Victoza is an increasingly popular method of treating type 2 diabetes.
It works partly because it reduces the amount of sugar produced by the liver, reduces hunger, and slows down digestion.
Since it affects the digestive system, you may wonder what dietary restrictions are associated with taking Victoza.
This article will answer your questions about the foods you should and should not eat while taking Victoza.
What is Victoza?
Victoza is manufactured by Novo Nordisk and contains the active substance liraglutide. It comes in a pre-filled pen and is taken as a once-daily injection.
It belongs to a class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists – also known as GLP-1 analogues. Other GLP-1 analogues you may have heard of include the popular drug Ozempic.
Like other GLP-1 analogues, Victoza has been shown to help improve blood sugar management by doing several things at once:
- Reducing the amount of sugar produced by the liver.
- Delaying the digestive process and slowing the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine.
- It helps you eat less as you feel full sooner due to delayed digestion.
- Reducing appetite, which has been shown to help with weight loss.
- Finally, for people whose pancreas produces insulin, the drug also helps the body produce a more appropriate amount of insulin.
What are the side effects of Victoza?
Most of the side effects of Victoza affect the body’s digestive system.
Victoza delays the body’s digestive process, including slowing down the rate at which food is emptied from the stomach into the small intestine.
This is one of the ways Victoza helps to “smooth out” blood sugar levels. In this way, the drug helps people reduce their appetite.
While this effect has many benefits, it is also the source of some common side effects, which may include:
- Acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion
Victoza has more serious side effects that you should be aware of and discuss with your doctor.
According to the manufacturer, these serious, though less common, side effects include:
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Increased risk of thyroid cancers
- Kidney problems
- Problems with the gallbladder
- Serious allergic reactions
What foods should I avoid while taking Victoza?
The FDA has not identified any specific foods that are off-limits to people taking Victoza. However, some foods can still cause unwanted side effects, such as making nausea, diarrhea or vomiting worse.
One of the benefits of Victoza is that it supports healthy blood sugar management. When planning your diet, make informed choices that will help you achieve this goal.
It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor and nutritionist before making changes to your diet.
However, you should consider avoiding the following foods:
Foods and drinks with added sugar
Foods and drinks such as soda, ice cream, candy, chocolates, and other refined carbohydrates can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Since these foods are also usually high in calories, they will make it more difficult for you to lose weight (or maintain your current weight), even while taking Victoza.
Too greasy, fried or fatty foods
Certain types of healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are an important part of a healthy diet.
However, high-fat foods – especially saturated and trans fats from unhealthy and over-processed sources – have been linked to cardiovascular disease, inflammation, high blood pressure and insulin resistance.
Fried, greasy and overly fatty foods can cause bloating and nausea. Many people taking Victoza will be sensitive to high-fat meals, especially once they start taking the medicine.
Keep in mind that many high-fat foods, especially those containing trans fats, are not good for heart health. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes, it is best to avoid these types of foods.
Too much alcohol
Talk to your doctor before drinking alcohol while taking Victoza.
Both Victoza and alcohol may increase the likelihood of hypoglycaemia. Victoza reduces the production of glucose in the liver, which counteracts the hypoglycemic effect of alcohol consumption.
This can be dangerous if you are a person living with diabetes – especially if you do not recognize the symptoms of hypoglycemia or mistake them for feeling intoxicated.
People with a history of alcohol abuse may be advised to take Victoza with caution as pancreatitis may be more common in these patients.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if you struggle with alcohol dependence or 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 may be wondering what you can and should eat.
There are many options, but the key is to stick to mostly whole, unprocessed (or minimally processed) foods that don’t contain added sugars.
Lean protein like chicken, turkey, beans, legumes, low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt, and tofu are excellent ways to increase your healthy protein intake.
These protein-rich foods are the perfect foundation for a healthy meal. Just make sure your animal proteins are grilled or steamed instead of fried. The added fat and carbohydrates from fried foods are not always healthy.
Some people may have trouble managing fat in their diet, especially after starting Victoza. However, healthy fats are the foundation of any diet.
Certain healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, have been shown to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels, which may reduce 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 a certain amount of dietary fat to be effectively absorbed by the body’s tissues.
Eggs, fish and nuts are excellent sources of both protein and healthy fats.
Avocados, olives, extra virgin olive oil and peanut butter are excellent sources of healthy vegetable fats.
Vegetables with a low glycemic index
Low-carb and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green beans, and others should be eaten in abundance.
These foods generally don’t cause blood sugar spikes and can help improve insulin sensitivity.
While all of these foods are extremely healthy, they all contain significant amounts of fiber. If you are not used to eating lots of vegetables, you can start taking Victoza slowly.
Common side effects of the drug include bloating and gas, which can also be caused by fiber intake.
Foods to help with nausea and upset stomach
Some people may need to adjust the food they eat for the first few days of taking Victoza to cope with the feeling of an upset stomach. Tell your doctor if you experience severe nausea or an upset stomach.
However, if the discomfort is mild, Novo Nordisk recommends a handful temporary change your diet if you feel sick while taking Victoza.
Bland foods like crackers, toast, and rice can help soothe your stomach. Just remember that these foods tend to raise blood sugar levels.
Foods that contain a lot of water, such as soups and gelatin, are also great options.
Most people find that these symptoms and side effects go away after a few days of taking Victoza. After that, it’s good to go back to a healthy, well-balanced diet that you can maintain for a long time.
Should I take Victoza with food?
Victoza can be taken with or without food, unless it is shown that taking it with food (or on an empty stomach) helps to avoid side effects.
It is important that you take Victoza at the same time each day. For this reason, some people prefer to take it at mealtimes to make it easier to remember the time.
Why does Victoza make me sick?
You may get an upset stomach or feel sick when you first start taking Victoza. This is due to how the drug alters digestion.
Talk to your doctor if you have severe symptoms of an upset stomach, if these symptoms don’t go away, or if you have symptoms of gallbladder problems, which may include repeated vomiting or persistent pain in the right or mid-upper stomach area.
What supplements should I avoid using Victoza?
Before you start taking Victoza, tell your doctor about all other medicines, vitamins and supplements you are taking.
Because Victoza changes the way food passes through your digestive system, it may affect the absorption or effectiveness of supplements and medications you take by mouth.
Caution is advised when taking supplements and Victoza at the same time, even if no supplements are specifically contraindicated.
Do Victoza and Ozempic have similar dietary restrictions?
Yes, both Victoza and Ozempic have similar dietary considerations.
No specific foods are strictly prohibited when you take either medication, but the same general guidelines for what to eat and what not to eat when taking Ozempic also apply to Victoza.
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