What is Saxenda? How Does It Work?

Saxenda, also known as liraglutide, is a GLP-1 agonist typically used for diabetes management. Saxenda has been found to be helpful in promoting weight loss.

Saxenda, also known as liraglutide, is a GLP-1 agonist typically used for diabetes management. This medication has been found to also be helpful in decreasing appetite and promoting weight loss. Your stomach and intestines are full of many receptors and hormones that help to control your appetite. GLP-1 is one of these hormones, and it affects many organs in your body. In your gastrointestinal tract, it can help food to move more slowly through these organs, which can decrease your appetite and help you feel more full. Additionally, there are various receptors in other parts of your body like the brain, where this same hormone can also help to decrease appetite and increase the amount of energy your body is burning through. These medications help with diabetes by increasing insulin secretion and overall insulin sensitivity. This helps to keep your blood sugars in normal levels and keep them from getting too high, which can cause poor health outcomes. Use of GLP-1 agonists helps to increase their beneficial effects of decreased appetite, while also preventing quick breakdown of this hormone. The longer it is able to stay intact and prevent breakdown, the greater its effect.

 

GLP-1 agonists


Does Saxenda Alone Cause Weight Loss?


The SCALE trial was published in 2015 and was focused on determining if Saxenda was a good option for those needing help with weight loss. People enrolled in this trial were randomly assigned to receive Saxenda injections once daily, or an injection of a placebo.

 

Liraglutide, Placebo

 

In addition to daily injections, participants in the trial met with a dietician and were encouraged to complete 150 min of exercise weekly. In their meeting with a dietician, participants determined their current calorie intake and how they would adjust their diet to introduce a 500 calorie deficit. Along with decreasing the number of calories that they consumed each day, participants also made a diet plan with the dietician. This diet plan had an aim to consume 20% of daily calories from protein, 50% of daily calories from carbohydrates, and 30% of daily calories from fat in their diets. Every individual’s energy/calorie requirements are slightly different. If you aren’t able to meet with a dietician, there are other tools like MyFitnessPal and other calculators that can help you to determine what your personal goals should be. Keeping a food diary can be helpful in keeping yourself accountable and adjusting your diet as needed to help reach your goals.

 

150 minutes of exercise can seem like a big goal to achieve, but when you break it down that is only a little over 20 minutes of activity daily. Intensive exercise isn’t the only thing that counts towards this goal, activities such as walking are completely acceptable as well! Starting small with exercises you enjoy or decrease stress throughout the day can be a great way to introduce daily activity into your day.

 

Walking exercise

How Much Weight Loss Can I Expect With Saxenda?


With the combination of increased activity each week, changes in diet and daily Saxenda use for weight loss, participants had significant changes in weight loss. Compared to those who were not taking Saxenda, Saxenda users had an average weight loss of 8.4 kg (18.5 lbs) at 56 weeks compared to 2.8 kg (6.2 lbs) in those who were not taking Saxenda. Additionally, 33% of participants taking Saxenda lost greater than 10% of their body weight, compared to 11% in the placebo group. Results from this trial confirmed that Saxenda was a great option for promoting weight loss when combined with diet and increased activity. Help from a trusted doctor and dietician can be incredibly beneficial in your weight loss journey, and in personalizing your daily regimen to be achievable with your lifestyle.

 

Image Credits:

1. https://bpsbioscience.com/media/wysiwyg/Landing_Pages/GLP-1R_3.png

2. https://www.nejm.org/do/10.1056/NEJMdo005026/full/

3.https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/move-it-monday-graphic-walking-is-real-exercise.png

Eva Shelton, M.D.

Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital

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