Mounjaro vs. Saxenda: Which Weight Loss Tool Should You Choose? The image shows Mounjaro and Saxenda pens.

Mounjaro vs. Saxenda: Which Weight Loss Tool Should You Choose?

August 15. 2023

Mounjaro vs. Saxenda – two powerful weight management medications that promote incredible results. Which one should you choose to achieve weight loss goals?

In the last few years, pharmaceutical companies developed many new weight-loss medications. We are entering the golden age of weight loss medical programs. That is excellent news for individuals battling obesity or wanting to shed away extra pounds and get the perfect summer body. But with so many options available, deciding which one to pick can be challenging.

Mounjaro, Saxenda, Ozempic, and retatrutide are all novel receptor agonist drugs that promote weight loss and reduce blood sugar levels. While they have very similar mechanisms of action, you can see their differences if you look closely. Those differences may be small, but they are crucial to set them apart and make each one unique. When choosing a weight loss medication, finding the right one for you is what makes all the difference. Therefore, Mounjaro and Saxenda nuances will help you break the debate and see which drug is more convenient for you.

Do you need help choosing the best medication to lose weight? In this article, our weight loss clinic in Chicago will tell you all you need to know regarding Mounjaro vs. Saxenda.

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is an anti-obesity medication that belongs to a class of drugs called incretin mimetics. How does Saxenda work for weight loss? Liraglutide, Saxenda’s active ingredient, mimics the effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a natural hormone involved in different guts processes. Healthcare providers prescribe Saxenda, a healthy diet, and increased physical activity to promote weight loss.

Saxenda is manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, which also produces Ozempic weight loss. Liraglutide was initially used in a type 2 diabetes medication under the brand name Victoza. During clinical trials, liraglutide showed impressive body weight reduction effects, and Novo Nordisk decided to develop Saxenda specifically to treat overweight and obesity. Saxenda was one of its class’s first weight management medications; it got Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) approval in 2014.

What is Mounjaro?

Mounjaro is a type 2 diabetes medication from the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company. This drug’s active ingredient – tirzepatide – acts as a dual receptor agonist that activates two hormones: glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP). Those two hormones support blood glucose levels and weight management. The dual effect of Mounjaro made it instantly stand out from other diabetes and weight loss drugs of its class.

While Mounjaro can only be prescribed to patients with type 2 diabetes, many healthcare providers prescribe it off-label for weight control. Currently, this drug is waiting for FDA approval to become an official weight management medication.

Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, Mounjaro can improve blood sugar levels and promote body weight reduction, among other health benefits. For example, healthcare professionals are considering Mounjaro for insulin resistance, a condition that typically causes weight gain and may lead to type 2 diabetes.

How do GLP-1 and GIP agonists work?

GLP-1 and GIP are two naturally occurring incretin hormones that take part in digestion and brain activities. On the other hand, receptor agonists are chemical substances in drugs that bind to a specific cell’s receptor and trigger a response from that cell. For example, GLP-1 agonist drugs bind to GLP-1 receptors, activating them. Receptor agonists in Mounjaro and Saxenda make GLP-1 and GIP hormones react and activate their functions.

How do GLP-1 and GIP hormones support weight loss? When we eat food, our gut releases the GLP-1 hormone to help our bodies regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. In our digestive system, food intake becomes glucose (sugar), our body’s primary fuel source. GLP-1 promotes insulin secretion, which allows glucose to be used as energy by the cells. That prevents glucose from staying in the bloodstream, causing high blood glucose levels. But it also slows down digestion. When taking Saxenda or Mounjaro, GLP-1 last longer, causing delayed gastric emptying – food takes longer to leave your stomach. That effect reduces appetite and makes you feel satiated for longer after eating.

The GLP-1 hormone also targets the brain’s hunger center, the hypothalamus, signaling it you are full and lowering food-seeking behavior.

Additionally, the GIP hormone is also secreted after eating. That hormone also aids blood sugar control, intensifying the GLP-1 effect. GIP also increases energy expenditure; it makes our cells “consume” more excess energy (glucose), which prevents it from being stored in the liver or pancreas as fat.

Mounjaro vs. Saxenda: key nuances

Mounjaro, Saxenda, Ozempic, and retatrutide mechanism of action are very similar. They all have in common the activation of the GLP-1 incretin hormone. But while they have many similarities, they have some differences too. Mounjaro vs. Saxenda is a crucial debate to make when choosing a weight loss medication. These are the main nuances that you should keep in mind when deciding between Saxenda and Mounjaro:

Uses and FDA approval

Doctors prescribe Mounjaro along with diet and exercise for type 2 diabetes control. Tirzepatide is only available for adults (18 years old or older) diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Mounjaro was approved for diabetes in 2022; Eli Lilly also requested weight management approval and immediately obtained fast-track designation from the FDA. This drug expects to get FDA approval and become an anti-obesity medication by the end of 2023. In the meantime, however, healthcare providers may prescribe Mounjaro off-label for weight loss management. For your doctor to prescribe Mounjaro for weight loss, you must be obese or overweight plus have a weight-related condition.

