- About Victoza (Liraglutide)
- Is Victoza a weight-loss medication?
- Does Victoza cause weight loss?
- How does Victoza work for weight loss?
- How long does it take to lose weight with Victoza?
- How much weight can you lose with Victoza?
- Will your doctor prescribe Victoza for weight loss?
- Why am I not losing weight on Victoza?
- How to maximize weight loss while taking Victoza
Diabetes medications being used for weight loss seem to be all over the news lately!
Many diabetes medications can indeed cause weight loss – but does that mean you can use them to help you lose weight without diabetes?
In this article, we’ll explain how Victoza (a medication for diabetes) can cause weight loss, review some studies to determine just how much weight you might lose on Victoza, and more.
About Victoza (Liraglutide)
Victoza is a brand name for the medication liraglutide, a medication in a class called GLP-1 receptor agonists.
This medication is meant to treat type 2 diabetes and isn’t meant to be used if you have type 1 diabetes.
Victoza was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 to treat type 2 diabetes in people ten years of age and older.
It’s also approved to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events (such as heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular-related death) in adults with type 2 diabetes.
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How Victoza works
Victoza (liraglutide) works 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 are thought to be altered in people who are overweight or obese, which can lead to increased appetite, weight gain, and the development of type 2 diabetes.
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.
Victoza also helps reduce levels of the hormone glucagon, which increases blood sugar levels. It also slows gastric emptying and boosts satiety, which can help you lose weight and further improve your blood sugar control.
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.
When these cells are preserved, your body can better lower your blood sugar on its own.
Is Victoza a weight-loss medication?
Victoza isn’t approved to be used as a weight loss medication. That means that if you want to take it for weight loss and don’t have type 2 diabetes, your healthcare provider might not offer to prescribe it.
If you do get a prescription for Victoza and don’t have diabetes, then your insurance company isn’t likely to cover the cost without a diabetes diagnosis.
Some types of GLP-1 receptor agonists are approved for weight loss only. That means that you could take them specifically for weight loss if you don’t have diabetes.
These weight loss medications are:
Does Victoza cause weight loss?
Even though it isn’t a weight loss medication, taking Victoza (liraglutide) can help you lose weight.
According to a study on patients without diabetes, Victoza resulted in an average weight loss of 11–16 pounds over 20 weeks, which was more than the patients receiving a weight loss medication called Orlistat.
A long-term study (done over five years) on 40 overweight or obese patients with diabetes was completed.
After five years, the mean reduction in body weight was 5 kilograms (11 pounds) +/- 7 kilograms (23 pounds) for patients taking doses up to 1.8 milligrams daily of Victoza (in addition to other diabetes medications they were taking before Victoza).
That study noted that women had the greatest benefits in terms of weight loss and blood sugar reduction.
How does Victoza work for weight loss?
Victoza can help you lose weight in several ways:
- Victoza slows the rate at which your stomach digests food. This means that you’ll probably feel fuller for longer after you eat, which can reduce your appetite and lower your typical energy (caloric) intake. Eating fewer calories than you usually do can lead to weight loss over time.
- Victoza impacts hormone levels that are related to appetite, which can further help you to eat less without feeling hungry.
How long does it take to lose weight with Victoza?
How quickly you lose weight with Victoza will depend on many factors:
- How long you’ve been taking Victoza.
- Your dose of Victoza.
- Your lifestyle habits.
- Other medications you might be taking.
- Your starting weight when you began taking Victoza.
- Your health history/current health conditions.
If you’re new to taking Victoza, you’ll likely start with the smallest dose and gradually increase it until you reach the target dose (determined by you and your healthcare provider and your blood sugar goals).
Since you won’t start with a high dose, it might take you several weeks to notice weight loss as you work up to your goal dose.
The studies we mentioned earlier on Victoza’s impact on weight loss vary from 20 weeks to five years.
However, significant weight loss was noted after 20 weeks, which means you might notice weight loss within the first couple of months of taking Victoza (liraglutide).
Everyone responds to Victoza differently, so you might lose more or less weight than other people taking it.
Remember that Victoza isn’t meant to be a weight loss medication – its primary purpose is to lower your blood sugar so you don’t suffer from complications of chronic high blood sugar.
How much weight can you lose with Victoza?
Studies on the impact Victoza has on weight loss have varying results, from 11-23 pounds.
It’s important to note that some participants in these studies were taking other diabetes medications in addition to Victoza and that some participants received doses of Victoza higher than the standard dose.
Because of the different factors that can impact weight loss, it’s impossible to estimate exactly how much weight you might lose while taking Victoza.
If you make healthy lifestyle changes in addition to Victoza, you’re likely to lose a more significant amount of weight than if you didn’t make any lifestyle changes (we’ll talk more about that at the end of the article).
Will your doctor prescribe Victoza for weight loss?
Victoza has been studied in people without diabetes, where it was found to be effective in promoting weight loss.
However, your healthcare provider might not prescribe Vicotza for weight loss if you don’t also have type 2 diabetes because 1) there are other weight loss-specific medications on the market and 2) your insurance might deny the claim and not pay any of the cost if you don’t have a qualifying diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Other GLP-1 receptor agonist medications similar to Victoza (liraglutide) come in higher doses and might result in more weight loss, so it’s important to consider your options when choosing a medication to aid in weight loss.
If you’re curious about taking Victoza for weight loss, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider to talk about your options.
It’s also helpful to contact your insurance company (if applicable) to see what they might cover if you don’t have a diabetes diagnosis.
Why am I not losing weight on Victoza?
If you’re taking Victoza and aren’t noticing any weight loss, there could be several reasons why you’re not losing weight.
- Dose: if you’re just starting on Victoza and are on the lowest dose, you aren’t as likely to lose as much weight as you might on higher doses.
- Time: if you haven’t been taking Victoza for very long, you aren’t as likely to lose as much weight as if you’ve been taking it for a couple of months. Remember that both weight gain and weight loss take time, so it’s important to try to be patient!
- Lifestyle habits: if you aren’t practicing healthy lifestyle habits (eating a healthy diet, staying active, etc.), then that might be impacting your weight loss while taking Victoza.
How to maximize weight loss while taking Victoza
|Nutrition||Aim to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, high-fiber carbohydrates (like whole grains), and lean protein.|
Limit added sugar intake to fewer than 50 grams per day (the less, the better!).
Prepare more meals at home instead of dining out.
|Activity||Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week.|
|Victoza dosage||Take Victoza as prescribed, taking care not to skip any doses.|
Victoza isn’t a weight loss medication, but it can cause weight loss because of the way it works (slowing gastric emptying and reducing appetite).
You might have a difficult time getting Victoza approved for weight loss if you don’t have a diabetes diagnosis.
Other weight loss medications similar to Victoza (e.g., Wegovy, Saxenda) might be better options, so you should have discussions with both your healthcare provider and insurance company to determine your best options.