Foods to Avoid While On Saxenda & A Meal Plan To Get You Started

Check out Saxenda –  the new medicine in town which can help you lose weight. Find out if there are any foods to avoid while on Saxenda.

Saxenda is a prescription medication that can help you with your weight loss. Many people are confused if there are any foods to avoid while on Saxenda. 

In this article we discuss how to use Saxenda to lose weight- Saxenda dosing, meal plan, and more.

What Is Saxenda?

Saxenda (liraglutide (rDNA origin)) injection is a newly approved prescription medication used for treating overweight and obesity in adults and children aged 12-17 years. 

Novo Nordisk discovered and developed Saxenda. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Saxenda for chronic weight management in 2014 [1]. Saxenda is used in combination with a low-calorie diet and regular increased physical activity. 

It is used for adults with

  • Obesity – Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2  or
  • Overweight – BMI greater than or equal to 27 kg/m2 who also have at least one weight-related medical issue like hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, or dyslipidemia (high cholesterol or lipids in the blood)

For children aged 12-17 years who

  • have obesity (depending on their age, sex, and height)
  • weigh more than 60 kg (132 pounds) 

What are the ingredients used in Saxenda?

Liraglutide is the active ingredient in Saxenda. But it also contains a few inactive ingredients like

  • Propylene glycol
  • Disodium phosphate dihydrate
  • Phenol
  • Water for injection

How does Saxenda Work?

Your body naturally produces hunger regulating hormones like glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1). GLP-1 receptors are present in several regions of the brain which are involved in regulating appetite. 

Saxenda works like GLP-1 and addresses your body’s natural responses to weight loss by regulating your appetite and calorie intake. This leads to you eating less food (fewer calories) and losing weight. Saxenda also delays gastric emptying [2].

What Foods to Avoid on Saxenda?

While you don’t have to follow a specific crash diet or avoid certain foods on Saxenda, you must follow a calorie deficit. 

You can stay on a low-calorie diet by cutting down your portion sizes, limiting empty calories and oily snacks, etc.

Certain calorie-dense foods and empty calorie foods that you can limit are

  • Sugar
  • Jaggery
  • Sweets
  • Fatty meat
  • Hydrogenated fats
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods
  • Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Alcohol etc

Roots and tubers are also calorie-dense so you can substitute them with leafy greens and gourds like bitter gourd, bottle gourd, snake gourd, etc.

Saxenda Meal Plan

While there are no foods to avoid while on Saxenda, you must be mindful of what you put into your body. Here is a sample Saxenda meal plan.

Low-calorie Saxenda Meal Plan
Early morning                                                                       Detox drink / Skimmed milk +  a handful of nuts
Breakfast Oats and vegetable porridge (1 cup) / Idli or Dosa -2 or 3 no. with vegetable sambar (1 cup) / Vegetable daliya (1 cup)
Mid-morning 1 cup Egg white salad / 1 baked fish / low-fat greek yogurt 
Lunch ½ cup vegetable salad, 1 cup rice or 1-2  multigrain roti with 1 cup palak paneer (low fat paneer) and curd





1 cup rice or 1-2 jowar roti with ½ cup amaranth dal, ½ cup capsicum curry, and buttermilk


Vegetable soup and lentil bolognese with zucchini noodles

Evening snacks 1 apple and nut butter/ 1 cup fruit bowl/ 1 cup chia seed pudding with fruit

1 cup rice or 1-2 phulka or chapati with ½ cup tomato dal, ½ cup ladies finger curry, and buttermilk


1 Veggie wrap and 1 cup lentil soup


1 cup khichdi with 1 cup curd 

Saxenda Dosing

Let’s now look at a few common questions on Saxenda dosage. 

What is Saxenda dosage schedule?

It is best to start with a small dose of 0.6 mg/day for a week. You can gradually increase the dosage until you reach a dose of 3 mg/day. This gradual increment in doses helps minimize gastrointestinal symptoms. 

Saxenda dosing schedule
Week Dosage
Week 1  0.6 mg
Week 2 1.2 mg
Week 3 1.8 mg
Week 4 2.4 mg
Week 5 3.0 mg (full dose)

If you cannot tolerate an increased dose during dose escalation, you can delay the dose-escalation for up to 1 week.

Where do I inject Saxenda?

Saxenda is a subcutaneous injection. So you can inject your dose under the skin in your abdominal area (stomach), upper arm, or upper leg (thigh) as instructed by your doctor.

Make note that you should not inject Saxenda into a vein or muscle.

How can you store Saxenda?

You can store unused or new Saxenda pens in your refrigerator between 2°C to 8°C. Once you start using it, you can store it in the refrigerator or at room temperature between 15°C to 30°C.

Make sure you do not freeze Saxenda. Also, throw away the used pens after 30 days even if there is some Saxenda left in them.

What is the best time to take Saxenda?

Saxenda is a once-a-day self-injectable medicine that can be taken at any time. You can take Saxenda at any time independent of meals (for example, you can take it first thing in the morning, before, after, or with breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.)

But if you find a time convenient for you, it is recommended to take Saxenda at the same time every day.

What happens if you eat too much on Saxenda?

Saxenda isn’t a wonder drug. It must be taken while maintaining a calorie deficit diet and exercising regularly. 

If you eat too much food while you are on Saxenda, you will just be burning a hole in your pocket without losing any weight. 

Is Saxenda the Same as Victoza?

