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  • Tim James

Saxenda Australia - Everything You Need To Know

Updated: Apr 21

Saxenda Australia: How Liraglutide Works For Weight-Loss

​Our latest blog post is all about Saxenda in Australia. We explain how it works for weight loss and if it is right for you. Consider this your ultimate guide to Saxenda. So without further ado, we will cover the following:


What is Saxenda?

saxenda pen
Saxenda Australia - it is available as a injectable pen

The journey towards a healthier weight can be challenging. Between navigating conflicting information and finding tools that truly work, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Saxenda (liraglutide) has emerged as a popular option for those seeking weight loss support. But what exactly is Saxenda, and how can it benefit your weight loss journey? This comprehensive guide delves into everything you need to know about Saxenda, from its mechanism of action to its potential benefits and considerations.

Understanding Liraglutide: The Science Behind Saxenda

Saxenda (manufactured by novo nordisk) isn't a magic bullet for weight loss. It belongs to a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.  These medications mimic the effects of a naturally occurring hormone called GLP-1, which plays a crucial role in blood sugar control and appetite regulation. Saxenda is an injectable prescription medicine - which means that you have to jab yourself with pre-filled pens.

Here's how Saxenda, through the active ingredient liraglutide, influences your body:

  • Slowing Down Digestion: Saxenda works by delaying stomach emptying, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. This reduces your desire to snack and helps control your overall calorie intake.

  • Impacting Appetite Hormones: Liraglutide interacts with receptors in your brain that regulate hunger and satiety (feeling full) signals. This can lead to a decrease in appetite and cravings, making it easier to stick to your diet plan.

  • Modest Impact on Blood Sugar: While not its primary function, Saxenda can also have a slight positive effect on blood sugar control, potentially benefiting individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

It's important to note that the exact mechanisms by which Saxenda promotes weight loss are still being explored. However, research suggests that the combination of reduced appetite, delayed digestion, and potential blood sugar control contributes to its effectiveness.

Potential Benefits of Saxenda for Weight Loss

Studies have shown that Saxenda, when combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan, can be a valuable tool for weight loss. Here are some potential benefits you might experience:

  • Sustainable Weight Loss: Clinical trials demonstrate that Saxenda users, on average, lose 5-10% of their body weight when combined with lifestyle changes. This sustained weight loss can lead to significant health improvements.

  • Reduced Appetite and Cravings: Many users report feeling less hungry and experiencing fewer cravings, making it easier to adhere to calorie goals.

  • Improved Blood Sugar Control: For individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, Saxenda might offer an added benefit of helping manage blood sugar levels alongside their existing medications.

  • Increased Energy Levels: Some users experience an increase in energy due to potential improvements in blood sugar control and a more balanced metabolism.

Important Considerations Before Using Saxenda

While Saxenda presents exciting possibilities for weight loss, it's crucial to understand some key considerations before starting:

  • Eligibility: Saxenda is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It's typically prescribed for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher (considered obese). In some cases, it might be an option for individuals with a BMI of 27 or higher who have weight-related health problems like type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea. Discussing your eligibility with your doctor is essential. Pregnant women or those feeding babies with breast milk must seek medical advice before even thinking about Saxenda.

  • Prescription Medication: Saxenda is a prescription medication, meaning it requires a doctor's evaluation and monitoring. Your doctor will assess your health history, current medications, and weight loss goals to determine if Saxenda is right for you.

  • Lifestyle Changes Still Matter: Saxenda is not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. It works best when combined with a calorie-controlled diet and regular physical activity. By eating a reduced calorie diet whilst using Saxenda, you increases your chances of weight loss.

  • Potential Side Effects: Like any medication, Saxenda can cause side effects. Common ones include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain. Most side effects are mild and temporary, but it's important to discuss any persistent or concerning side effects with your doctor.

  • Long-Term Use Considerations: The long-term effects of Saxenda are still being studied. Discuss with your doctor the potential benefits and risks of long-term use.

  • Cost and Insurance Coverage: Saxenda can be an expensive medication. Insurance coverage may vary, so it's important to check with your insurance provider before starting treatment.

Many people on Saxenda experience side effects, so just be careful. Remember, there are alternatives out there.

