How Long Does it Take for Saxenda to Work?

By Jennifer Nadel, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
February 14, 2023

Key takeaways

  • Saxenda is a medication that helps with weight loss. A few people may see a slight difference in their weight during the first two weeks of using Saxenda. However, the majority of people see results after week five.

  • Your initial dose of Saxenda will be low to try and reduce side effects. Over the following four weeks, your provider will gradually increase your dose to the desired goal of 3 mg per day.

  • To experience the best results from Saxenda, you need to adopt healthy habits such as following a calorie-reduced diet and increasing your activity level.

Saxenda is a daily injection medication that helps people reduce their weight. Saxenda is for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater or for those with a BMI of 27 or greater who also have a medical condition related to being overweight. Saxenda is designed to work in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and increased activity. Many people experience weight loss with Saxenda. However, the results are not immediate.

Read on to learn more about how long it takes for Saxenda to work. Also, learn about factors that may affect your weight loss outcomes and how you can work towards long-term success. 

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How Long Does It Take for Saxenda to Work?

Losing weight with Saxenda takes several weeks. When you initially start the medication, your dose will be low and gradually increase over a few weeks. This is to help you avoid uncomfortable side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. Once you reach the goal dose of 3 mg daily, weight loss should increase. 

Some people start seeing results from Saxenda in the first two to four weeks. You may lose about 2%—4% of your body weight. However, during clinical trials, people taking Saxenda saw a significant weight loss of at least 5% after eight weeks of treatment. After one year of using Saxenda, 85% of people lost an average of 21 pounds or 9.2% of their weight. Remember that everyone has different results. 

When you talk with your medical provider at your 16-week follow-up visit, they will discuss if Saxenda is working for you. If you have not lost at least 4% of your starting body weight by this time, your medical provider may tell you to stop taking it. Sometimes, even when a person does everything correctly, their body does not respond to Saxenda. If that’s the case, they can suggest trying another approach.

Factors That Affect Weight Loss Outcomes

To get the best results from Saxenda, there are a few key principles you should follow: 

  • Take your medication at the same time each day: Saxenda is a daily injection. It’s very important that you give yourself your injection at the same time each day. Choose a time that you can remember and is convenient for you so you can remain on the same schedule. It does not matter if you take the medication with food or not. 
  • Follow a low-calorie diet: Saxenda is designed to work alongside a low-calorie diet. Your medical provider can discuss the appropriate number of calories you should aim for each day. Keeping track of what you eat and your calories each day can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
  • Get regular exercise: Saxenda works best when you increase yourr physical activity. Make it a goal to get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity or vigorous exercise five days a week. Before starting any exercise, be sure to talk with your medical provider about what exercises are safe for you to do. 
  • Give it time to work: Because the medication doses take several weeks to titrate to the goal dose, allow yourself time for your body to adjust to the new medication. Don’t go into this treatment with expectations of immediate results. 

Time Frame for Results from Saxenda Treatment

When starting Saxenda, your initial dose will be 0.6 mg per day. Depending on how you tolerate the medication, each week, your provider will increase your dose by another 0.6 mg. If you have type 2 diabetes, it is important to monitor your blood sugar before starting Saxenda and after. Keeping track of your blood sugar levels will help you and your provider determine how Saxenda is working for you. 

Here is a potential schedule you may follow. If side effects are bothering you, you may take longer to reach the goal dose:

Week 10.6 mg
Week 21.2 mg
Week 31.8 mg
Week 42.4 mg
Week 5 and beyond 3 mg

During weeks one and two, you may not experience any weight loss. A small number of people do notice a small amount of weight loss. If you don’t notice any change, just remember this is normal. Focus on being consistent and establishing good health habits during this time, such as daily exercise and a reduced-calorie diet. 

During weeks three and four, you may notice some weight loss.. This can be an encouraging sign to many. If you still don’t have any weight loss, don’t let this discourage you, as this is also normal. After week five, your body should be adjusted to your new medication and weight loss should start.. However, if you get to week 16 and have not experienced enough weight loss, your provider may suggest trying a different method. Saxenda may not be effective for you. 

Long-Term Success with Saxenda

During the 56-week clinical trials for Saxenda, out of 3,731 people taking Saxenda, 83%  of them lost weight. 

  • Three out of five people lost an average of 12 pounds
  • One out of three people lost an average of 23 pounds
  • 6% lost an average of 47 pounds

In a three-year study of 2,254 people, 56% of people had significant weight loss in one year, and about half of them maintained their weight loss for three years. In contrast, only 25% of people taking the placebo achieved significant weight loss at year one, and only 10% maintained their weight loss at three years. 

Long-term success with Saxenda requires dedication and resilience. While the initial results can be rewarding, maintaining long-term success requires sustained lifestyle changes. This means continuing a low-calorie diet and increasing physical activity. Additionally, it’s important to have a strong support network with family and/or friends which will help keep you motivated and accountable for your goals. 

If difficulties occur during your weight loss process, reach out for help from your healthcare team  to ensure you stay on track. With these steps followed faithfully, long-term success can become an achievable reality with Saxenda’s treatment plans.

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Side Effects

While side effects vary from person to person and depend on the dosage used, some common symptoms include:

To lower your risk of these side effects, the makers of Saxenda recommend starting at a small dose and working up to your goal dose over several weeks. Also remember that these side effects typically lessen over time while your body adjusts to the new medication. Let your medical provider know if your side effects are not going away. They may have tips to help you feel better. 

Less common but more severe side effects may include:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Thyroid tumors
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Allergic reactions
  • Increased heart rate
  • Kidney injury
  • Suicidal behavior and ideation

It’s important to discuss any potential risks with your doctor before beginning a course of treatment with Saxenda.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How quickly do you lose weight on Saxenda?
Most people start to see weight loss results after week 5. A small number of people may see results before then, and for others, it may take a little longer. If you do not see adequate weight loss by week 16, your medical provider may discuss other weight loss options with you.
How do you get the best results from Saxenda?
Saxenda works alongside a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise. To get the best results, follow your medical provider’s guidance on how to take your medication correctly, how many calories you should eat in a day, and how much exercise you should be getting.
Is it better to take Saxenda in the morning or at night?
You can take Saxenda at any time of the day or night. The important part is that you consistently take it at the same time every day.
How many hours does Saxenda work for?
The half-life of liraglutide, the active ingredient in Saxenda, is 13 hours. This means at 13 hours, half the medication is spent in your body and starts to decrease over the next 11 hours before your next dose.

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.

Jennifer Nadel, MD

Dr. Jennifer Nadel is a board certified emergency medicine physician and received her medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine. She has worked in varied practice environments, including academic urban level-one trauma centers, community hospital emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities, telemedicine, EMS medical control, and flight medicine.

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