Looking for more information on liraglutide for weight loss?
For researchers exploring options for chronic weight management, this guide has it covered.
Liraglutide is increasingly studied and used to treat chronic weight issues, having been shown to effectively reduce body weight and improve metabolic health across a range of populations.
In our summary of the available research on liraglutide and weight loss, our expert team covers the peptide’s mechanism of action, benefits, and safety profile. We also provide insights into dosing and administering liraglutide.
Read on to discover what researchers need to know about liraglutide for weight loss.
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What is Liraglutide?
Liraglutide is a peptide clinically used to treat type 2 diabetes (T2D) and chronic weight management issues. It is a synthetic form of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is naturally produced in the body in response to food intake [1, 2].
GLP-1 is an incretin hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release from the pancreas, suppressing glucagon release, and reducing the amount of glucose produced by the liver .
Liraglutide works by mimicking the effects of GLP-1 in the body. It is 97% homologous to the hormone and binds to GLP-1 receptors all over the body .
It works to lower blood sugar levels and improve glycemic control by activating the receptors in the pancreas. It also slows down the emptying of the stomach after a meal, which helps to reduce postprandial glucose levels, suppress appetite, and promote feelings of fullness .
Liraglutide was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of T2D under the brand name Victoza. It is designated for use in combination with diet and exercise to help lower blood sugar levels in adults with the condition .
Later, the FDA approved liraglutide for lowering cardiovascular risk in T2D patients .
- adults with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 kg/m2 (obesity)
- adults with a BMI of 27 kg/m2 and at least one weight-related comorbidity
- adolescents aged 12-17 who are obese or weigh more than 132 pounds (60kg)
Liraglutide For Weight Loss
As mentioned, liraglutide has gained FDA approval for chronic weight management. The indication is backed by multiple clinical trials demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of liraglutide in promoting weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.
Below, we'll present in-depth details on all potential mechanisms via which liraglutide induces weight reduction and discover the best reviews on liraglutide weight loss effects.
How Does Liraglutide Work For Weight Loss?
Liraglutide works for weight loss by acting through complex mechanisms that involve activation of the GLP-1 receptors in the brain, gut, and adipose tissue.
For example, liraglutide works to reduce hunger by acting as an agonist of the GLP-1 receptors expressed in the brain, specifically in regions that play a crucial role in regulating appetite .
It binds to the GLP-1 receptors present in neurons of the arcuate nucleus in the hypothalamus—the part of the brain that regulates appetite and hunger. These neurons express the so-called proopiomelanocortin and cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript (POMC/CART).
Liraglutide directly activates POMC/CART neurons and indirectly suppresses a couple of orexigenic peptides called neuropeptide Y (NPY) and agouti-related peptide (AgRP). This leads to increased feelings of satiety and decreased hunger .
In addition, studies show that liraglutide can reduce the weight-loss-related decrease in leptin. Leptin is also known as the satiety hormone and is produced by white adipose tissue. During weight loss, body fat levels decrease, which also reduces leptin levels and its satiety-promoting effect. Liraglutide is evidenced to partially prevent the decrease in leptin levels during weight loss, possibly by interacting with the GLP-1 receptors in adipose tissue .
Researchers have also noted that liraglutide therapy is associated with higher levels of another satiety-promoting hormone: peptide YY (PYY). This peptide hormone signals fullness to the brain and reduces appetite .
Liraglutide likely exerts these effects by activating the GLP-1 receptors in the gastrointestinal system since PYY is produced primarily in the gut. Researchers have suggested that by increasing the levels of PYY, liraglutide may contribute to long-term weight management .
A study by van Can et al. (2014) showed that 3.0mg liraglutide can slow down gastric emptying by 23% during the first hour after a meal when compared to placebo. The researchers did not report any increase in energy expenditure during liraglutide therapy, suggesting that the weight loss is primarily due to its appetite-suppressing effects, potentially exerted by the slower postprandial gastric emptying .
However, the researchers noted that the effect of liraglutide on gastric emptying was no longer significant after the third hour following meal consumption. Thus, it is unknown if the slower gastric emptying during the first 1-3 hours after a meal contributes meaningfully to the weight loss effects of the peptide.
Liraglutide For Weight Loss | Reviews
Systematic literature reviews reveal that the appetite-suppressing effects of liraglutide can lead to significant weight loss.
