Victoza is a once-daily injectable medication that helps people with type 2 diabetes manage blood sugar levels, decrease HbA1c, and improve insulin sensitivity. 

However, many doctors prescribe the drug to people with type 1 diabetes, prediabetes, and in some circumstances, people who are trying to lose weight.

Healthy weight management is a complex issue. You may be curious about taking Victoza for weight loss, or if you’ve been prescribed Victoza, you may wonder about its impact on weight loss.

This article will investigate the use of Victoza for weight loss and answer some common questions about taking Victoza.

Image of person with a tape measure around their waist

What is Victoza?

Victoza is a liquid medication that comes in a pre-filled injectable pen and is self-administered once a day. 

Victoza’s active ingredient is liraglutide, a glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) agonist.  

Other GLP-1 agonist drugs you may be familiar with include Ozempic, which is prescribed for similar purposes. 

Victoza decreases the amount of glucose the liver produces while simultaneously increasing the body’s insulin secretion. Together, these changes improve insulin sensitivity and can help you to manage blood sugar levels.

Victoza slightly changes how your body digests food. One of these changes slows the speed at which food moves through your digestive tract. This makes you feel full for a longer time after meals. 

Who can take Victoza?

Victoza is widely prescribed, and its off-label use (meaning, its uses for purpose that aren’t explicitly part of the FDA’s official approval) have been growing in recent years.

Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, and people with a BMI of 27 or higher who have one or more weight-related medical conditions, are often prescribed Victoza off-label.

The off-label use of Victoza for people with type 1 diabetes is not FDA-approved due to the risk of hypoglycemia when combining Victoza with insulin. However, its use has become increasingly popular in recent years.

Victoza is not recommended if you have a personal or family history of certain types of thyroid cancer. This treatment may increase the risk of thyroid carcinomas. 

Can Victoza help you to lose weight?

Yes, there is significant evidence that Victoza can help people lose weight.

While Victoza is not FDA-approved as a weight loss drug, the medication does suppress appetite and slow digestion—in addition to reducing the amount of glucose the liver produces. 

Many doctors prescribe Victoza to patients to help them lose weight—generally in conjunction with recommending a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, and regular exercise.

Randomized controlled trials of Victoza have shown that when following dietary and exercise guidelines, participants taking Victoza saw a greater likelihood of losing 5% or 10% of their total body weight. 

This was in comparison to those who took a placebo, but with the same diet and exercise recommendations. The end result was an average weight loss of 5.8 kg or 12.75 pounds beyond diet and exercises alone. 

Are you interested in starting new healthy habits? Here are some simple weight loss tips you can try, along with taking a medication like Victoza. 

How fast does Victoza work for weight loss?

Clinical research suggests that people may begin to experience weight loss within the first few weeks of taking Victoza. However, the amount and the timeframe for losing that weight will vary from person to person.

A 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who took Victoza for 56 weeks lost an average of 8.4 pounds. 

The researchers also demonstrated that the majority of weight loss occurred within the first 8–16 weeks of treatment, though for many participants, weight loss did continue.

Weight loss from Victoza appears to be durable, too. Many studies of a year or longer have shown that the weight loss is sustainable. 

Many factors will impact how quickly you lose weight on Victoza—and how much you ultimately lose. Your starting weight, diet, the types of exercise you engage in, and your overall health will all make a difference.

It’s important to discuss your weight loss and other health goals with your doctor and medical care team before starting Victoza. 

What are the side effects of Victoza?

When you start taking Victoza, you may notice strong side effects.  According to the drugmaker, the most common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Indigestion/heartburn
  • Constipation

After you’ve been on the medication for a few weeks, most of these symptoms tend to get better. Your doctor may also start you on a lower initial dose to help avoid these symptoms.  

If your side effects are not improving, or are worsening, it’s important to contact your doctor right away. 

More serious and less common side effects of Victoza include:

  • Low blood sugar (this is especially if you also take insulin) 
  • Allergic reactions
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Kidney problems
  • Gallbladder problems

Before you begin taking Victoza, it’s important to share any personal or family history of thyroid cancer with your doctor. It is hypothesized that taking GLP-1 agonists like Victoza and Ozempic may increase your risk of certain thyroid carcinomas.

How much Victoza do you take for weight loss?

There is no recommended dose because Victoza isn’t explicitly approved for weight loss by the FDA. 

Talk with your doctor if you have type 2 diabetes and want to lose weight. There are diabetes treatments specifically approved by the FDA for weight loss. 

Who should not take Victoza for weight loss?

People who have a personal or family history of thyroid cancer should likely not take Victoza due to a hypothesized increased risk of developing thyroid C-cell tumors from animal studies. 

The same contraindication exists for people with a personal or family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome.

People who have a history of pancreatitis are also advised not to take Victoza.

People who take short-acting/rapid-acting insulin should also be cautious when taking Victoza due to an increased risk of hypoglycemia. 

While Victoza is increasingly prescribed for people with type 1 diabetes (and others who take bolus/correction doses of insulin), you should be aware of the risk of low blood sugar levels and know how to act if you experience it. 

Is Ozempic or Victoza better for weight loss?

Ozempic and Victoza both function similarly, and both can help with weight loss. There are important pros and cons to each.

While neither medication is FDA-approved as a weight loss drug, both suppress appetite and slow digestion. They also help to stabilize blood sugar levels—which causes many people to lose weight while taking either one.

Research published in late 2022 found strong evidence for weight loss from Victoza but noted that people tended to lose more weight when taking Ozempic.