- What is Victoza (Liraglutide)?
- How does Victoza work?
- How do you lose weight on Victoza?
- Foods to avoid while taking Victoza
- Can I drink alcohol on Victoza?
- Foods to eat while taking Victoza
- Are there any other things to avoid while taking Victoza?
- How to take Victoza
- Should you take Victoza with food?
- Is it better to take Victoza at night or in the morning?
- Any other safety concerns?
- How to reduce the side effects of Victoza
Victoza is one of the many non-insulin injectable medications approved to treat type 2 diabetes.
If you’re curious about Victoza or have been prescribed it, you might have questions about the foods you should eat or avoid while taking this medication.
While Victoza doesn’t negatively interact with any specific foods, some general healthy eating habits can enhance Victoza’s potential ability to improve your blood sugar levels.
What is Victoza (Liraglutide)?
Victoza is a brand name for the medication liraglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist. Victoza is meant to treat type 2 diabetes and isn’t meant to be used if you have type 1 diabetes.
It is a once-daily injectable medication and comes in prefilled injection pens. Victoza pens can administer doses of 0.6 milligrams, 1.2 milligrams, or 1.8 milligrams, with typical doses being 1.2 and 1.8 milligrams.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Victoza in 2010 for use in people ten years and older.
How does Victoza work?
GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs like Victoza work by increasing levels of GLP-1, a type of hormone involved in insulin secretion that also helps boost satiety and reduce appetite.
Levels of GLP-1 can be altered in people who are overweight or obese, which can lead to increased appetite and weight gain (1).
Insulin is a hormone that is necessary to lower blood glucose levels. With type 2 diabetes, insulin secretion is either reduced, or your body doesn’t respond to it as it should.
Victoza works to improve glucose control by stimulating insulin secretion based on your blood glucose level.
The fact that insulin secretion is glucose-dependent means there is a lower risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Victoza helps reduce the amount of glucagon, a hormone that increases blood sugar levels. It also slows gastric emptying and boosts satiety, which can help you lose weight.
Some studies suggest that medications like Victoza might help preserve the function of the beta cells in your pancreas, which are responsible for making insulin (2).
How do you lose weight on Victoza?
Victoza might help you feel more full after you eat, which can lead to reduced caloric intake. When you eat less than you normally do, you might lose weight.
According to a study on patients without diabetes, Victoza resulted in an average weight loss of 11–16 pounds over 20 weeks. This was more than the patients receiving orlistat, a weight loss medication (3).
A long-term study on 40 overweight or obese patients with diabetes was done for five years (4). After five years, the mean reduction in body weight was 5 kilograms (11 pounds) +/- 7 kilograms (23 pounds).
You might be wondering about the comparison of Victoza vs Saxenda. Saxenda is another brand name for liraglutide, but unlike Victoza, it isn’t meant to treat diabetes.
Saxenda is a weight loss medication the FDA approved in 2014. It is intended to be used in children as young as 12 and adults who are considered overweight or obese.
Foods to avoid while taking Victoza
Below we share some foods you may want to avoid while taking Victoza in order to reduce your medication side effects and control your blood sugar levels.
Victoza might cause you to feel nauseous or have other stomach issues as you get used to it. Avoid fried, greasy foods when you start taking Victoza to prevent further stomach upset.
Fatty foods take longer to digest than lower-fat foods. Victoza already causes delayed stomach emptying, so fried foods might make any stomach upset.
Avoiding fatty foods is also ideal if you have a history of gallbladder issues or gastroparesis, but in those cases, Victoza might not be the best choice for you.
Foods and drinks with added sugar
Sugar is added to many processed foods and drinks. These foods provide much more concentrated amounts of sugar than foods that contain natural sugar, such as fruit.
Consuming high amounts of added sugar can make it harder for Victoza to do its job. Cutting back on added sugar can help naturally lower your blood glucose levels and allow you to reach your glycemic goals.
Check the ingredients and nutrition facts labels to determine how much sugar you consume regularly. A good goal is to eat and drink no more than 30 grams of added sugar per day.
If you usually eat a very high sugar diet, cutting back on sugar can also provide many benefits, even if it isn’t below 30 grams at first.
Refined grains are stripped of their nutrient- and fiber-rich parts, leaving behind a lower-fiber, lower-nutrient grain.
These types of grains are more likely to raise your blood sugar levels. Refined grains can also negatively impact your cholesterol levels and heart health.
White bagels, flour tortillas, white bread, and white rice are just a few examples of refined grains that should be avoided in your diet while taking Victoza.
Can I drink alcohol on Victoza?
Drinking alcohol while taking Victoza might increase your risk of low blood sugar. Victoza shouldn’t cause low blood sugar on its own.
However, drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause low blood sugar, which might be amplified when you take diabetes medications like Victoza.
Binge drinking increases your risk of hypoglycemia more significantly than drinking lightly. If you choose to drink alcohol while taking Victoza, aim to drink in moderation. This means no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.
If you drink alcohol and take Victoza, watch out for signs and symptoms of low blood sugar, such as:
- Fast heartbeat
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Irritability or confusion
Foods to eat while taking Victoza
Now you know which foods to avoid, what foods should you eat while taking Victoza?