A 2017 critical review published in Obesity Science & Practice reported that 20 weeks of 3mg liraglutide daily led to an average of 3.7-8.0 kg (~8-18 lbs) of weight loss in individuals with a >30 BMI. Further, the researchers reported that 73% of the participants lost at least 5% of their body weight, with 37% losing at least 10% of their body weight .
Researchers should also note a 2022 systematic review by Konwar et al., which covered 14 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and also reported that liraglutide could result in significant weight loss. The meta-analysis revealed that 3mg of liraglutide taken for 20-56 weeks led to about 4.91kg (~11 lbs) greater weight loss on average compared to placebo .
Another 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis suggested that liraglutide's weight loss effects are not limited to subcutaneous fat, but can also significantly impact visceral and organ fat .
Excessive levels of visceral fat usually manifest with abdominal obesity, and it is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as T2D, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Liraglutide Dosing For Weight Loss
Liraglutide has a half-life of approximately 13 hours, thus intended for once-daily administration .
Saxenda serves as a useful reference regarding weight loss research, with the evidence suggesting a maximum daily dose of 3.0mg for this purpose .
However, it is crucial to start with a low dose at the beginning of each study and gradually increase the liraglutide dosage over five weeks to minimize the incidence of adverse effects.
- Dose: 0.6mg/daily in week one, 1.2mg/daily in week two, 1.8mg/daily in week three, 2.4mg/daily in week four, and 3.0mg/daily in weeks five and beyond.
- Frequency: Daily subcutaneous injections.
- Study Duration (at the full dose of 3mg): up to 68 weeks.
- Notes: This protocol calls for a gradual increase of daily dose to lower the risk of side effects. Do not exceed the maximum daily liraglutide dose of 3.0mg.
Other Liraglutide Benefits
Apart from its effectiveness for weight loss, liraglutide has a range of other proven and potential benefits, which can be discovered below.
Glycemic Control and Cardiovascular Risk in T2D
In addition to its weight management indications, liraglutide has also been approved for the management of glycemic control in individuals with T2D.
To assess its real-world clinical effectiveness in treating T2D, researchers conducted a systematic review that included 43 randomized trials. The results of the review showed that liraglutide treatment significantly reduced glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels by up to 2.2% within 6 months of initiation.
Additionally, the researchers highlight that liraglutide therapy was well-tolerated and associated with a low risk of hypoglycemia, and that the positive effects of treatment were sustained for at least 12 months .
In addition to its glycemic control benefits, studies have demonstrated that liraglutide can also reduce the incidence of major adverse cardiovascular events in patients with T2D, regardless of any history of such events .
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver and Diabetic Nephropathy
T2D can lead to a number of serious complications, including kidney disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Studies have suggested that liraglutide may offer effective prevention.
In a meta-analysis of 18 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), including over 1500 individuals with T2D, researchers suggested that liraglutide can improve indicators of renal function such as urine albumin-creatinine ratio, serum creatinine, and cystatin C levels .
Another meta-analysis examined data from 535 participants and found that liraglutide significantly decreases liver fat, lipoproteins, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in individuals with T2D and NAFLD .
Potential Neuroprotective Effects
By activating the GLP-1 receptors in the brain, liraglutide may exert neuroprotective effects and help reduce neuroinflammation in chronic degenerative diseases such as dementia.
One trial published by Edison et al. in Journal of the Alzheimer's Association revealed that 12 months of liraglutide therapy can significantly improve cognitive function and the volume of the brain cortex in individuals with Alzheimer's disease .
More research is needed to evaluate the potential of liraglutide as an add-on therapy for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Liraglutide Side Effects and Safety
The most common side effects of liraglutide are symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. These adverse reactions are usually mild to moderate in severity and tend to resolve over time as the body adjusts to the treatment .
Another potential safety concern with liraglutide is its effect on heart rate. Studies have shown that liraglutide can cause a small increase in heart rate, which may be a concern for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions .
However, it is important to note that the overall cardiovascular safety of liraglutide has been extensively studied, and the peptide has been found to be safe for use and even reduce cardiovascular risk in T2D .
More serious side effects of liraglutide are rare but can include pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, and allergic reactions. Pancreatitis and gallbladder disease can both cause severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting .
Animal studies have also suggested an increased risk of thyroid cancer and other malignancies, but clinical studies have yet to prove or refute these potential adverse effects in humans .
