Saxenda: How Does It Work?
Saxenda (Liraglutide) is a weight loss injection that can help you reach a healthy weight, but how does it work? Our team explains it all.
Start my consultation

This content was reviewed and approved for its accuracy on 28/03/2022 by Professor Frank Joseph

Photograph of Professor Frank Joseph, weight loss expert for myBMI

Saxenda: How Does It Work?

 

If you’re considering taking weight loss medication, daily Saxenda injections may have made it onto your shortlist of preferred options or you may even have a prescription already!

 

No matter what stage of your weight loss journey you’ve reached, there’s no harm in knowing exactly how a medication works.

 

Whether you’re learning more about your options before talking to a prescriber or want to know how the medication you’re taking is working in your body, we’re here to explain what happens with every injection you take.

 

So, let’s put our learning caps on and get into the nitty-gritty of what Saxenda injections do to help you lose weight.

 

How does Saxenda work?

Saxenda works by interacting with two of your hunger hormones – insulin and glucagon.

 

By working with these hormones, Saxenda helps to reduce your appetite and slows down the emptying of your stomach contents.

 

These effects together will mean that you’ll feel less hungry and will feel fuller for longer after you do eat, which is a big deal for your weight loss goals.

 

You will still need to eat at a calorie deficit in order to lose weight, but Saxenda makes it easier for you to stick to a calorie-controlled diet.

 

As you continue your treatment and stick to your diet consistently for a prolonged period of time, you should find that you lose weight at a steady pace.

 

When you reach a healthy weight you’d like to maintain, you can talk with your prescriber about ending your treatment.

 

This can be as slow an experience as you need it to be as you adjust to maintaining rather than losing weight, but you should now have formed better habits that will help you when you stop taking Saxenda.

 

What is Liraglutide?

Liraglutide is the active ingredient in Saxenda injections, meaning that it’s the ingredient that makes the medication work as it does.

 

Liraglutide is used for both weight management and diabetes and is included in Saxenda and Victoza injections.

 

It’s a daily medication that you’ll self-administer by injection, and you’ll need to inject it at around the same time every day throughout your treatment for it to be effective.

 

Liraglutide is a prescription medication, which is why you’ll need to go through a consultation with a prescriber so they can assess whether this medication is right for you.

 

What are GLP-1 receptor agonists?

GLP-1 receptor agonists, also known as insulin mimetics, are a group of medications that work in similar ways and Liraglutide is one of this group.

 

Other GLP-1 receptor agonists include Semaglutide, which is used for weight management and diabetes, and Dulaglutide which is used in a type 2 diabetes medicine called Trulicity.

 

These medications all work by interacting with the hormones produced in your pancreas and are usually given by injection, although some of them are now being formulated as tablets too.

 

How effective is Saxenda?

Saxenda has been proven to be a very effective weight-loss medication, with most patients losing at least 5% of their starting weight within 12 weeks of taking the highest dose of Liraglutide.

 

At this stage of treatment, your doctor will assess whether this medication is working for you, and they’ll use this benchmark to consider the continuation of your treatment.

 

If Saxenda isn’t the right medication for you, your prescriber may consider switching to a different treatment, like Wegovy, or taking a different approach altogether.

 

There’s nothing wrong with ending Saxenda if you need to, it’s all just another step on your weight loss journey.

 

How long does Saxenda take to work?

As we’ve just mentioned, if Saxenda is working for you you should lose at least 5% of your starting weight within 12 weeks of taking the highest possible dose.

 

However, the medication will get to work interacting with your hunger hormones as soon as you take your first injection.

 

In fact, this is why you’ll usually increase your dose of Liraglutide slowly, rather than taking the highest dose right away.

 

You may find that the changes to your hormones cause unwanted side effects like nausea or indigestion, but increasing your dosage slowly can help to keep those side effects at bay as your body gets used to the treatment.

 

How does the Saxenda pen work?

 

Saxenda comes in prefilled injection pens which you will use to self-administer your injections every day.

 

All you’ll need to do is prepare the pen with a new needle, select the right dose by turning the end of the pen, and take your injection.

 

It’s a pretty simple process when you get used to it, but can seem tricky to first-timers, so make sure you ask your prescriber to demonstrate how to take Saxenda clearly before you use it for the first time.

 

How does Saxenda work for diabetes?

Saxenda isn’t licensed for use in patients with type 2 diabetes, even though it uses the same active ingredient as the diabetes medication Victoza.

 

With that in mind, Liraglutide works for type 2 diabetes by helping to reduce high blood sugar and aiding with weight management — both of which are risk factors for diabetic patients.

 

So essentially, Victoza and Saxenda work in the exact same way, but Victoza is licensed for diabetes, Saxenda is licensed for weight loss, and the dosage patterns of each are slightly different.

 

If you’re taking Saxenda or Victoza and aren’t sure why you should be taking one and not the other, ask your prescriber to explain, they’ll be able to clear up the whys and wherefores for you.

 

Now we know more about how Saxenda works, we hope you’re feeling much more confident in your treatment choices and whether this medication could be right for you.

 

If you still have questions, don’t worry, we have answers!

 

Our team has written lots of articles about Saxenda and other weight loss injections for you to enjoy, so go ahead and learn to your heart’s content.

 

Here are a few of our most popular articles to get you started.

Here's some more content we think you will like

If you’re considering medical options to help with your weight loss journey, you’ve probably heard about Saxenda.

 

We’ll explain how much weight you could expect to lose while using this treatment and how quickly you could see results.

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 when you can expect to see a difference.

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.

As an injectable medicine, Saxenda can be a bit daunting to new users, as you have to inject the medicine yourself.

 

We explain all about how you should take Saxenda to answer some of your most frequently asked questions.