Saxenda® and Victoza® are both injectable prescription medicines that have the same active ingredient – Liraglutide [3]. They are both registered trademarks of Novo Nordisk. 

However, they have different uses. While Saxenda is approved by the FDA for weight loss, Victoza is approved for the management of type-2 diabetes.

How Long Does It Take for Saxenda to Start Working?

It usually takes about 2 weeks for Saxenda till you see initial weight loss. Weight loss continues for up to 9 to 12 months. 

Do not continue using Saxenda if you haven’t lost at least 5% of your weight by the end of 12 weeks despite following a low-calorie diet and high physical activity regime. Consult your doctor before continuing with Saxenda.

Saxenda Side Effects

The most common side effects of Saxenda are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Injection site reaction
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Stomach pain
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Changes in enzyme levels in the blood (increase in lipase)

In addition to the above-mentioned side effects, Saxenda might also cause fever and gastroenteritis in children. Saxenda might also cause some rather severe side effects like


Saxenda can increase the risk of low blood sugar levels, especially in adults with type 2 diabetes and type 2 diabetics who are on medications to lower blood sugar levels like insulin or oral hypoglycemic medications.

It can also cause hypoglycemia in children without any prior history of type 2 diabetes

A few signs of hypoglycemia are

  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Shakiness
  • Hunger
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Jittery sensation etc

You should always check your blood sugar levels once you’ve started taking Saxenda or while taking Saxenda.


Saxenda might also cause inflammation of the pancreas. You might feel severe pain from your abdomen (stomach area) to your back that won’t go away, with or without vomiting. 

In such a case discontinue Saxenda immediately and consult your healthcare provider.

Kidney problems

A few of the most common side effects of Saxenda are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. All three side effects cause dehydration (a loss of fluids).  Dehydration may cause kidney problems, even kidney failure which can lead to the need for dialysis. Saxenda may cause kidney problems in individuals with no prior kidney problems. 

Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking water frequently can reduce the risk of dehydration. Consult your doctor right away if you are unable to drink water by mouth or nausea, vomitings or diarrhea doesn’t go away.

Allergic reactions

Look for medical help right away and stop taking Saxenda if you experience any allergic symptoms after using it like

  • Swollen face
  • Swollen lips
  • Skin rashes
  • Itching
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Swollen tongue or throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty in swallowing 
  • Fainting etc

Gallbladder problems

There is a possibility of Saxenda causing gallstones and other gallbladder problems. In case you have any symptoms like abdominal pain (pain in stomach- mainly upper stomach), fever, jaundice (yellowing of eyes or skin), or clay color stools, seek medical help immediately.

Increased heart rate

Saxenda can also increase your heart rate even when you are resting. Call your healthcare provider if you feel like your heart is racing or pounding in your chest for several minutes. 

Mental changes

Always pay attention to your mental health while taking Saxenda. Check if you are experiencing sudden changes in your mood, thoughts, feelings, or behavior. Seek medical help right away if you are experiencing any new mental changes or if you are worried about your mental health.

Who Should Not Use Saxenda?

Saxenda is not recommended for

  • Pregnant women
  • Lactating women
  • Children below the age of 12
  • People with a family history or past medical history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
  • Individuals with Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2)
  • People who have previously experienced allergic reactions to liraglutide

If you are having any other health issues like kidney problems, liver problems, heart problems, or gastroparesis (a condition that affects the muscles of the stomach), it is best to mention it to your doctor before starting Saxenda.

Saxenda Withdrawal Symptoms

Saxenda is not an addictive medication. So you must not generally experience withdrawal symptoms. 

Currently, there is no evidence that discontinuing Saxenda might cause withdrawal symptoms or weight gain. But do not stop taking Saxenda without consulting your doctor.

Also, contact your healthcare provider immediately in case you experience any withdrawal symptoms.


Why am I not losing weight on Saxenda?

You won’t be losing weight immediately after taking Saxenda. Moreover, Saxenda isn’t your silver bullet for weight loss. You have to increase your physical activity and decrease your calorie intake for visible changes.

How long does Saxenda stay in your system?

Saxenda has a 13-hour half-life. So it might take about 3 days to get out of your system.

Can you drink alcohol on Saxenda?

Saxenda must be taken with a calorie deficit diet. Alcohol is full of empty calories and is not useful for weight loss. So do not take alcohol while you are on Saxenda.

Can I take an extra dose if I forgot to take Saxenda?

Never take an extra dose to make up for the missed dose. If you missed a dose and remember it within 12 hours from when you normally take it, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.

If it has been more than 12 hours since your regular dose time, you can skip the missed dose and take the next dose the following day at your usual Saxenda dosage time.

What happens if I overdose on Saxenda?

Overdosing Saxenda can be dangerous and causes severe nausea and vomiting. Call up your healthcare provider immediately if you overdosed on Saxenda.

Wrapping Up

Saxenda helps people lose weight by decreasing their appetite, which enables them to consume fewer calories. Saxenda has been shown to be effective in helping people lose weight. 

While there are no particular foods to avoid while on Saxenda, it is mandatory that you maintain a low-calorie diet and exercise regularly if you want to see any results. This includes cutting down on empty calories and energy-dense foods.

Also, Saxenda isn’t for everyone and might cause some side effects, especially in people with certain health conditions. So consult a healthcare professional and mention if you have any health conditions or are on any medicines before you start Saxenda. 

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