weight, and keeping that weight off, can be really daunting.
Sometimes, following a healthy diet and exercise plan alone isn’t enough to reach your weight loss goals.
Obesity is a chronic condition and sometimes medical treatment is necessary to overcome it and maintain a healthy weight in the long-term.
Saxenda weight loss injections, sometimes known as the ‘skinny jab’, can help to manage your appetite, making it easier for you to stick to a lower-calorie diet.
This can result in a healthy weight loss, without the need for overly restrictive, complicated fad diets.

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is a weight loss injection containing 3mg of liraglutide.
Liraglutide is a synthetic version of a hormone, known as glucagon-like-peptide (GLP-1), that is naturally found in your body.
This hormone affects your appetite and lets your brain know when you’re full.

How does liraglutide work for weight loss?

Liraglutide helps you to manage your weight by telling your brain that you aren’t hungry.
This results in a reduced appetite, making it a whole lot easier to stick to a lower calorie diet by snacking less often or eating smaller portions.


Does liraglutide work without dieting?

As liraglutide tells your brain that you’re not hungry, you should be able to maintain a calorie deficit a lot more easily.
A calorie deficit means your body is burning more calories than you’re consuming - this is what leads to weight loss.
Whilst you do have to remain in a calorie deficit whilst taking Saxenda for weight loss, you don’t have to follow a specific diet plan or restrict certain foods.
Fad diets, or crash diets, often come with a complicated set of rules that can be hard to stick to.
You can stay in a calorie deficit by cutting down your portion sizes and eating fewer snacks - you don’t have to restrict certain food groups or completely cut out your favourite meals.
If you eat too many calories, even whilst taking Saxenda, excess weight unfortunately won’t come off.
Calorie deficits can be hard to stick to, but Saxenda weight loss injections should make it easier and the weight should come off in a healthy and controlled manner as a result.

What about exercise?

When starting any weight loss journey, exercise is a really important factor to consider.
Not only does exercise burn calories and help you lose weight, it also improves your overall fitness and can prevent further health problems down the line.
Staying active doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym if you don’t want to.
Finding something you enjoy is key to building this habit, even if it’s just something as simple as a brisk walk.


Saxenda dosing

When you’re prescribed Saxenda, your doctor or pharmacist will explain that the first 5 weeks of your treatment will be the 'dose-escalation' phase.
This means you’ll begin with a small dose and will gradually increase towards the full dose.
Gradually increasing the dose will help you get the most from your medicine and reduce the chance of any unwanted gastrointestinal side effects.
The timeline of the dose-escalation phase will be as follows:

  • Week 1: 0.6mg once daily
  • Week 2: 1.2mg once daily
  • Week 3: 1.8mg once daily
  • Week 4: 2.4mg once daily
  • Week 5: 3.0mg once daily

Once you’ve reached week 5, you’ll continue with 3.0mg as your regular daily dose.
16 weeks into treatment, you’ll have a follow-up appointment with your doctor or pharmacist to see if Saxenda is working for you.

What is the best time of day to take Saxenda?

It’s completely up to you what time you take your Saxenda dose, and it doesn’t matter if you administer your injection with or without food.
When you’ve found a time that’s convenient for you, your Saxenda injection will be most effective when taken at that same time each day.


Is Saxenda the same as Victoza?

Saxenda and Victoza contain the same active ingredient, liraglutide.
Victoza is a prescription drug that can treat diabetes by:

  • Slowing down the process of food leaving your stomach
  • Preventing your liver from making too much sugar
  • Helping the pancreas produce more insulin when your blood sugar levels are high

It was discovered in clinical trials that this treatment for type 2 diabetes often led to weight loss in some patients.

Can Victoza be used for weight loss?

The difference is in the dosage.
While Saxenda has been approved to specifically help weight loss, Victoza should only be taken for diabetes - they cannot be used together or interchangeably.
This is because the recommended dose for each of these medicines is different.


How long does it take for Saxenda to work?

Healthy weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, but eating in a calorie deficit with Saxenda should produce results from week 1.
At week 16, you’ll have a consultation with your doctor or pharmacist to check on your progress.
If Saxenda is working for you, you should have lost 5% of your body weight by this point.
Your doctor or pharmacist will renew your prescription if this is the case for you.

Does Saxenda work?

As long as your Saxenda injections continuously help you to eat in a calorie deficit, you will continue to lose weight.
In a clinical study of 3,731 patients, 85% reported weight loss whilst taking Saxenda. In this study:

  • 3 out of 5 patients reported a weight loss of 5% or more, averaging a loss of 12lb.
  • 1 in 3 patients achieved a weight loss of more than 10%, averaging 23lb lost.
  • 6% of patients achieved a significant weight loss of more than 20%, averaging a loss of 47lb.



Will Saxenda help me to keep the weight off?

Saxenda promotes healthy lifestyle changes by encouraging a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
If sustained, these new habits will help to keep the excess weight off and improve your overall quality of life.
In a clinical study of people taking Saxenda for 3 years:

  • 56% achieved a significant weight loss in their first year.
  • Approximately half of these patients maintained weight loss at 3 years, when taking Saxenda alongside a reduced-calorie meal plan and increased physical activity.

Further information about the clinical studies cited in this guide can be found on Saxenda’s website.

Saxenda weight loss injections could be a significant help in your journey towards a healthy lifestyle and long-term weight loss.
If you feel that Saxenda could benefit you and are interested in starting treatment, the next step will be a consultation with one of our prescribing pharmacists to see if this medicine is right for you.

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