Smart Choices: Foods to Avoid While on Saxenda The image shows two Saxenda pens and fast, greasy foods.

Smart Choices: Foods to Avoid While on Saxenda

July 20. 2023

Whether you just started a Saxenda weight loss treatment or are considering using this medication, you could wonder how this drug works and how to maximize its weight loss effect. You probably have heard receptor agonist medications, such as Ozempic, Mounjaro, and Wegovy, require healthy habit changes (diet, better sleeping, exercise, etc.) to promote body weight reduction. Taking your medication on schedule and knowing all the extra tips, such as the best time of day to take Mounjaro or Saxenda, is vital but not quite enough. Learning which foods to avoid while on Saxenda is how you take your medical treatment to the next level.

The diet you follow while on Saxenda can make or break your weight loss journey. Today, our weight loss clinic in Chicago experts will guide you on which foods to avoid to lessen Saxenda symptoms and boost your weight loss efforts.

What is Saxenda and how does it work?

Saxenda is an obesity drug that, in combination with increased physical activity and a balanced meal plan, takes part in a medical weight loss treatment. Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company that also manufactures Ozempic weight loss, has produced Saxenda since 2014. Saxenda’s active ingredient – liraglutide – was initially meant to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus. Novo Nordisk produced that medication under the brand name Victoza – a drug that helps diabetic patients with blood sugar control. During clinical trials, liraglutide showed its incredible weight loss side effect. Therefore, the pharmaceutical company launched Saxenda as an anti-obesity medication exclusively.

Liraglutide works by activating a natural incretin hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This hormone lowers blood sugar levels by increasing the pancreas’ insulin production. While this helps with blood glucose control – the most common hazard of type 2 diabetes – it also promotes weight loss. GLP-1 increases insulin secretion and decreases glucose production, which results in a slow gastric emptying effect. In other words, food will travel slower through your stomach when you eat. This will cause two things: you will get full faster and remain satisfied for longer.

Saxenda’s appetite reduction effect will be highly beneficial for people finding it challenging to stick to a balanced diet or practice fasting benefits by hour. GLP-1 also works in the hunger region in our brains; it indicates our brains that we are already full when eating. While more studies need to be made regarding how GLP-1 affects our brain’s hunger area, this is another advantage for individuals trying to achieve weight loss.

Saxenda eligibility criteria

Something that places Saxenda above other weight loss medications is that this drug is approved for adolescents. The childhood and teen obesity pandemic is a severe issue in the US these days. Obesity can lead to many health conditions; for example, diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Obesity in children and teens is particularly dangerous; adolescents who are obese or overweight have more risk of developing mental disorders such as severe low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression. Each day, more parents seek medical options to help their children overcome this serious health condition. Saxenda is approved for teens aged 12-17 with a body weight of 130 pounds or 60kg and obesity. This medication can help adolescents lose weight and keep it off when paired with diet and increased physical activity.

Like most medications, you must meet some eligibility criteria to qualify for Saxenda. For adults, you must be obese (a body mass index of 30 or higher) or overweight (a body mass index of 27 or higher) and have a weight-related condition. A weight-related condition could be diabetes, heart disease, or PCOS, among others. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is deeply intertwined with weight gain. Weight loss medications such as Saxenda, Mounjaro, and Ozempic for PCOS treatment are being considered to improve this condition.

Who shouldn’t use Saxenda?

Experts don’t recommend Saxenda if you are 75 or older. More studies must be made on the drug’s effect on this population. You are likely not eligible for this weight management medication if you have a renal implant, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), a history of liver or pancreas disease, severe stomach or gut problems, or congestive heart failure. You shouldn’t take this medicine if you are allergic to liraglutide or other Saxenda ingredients. In such cases, you can talk to your healthcare provider about other medical weight loss programs that are safer for you, like a professional diet plan or Phentermine for weight loss. Saxenda is also not advised during pregnancy, for women seeking pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.

