This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 04/05/2021 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

How Do You Take Liraglutide?


Liraglutide is currently only available for weight loss as a daily injection – which is known as Saxenda when it’s used for weight management.


This means that you take Liraglutide via a daily subcutaneous injection.


The fact that Liraglutide comes as an injection may put some people off using it, but the needles that come with the pen are so small and fine that most people don’t even feel it when it’s inserted into the skin.  


You should only ever start taking Saxenda once you’ve read the patient information leaflet thoroughly, as this gives detailed dosing instructions, including a medication guide, how to prime your pen for its first use, and how to use the needles.


How often should you take Saxenda? 


Saxenda should be taken daily, at around the same time each day.


Liraglutide has a half-life of around 13 hours, so it’s important to make sure that you get into a routine with it to make sure that the dose is sustained between injections.


how do you take liraglutide

You shouldn’t use Saxenda more than once a day, as this can increase your risk of serious side effects.


However, if you miss a day, it shouldn’t have too much of a negative effect if you’ve been taking Saxenda for a few weeks.


We understand that it can be easy to forget to take new medications, so don’t beat yourself up if you do accidentally miss a dose.


If it’s less than 12 hours since you were supposed to take Liraglutide, you can take it as soon as you remember.


However, if it’s been more than 12 hours since your missed dose was due, you should skip that day’s injection and carry on as normal the day after.


When do you take Saxenda? 


Luckily, it doesn’t matter when you decide to inject Saxenda, as long as it’s taken at the same time each day.


If you already have a set medication routine for other medical conditions, you might decide to inject yourself at the same time as you take your other treatments as it might be easier to remember.


If you don’t already have a medication routine, we would recommend thinking about something that you do every day – whether it’s brushing your teeth, making a cup of tea at a certain time, or having your breakfast.


As long as it’s something that you do at around the same time every day, it’s worth starting to take your medication during these activities, as you’ll start to associate it with taking your injection.


Most people tend to take Saxenda and other GLP-1 receptor agonists in the morning when they wake up, but others find that taking it at this time of day doesn’t suit them.


If you find that injecting at a certain time doesn’t suit you, you might want to change the time of day that you inject.


Where do you inject Saxenda? 


Saxenda is a subcutaneous injection, which means that it should be injected just under the skin.


It isn’t an intramuscular injection like you might have experienced with vaccines or other injections.


Because of this, it’s recommended to inject Liraglutide into a fleshy area, the manufacturer Novo Nordisk recommends injecting in the lower abdomen, thighs, or upper arms.


These tend to be areas of your body with more fat, so it’s easier and less painful to administer a subcutaneous injection in these places.


Can you change where you inject Liraglutide?  


Absolutely! In fact, it’s encouraged that you change the injection site each day to avoid any irritation or bruising.


As long as you stick to the recommended areas (lower abdomen, thighs and the top of the arms), you should have plenty of places to choose from each time you inject.


If you can’t remember where you last injected, it might be worth writing it down in your phone or a notebook to avoid injecting the same area several times in a row.


where to inject saxenda


You shouldn’t ever inject over any bony areas – making sure that you only inject in the recommended places reduces the risk of injury or tissue damage.


How to administer a Saxenda injection


There are a few steps to administering your Saxenda injection, and we’ve gone into it in more detail elsewhere, but here’s a quick refresher of the steps you’ll take each time.


When you’re taking Saxenda, you’ll store unused pens in the refrigerator, but can keep a pen you’re currently using at room temperature.


So grab your pen from wherever you’re storing it and check that the Liraglutide fluid is clear, then carefully attach a new Novotwist needle to the end of your pen.


If you’re using a new pen, remember to do a quick flow test and check that a drop of the fluid appears at the top of your needle.


If everything has gone as planned, you’ll now be ready for your injection.


Turn the dial at the end of the pen to select your dosage number, hold the pen so you can see the dose number and insert the needle into your skin.


Press and hold down the button on the end of the pen until the dose number has counted down to 0, then hold the pen in place as you slowly count to six.


Remove the needle from your skin, remove the used needle from the pen, and store your Saxenda safely until you need to use it tomorrow.


Is there a Saxenda dosing schedule?


When you first start taking Saxenda, you’ll have to stick to a dosing schedule that will help you to increase your dosage slowly over 5 weeks.


This schedule is designed to help reduce the side effects of Saxenda, which are common when your body is getting used to this medication for the first time.


We understand that getting used to a medication schedule when you’ve never taken it before can be tricky, which is why we’ve put together a dosing calendar to show you how the first 5 weeks go for the average person taking this medicine.


However, you should remember to always follow the dosage instructions given to you by your prescriber.


These may differ from the average dosage schedule, but your plan will have been designed with you in mind, taking into account your own health any other medications you may be taking.


Our calendar is a great rule of thumb, but nothing compares to the advice given to you by a medical professional.


Which needles fit Saxenda pens?


