What foods to avoid while on Victoza
Victoza (liraglutide) is an injectable medicine that is used to lower blood sugar levels in adults and children (10 years of age and up) with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Victoza is a once-daily, non-insulin medication that is taken to lower A1C. Taking Victoza helps the pancreas produce additional insulin by helping important cells called beta cells to help control blood glucose levels by making and releasing insulin.
Although there are no specific foods that you must avoid while on Victoza, there are diet recommendations you can follow if you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
What is Victoza (liraglutide)?
Victoza is an FDA-approved prescription drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes and is also approved to reduce the risk of complications from heart disease in people with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It belongs to a group of diabetes drugs called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1).
The active ingredient of Victoza is liraglutide. This medication is manufactured by Novo Nordisk. It is an injectable prescription drug that is administered under the skin (subcutaneously). It is available in the dosage form 18MG/3ML Solution Pen-injector.
The main use of Victoza is to decrease blood sugar along with diet and exercise in adults and children who are 10 years of age and up with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Victoza also reduces the risk of major cardiovascular events associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus with known heart disease (ie heart attack, stroke, or death).
Victoza is not meant to be used to treat type 1 diabetes.
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How does Victoza work?
Victoza works similarly to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) which is a hormone naturally produced and released by your body after eating. This helps to control your blood sugar level after meals by slowing down the process of food leaving your stomach. Victoza prevents the liver from producing too much glucose, and when blood sugar levels are high, it prompts the pancreas to create more insulin. Diabetes affects your metabolism and causes high blood sugar due to problems associated with using or making insulin in your body.
Victoza is not insulin so it can be taken in combination with long-acting insulin as separate subcutaneous injections. Both drugs can be injected in the same body area (ie. stomach area), however, they should not be injected close together.
Victoza can be taken at any time of the day, once a day, and does not need to be taken at meal time. It should be injected at the same time every day, so it’s best to get into a daily routine. Victoza should be injected under the skin in your upper arm, abdominal area (stomach), or thigh (upper leg), as instructed by your doctor. Victoza should not be injected into a vein or muscle.
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Can Victoza be used for weight loss?
Victoza is not meant to be used specifically for weight loss, however, due to the way this drug works, it may assist adults to lose weight. In a clinical trial studying adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus, Victoza was shown to lead to weight loss when combined with metformin. In addition, it is recommended that overweight individuals that are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should prioritize weight loss as part of their ongoing management of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends weight loss as an important goal for people with type 2 diabetes who are overweight.
In one study, people with obesity and PCOS successfully lost more weight when they took metformin and Victoza, compared to taking either drug by itself. Metformin is a prescription drug that is commonly prescribed for diabetes and PCOS.
Saxenda is another prescription drug that contains the same active ingredient as Victoza and is FDA-approved to be used for weight loss.
What are the most common side effects of Victoza?
The most common side effects of Victoza in adults are:
- tiredness (fatigue)
- stomach pain
- injection site reaction
The following are less common serious side effects of Victoza:
- pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- higher risk of thyroid tumors
- severe low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)
- kidney failure (or kidney problems)
- gallbladder issues
- severe allergic reactions
Since thyroid tumors (including cancer) are one of the less common but serious side effects of taking Victoza, it is important to be extra vigilant to identify the signs of this cancer. If you notice any hoarseness, swelling, or a lump in your neck, difficulty or trouble swallowing, or experience shortness of breath, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately to obtain medical advice as these are symptoms of thyroid cancer.
Seek emergency medical attention, or call your healthcare professional if you experience an allergic reaction or experience any of these severe side effects when taking Victoza.
What foods should I avoid while on Victoza?
You should follow a healthy well-balanced diabetes diet while taking Victoza as well as regular exercise to help manage your diabetes.
Although you can eat any food while taking Victoza, it is best to avoid food that is less healthy, such as:
- fast food
- drinks that are high in sugar
- processed foods
- very salty foods
- foods that contain higher amounts of trans and saturated fats
- red and processed meat
- highly processed carbs like white bread
It is recommended to discuss any foods to avoid and to create a customized diet or meal plan with a registered dietician or your doctor.
What are the best foods to eat with Victoza?
Generally, it is recommended that you follow a healthy diet plan while taking Victoza. This would include foods such as:
- light foods, that include lots of vegetables and fruits
- some protein sources such as eggs, fish, meat beans, and non-dairy protein sources
- rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, and other wholegrain foods
- some dairy foods
- reduced amounts of high fat/sugar foods or drinks
Healthy breakfast ideas
- wholegrain cereal with milk
- two slices of wholegrain toast with olive oil-based spread
- natural unsweetened yogurt and fruit
- two slices of avocado with a hardboiled egg
Healthy lunch ideas
- a tuna or chicken salad sandwich
- a small pasta salad
- a piece of tuna or salmon steak and salad
Healthy dinner ideas
- lasagne and salad
- roast chicken and vegetables, with or without potatoes
- beef stir-fry and vegetables, with or without brown rice
- chicken tortillas and salad
- salmon and vegetables, with or without noodles
- curry with chickpeas and brown rice
Who can take Victoza?
Adults and children over the age of 10 can take Victoza to help manage their type 2 diabetes.
Victoza should not be taken if you:
- are less than 10 years old
- diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus
- are already taking another medication that contains liraglutide.
- if you have an endocrine condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) or if you or a family member have ever had MTC.
- allergic to any of the ingredients in Victoza including liraglutide or have ever had an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in Victoza
- are planning to become pregnant or are already pregnant
Before beginning to take Victoza, discuss with your doctor or healthcare professional if you have any medical conditions, including if you:
- if you have had any health issues with your liver, kidneys, or pancreas
- are taking other diabetes medications
- have severe abdominal problems, such as digesting problems, or gastroparesis (slow emptying of your stomach)
- plan to or are currently breastfeeding
- plan to or are currently pregnant
Can I take Victoza with other medications?
Caution should be exercised when taking Victoza with oral medications since Victoza can affect the absorption of these medications. Victoza can be used with some other diabetes treatments but should be discussed with your doctor. Also, it is recommended to consult with your doctor about all possible drug interactions with over-the-counter drugs, other prescription medications, herbal products, or supplements, and other medications you are taking to treat diabetes, including insulin or sulfonylureas.
Victoza may cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or high blood pressure (hyperglycemia). If you are taking any blood pressure medications with Victoza, your healthcare provider will likely monitor your blood pressure to make sure that your body is absorbing that medication.
A medical professional has reviewed this article.
Dr. Jamie Winn received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2002 from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia, SC. Jamie is a medical reviewer for NiceRx.