Prednisone Weight Gain: Managing The Drug’s Side Effects

Steroidal drugs, like Prednisone, can successfully treat many health issues, but can also cause unwanted Prednisone weight gain. That is weight gain associated with use of the drug, and it is often difficult to manage during treatment (but possible with some tips). 

What is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a synthetic, corticosteroid that is usually taken orally, but can be given in an intramuscular injection, and suppresses the immune system. It’s typically used to treat inflammatory diseases and tumors.

What are Some Side Effects?

Since the drug impacts the adrenal gland, mimicking its job, your body loses its ability to produce steroids naturally. So, in addition to the weight gain, Prednisone can also cause:

  • bone loss
  • a rise in blood sugar levels
  • joint issues
  • steroidal acne
  • intestinal issues (Crohn’s disease and IBS)
  • mood swings
  • eye issues (like cataracts and glaucoma)
  • a weakened immune system

How Do I Manage the Side Effects?

Managing weight gain while taking Prednisone means controlling your increased appetite and eating healthy by:

  • avoiding processed sugars and carbohydrates –they are digested too quickly in your body, leaving you unsatisfied and causing hunger to return quickly
  • lowering your salt intake–Prednisone causes you to retain sodium and loss potassium, leading to fluid retention, weight gain, bloating, high blood pressure, and low blood potassium levels. 
  • limiting your fat intake– since all fats, good or bad, have twice the calories per gram as lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, reduce the amount of fats you eat, and limit those you do eat to healthier, unsaturated fat. It automatically reduces your daily calories, and may help lower blood cholesterol.
  • increasing physical exercise–whatever you’re current exercise level is, you’ll need to increase it to keep your weight down.
  • adjusting from three to 5 small meals a day–by eating more frequently and smaller portions, you’ll keep your hunger from tempting you to overindulge on high fat, sodium, and sugary foods that are high in calories, but low in nutrients.

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