If you’re prescribed Saxenda through myBMI, you’ll also receive the needles that you need to inject yourself with.


You should use a new needle each day, ideally using a Novotwist needle, which are manufactured by Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer of Saxenda.


Both 31 and 32g needles can be used with Saxenda, and if you run out, these are also available from most pharmacies.


The needles are available in various lengths, starting from 4mm.


When you receive your treatment, you should also find a patient information leaflet included which should explain how the needles should be fitted and removed.


Saxenda needles come with a disposable tab lid that should be removed before securing it onto the pen.


The plastic that you hold to push the needle onto the pen is the outer cap.


Once the needle is on, twist the outer cap to secure the needle – the outer cap should come away in your fingers with a slight pull.


You’ll also notice that there’s another plastic cap covering the needle – this is there for safety so that nobody is accidentally injured.


When you’re about to inject, you can remove this inner cap and dispose of it.


To dispose of the needle, place it back inside the outer cap, twist it anticlockwise, and your needle should come off.


You can then dispose of it safely in a sharps bin, which can be collected by your local council, who will have procedures in place for disposing of needles and blades used in a medical setting.


Should you eat before using Saxenda? 


Because of the way Saxenda is administrated, it doesn’t matter whether or not you eat before or after your dose – it comes down to personal preference.


Some people prefer to take their injection before breakfast whilst others take it before bedtime.


The main thing to remember with Saxenda is to take it at around the same time each day.


Some people choose to take Saxenda at a certain time of day as it helps to reduce common side effects, which can be more common in the first stages of treatment.


Side effects like nausea can feel worse after you eat, although this can vary from person to person, so you may want to choose to take Saxenda a little while after a meal.


You may also find that taking Saxenda before bed means that you sleep through side effects like nausea, so it could be worth a try if you’re having trouble during your first few weeks.


If you’re struggling to get your timing right, get in touch with your prescriber or health care team.


They will be able to help assess any problems you have with your treatment and help you manage side effects, sometimes by offering other medicines like anti-sickness tablets.


It is important to make sure you eat regular, balanced meals and healthy snacks while taking Saxenda, as this can help to prevent low blood sugar during your treatment.



Do you take Saxenda in the same way as Victoza?


Victoza is a medication for type 2 diabetes mellitus that uses the same active ingredient as Saxenda – Liraglutide.


As a GLP-1 receptor agonist, Liraglutide affects your blood sugar level, which has benefits for patients of both weight loss and type 2 diabetes.


Both of these medications are taken as an injection and as they are manufactured by the same company, Novo Nordisk, the pens for both treatments are more or less the same.


Due to this, type 2 diabetes patients who know how to take Liraglutide will already be familiar with how to take Saxenda, but that doesn’t mean you can use it without the supervision of a healthcare professional.


You should only take Victoza if it has been prescribed for you for type 2 diabetes mellitus and should only take Saxenda if it has been prescribed for you for weight management.


This is because there can be slight differences in the dosage plan and different things will need to be monitored in each case, for example, your weight in the case of Saxenda and your blood glucose in the case of Victoza.


Prescription medications should always be taken with the utmost care and exactly how your prescriber has recommended for you, as they will have taken your personal circumstances into account.



Do I need to diet and exercise when I’m taking Saxenda?


Yes, you will still need to diet and exercise if you want to lose weight with Saxenda.


Liraglutide is here to help you stick to a reduced-calorie diet by reducing your appetite and helping you feel fuller for longer.


It does this by affecting the hormones in your pancreas that manage your blood sugar levels – insulin and glucagon.


When you pair a reduced-calorie diet with increased physical activity, you could see a weight loss of 5% of your starting weight within 12 weeks of taking the highest dose of this medication.


Naturally, your weight loss won’t happen overnight but should be a slow and steady process that you can sustain over time.


Losing weight too quickly can be very unhealthy, or at worst, dangerous, so sticking to a slow loss maintained over a longer period of time will help you to not only reduce your body weight but keep the weight off.



We hope we’ve managed to answer all of the questions you have about how to take Liraglutide.


However, if you’re still unsure then that’s okay too!


We’ve written tonnes of articles about Saxenda and other weight loss medications to help you get the knowledge you’re seeking.


Here are a couple we think you’ll love.


Here's some more content we think you will like

Some people do notice the effects of Saxenda within the first few days.


However, you might not see any significant weight loss for a few weeks.

Our team explain all you need to know about Liraglutide, which is the active ingredient in both Saxenda and Victoza.


Keep reading to find out what it does, who it’s for, if it’s safe, and how long you might take it for.

We provide you with a dosing calendar for Saxenda so that you can visualise your schedule.


Making sure that you’re getting the right dosage is so important for your health and safety.

Saxenda is now available on the NHS but most GP’s won’t prescribe it often, as there are lots of boxes they need to be able to tick first.


Saxenda can be fairly difficult to access on the NHS, so we explain the criteria in more detail.