Saxenda vs. Victoza for Weight Loss The Importance of Knowing Their Differences The image shows a Saxenda and a Victoza injectable pen

Saxenda vs. Victoza for Weight Loss: The Importance of Knowing Their Differences

August 3. 2023

Obesity in adults or adolescents is a severe chronic condition. Most people with obesity need the help of prescription medications, along with diet and exercise, to achieve a healthy weight. Nowadays, plenty of medical options promote weight loss safely; for example, appetite suppressants such as Phentermine for weight loss. In recent years, a new class of drugs called incretin mimetics became highly popular due to their effectiveness in weight loss. Saxenda is one of those drugs. That drug contains the same active ingredient as Victoza, a medication initially developed for diabetes management. Recently, Saxenda vs. Victoza has become a topic among individuals choosing which medication to include in their medical weight loss program.

Saxenda and Victoza serve different purposes, but both can support weight loss. Today, our weight loss clinic in Chicago will tell you everything you need to know bout these drugs.

What is Victoza?

Victoza is a brand-name drug for type 2 diabetes mellitus treatment manufactured by Novo Nordisk. This medication has Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval; healthcare providers can prescribe it to adults for blood glucose control and lower the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus can’t manage insulin as they should; typically, their cells gradually stop responding to insulin. When this happens, your body keeps producing glucose, but it can’t enter the cells leading to sugar building up in the bloodstream. With time, that results in high glucose levels. When a healthy diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control this condition, healthcare providers can prescribe medicine such as Victoza.

Victoza’s medication’s active compound is liraglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. Liraglutide binds to receptors inside the cells and activates the GLP-1 hormone. GLP-1 is a crucial natural gut hormone in charge of different metabolic functions. This hormone activates when we eat; it indicates the pancreas releases insulin so glucose obtained from food digestion can exit the bloodstream and enter our cells. With increased insulin production, blood sugar levels start decreasing and return to a safe number.

Can Victoza promote weight loss?

Victoza and other GLP-1 agonist drugs are known as incretin mimetics. Incretins are natural gut hormones our bodies produce that aid in different metabolic processes and blood sugar control. Incretin mimetics are drugs that mimic the effects of those gut hormones. GLP-1 receptor agonist medications are currently used for type 2 diabetes and weight management. Other examples of incretin mimetic drugs for diabetes and weight loss are Mounjaro and Ozempic weight loss. 

Since Victoza contains liraglutide, which mimics GLP-1, a hormone that can aid weight loss; therefore, this medication can promote body weight reduction. During Victoza clinical trials, many participants experienced some weight loss. However, currently, Victoza has FDA approval only for type 2 diabetes mellitus management.

What is Saxenda?

Saxenda is an anti-obesity medication also manufactured by Novo Nordisk pharmaceutical company. Saxenda and Victoza share a similar background story to Wegovy vs. Ozempic. In fact, these four medications are produced by the same pharmaceutical. Saxenda has the same active ingredient as Victoza – liraglutide. When Victoza clinical trials showed that this active compound had weight loss side effects, the pharmaceutical company developed a new drug to treat obesity. Saxenda became an FDA-approved weight loss medication in 2014.

Saxenda contains the prescription medication liraglutide. It is prescribed along with diet and increased physical activity for weight management. Both adults and adolescents can use this drug to achieve weight loss. Adults must meet the following criteria to be eligible for Saxenda:

  • Obese – a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher
  • Overweight – a BMI of 27 or higher – and a weight-related condition

If you don’t meet those criteria, you can ask your healthcare provider about other medical weight loss options, such as Lipo C injections.

Adolescents must be between 12-17 years old, have a body weight of 130 pounds (60kg) or higher, and have obesity.

Like most obesity medications, individuals must reduce their calorie intake and commit to healthy habit changers to experience substantial body weight reduction.

Saxenda and weight loss

How does Saxenda work for weight loss? Saxenda works by activating the GLP-1 incretin hormone. As mentioned, incretin mimetic drugs for weight loss have become highly successful in the last decade. Saxenda, Ozempic, and Mounjaro’s mechanisms of action are all very similar. All these medications mimic the GLP-1 effect, which helps promotes weight loss and reduces blood sugar levels.

How does the GLP-1 hormone support weight loss? GLP-1 promotes insulin secretion from the pancreas after we eat. When you eat a meal or snack, this hormone gets to work, signaling the pancreas to release insulin and the liver to decrease glucagon production. Besides lowering blood glucose levels, that effect causes slow gastric emptying. What is gastric emptying? When you eat, the food intake goes to your stomach, where it is digested by gastric juices – digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, mucus, and bicarbonate. Once gastric juices do their job, the digested food moves to the small intestine. While you have food in your stomach, you will feel full. By slowing down gastric emptying speed, food stays in your stomach longer, making you feel satiated faster and full for longer.

Besides reducing your appetite by slowing down how food travels through your digestive system, GLP-1 also targets the hunger area of the brain. The hypothalamus controls our appetite and satiety; the GLP-1 hormone signals the hypothalamus indicating that you are already full.

The double appetite suppressant action makes GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs, such as Saxenda, a powerful weight loss tool. When combined with a proper meal plan or fasting benefits by hour, and regular exercise, losing weight becomes a much easier challenge.

