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If you’re taking Saxenda (liraglutide) for weight management, following a reduced calorie diet, and making healthy lifestyle changes, but not losing weight, some foods associated with weight gain might be to blame.
Weight loss medications like Saxenda (a type of drug called a GLP-1 receptor agonist) slow down digestion and stomach emptying to help you feel full faster and stay full longer. Along with increased exercise and a healthy diet, feeling full may help you eat fewer calories, supporting your weight loss journey. If you’re taking Saxenda and aren’t losing weight as quickly as you’d like, keep reading for a list of three foods to avoid while taking Saxenda and what to eat instead.
3 foods to avoid while taking Saxenda
Taking Saxenda can support your weight loss, but it’s not the only thing you need to do to lose weight. Saxenda is designed to work alongside healthy lifestyle changes like a healthy diet and increased physical activity to support weight loss.
There are no off-limits foods or a specific meal plan to follow while taking Saxenda. However, avoiding or limiting foods associated with weight gain may help you lose weight more quickly. Here are some foods to avoid or limit while taking Saxenda:
1. Highly processed foods
Highly processed foods tend to be higher in sugar, fat, and salt, and lower in vitamins and minerals. Research shows a diet full of these foods is associated with weight gain (Hall, 2019).
Some examples of highly processed foods to avoid include:
- Ice cream
- Packaged baked goods
- Lunch meat
- Fast food
- Packaged sauces and dressings
Instead, try to eat minimally processed foods (foods that are as close as possible to their state in nature). These include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources like fish or chicken.
2. Sugary drinks
Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, sweetened fruit juices, and sports drinks contain large amounts of sugar and calories. Sipping on these drinks throughout the day may add more calories to your daily count than you realize, preventing Saxenda from supporting weight loss.
Instead of reaching for sugary drinks like soda, try carrying a reusable water bottle throughout the day. Adding slices of lemon, lime, strawberries, or cucumber to your water can add flavor and make your healthy choice feel like a treat.
3. Foods high in saturated fat
Fat is higher in calories than protein or carbs. Eating less saturated fat may be associated with more significant weight loss (Lin, 2012).
Some examples of foods high in saturated fat include:
- Heavy cream
- Sausages and bacon
- Red meat
- Dark meat from poultry
- Coconut and coconut oil
- Palm oil
Too much saturated fat may increase the risk of health problems like heart disease. Studies suggest reducing saturated fat intake may lower the risk for cardiovascular events, like a heart attack or stroke (Hooper, 2020).
Following a Saxenda diet
While there is no specific Saxenda diet plan, taking the medication alone likely won’t result in weight loss. To support weight loss while taking Saxenda, build healthy and balanced meals with these tips:
- Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables and fruits like Brussels sprouts, asparagus, artichoke, salad greens, carrots, melons, citrus fruits, and berries.
- Add a protein source to each meal.
- Eat a variety of proteins like lean cuts of red meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, and lentils.
- Eat whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, and whole grain pasta. As an added bonus, these provide fiber, which can help counteract constipation, a common side effect of Saxenda.
- Pay attention to portion sizes.
Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about losing weight while taking Saxenda or if you experience any serious side effects.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2018). Highlights of prescribing information: Saxenda. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2018/206321s007lbl.pdf
- Hall, K. D., Ayuketah, A., Brychta, R., et al. (2019). Ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain: an inpatient randomized controlled trial of ad libitum food intake. Cell Metabolism, 30(1), 67–77.e3. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.008. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7946062/
- Hooper, L., Martin, N., Jimoh, O. F., et al. (2020). Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 5(5), CD011737. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011737.pub2. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32428300/
- Lin, P. H., Wang, Y., Grambow, S. C., et al. (2012). Dietary saturated fat intake is negatively associated with weight maintenance among the PREMIER participants. Obesity, 20(3), 571–575. doi:10.1038/oby.2011.17. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21331065/
Dr. Chimene Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and Senior Medical Writer/Reviewer at Ro.