Victoza is an increasingly popular treatment for type 2 diabetes.
It works in part because it decreases the amount of sugar the liver produces, reduces feelings of hunger, and slows digestion.
Because it affects the digestive system, you may be wondering what dietary restrictions come along with taking Victoza.
This article will answer your questions about the foods you should and shouldn’t eat while taking Victoza.
What is Victoza?
Victoza is manufactured by Novo Nordisk and its active ingredient is liraglutide. It comes in a pen and is taken as a once-daily injection.
It is part of a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists—also known as GLP-1 analogs. Other GLP-1 analogs you may have heard of include the popular drug Ozempic.
Like other GLP-1 analogs, Victoza has been shown to help improve blood sugar management by doing several things at once:
- Reducing the amount of sugar produced by your liver.
- Delaying the digestive process and slowing the passage of food from your stomach into your small intestine.
- Helping you eat less because you feel full sooner due to delayed digestion.
- Reducing your appetite, which has been shown to help with weight loss.
- Finally, for people whose pancreas is producing insulin, the drug also helps the body to produce a more appropriate amount of insulin.
What are the side effects of Victoza?
The majority of Victoza side effects involve the body’s gastrointestinal (GI) system.
Victoza delays the body’s digestive process, including slowing the rate at which food empties from the stomach into the small intestine.
This is one way that Victoza helps to “smooth out” blood sugar levels. It is also how the medication helps people reduce their appetite.
While there are a lot of benefits to this effect, it is also a source of some of the common side effects, which can include:
- Acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion
Victoza has more serious side effects you should know about and discuss with your doctor.
According to the manufacturer, these serious, though less common, side effects include:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Increased risk of thyroid tumors
- Kidney problems
- Gallbladder problems
- Serious allergic reactions
What foods should I avoid while taking Victoza?
The FDA has not indicated any specific foods that are off-limits for people taking Victoza. However, some foods may still cause adverse side effects, such as worsening nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.
One of the benefits of Victoza is that it supports healthy blood sugar management. When planning your diet, make mindful choices that help support this goal.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor and nutritionist before making dietary changes.
However, consider avoiding the following foods:
Foods and beverages with added sugar
Foods and drinks like soda, ice cream, candy, chocolates, and other refined carbohydrates can cause your blood sugar to spike. Because these foods also tend to be calorie-dense, they will make losing weight (or maintaining your current weight) more difficult, even when taking Victoza.
Overly-fatty, fried, or greasy foods
Certain types of healthy fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are an important part of a healthy diet.
However, high-fat foods—particularly saturated and trans fats from unhealthy and overly processed sources—have been linked to cardiovascular disease, inflammation, hypertension, and insulin resistance.
Fried, greasy, and overly-fatty foods can cause bloating and nausea. Many people who take Victoza will be sensitive to high-fat meals, especially when they begin to take the medication.
It’s important to remember that many high-fat foods, especially foods that contain trans fats, are not good for heart health. Since heart disease is the number one cause of death in people with diabetes, it is best to avoid these types of foods.
Too much alcohol
Talk to your doctor before drinking alcohol while you’re taking Victoza.
Both Victoza and alcohol can increase the likelihood that you experience hypoglycemia. Victoza decreases the liver’s glucose production, which counteracts the hypoglycemic effect of consuming alcohol.
This can be dangerous if you are a person living with diabetes— especially if you do not recognize the signs of hypoglycemia or confuse them with feeling inebriated.
People with a history of alcohol abuse may be counseled to be cautious when taking Victoza, as pancreatic inflammation may be more common for them.
Remember to talk with your doctor if you’re struggling with alcohol addiction or if you experience any side effects while taking Victoza and drinking alcohol.
What should I eat while taking Victoza?
Now that you know some of the foods you should avoid while taking Victoza, you might be wondering what you can and should eat.
There are many options, but the key is sticking with mostly whole, unprocessed (or minimally processed) foods that do not contain added sugars.
Lean protein like chicken, turkey, beans, legumes, low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt, and tofu are all excellent ways to increase your healthy protein intake.
These protein-rich foods are an excellent foundation for a healthy meal. Just make sure that any animal proteins are grilled or steamed instead of fried. The added fat and carbohydrates from fried foods aren’t always healthy.
Some people may have trouble handling fat in their diet, especially after starting Victoza. However, healthy fats are key to any diet.
Certain healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, have been shown to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels, which can lower the risk of heart disease.
Healthy fats are also essential for the absorption and transport of vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are fat-soluble and require some level of dietary fat to be effectively absorbed into the body’s tissues.
Eggs, fish, and nuts are great sources of both protein and healthy fats.
Avocados, olives, extra virgin olive oil, and peanut butter are all great sources of healthy plant-based fats.
Low-carb and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green beans, and more should be enjoyed in abundance.
These foods generally do not cause blood sugar spikes and can help improve insulin sensitivity.
While all these foods are tremendously healthy, they all contain significant amounts of fiber. If you’re not used to eating a lot of vegetables, you may want to start slowly while taking Victoza.
Common side effects of the medication include bloating and gas, which fiber consumption can also trigger.
Foods to help with nausea and upset stomach
Some people may need to adjust the foods they eat for the first few days of taking Victoza to manage feelings of an upset stomach. Let your doctor know if you experience severe nausea or upset stomach.
However, if the discomfort is mild, Novo Nordisk recommends a handful of temporary dietary changes if you feel nauseous while taking Victoza.
Bland foods like crackers, toast, and rice can help soothe your stomach. Just remember that these foods tend to spike blood sugar levels.
Foods that contain a lot of water, like soups and gelatin, are also great options.
Most people find that these symptoms and side effects go away after taking Victoza for a few days. After that, it’s a good idea to return to eating a healthy, well-rounded diet that you can sustain long-term.
Do you need to take Victoza with food?
Victoza can be taken with or without food unless you find that taking it with a meal (or fasting) helps you to avoid side effects.
The important thing is to take Victoza at the same time every day. For this reason, some people prefer to take it around mealtime to make the timing easier to remember.
Why is Victoza making me sick to my stomach?
You may experience upset stomach or nausea when you first start taking Victoza. This is because of how the medication changes digestion.
Talk to your doctor if you are having serious upset stomach symptoms, if those symptoms don’t go away, or if you have signs of gallbladder problems—which can include repeated vomiting or persistent pain in the right or middle-upper part of your stomach area.
What supplements should I avoid while taking Victoza?
Tell your doctor about all the other medications, vitamins, and supplements you take before you start taking Victoza.
Because Victoza changes how food passes through your digestive system, it may affect the absorption or effectiveness of supplements and medications that you take by mouth.
It is recommended that you exercise caution while taking supplements and Victoza simultaneously, even though no supplements are explicitly contraindicated.
Do Victoza and Ozempic have similar dietary restrictions?
Yes, both Victoza and Ozempic have similar dietary considerations.
No specific foods are absolutely off-limits when you’re taking either drug, but the same general guidelines about what to eat and not eat when you’re taking Ozempic also apply to Victoza.