Saxenda vs. Victoza: the showdown

Both medications can promote weight loss; nevertheless, only one of them is approved for weight management and obesity. When choosing a weight loss medication, having options is good, but it can also make it challenging to decide which medicine is best for you. In the following section, we are breaking down the Saxenda vs. Victoza debate so you can know their differences and make an informed decision.


Saxenda is an approved weight loss medication with high efficacy levels. If you qualify for Saxenda, your healthcare can prescribe it to you as part of your weight loss program. Saxenda is prescribed for adults or teens with obesity or overweight, along with a diet, physical activity, and other healthy recommendations.

On the other hand, Victoza is not a weight loss drug; this medication only has FDA approval for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Doctors prescribe Victoza along with a balanced diet to reduce blood sugar levels. However, Victoza helps with glycemic control and aids weight loss; therefore, some health professionals prescribe this medication off-label for weight management.

GlP-1 receptor agonist drugs are now being considered for other health conditions beyond diabetes and obesity, such as lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and treating insulin resistance or polycystic ovary syndrome. Ozempic for PCOS and insulin resistance is very promising; Saxenda and Victoza could also be good candidates for improving those health conditions.

Dosage form and administration

Since doctors prescribe Saxenda and Victoza for different purposes, the allowed dosage for each medication is one of their main differences. Regarding form and administration, Victoza and Saxenda use the same method.

Both drugs come as liquid solutions inside subcutaneous injectable pens. Injectable pens are easy to handle; patients can apply the shot themselves or ask a family member or friend for help. At the beginning of the treatment, your healthcare provider will teach you how to use these devices and store them properly. They may also tell you about the best time of day to take Mounjaro, Saxenda, or Victoza to get the most out of these medications.

Victoza for diabetes comes in boxes of two to three injectable pens. The number of doses depends on the dosage your doctor prescribed to you. One Victoza pen contains 30 shots of 0.6mg, 15 doses of 1.2mg, and 10 doses of 1.8mg each. And Saxenda boxes bring three to five pens; you can set each pen to supply dosages of 0.6mg, 1.2mg, 1.8mg, 2.4mg, or 3 mg.

You will start the treatment with the lowest possible dosage with any of these medications. That will give your body time to adjust to the drug without developing intense and uncomfortable side effects. The initial dose of Saxenda or Victoza is 0.6mg daily during the first week. You can increase the dosage by 0.6mg weekly until reaching the maximum allowed dosage. Victoza’s highest recommended dose is 1.8mg per day, and Saxenda’s is 3mg each day.

Side effects and safety precautions

GLP-1 mimicking drugs, such as Victoza, Saxenda, and retatrutide, activate the same hormone, which produces the same process in our bodies. Due to that, these medications have a list of similar adverse effects. However, side effects can vary or intensify when taking Saxenda since this medication comes in higher dosages.

The most common and mild side effects of Victoza and Saxenda include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Stomach upset
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

As you can see, most side effects are gastrointestinal-related. That is due to GLP-1’s slow gastric emptying effect. You can alleviate these symptoms by drinking plenty of water or clear beverages and eating light meals in small portions. You can also consult your doctor or dietitian about foods to avoid while on Saxenda or Victoza to steer clear of gastrointestinal side effects.

Rarely, Saxenda weight loss and Victoza can cause severe adverse effects such as inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), kidney disease, vision problems, low blood sugar levels, gallbladder disease, and severe allergic reactions.

Health benefits

Victoza and Saxenda prescription medications can help with several health benefits:

  • Type 2 diabetes: both medications can help adults and teenagers to lower high blood glucose levels caused by type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Obesity management: obesity is a severe chronic condition affecting over a third of the US population. Saxenda and Victoza promote weight loss and are safe for adults and adolescents.
  • Insulin resistance: receptor agonist type 2 diabetes medications may help improve insulin resistance. These drugs can also assist in getting rid of stubborn insulin resistance belly fat.
  • Protect the vascular system: during the liraglutide clinical trial LEADER, this drug showed the potential to decrease the risk of cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attack. Liraglutide may also lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels and prevent the calcification of arteries. 

Saxenda vs. Victoza: which one is better for weight loss?

We have reached the part of the Saxenda vs. Victoza debate in which we will talk about one of their main differences: how much weight you can lose with each drug.

Both medications will promote weight loss, but Saxenda is undeniably superior. That is probably because that drug is approved for obesity control and comes in higher dosages. How much weight can you lose on Saxenda? According to a Saxenda study, about 60% of people lose at least 6% of body weight or more. And about 30% of people experience an average of 10% body weight reduction.

Is Victoza effective for weight loss? Victoza is prescribed for type 2 diabetes treatment; you will still lose some weight while on this drug, but it will likely be less effective than Saxenda.

Final thoughts

Victoza is a type 2 diabetes mellitus drug that can promote some weight loss. Saxenda is an anti-obesity medication that helps people attain body weight reduction. While both drugs can support your weight loss efforts, when debating Saxenda vs. Victoza, the first thing to remember is that these drugs only work when you pair them with healthy habit changes. While Saxenda and Victoza are highly effective, committing to eating more healthily and increasing your physical activity is necessary to achieve your goals. Do you need help on your weight loss journey? Schedule a call with us and start seeing results.

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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