Maximising Your Success with Saxenda

If you're considering Saxenda as part of your weight loss journey, here are some tips to increase your chances of success:

  • Work with Your Doctor: Open communication with your doctor is crucial throughout your Saxenda journey. They can help you set realistic goals, monitor your progress, and address any concerns you might have.

  • Develop a Healthy Eating Plan: Creating a sustainable, balanced diet that focuses on whole foods is essential. If you use Saxenda in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet, together with exercise, your chances of shifting that excess weight dramatically increases. 

How does it work for weight loss?

Saxenda sounds great if you want to lose weight. Many people have lost a lot of weight using Saxenda (although it is not for everyone). But how exactly does Saxenda work its magic? This section looks at the scientific mechanisms behind Saxenda, explaining how it influences your body for weight loss.

The GLP-1 Connection: Mimicking a Natural Hormone

Saxenda doesn't operate through a revolutionary new process. Instead, it cleverly mimics the actions of a naturally occurring hormone called Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).  This hormone plays a critical role in your body's digestive system and appetite regulation. When GLP-1 levels are high, you experience feelings of fullness and a reduced desire to eat.

Saxenda contains liraglutide, a drug specifically designed to act as a GLP-1 receptor agonist.  This means it binds to GLP-1 receptors in your body, essentially tricking them into believing there are higher levels of natural GLP-1 present.

A Three-Pronged Approach to Weight Loss

So, how does stimulating GLP-1 receptors translate to weight loss? Saxenda orchestrates its effects through a three-pronged approach:

  1. Slowing Down Digestion:  One of the key actions of GLP-1 is to delay the emptying of your stomach. This means food stays in your stomach for a longer duration, keeping you feeling fuller for a more extended period. This reduced hunger sensation can lead you to eat less throughout the day, ultimately contributing to a calorie deficit – crucial for weight loss.

  2. Tampering with Appetite Hormones: GLP-1 receptors are also present in areas of your brain that regulate hunger and satiety signals.  When activated by Saxenda's liraglutide, these receptors can influence the release of hormones like ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and leptin (the satiety hormone).  A decrease in ghrelin and an increase in leptin can lead to reduced hunger pangs and a feeling of fullness, helping you manage your calorie intake.

  3. Potential Impact on Blood Sugar (Secondary Effect):  While not its primary function for weight loss, GLP-1 also plays a role in blood sugar control.  By stimulating insulin secretion and suppressing glucagon release (a hormone that raises blood sugar), Saxenda might offer a secondary benefit for individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, alongside their existing medications.

The Bigger Picture: Weight Loss Through a Multifaceted Approach

It's important to remember that the exact mechanisms by which Saxenda promotes weight loss are still being explored by researchers.  However, the cumulative effect of these actions likely contributes to its effectiveness.  Slower digestion, reduced hunger, and potentially improved blood sugar control create an environment conducive to weight loss, but it's not a magic solution.

The Road to Success: Combining Saxenda with Lifestyle Changes

While Saxenda offers a promising approach to weight loss, it's crucial to understand that it functions best when incorporated into a comprehensive weight management plan. This plan should include:

  • Healthy Diet: A balanced, calorie-controlled diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins is essential for long-term weight loss success. Saxenda can support your efforts by reducing cravings and hunger, but a healthy diet remains the cornerstone.

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity is another non-negotiable element for weight loss and overall health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

Important Considerations Before Using Saxenda

Saxenda is a prescription medication, and consulting your doctor is essential before starting it. Here are some key points to discuss:

  • Eligibility: Saxenda isn't for everyone. It's typically prescribed for adults with a BMI of 30 or higher (obese) or, in some cases, for those with a BMI of 27 or higher who have weight-related health problems.

  • Potential Side Effects: Like all medications, Saxenda can cause side effects, although most are mild and temporary (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea). Discuss any concerns with your doctor.

  • Long-Term Use Considerations: The long-term effects of Saxenda are still being studied. Discuss the potential benefits and risks of long-term use with your doctor.

  • Cost and Insurance Coverage: Saxenda can be expensive, and insurance coverage may vary. Check with your provider beforehand.

