What Foods Should You Avoid While Taking Saxenda?

By Terez Malka, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
July 28, 2022

Saxenda is an FDA-approved injectable medication that delivers the active compound liraglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1s receptor agonist (GLP-1).

It’s manufactured by Novo Nordisk and approved for chronic weight management in people who are overweight or obese.

Saxenda is injected once daily and can be taken with or without food.

Though there are no foods that interact with the medication, it should be used in combination with a diet and exercise program recommended by your healthcare provider. 

In addition to dietary changes recommended by your healthcare provider, nutritionist, or dietician, there are some foods you may want to avoid or limit that can increase the likelihood of gastrointestinal side effects of the medication, including fried, salty, and sugary foods.

Foods to Avoid on Saxenda

There are no foods that are “off-limits” when taking Saxenda.

However, the medication should be used in combination with lifestyle and behavioral modifications recommended by a healthcare provider, including changes to your diet and exercise habits.

Your dietary recommendations should be personalized based on your medical history and health goals but will likely consist of a reduced-calorie diet.

Ultra-processed foods

Many of the foods that make up our modern Western diet are “processed” in some form, including canned vegetables, bread, cheeses, and tinned fish.

Most of these minimally processed foods retain their nutritious properties and are healthful components of a regular diet. 

Ultra-processed foods, on the other hand, are made up of mostly added ingredients (like salt, sugar, and fat) and are calorie-dense.

Research shows that regular consumption of these foods can lead to increased calorie intake and weight gain.

Examples of ultra-processed foods include sodas, deli meats, packaged chips, cookies, and cakes.

Eating ultra-processed foods while taking Saxenda will not cause an adverse food-medication interaction, but it may increase the risk of gastrointestinal side effects of the medication, including nausea.

Ultra-processed foods should also be limited to maximize the potential benefits of the weight-loss medication.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol when taking Saxenda is permitted, but it’s important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink when taking the medication.

Drinking too much alcohol while on Saxenda can increase the risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.

Heavy alcohol drinking while on Saxenda can also increase the risk of pancreatitis and should be avoided when taking this medication.

Sugary foods

You don’t have to give up all sweets when taking Saxenda, but it’s important to talk with your provider about how sugary foods can impact your health and weight loss goals. 

Additionally, sugary foods can make possible side effects of Saxenda worse.

If you’re experiencing nausea or any other gastrointestinal side effects of the medication, try avoiding sugary foods to see if that reduces the severity and incidence of these effects.

Salty foods

Like sweet and ultra-processed foods, salty foods aren’t prohibited when taking Saxenda, but they may not support your health and weight loss goals.

Salty foods may also increase the likelihood of gastrointestinal symptoms when taking the medication.

Fast food

Though a general term, fast food usually includes foods that are ultra-processed and high in salt, sugar, and fat. In most cases, fast food should be limited as part of a nutritious and balanced diet.

Avoiding fast food may also help to reduce the likelihood of gastrointestinal side effects of Saxenda.

Foods high in saturated and trans fats

Similarly to fast food, foods that are high in saturated and trans fats should be limited as part of a nutritious diet.

These foods can also make the side effects of Saxenda worse, so avoiding them can help to reduce these symptoms.

What Foods Should I Eat on Saxenda?

It’s important to eat healthy and satisfying foods while on Saxenda.

In addition to following your healthcare provider’s dietary recommendation, people on Saxenda should also follow an exercise program to support weight loss.

Which specific foods you eat while on Saxenda will vary depending on your health, preferences, culture, and religious beliefs.

But some foods can help limit the severity and occurrence of its possible side effects. These foods include:

  • Bland, low-fat foods, like toast, rice, or crackers
  • Foods that have a high-water content, like soup

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is an injectable drug in the class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1s receptor agonists (GLP-1s).

It contains the active ingredient called liraglutide and is FDA approved to treat chronic weight management in certain adults and children aged 12 and older.

Importantly, it’s not approved to treat type 2 diabetes in adults or children. 

Saxenda can be used to support weight loss in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher or adults with a BMI of 27 and higher who also have a metabolic health condition, like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

Saxenda may not be right for everyone.

You should not use Saxenda if you have a personal or family history of thyroid cancer, Multiple endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), or a personal history of kidney disease, gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, or gastrointestinal issues.

Side Effects of Saxenda

The most common side effects of Saxenda include:

Unfortunately, serious side effects are also possible. If you experience any of the following, seek emergency treatment:

  • Ongoing pain that begins in the upper left or middle of the stomach but can spread to the back
  • New or worsening depression
  • Suicidal ideation (thinking about harming or killing yourself)
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Heart pounding
  • Fainting or feeling dizzy
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

When to See a Medical Provider

Saxenda can help certain individuals to sustain long-term weight loss.

Research shows that the average individual using Saxenda in combination with diet and exercise loses at least 5-10% of their body weight.

This percentage can make a meaningful difference in a person’s metabolic health.

If you’re interested in taking Saxenda to support your long-term weight loss goals, talk to your healthcare provider to see if it’s the right medication for you.  

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?

Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and, if needed, text with a healthcare provider in minutes.

K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and is based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get the best results with Saxenda?
To get the best results with Saxenda, it’s important to follow dietary and exercise recommendations laid out by your healthcare provider. Avoiding high-fat, salty, and sugary foods can also help to reduce the likelihood of possible gastrointestinal side effects.
How much weight do you have to lose to stay on Saxenda?
It’s important to note that Saxenda is not a “one-off” or “quick fix” solution for weight loss. You have to combine it with lifestyle and dietary strategies. Also, there is no specific percentage of weight a person needs to lose to stay on Saxenda.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Terez Malka, MD

Dr. Terez Malka is a board-certified pediatrician and emergency medicine physician.

K Health logo (used on certain page templates)