Liraglutide Weight Loss Medication Review: Is It Safe and Effective?

Liraglutide is a FDA-approved prescription-only weight loss medication offered by doctors for people who have a BMI of 27 or above and currently have an obesity-related medical condition.

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Some people see great success with losing weight when they change their diet or increase the amount of exercise that they perform. However, there are people that still see a great deal of difficulty despite making all the right health and lifestyle changes. There are many factors that can contribute to this issue such as hormones and medical conditions. Losing weight isn’t a lost cause in this scenario. A person simply needs to take additional steps to get to their goal weight.

Using a medical weight loss product can help to boost metabolism, regulate blood sugar and increase weight loss. These medications are to be used as a compliment to a healthy diet and exercise routine. There are a number of weight loss medications that you can choose from, including Wegovy, Semaglutide and Liraglutide, which we're discussing here.

Quick Summary of Liraglutide Weight Loss Review

MedicationLiraglutide
FDA-approved:Yes
Used for:Weight Loss medication for obesity medical condition
Best Combined with:Healthy exercise and diet habits (behavioral change)
Prescription Needed:Yes
Key BenefitsClaims to help you lose up to 10% of your body weight, if you also combine it with healthy eating and daily exercise
How to take:Injection
BMI Index Qualifications:27 or higher
GW Rating:4.4/5 ⭐
liraglutide product summary information

What Is Liraglutide?

liraglutide weight loss rx medication

Liraglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that stimulates the release of insulin in the body while also stopping the secretion of glucagon. This medication will slow down the gastric emptying process so that you feel full longer after you eat a meal. It is to be used with diet and exercise for effective weight loss management in people who are overweight or obese. This medication is also used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Is it the same as Saxenda?

saxenda liraglutide

Liraglutide is the generic form of Saxenda. They are the same glucagon-like peptide-1 medication that is used for type 2 diabetes and weight loss. When used for weight loss, they increase your feeling or being full which makes your brain feel less hungry as well. This allows you to eat fewer calories and lose more weight.

Saxenda is used along with diet and exercise for people who have a body mass index of 30 kg or higher. You are also eligible for its use if you have a body mass index of 27 kg or higher and suffer from at least one medical condition that is caused by your obesity. This includes diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

How About Victoza?

Victoza is another brand that offers Liraglutide (rDNA origin) injection Rx medication. I provided an image below, so you're familiar of what it looks like:

victoza liraglutide

Pros

  • Works with your existing diet and exercise routine to boost effectiveness
  • An easy-to-administer injection
  • Helps you feel full longer so you can avoid overeating and binging
  • Offers improved glycemic control in comparison to other weight loss medications
  • Fully researched and clinically trialed

Cons

  • Can cause diarrhea, constipation and other gastrointestinal upset
  • This medication is injected as its form of administration
  • Prescription based; You will need approval from a medical professional

How Does It Help with Weight Loss?

Liraglutide is an anorectic medication which has the ability to suppress hunger. When you’re dieting, being able to curb your cravings and control your appetite are often major challenges. You’ll be able to consume fewer calories when you’re using this medication but without feeling hungry all the time.

When you receive an injection of Liraglutide, your body will more effectively manage your blood sugar levels and slow down the draining process of your stomach. When this happens, your body will think that your stomach is full. A 56-week trial was done on Liraglutide at the University of Pennsylvania. When prescribed at 3.0 milligrams per day, it was concluded that this medication is promising for improving weight loss and maintaining weight loss.

Does it Burn Fat?

Because Liraglutide is meant to be used alongside diet and exercise, you have a greater potential to burn fat. The lack of calories that you’re consuming will encourage the body to start burning fat on your body in order to create more energy. If you pay close attention to the foods that you’re eating, you can ensure that you’re getting the best results possible. Exercising will become more effective as well as this is a great way to burn more fat and calories.

Is Liraglutide FDA-Approved for Weight Loss Medication?

fda approved weight loss medication liraglutide

Liraglutide is an FDA-approved weight loss medication that is considered a category X drug. This means that a high risk to a fetus exists if a woman were to use the medication while pregnant. It is not advised that pregnant women use Liraglutide during their pregnancy or while nursing during the postpartum phase. It is not currently approved for use in children.

Who Should Take Liraglutide

Weight loss medications like Liraglutide are most commonly used in people between the ages of 18 and 64. If you haven’t been able to lose weight using diet and exercise alone, your doctor may prescribe this medication to you to boost your success. You will be monitored while taking Liraglutide to ensure you don’t experience any side effects that would warrant stopping the medication.

Your body mass index should be 30 kg or more in order to qualify. You are also eligible if you have a BMI of 27 or above and currently have an obesity-related medical issue.

Safety and Side Effects

safety and side effects liraglutide

Most medications come with a list of potential side effects that you may experience when taking something for the first time. Many people take Liraglutide without any issues, but there are some issues to be aware of. If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor to let them know what’s going on. They can advise you if you should stop taking the medication or if the side effects may go away after a little while.

The most common side effects experienced with the use of Liraglutide are GI-related. Nausea, constipation, vomiting and diarrhea are common, but may go away as the treatment continues and your body becomes more used to the dose you’re taking.

Severe side effects associated with Liraglutide include acute pancreatitis, hypoglycemia, cholecystitis and acute gallbladder disease. These issues are common in people who are losing weight at a rapid rate as well. Patients taking insulin for diabetes treatment should not use Liraglutide.

Some people experience an elevated heart rate when taking Liraglutide. You should monitor your heart rate and report anything that is higher than your normal resting heart rate. Also watch out for irregular heart rhythms.

