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How Can I Lose Prednisone Weight Gain?

It's Easy To Gain Weight While Taking Prednisone, But Harder To Take It Off

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Updated April 11, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: How Can I Lose Prednisone Weight Gain?

Many people are unpleasantly surprised to discover that a course of prednisone could cause significant weight gain. Prednisone weight gain is multifactorial, with the typical contributors being fluid retention, an increase in calorie consumption, and a decrease in physical activity.

Answer:

Why Weight Gain Happens

Prednisone causes the body to retain sodium (salt) and lose potassium. This combination can result in fluid retention, weight gain, and bloating. Measures that can be used to avoid fluid retention in the first place are eating a reduced sodium diet and increasing potassium intake through potassium-rich foods (such as bananas, cantaloupe, grapefruit, and lima beans).

Higher calorie consumption is also typical while taking prednisone because the drug can cause an increase in appetite. Some tips to avoid gaining weight include decreasing calories consumed each day, decreasing dietary fat, and eating several small meals a day instead of 3 large ones.

Many people are taking prednisone due to an inflammatory condition or a chronic condition. These health problems often make physical activity more difficult. When possible, exercise can help prevent or lessen the weight gain from prednisone. Talk to your doctor about starting a fitness regimen that can not only help you lose prednisone weight, but can also keep you healthier in the long run.

Prednisone can also cause the redistribution of fat, which makes even a small amount weight gain more intolerable. The weight gained during prednisone therapy tends to be located in the face, back of the neck, and the abdomen.

How To Lose The Gain

The good news is that this side effect tends to reverse when the dosage of prednisone is taken below 10 mg/day. The fluid retention and increased appetite will decrease. Any weight gain, however, will not reverse itself right away. Sticking to a healthful eating plan and getting regular exercise will be needed to take off the pounds. It will be easier to do both of these things when the underlying condition for which the prednisone was prescribed is either resolved or under control.

Your physician can recommend the best diet and fitness plan that works with your particular lifestyle and any medical conditions. Unfortunately, there is no easy road to weight loss, which is why so many diet plans and pills that promise a quick weight loss.

The best way to lose weight, however, is still through a healthy lifestyle: reducing calorie consumption and getting regular exercise. Weight loss should be slow and steady to give the best chance of losing the pounds permanently.

Sources:

Lupus Foundation of America. "Treatment for Lupus." Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. 2007 2 Apr 2014.

Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center. "Treatments—Prednisone." Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center, Division of Rheumatology 2006. 2 April 2014.

Fusco, Robert D, MD. "All About Prednisone." Three Rivers Endoscopy Center 2007. 2 April 2014.

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