If you struggle with weight loss while following a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity, you may have considered pursuing medications for weight management. Saxenda is an FDA-approved medication to help with weight loss, but it is important to follow a healthy diet while taking Saxenda. If you have been prescribed Saxenda, read on to learn how it works and what foods you should avoid while taking it.
Saxenda is a medication prescribed for weight management in individuals with obesity or overweight.
While there are no specific foods to avoid while on Saxenda, it is important to follow a reduced-calorie, balanced diet.
Limit high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, such as fast food and packaged snacks, to support weight-management goals.
Pay attention to the intake of processed foods, sugary foods, high-fat foods, and refined carbohydrates for better overall health.
What is Saxenda?
Obesity is a common health problem causing serious diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. According to the 2021 report of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), obesity prevalence was almost 42% in the U.S.
There are various medications to treat obesity. Some decrease appetite, and some interfere with fat absorption. Saxenda is one of the medications prescribed to treat overweight and obesity.
A healthy and balanced nutrition plan and exercise regimen is an established way to reach a healthy body weight. These methods alone may not be enough for patients to achieve a healthy weight. In those cases, doctors can prescribe medications alongside weight-control programs.
Saxenda contains liraglutide, an analog of human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which regulates calorie intake and appetite. It also activates physiological mechanisms that result in reduced blood glucose.
When is Saxenda prescribed?
In 2014, Saxenda (liraglutide) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for chronic weight management alongside a reduced-calorie diet and physical activity. It was approved for:
- Adults who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or higher.
- Adults with a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or higher and one or more weight-related health problems, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, or type 2 diabetes mellitus.
It's important to acknowledge that obesity medications are not for everyone with a BMI of 30 or higher.
BMI is an index used for defining obesity. It is calculated using weight and height. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in meters). The classification is as follows:
Remember that BMI is an easy-to-use index for screening; however, many other factors measure weight in association with health. You can benefit from an individual assessment by your healthcare provider.
Limitations of Saxenda use and side effects
Besides the indications of Saxenda use, there are limitations too. It is not suggested to treat type 2 diabetes and should not be used together with insulin or Victoza® (contains liraglutide) or any other GLP-1 receptor agonist.
Saxenda can cause adverse effects, including:
- Decreased appetite
- Abdominal pain
The medication guide states that Saxenda's effects on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality have not been established.
Saxenda can cause serious problems, including acute gallbladder disease, increased heart rate, kidney impairment, and allergic reactions. You should consult your doctor if you're experiencing or suspect any side effects.
Foods to avoid while on Saxenda
Saxenda can be taken with or without food. In the medication guide, no food or drink is indicated to be avoided while on Saxenda.
While on Saxenda, patients should follow a reduced-calorie yet healthy and balanced diet and increase their physical activity. No specific foods must be completely avoided while taking Saxenda; it's important to make healthy choices and be mindful of your overall calorie intake. Here is some general advice to consider regarding food choices:
Although calories should not be the only determinant of your food choices, you can benefit from limiting high-calorie yet low-nutrient foods such as fast foods, fries, packaged snacks, and cookies.
Processed foods are not only high in calories but also high in sodium and saturated fats. Obese people are more likely to have health problems such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes. Therefore, paying attention to sodium and fat intake helps maintain healthy blood pressure, glucose, and lipid levels.
Sugary foods and beverages
Access to sugary foods is super easy in our modern world. Manufacturers add sugar to many products to make them more appealing to your taste buds. That's why our sugar consumption is excessive.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, your daily sugar intake should not exceed 10% of your daily calorie intake. For example, if you consume 2000 calories daily, you should consume at most 200 calories of added sugars, which is 50 grams.
You can target added sugars under various names, including sucrose, dextrose, table sugar, brown sugar, syrups, and honey.
You shouldn't be afraid of fats, at least not all fats. Unsaturated fats, also known as healthy fats, are essential for the body to function properly. However, too much saturated fat (unhealthy fats) can lead to diseases such as hyperlipidemia and heart disease.
Processed and packaged foods are especially high in saturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, you should limit your saturated fat intake to 5–6% of your daily calories. For example, if you consume 2000 calories daily, you should consume less than 13 grams of saturated fat.
Highly processed carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are primary energy sources, and they are needed. However, you can choose complex carbohydrates over refined carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, are rich in fiber, which helps prevent high blood sugar and cholesterol.
Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates such as sugary cereals, white bread, white pasta, and crackers. Instead, opt for whole grains, beans, fiber-rich fruits, and vegetables.
Excessive alcohol consumption
Alcohol is high in calories. According to the National Health Service, regular alcohol consumption can increase your waistline and lead to other serious health problems.
Limit your alcohol consumption to avoid high calorie intake and alcohol-related health problems.
You should consult your registered dietitian and doctor for guidance on your nutrition while taking Saxenda. They will give recommendations that best align with your specific needs and goals.
- FDA. FDA approves weight management drug for patients aged 12 and older.
- FDA. Prescribing information for SAXENDA.
- CDC. Adult Obesity Facts.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Prescription Medications to Treat Overweight & Obesity.
- American Heart Association. Saturated Fat.
Show all references
- National Health Service. Calories in alcohol.