Most common Saxenda side effects

Like most drugs, Saxenda can provoke some adverse effects. This weight loss medication’s side effects are mild and mostly well tolerated. Common side effects of Saxenda are mainly related to stomach problems such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, dry mouth, and gastritis. Other typical adverse effects include tiredness, headaches, and weakness.

Saxenda may cause severe side effects such as inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), acute gallbladder disease, low blood sugar, increased heart rate, kidney problems, and severe allergic reactions.

Returning to the most common and mild side effects of Saxenda, there are certain Saxenda or Mounjaro foods to avoid to alleviate or reduce stomach-related symptoms. You can also eat small portions and drink clear beverages to diminish the side effects you may get.

Foods to avoid while on Saxenda to decrease side effects

The diet you follow while on a weight loss drug will either pave the road to your goals or make you struggle along the way. Novo Nordisk designed Saxenda to work alongside healthy diet plans and regular physical activity to promote weight loss. If you are not losing weight on Ozempic or Saxenda, that is likely because medications of this class need some habit changes from your side to do their magic. Crossing some foods from your shopping list can support this medication work and make your weight loss efforts more efficient. And, as mentioned, depriving yourself of some foods will also improve the symptoms you may get from taking Saxenda. These are 4 foods to avoid while on Saxenda:

Highly processed foods

Most of the foods included in our modern diets are “processed” in some form, but they still retain their nutritional properties. On the other hand, highly-processed foods contain added ingredients (salt, sugars, and fat) that have low nutritional values and are calorie-dense. Besides your body not absorbing nutrients, regular consumption of these foods is linked to weight gain, which can sabotage your weight loss efforts. There are some ultra-processed foods examples:

  • white pasta and bread
  • sweetened cereals
  • chips
  • ice cream
  • chicken nuggets
  • hot dogs
  • fries

Sugary foods

Sugary foods can make the Saxenda adverse effects worse; foods high in sugar can quickly increase your calorie consumption. You don’t have to quit on every sweet you love when taking Saxenda. But we recommend you avoid treats that increase the side effects, especially if you are experiencing nausea or another gastrointestinal symptom. You can talk to your healthcare provider about which sugary foods promote weight gain. Then, create a healthy meal plan leaving those sweets out of your diet.

Greasy and fatty foods

These types of foods are the toughest for your body to digest. Saxenda provokes slow gastric emptying, so you will definitely want to avoid foods that make your digestive system work harder. Foods such as fast food, butter, fatty yogurts, doughnuts, fatty meat, sausages, and bacon can worsen Saxenda’s symptoms and sabotage weight loss.


While Saxenda’s active ingredient doesn’t interact with alcohol, it causes similar side effects as when we drink alcoholic beverages (nausea, vomiting, headaches). Alcohol consumption can make you develop more side effects or make them worst. Saxenda, Ozempic, and Mounjaro and alcohol don’t pair well. On top of that, alcohol can make you feel hungry and increase your cravings for unhealthy, greasy foods.

Getting better results with Saxenda through smart food choices

Like there are foods to avoid while on Saxenda, there are also foods to include on a Saxenda diet plan. A balanced meal plan can benefit weight management programs with Ozempic, Saxenda, or retatrutide. These are some healthy foods that will support your weight loss journey with Saxenda:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Protein-rich foods (lean meat, fish, eggs, low-fat cheese)
  • Fiber-rich foods
  • Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils, etc.)

You can ask your weight loss doctor for a personalized liraglutide or semaglutide diet plan that fits your nutritional needs and weight loss goals.

Final thoughts

Knowing which foods to avoid while on Saxenda will decrease the uncomfortable side effects this medication may cause. At the same time, it will support your weight loss efforts. Try making a list of the foods mentioned in this article and rule them out of your diet as much as possible. Counting on a proper diet plan will make your journey much more manageable. Do you need help crafting a weight-loss meal plan that meets your needs? Schedule a call with our dedicated team; we are happy to help you.

Nurse Walton


Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

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