4 ways to deal with constipation while taking Saxenda The image shows two Saxenda pens an a woman touching her abdomen.

4 ways to deal with constipation while taking Saxenda

August 22. 2023

Is there a worse feeling than being in pain due to constipation? Getting occasionally constipated is normal, but chronic or severe constipation can feel like torture. And if you are trying to lose weight, you probably noticed an increase in the weighing scale number after being constipated for a while. Medications for weight management often come with a list of side effects. The case of Saxenda is no different; this weight-loss tool can cause some medication side effects, which are mainly manageable. Saxenda constipation is among the symptoms you can develop while taking this drug.

Being constipated is not fun; it can lead to bloating and painful bowel movements. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with that condition and say goodbye to constipation for good. Are you suffering constipation during your Saxenda treatment? Continue reading this article, where our weight loss clinic in Chicago tells you how to manage the symptoms.

What is constipation?

Constipation is characterized by infrequent bowel movements – often having less than three bowel movements a week. Stools tend to be hard and dry, which makes them difficult and painful to pass. Being constipated for a couple of days is not a big deal. But if you experience chronic constipation, this condition can quickly become a nightmare. Constipation is often a result of lifestyle or eating habit changes, a poor diet, your body not absorbing nutrients, a lack of physical activity, high-stress levels, or medications.

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is a weight management drug of the incretin mimetic class, such as Ozempic, Wegovy, or the upcoming anti-obesity medication retatrutide. Novo Nordisk pharmaceutical company manufactures this medication, which was approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014. Saxenda’s active ingredient is liraglutide; initially, liraglutide was used for type 2 diabetes mellitus treatments as the brand Victoza. Clinical trials of liraglutide displayed how effective this active compound is in promoting body weight reduction. Then, Novo Nordisk developed and launched Saxenda, an exclusively anti-obesity medication.

When using Saxenda, along with a healthy diet and increased physical activity, individuals experience an average of 6.4% weight loss. Saxenda is a daily medication that patients must take at the same time every day to ensure efficacy. It has a titration period of 5 weeks in which you start with a low dose (0.6mg per day), and a healthcare provider can increase it week by week until reaching the highest dose (3mg per day).

As long as you commit to healthy habit changes, you can expect to see substantial weight loss about eight weeks into the treatment. Besides diet and regular exercise, some people also resort to fasting benefits by hour. Saxenda promotes weight loss through appetitive suppression, which makes practicing fasting more manageable.

Does Saxenda slow down digestion?

Saxenda is an anti-obesity drug that supports appetitive reduction, like some successful appetite suppressants such as Phentermine for weight loss. Liraglutide works by activating a hormone involved in digestive and brain processes: glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1).

GLP-1 promotes appetite reduction in two different ways. One way is by targeting the hunger area of the brain, also known as the hypothalamus, and signaling it that we are full. That signal makes food-seeking behavior cease. When taking Saxenda, you won’t feel too many cravings for unhealthy foods. The drug will help you make wiser food choices and prevent overeating.

The second way GLP-1 supports appetite reduction happens in our digestive system. The hormone activates after you eat and indicates the pancreas to secrete insulin and the liver to decrease glucose (sugar) production. That effect helps our bodies regulate blood sugar levels after we have a meal or snack. Besides that, increased insulin levels also slow down gastric emptying.

When you eat food, it stays in your stomach for a while before being digested and passed to the small intestine. Saxenda slows down that process so the food intake stays longer in your stomach, making you feel full for longer.

Can Saxenda cause constipation?

Due to how GLP-1 receptor agonists medications such as Ozempic weight loss or Saxenda work – by slowing down digestion – they often cause some gastrointestinal-related symptoms. When using Saxenda to promote weight loss, individuals may experience these common side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation

As you can see, constipation is on the list of Saxenda’s typical adverse effects. While other gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea and diarrhea, are more common, individuals may experience constipation during the treatment. That is primarily due to how does Saxenda work.