At this time, there are no studies on the safety and effectiveness of Liraglutide when taken for more than two years.

How Much Weight Can You Lose with Liraglutide?

weight loss results with liraglutide

The amount of weight that you lose when using Liraglutide will depend on what dose of medication you’re taking. Obviously a higher dose tends to have more of an affect on weight loss that a lower dose, but the medical professional you’re working with will recommend a dose based on your gender, weight and current state of health.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association explained a study that was done on patients taking Liraglutide. Participants were asked to increase their physical activity to 150 minutes per week (or more) while also reducing their caloric intake by 500 calories each day. All of the participants were overweight when beginning the study, with the average weight being 230 pounds. Patients receiving a high dose of the medication lost approximately six percent of their body weight. The lower dose group lost five percent of their body weight on average. The study ran for just under 20 months.

How Long to Start Losing Weight?

When you’re using a weight loss medication like Liraglutide, you can expect to start losing weight within just a few weeks. You will see your greatest weight loss within about a year of taking the medication. The amount of weight you lose will be determined by the medication dose you’re receiving but also how diligent you are about keeping up with your diet and exercise plan.

How Long Do You Stay on Liraglutide?

The amount of time that you take Liraglutide will be determined by the amount of weight that you need to lose. If you don’t have many pounds to drop, you’ll find that you achieve your weight loss goal in likely six months to a year. If you have a substantial amount of weight to lose and keep off, you may find that you’re taking Liraglutide for up to two years. Your doctor will monitor you closely when you’re taking the medication long term to ensure you don’t experience any adverse health effects.

Reviews of Liraglutide (Saxenda) for Weight Loss

On Drugs.com, Liraglutide has an average rating of 7.6 out of 10. There are over 2,000 reviews listed, with 69 percent of Liraglutide users experiencing positive results. When used for weight loss, many people experienced the loss of weight within two to three weeks of taking the medication as long as diet and exercise were part of the program as well. Some people experienced a weight loss of as much as 15 pounds in the first month of use.

The most commonly reported side effects are nausea and acid reflux. Some people found that the side effects went away over time. Others were able to tolerate the side effects in order to continue with their weight loss journey using Liraglutide.

Medical Weight Loss Programs That Offer Liraglutide (or similar)

There are a number of online prescription medication weight loss programs that offer Liraglutide (or something similar) as one of their treatment options. The program that you choose will likely be determined by the additional features that are offered in the way of diet, exercise routines, accountability and medical support.

Found

Found is a weight loss program (learn more here) that can provide you with resources to help you lose weight quickly. It’s based on medication, accountability, support, coaching and research. You complete a brief quiz to get started which includes questions about your weight, health, family history, your weight loss goals and more. A specific plan will then be given to you moving forward.

Join Fella

Fella Health is a medical weight loss program designed just for men. It matches you with a board-certified medical professional that is experienced in the field of obesity and weight loss. You receive access to FDA-approved weight loss medications like Liraglutide along with personalized coaching that addresses diet and exercise.

Calibrate

Science-backed weight loss methods are used as part of Calibrate’s metabolic reset program. It’s designed to help you lose 10 percent of your body weight using diet, exercise and weight loss medication. If you qualify for Calibrate (learn more) you will receive one-on-one coaching, FDA-approved medication and tools to use in order to change your sleep schedule, food routine and exercise regimen.

Form Health

Form Health (read review) utilizes qualified medical professionals to help identify what is causing your body to experience slow weight loss. You will then be given a customized weight loss plan that may include the use of a weight loss medication like Liraglutide. You also receive support in regard to nutrition, working out and psychological support. Many people have a psychological aspect to why they overeat or gain weight, and this is an important component of your weight loss plan.

Alfie

The Alfie weight loss program is designed for men over the age of 18 that have been experiencing difficulty losing weight despite dietary changes and exercise. The creators of the program noticed a gap in the weight loss industry in regard to men and their weight loss journey. This program uses medication, diet support and exercise along with coaching and accountability to help you lose weight.

Is It Safe and Effective? Final Verdict

safe and effective liraglutide

When you combine Liraglutide with other methods of weight loss, you will find that you have a significantly higher chance of losing weight and keeping it off long term. It’s incredibly important that you use this time to learn about eating healthy and exercising since those are both things that you can keep up with long term. While you may not take Liraglutide over the course of many years, this is a good way to boost your weight loss at the beginning so you can achieve results. The maintenance portion of your weight loss journey will become easier once some of that weight is off and you’ve changed your lifestyle and eating habits. Think of a medication like Liraglutide as a stepping stone for a lifelong change that will benefit your health.

Tips for Success from the RD

You have access to many different weight loss programs, supplements and medications. How do you know what to choose that will help you lose weight while keeping it off? Let’s look at some of my tips for success when choosing weight loss medications.

  • It’s important that you’re working with a medical professional that can guide you in the safest direction possible. Not every weight loss medication will be right for your situation. A professional can make an appropriate suggestion while also monitoring you for any adverse effects.
  • Always purchase your medication and supplements through a reliable source. If you’re working with a trusted weight loss program, you’re increasing the safety of what you’re taking.
  • Don’t forget to ask if your current health insurance coverage will provide you with discounts towards your weight loss medication prescription. Some weight loss companies also accept insurance to offset the cost of their program.
  • As a Dietitian, I believe in changing your diet habits before taking any medication.
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Courtney D'Angelo

Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, earned her masters degree in Nutrition and Foods from the University of Georgia. She's a Registered Dietitian at Morrison Healthcare and has a strong passion in helping people improve their wellness!

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