By understanding how Saxenda works and combining it with a healthy lifestyle, you can realise its potential to support your weight loss journey. Remember, open communication with your doctor is key to creating a safe and effective weight management plan tailored to your individual needs.

How to use Saxenda

Administering Your Saxenda® Dose: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Read the Instructions: Always refer to the detailed Instructions for Use included with your Saxenda® prescription. These instructions provide crucial information and visual aids to ensure proper administration.

  2. Choose the Injection Site: Saxenda® is designed for subcutaneous injection, meaning it's injected just under the skin. You can choose from the following areas:

  • Abdomen (stomach area)

  • Thigh (upper leg)

  • Upper arm Important: Discuss the recommended injection sites with your doctor to ensure you understand the correct technique.

  1. Never Inject Elsewhere:  To ensure the medication is absorbed as intended and to avoid potential complications, never inject Saxenda® into a vein or muscle.

  2. Rotate Injection Sites: For each injection, select a slightly different spot within your chosen injection area (abdomen, thigh, or upper arm). This rotation helps prevent discomfort and potential skin reactions.

If the idea of injecting yourself all the time to lose weight puts you off, maybe try alternatives to Saxenda.

Extra Tips:

  • Talk to Your Doctor: Your healthcare provider is the best resource for demonstrating proper Saxenda® injection technique and answering any questions you may have.

  • Always use the correct dose of Saxenda: This may sound obvious, but never administer what isn't on the instructions.

  • Storing Your Saxenda®: Follow the storage recommendations on the medication packaging or as advised by your doctor.

Side effects of Saxenda

Potential Serious Side Effects of Saxenda®: Important Warnings

Saxenda®, while often beneficial, carries a risk of certain serious side effects. Weight loss medications can often have side effects, and Saxenda is no different.  It's crucial to be aware of these potential issues and seek immediate medical attention if you experience any concerning symptoms. If you have any of the following symptoms, you must speak with your GP immediately.

  • Pancreatitis (Inflammation of the Pancreas): Severe, persistent abdominal pain, with or without vomiting, could indicate pancreatitis. Stop Saxenda® immediately and contact your healthcare provider.

  • Gallbladder Issues: Saxenda® may increase the risk of gallbladder problems, including gallstones, potentially requiring surgery. Report symptoms like upper abdominal pain, fever, yellowing of skin or eyes (jaundice), or clay-coloured stools to your doctor promptly.

  • Increased Risk of Hypoglycaemia (Low Blood Sugar):  This risk is particularly relevant for individuals with type 2 diabetes, especially those taking medications like sulfonylureas or insulin. Monitor your blood sugar carefully and report symptoms such as shakiness, sweating, headache, confusion, hunger, or rapid heartbeat to your doctor. This risk also applies to children 12 years and older without type 2 diabetes using Saxenda®.

  • Elevated Heart Rate: Saxenda® might increase your resting heart rate. Your healthcare provider should monitor your heart rate. Inform them if you notice your heart pounding or racing for extended periods.

  • Kidney Problems: Saxenda®-induced nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea can lead to dehydration, potentially harming your kidneys (and kidney failure). Stay well-hydrated and consult your doctor immediately if you experience persistent digestive issues or an inability to drink fluids.

  • Serious Allergic Reactions: Seek emergency medical help if you develop swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat; fainting, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, trouble swallowing, yellowing of your skin, or severe rash.

  • Depression or Suicidal Thoughts: Monitor yourself for any significant or sudden changes in mood, behaviour, or thoughts, especially if distressing. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience concerning mental shifts.

Most Common Side Effects of Saxenda®

Adults may experience:

  • Nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting

  • Injection site reactions

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

  • Headache, fatigue, dizziness

  • Stomach pain (if severe pain, seek medical assistance immediately)

  • Injection site reaction

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Changes in blood enzyme (lipase) levels

Additional common side effects in children:

  • Fever

  • Gastroenteritis

Important Considerations

  • Never Ignore Symptoms: Seek immediate medical attention for severe or persistent symptoms.

  • Doctor Communication is Key: Inform your doctor about any side effects you experience. If you have medical conditions, a risk of low blood sugar, you are on diabetes medicines, you have mental health issues, or you have ever had a type of thyroid cancer, you must always tell your healthcare provider.