Slow digestion promotes weight loss by making you feel less hungry. However, at the same time, a slow gut can cause stool build-up leading to constipation. These are a few signs that Saxenda is causing you constipation:

  • Having less frequent bowel movements than usual – usually least than three per week.
  • Stools are often larger and dryer; they can also be lumpy or hard.
  • Stools have difficulty passing.
  • Bowel movements turn painful.
  • You have a feeling as though you haven’t completely emptied your bowel.

Do you have any of those symptoms? Then it is likely you are constipated. Saxenda constipation may happen because of the drug’s effect or because you are overindulging in unhealthy foods to avoid while on Saxenda.

Besides the expected effects of Saxenda, the medication also has a list of rare but severe side effects. Those adverse effects are inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), low blood sugar, gallbladder problems, kidney disease, and severe allergic reactions.

Does constipation cause weight gain?

When people are constipated, they usually feel heavy and bloated; their bellies often feel full, and they might experience abdominal pain. If you weigh yourself after a few days of being constipated, you may also notice that you have put on some weight. How is that possible? While on a medical weight loss treatment, such as Saxenda, the ultimate goal is to lose weight to lead a healthier lifestyle. Therefore, even a minimal weight gain can be perceived as a step backward.

But does constipation really causes you to gain weight? The short answer is yes and no. There is definitely a link between constipation and weight gain, but it would be wrong to say that this condition is the direct cause of gaining a few pounds.

Most people experience some weight gain while constipated because the factors that cause constipation also promote weight gain. For example, constipation is common among individuals who live sedentary lives and don’t drink enough water. Regular physical activity and staying hydrated are crucial factors to lose or maintain a healthy weight. As you can see, factors that may cause constipation are also related to weight gain.

While you may gain some weight while constipated, that is likely the weight of the stool that is not passing through. Constipation can only cause short-term weight gain; once you have regular bowel movements again, you will lose that extra weight.

4 ways to improve Saxenda constipation

Besides temporary weight gain, constipation can be painful and uncomfortable, causing severe abdominal pain. While that Saxenda side effect may go away once your body gets used to the medication, you should take some measures to improve bowel movements and feel well again.

You can do many things to improve Saxenda constipation, and most of them require some habit changes that will also benefit your weight loss journey. This is how you can overcome constipation:

Eat more fiber

97% of Americans don’t consume anywhere near the recommended amount of fiber per day – 25 grams. The number one piece of advice doctors give to patients with constipation is to increase their daily fiber intake. Fiber is a nutrient most known for helping alleviate constipation; it aids bowel movements in many different ways, making them easier to pass.

Incorporating more foods rich in fiber into your diet will improve constipation, help maintain healthy bowel movements, and lower cholesterol levels; this nutrient is also good for your liver health. Make sure to include enough fiber in your Saxenda meal plan. Good sources of fiber include apples, pears, raspberries, avocados, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and black beans.

Stay hydrated

Being regularly dehydrated is one of the most common causes of constipation. Drink enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated and avoid constipation. Experts recommend drinking at least four to six glasses of water every day. If drinking enough water is challenging for you, try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to have a glass of water. You can also get a water bottle and carry it around with you.

Some people find having a glass of clear sparkling water more effective in alleviating constipation. However, avoid drinking soda or sugary, sparkling drinks; those beverages can worsen constipation symptoms.

Perform physical activity

Several studies show that increased physical activity can improve the symptoms of constipation. At the same time, other research link a sedentary life with higher risks of developing constipation. Performing regular exercise will alleviate the symptoms of constipation. As a plus, staying active will enhance your weight loss journey and help you get rid of insulin resistance belly fat. You can take a walk every day, sign up for a dance class, or the classic gym workout.

Seek medical help

If constipation symptoms don’t improve despite your best efforts, we recommend you seek professional help. A healthcare provider may prescribe medication to improve your condition or recommend a more personalized solution.

Final thoughts

Constipation is among the side effects list of taking Saxenda. Constipation symptoms can be uncomfortable and painful, especially if the condition lasts several weeks. You can improve constipation by following the valuable tips we gave you in this article. All those tips have another great thing in common: they can also enhance your weight loss efforts. Would you like to know more about how to deal with constipation and weight gain? Schedule a call with our team, and we will 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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