On the other hand, Saxenda is among the FDA-approved weight loss drugs for treating obesity and excess weight. Another pro of this drug is that doctors can prescribe it to adolescents battling obesity. These are the eligibility criteria for taking Saxenda for weight loss:

  • Obese – a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher
  • Overweight – a BMI of 27 or higher – and having a weight-related health condition
  • For teens, the patient must be obese – weigh 130 pounds (60kg)

Dosage: schedule and form

While both drugs come in the same form, Mounjaro and Saxenda’s dosing schedules are what really sets them apart.

Liraglutide (Saxenda) and tirzepatide (Mounjaro) both come as a liquid solution administered through subcutaneous injection. Subcutaneous injections, or injectable pens, are standard devices among diabetes medicines. Such devices are incredible particles and easy to use; patients can give themselves the shot or ask a family member to help them. Before your first dose, your doctor will teach you how to use the pens; you can ask them all your questions, such as the best time of day to take Mounjaro or Saxenda. Subcutaneous injections are relatively painless; you can apply them on your stomach, thigh, or upper arms – you must change the injection spot from one dose to another to avoid skin irritation.

Another thing Mounjaro and Saxenda have in common is that both treatments have a titration period. That means you will start with a low dose which your doctor will slowly increase.

Saxenda is a daily medication; therefore, you must take your shot every day, ideally at the same time of the day. You will start with a low dose of 0.6mg daily; the Saxenda dosage is increased weekly. At week 5, you will reach the maximum possible dose of 3mg per day.

Mounjaro is a weekly injectable medication; you must take this drug only once a week, always on the same day, to guarantee efficacy. You will start by taking 2.5mg weekly; your healthcare provider will increase Mounjaro’s dosage once a month. The maximum allowed dose of Mounjaro is 15mg per week. This weekly schedule can be more comfortable for some people and highly convenient for individuals traveling with Ozempic or Mounjaro.

Side effects and tolerance

Both weight loss drugs come with a list of mild adverse effects. Since Saxenda and Mounjaro activate the GLP-1 hormone, which directly impacts our digestive system, they mainly cause some gastrointestinal side effects. The most common side effects of Mounjaro and Saxenda include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation (not so often)

Saxenda also has headaches, dizziness, and tiredness, among its most common adverse effects.

The mentioned side effects often occur when you increase the dosage or right after taking your shot. Since Mounjaro is a weekly medication and the dosage is increased monthly, people tend to tolerate its side effects better than Saxenda’s.

There are ways to alleviate or prevent gastrointestinal-related symptoms, for example, by making a list of foods to avoid while on Saxenda or Mounjaro. Greasy, fatty foods are at the top of that list.

Health benefits

Mounjaro and Saxenda’s respective clinical trials showed these medications may promote other health benefits besides supporting weight loss:

  • Improve cardiovascular conditions: studies proved that both medications may reduce the risk of major cardiovascular diseases by improving cholesterol levels and blood pressure. 
  • Insulin resistance: Mounjaro and Saxenda may help reverse insulin resistance. That condition is often a precursor of other health diseases, such as pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Saxenda and Mounjaro can also help you get rid of stubborn insulin resistance belly fat.
  • Blood sugar levels improvement: Mounjaro aims to treat type 2 diabetes by regulating blood glucose levels. Since Saxenda activates the same hormone (GLP-1), it also helps with glycemic control.
  • PCOS: polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a health condition that affects women during their fertile years. It can cause subfertility, missed periods, insulin resistance, and obesity. Mounjaro and Ozempic for PCOS are becoming a potential solution to improve this condition. 

Weight loss effectiveness

Mounjaro and Saxenda have similar mechanisms of action; however, because they have different active ingredients, one of them is more efficient for weight loss. Clinical trials showed that Mounjaro promotes more significant body weight reduction compared to Saxenda. That is probably because tirzepatide activates two incretin hormones instead of only one, and doctors can prescribe it at a higher dosage.

While taking Saxenda, about 60% of people lose an average of 6,4% body weight, and 30% lose up to 10%.

With Mounjaro, most people lose about 10% with the minimal dosage (5mg) and up to 22% with the highest dose (15mg).

Mounjaro vs. Saxenda: which one should you choose?

Despite Mounjaro’s promoting more weight loss compared to Saxenda, the medication you choose should meet all your personal needs and goals. Considering all Mounjaro and Saxenda’s differences is crucial to make the best possible decision. A professional weight loss healthcare provider can assess your situation and recommend the most suitable treatment.

Whether you choose Saxenda, Mounjaro, or another anti-obesity drug, you must remember that these medications work alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise. Therefore, healthy habit changes are necessary to reach your goals. Some people also try fasting benefits by hour to achieve more significant weight loss.

Final thoughts

In this article, we broke down Mounjaro vs. Saxenda so you can make an informed decision when choosing a weight loss tool. Choosing the right medication is the first step to any successful medical weight loss program. Do you need more information regarding body weight reduction treatments? Schedule a call with us. Our team will help you navigate the weight loss maze and find the ideal program for 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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