Type 2 diabetes stems from insulin resistance, which is when your body doesn’t use insulin effectively.
Magnesium supplementation has been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity, promoting lower blood sugar levels (5).
People with diabetes tend to have lower magnesium levels in their blood compared to those without diabetes.
Eating magnesium-rich foods while taking Victoza might improve your blood sugar levels more significantly.
Some foods rich in magnesium include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black beans
- Dark chocolate
- Peanut butter
- Whole wheat bread
Non-starchy vegetables are very low in carbohydrates, so they aren’t likely to significantly raise your blood sugar levels.
Most vegetables are considered non-starchy. Starchy vegetables more likely to raise blood sugar include potatoes and other root vegetables, corn, peas, and winter squash.
Protein doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels significantly, making it a good choice to include as part of a balanced diet.
Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, soy, and unsweetened dairy products like Greek yogurt are all great sources of protein.
Are there any other things to avoid while taking Victoza?
Patients shouldn’t take Victoza during pregnancy. According to the FDA, Victoza should be used “only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.”
It’s unclear if Victoza is safe to be taken while breastfeeding. You should avoid taking Victoza when breastfeeding, especially newborns and preterm infants (6).
How to take Victoza
Victoza comes in a prefilled pen that administers doses of 0.6, 1.2, or 1.8 milligrams. You’ll also need disposable needles to attach to your Victoza pen.
Use a new needle with every Victoza injection to avoid pain at the injection site from reusing a needle.
You should inject Victoza into the subcutaneous tissue, such as your abdomen (not close to your belly button), thigh, or the back of your upper arm. You shouldn’t inject it into a muscle.
Aim to rotate your injection sites to avoid injection site pain and redness from injecting into the same area repeatedly.
You should keep your Victoza pen away from direct sun and sunlight and keep the cap on when you’re not using it.
Victoza pens should only be used for 30 days, even if there is leftover medication after 30 days. Any unused Victoza pens should be stored in the refrigerator at 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C) and never frozen.
After its first use, store Victoza pens for up to 30 days at 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C) or in a refrigerator at 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C).
Should you take Victoza with food?
You can take Victoza with or without food. Maximum concentrations of Victoza can appear 8-12 hours after injection, and half of the medication will be in your system around 13 hours after injection (7).
Timing your Victoza injections with meals doesn’t necessarily offer any benefit since it remains in your system for a long time and isn’t taken orally.
Is it better to take Victoza at night or in the morning?
It doesn’t matter whether you take Victoza at night or in the morning. You should take Victoza when it can most easily become a routine.
Many people prefer to take their medications in the morning. However, if you would be more likely to stick with a regimen of injecting it in the evening, then that’s the better choice.
Get Your FREE Diabetes Diet Plan
- 15 foods to naturally lower blood sugar levels
- 3 day sample meal plan
- Designed exclusively by our nutritionist
Any other safety concerns?
Taking medications comes with potential side effects and risks. Many common side effects aren’t serious and usually go away as your body gets used to the medication.
While rarer, there is a chance that you could develop a life-threatening condition from taking Victoza.
Here are some of the more common Victoza side effects to be aware of:
- Decreased appetite
Some of the rarer complications that might arise from taking Victoza include:
Inflammation of your pancreas can occur when taking GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Victoza (as well as Saxenda and Ozempic).
Watch out for signs of pancreatitis, like severe abdominal pain, with or without vomiting.
You might develop gallbladder problems when taking Saxenda or Victoza. Signs of gallbladder issues include middle upper stomach pain, fever, nausea and vomiting, and the yellowing of the whites of your eyes.
Kidney problems (kidney failure)
If you already have kidney problems, common Victoza side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting can cause dehydration and worsen your kidney problems.
Thyroid cancer risk
In animal studies, the active ingredient of Victoza caused thyroid cancer in some mice and rats. It’s unknown whether taking these medications increases your risk of thyroid cancer.
You should avoid taking Victoza if you or anyone in your family have had medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), a type of thyroid cancer. You also shouldn’t take Victoza if you have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).
Signs of thyroid cancer include a lump or swelling in your neck or throat. Stop taking Victoza immediately if you experience these symptoms, and notify your healthcare provider.
How to reduce the side effects of Victoza
The most efficient way to reduce the side effects of Victoza is to take it as prescribed. If you take more Victoza than you’re prescribed, you’re more likely to experience side effects.
If you’re new to taking Victoza, your healthcare provider will offer guidance on how to start taking it.
You’ll likely start with the lowest dose of 0.6 milligrams, increasing gradually to a dose of 1.2 milligrams or 1.8 milligrams based on your blood glucose response and any side effects you’re experiencing.
Tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about any medications you’re currently taking. This is because taking multiple diabetes medications can increase your risk of low blood sugar and other complications.
Victoza is a non-insulin injectable medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. Because Victoza is meant to help you lower your blood sugar levels, there are certain foods and drinks that can help you meet your blood sugar targets and some that you should avoid.
Some foods and drinks to avoid while taking Victoza include those with added sugar, fried/greasy foods, and refined grains.
Eating protein- and magnesium-rich foods, non-starchy vegetables, and other naturally low-sugar foods can better help you meet your blood sugar and overall health goals while taking Victoza.