Where to Buy Liraglutide Online? | 2024 Edition
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How to Reconstitute Liraglutide
For research purposes, liraglutide is typically sold as a lyophilized powder that requires reconstitution with a sterile solvent before use.
Bacteriostatic water is a recommended solvent as it contains 0.9% benzyl alcohol, which suppresses the growth of microorganisms and extends the shelf life of the peptide by up to four weeks when refrigerated.
Sterile water, on the other hand, does not suppress microbial growth, and any peptide reconstituted with sterile water becomes unsuitable for use after 24 hours.
To reconstitute liraglutide, researchers require among the following materials:
- a vial of bacteriostatic water
- a vial of lyophilized liraglutide powder
- a sterile syringe of at least 3cc
- a sterile 1″ 20-gauge needle
- alcohol swabs
Here are six steps for the reconstitution process which researchers can follow to ensure the success of the process:
- Step 1: Allow the vials to reach room temperature before mixing liraglutide.
- Step 2: Disinfect the stoppers of both vials using alcohol wipes to prevent bacterial contamination and infection risk.
- Step 3: Inject 1ml of air into the vial with the diluent to make the fluid easier to withdraw. Then withdraw the correct amount of bacteriostatic water.
- Step 4: Insert the needle into the vial with lyophilized liraglutide and slowly inject the bacteriostatic water while directing the tip of the needle at the wall of the vial to prevent foaming. Then discard the needle and the syringe into the sharps container.
- Step 5: Let liraglutide dissolve naturally or use sonication. Shaking or tapping the vial can damage the peptide structure of liraglutide and render it ineffective. Also, avoid tapping the syringe when removing the air before injection.
- Step 6: Check if the liquid is clear, turbid or if there are any particles. Discard the solution if it’s not clear. Otherwise, make sure to store the reconstituted peptide according to the recommendation on the specific product label.
Here's a few of the most frequently asked questions about Liraglutide:
Liraglutide vs. Semaglutide
Semaglutide is a medication similar to liraglutide and also belongs to the class of drugs known as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists.
Like liraglutide, semaglutide is used to treat T2D, and it is FDA-approved for this indication under the brand name Ozempic. Semaglutide is also available in a higher dose for weight management under the brand name Wegovy.
Semaglutide has a longer half-life than liraglutide, making it potentially more effective in reducing blood sugar levels and body weight.
Both peptides have similar safety profiles. One disadvantage of semaglutide compared to liraglutide is that it may be more likely to cause nausea and other gastrointestinal issues.
Liraglutide vs. Tirzepatide
Tirzepatide is a dual agonist that targets both the GLP-1 receptor and the glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP) receptor, which may lead to more robust glycemic control and weight loss.
Further, tirzepatide has a longer half-life than liraglutide and can be administered less frequently—once weekly vs. once daily.
Like liraglutide, it has been FDA-approved for glycemic control and reducing cardiovascular risk in T2D. But unlike liraglutide, it has yet to gain approval for chronic weight management, although such clearance is expected later in 2023.
Tirzepatide may be more likely than liraglutide to cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, especially during the titration phase.
Additionally, as a newer peptide, tirzepatide has not yet been studied as extensively as liraglutide in terms of long-term safety and efficacy.
Liraglutide vs. Dulaglutide
Dulaglutide is another medication belonging to the GLP-1 receptor agonist class. It is FDA-approved for T2D management under the brand name Trulicity. Similarly to liraglutide, it has been shown to improve glycemic control, reduce cardiovascular risk, and promote weight loss.
However, dulaglutide is not approved for weight loss or weight management. The peptide has a longer half-life than liraglutide, which is why it is usually administered once a week, while liraglutide is taken once a day.
Overall, both peptides have similar efficacy in terms of glycemic control and lowering the risk of cardiovascular events in individuals with T2D.
Additionally, while both medications have a similar safety profile, dulaglutide has been associated with a slightly higher incidence of gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea, compared to liraglutide.
Weight Loss and Liraglutide | Verdict
Liraglutide is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that has been approved as a weight loss agent in overweight and obese individuals. It has shown impressive and sustainable results in reducing body weight.
Studies have also found that liraglutide can effectively regulate blood sugar levels in T2D, prevent many related complications, and exert additional neuroprotective effects.
Liraglutide for weight loss can be legally purchased by qualified professionals looking to incorporate it into their research. The peptide is administered once daily while following a specific weight loss dosing regime, and exhibits a favorable safety profile when handled by qualified personnel.