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Saxenda is a prescription weight-loss treatment containing the active ingredient liraglutide. It’s injected once daily and should be used in addition to a reduced-calorie diet and exercise to aid with losing weight. Saxenda works by regulating your appetite, making you feel fuller and less hungry. Some people can be prescribed it by the NHS, you can find out more from our post on the topic.
There isn’t any detailed information in the patient information leaflet on what diet to follow. This can make it difficult to know what to eat while using Saxenda. In this post, we’ll take a look at what diet advice you should follow when using Saxenda, and what foods you should try to avoid.
What diet did patients have during the clinical studies?
Clinical studies involve hundreds or thousands of patients taking a drug and being observed by scientists for beneficial effects, as well as any side effects. During clinical trials of Saxenda, patients were given diet and exercise advice as well as injecting Saxenda (or a placebo) every day.
The results of one trial showed that 63% of patients who used Saxenda daily lost 5% or more of their body weight over 56 weeks. Only 27% of patients who injected a placebo daily lost 5% or more of their body weight.
The dietary advice patients were given was to have 30% of energy from fat, 20% from protein and 50% from carbohydrates.
The diet plan also advised the patients to have a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day. This means that they should eat 500 calories less than their daily energy requirements. For example, the average woman needs around 2000 calories a day. To eat at a 500 calorie deficit, she would have to eat 1500 calories a day.
Everyone will have different energy requirements due to a variety of factors such as age, weight and physical activity. The scientists in the trial calculated each patients’ energy requirements based on World Health Organisation guidelines. You can find a basic energy requirement calculator here.
Patients were told to complete a 3-day food diary every second month to help them with their diet. They were also told to increase their physical activity to at least 150 minutes a week and given pedometers.
If you decide to follow this advice and get 30% of your calories from fat, make sure that you try to cut down on saturated fat. Saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood and increase the risk of getting heart disease. Foods high in saturated fat include fatty meat, butter, cream, cakes, and sausages.
Saxenda: Foods to avoid if you’re nauseous
One of the most common side effects of Saxenda is nausea. This gradually improves over time in most people as the body gets used to the medicine. It might be useful to avoid certain foods if you feel nauseous with Saxenda. This includes
- Strong-smelling foods
- Greasy, fried or hot food
However, if Saxenda makes you feel nauseous you may find it useful to:
- Eat bland, low-fat foods, like biscuits, rice, and toast
- Eat foods that contain water, like soups and gelatin
- Drink ginger or peppermint tea
- Eat foods containing ginger, such as ginger biscuits
- Don’t lie down after you eat
If you find your nausea is severe, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
NHS Diet Advice
The NHS recommends a balanced diet and follows the government Eatwell chart. This provides a guide of how much food from different food groups we should eat. It advises that we eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. It also states that a third (33%) of calories should come from fruit and vegetables and 33% from starchy carbohydrates.
The NHS also discusses calories and energy requirements. The information mentions that to lose weight, you need to use more energy than consume. This is the same concept as the calorie deficit that the scientists in the Saxenda studies used.
The NHS also offers 12 handy tips to help you lose weight. These include eating regular meals, drinking plenty of water, meal planning and cutting down on alcohol. It also suggests using smaller plates can help reduce portion sizes. You can also use the NHS calorie checker to see how many calories different foods contain.