  • 1x1 Assessment: Your doctor will discuss the potential risks and benefits of Saxenda® based on your specific health profile.

Alternatives to Saxenda

While Saxenda offers a promising tool for weight loss, self-injectable medications like this might not be everyone's cup of tea. Here's a breakdown of some reasons why self-injectables might not be appealing:

Needle Aversion:

  • Fear of Needles: For some people, the thought of injecting themselves can be a significant hurdle. The prick itself and the overall process can induce anxiety and avoidance.

Injection Hassle Factor:

  • Inconvenience: Self-injections require learning proper administration techniques, finding suitable injection sites, and remembering to inject regularly. This can disrupt daily routines and feel like an extra burden.

Psychological Impact:

  • Mental Barrier: The constant reminder of your weight loss journey through daily injections might be psychologically challenging for some. It can feel like a constant physical representation of a struggle.

Lifestyle Considerations:

  • Travel Concerns: Traveling with injectable medications can add logistical complexities, like ensuring proper storage and maintaining a consistent injection schedule.

Alternative Preferences:

  • Non-Injectable Options: Some individuals might prefer exploring non-injectable medications, oral medications, or even topical treatments for weight management, depending on their availability and doctor's recommendations.

Cost and Insurance Coverage:

  • Financial Burden: Saxenda, like many injectable medications, can be expensive. Limited insurance coverage can make it financially inaccessible for some.

If you are interested in alternatives to Saxenda, we suggest looking at our Editor's Choice page, or our Premium Recommendations.

Further Reading

The Journey of Saxenda: From Diabetes Treatment to Weight Loss Aid

The story of Saxenda (liraglutide) is one of scientific evolution, starting as a medication for type 2 diabetes and unfolding into a potential tool for weight management.  Let's delve into the timeline and milestones that shaped Saxenda's history:

The Dawn of GLP-1 Agonists

The origins of Saxenda lie in a class of diabetes medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. GLP-1, a naturally occurring hormone involved in blood sugar regulation, became a focus of diabetes research. Scientists discovered that mimicking GLP-1's action could help control blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

  • Early Players: Exenatide (Byetta) emerged as the first GLP-1 receptor agonist in 2005, opening the door for future developments in this field.

Liraglutide: A Newcomer in Diabetes Treatment

In 2010, liraglutide, the active ingredient in Saxenda, was initially approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes under the brand name Victoza®. Liraglutide offered a longer duration of action compared to earlier GLP-1 agonists, improving its effectiveness for blood sugar control.

The Weight Loss Observation

During the use of liraglutide for diabetes management, an interesting side effect became apparent – patients often experienced weight loss. This observation sparked researchers to investigate the potential of liraglutide specifically for weight management.

The Clinical Trial Era

Rigorous clinical studies were conducted to evaluate the effects of higher-dose liraglutide on weight loss. These trials demonstrated that individuals without type 2 diabetes saw significant weight loss while using liraglutide, paving the way for a new application of the medication.

Saxenda's Approval

  • A Milestone Moment: In 2014, the FDA approved a higher dose of liraglutide under the brand name Saxenda® specifically for chronic weight management. It entered the market as a prescription medication designed to aid weight loss alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise.

Continued Evolution

Saxenda's history is still being written.  Ongoing research explores its potential benefits in addressing weight-related health problems like prediabetes, sleep apnea, and cardiovascular disease.  Additionally, newer GLP-1-based medications continue to emerge with advancements in delivery methods and potentially longer-acting effects.

Important Considerations

  • Physician Guidance Essential: Saxenda is a prescription medication requiring careful evaluation and monitoring by a doctor. It's intended for specific populations and carries potential side effects.

  • A Piece of the Puzzle: Saxenda is not a magic solution for weight loss. It's most effective when combined with healthy lifestyle changes.

The Takeaway

The history of Saxenda embodies the evolving nature of medical innovation.  A discovery initially made for diabetes treatment has unlocked new possibilities in the realm of weight management.  It demonstrates the dedication of scientists and underlines the crucial collaboration between doctors and patients when exploring potential applications for existing medications.

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