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Weight Gain? Could It Be Your Medication?

Updated on April 20, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Food and Weight Maintenance


Weight Gain Due to Some Meds

While medications are necessary for many diseases, a side effect can be weight gain. So, I cut out the sugar, eat a low calorie diet and exercise to remove any recent gain when I take one of these medications.

I have treated with Prednisone for Systemic Lupus for several years, and as long as the dosage is below 7 mg I can maintain my weight quite well, as that is what your body (adrenal gland) normally produces. Prednisone is given for many types of diseases, particularly autoimmunine ones.

However, if I end up in a situation where the dosage must be increased and it lasts for a few weeks I always gain weight. Another medication I use to take that will also cause weight gain is Lyrica. It is a wonderful drug for Fibromyalgia. It is a good idea to get medical information concerning side effects about any medication you are taking.

Healthy Fruits


Drugs that Treat Autoimmune Diseases

Prednisone, a corticosteroid, will change your metabolism after taking it for 6 weeks, especially if you are on higher doses. According to my doctor, your body normally makes 7 mg of cortisone a day, so if you take under that amount, you will have fewer side effects.

High doses have a lot of nasty side effects, such as thinning of the bones leading to osteoporosis, early cataracts, insomnia, fluid retention, moon face, which means your face gets very round, increased appetite, indigestion, mood swings and nervousness or restlessness, just to name a few. Prednisone is given for many types of serious diseases so it is a necessary drug, but if you have a choice I would opt not to take this medication long term if you have a choice.

Another popular medication that causes weight gain is Lyrica. It doesn’t have as many side effects as prednisone, but the weight gain is well known. Some of the reasons it is prescribed is to treat fibromyalgia, seizures and pain from nerve damage due to diabetes. If the disease warrants a medication, a little weight gain is not a reason to stop any medication.

Other Medications that Cause Weight Gain

There are some medications to treat diabetes that cause weight gain, such as insulin, and classes of drugs known as sulfonylureas and thiazolidinediones. These drugs are prescribed to lower blood sugar, which will increase your appetite.

Heart medications, known as Beta Blockers, also may be a problem. They include propranolol (Inderal), acebutolol (Sectral), ate.nlol (Tenormin) and metoprolol (Lopressor, Toporl XL).

Hormone replacement therapy can also cause weight gain. Even drugs like Pravacid and Nexium can cause weight gain in some people.

Antidepressants, such as Prozac, Zoloft, Remeron and Paxil will also cause weight gain. Some birth control medications, particularly Depo-Provera, will also cause weight gain.

Depakote is used to treat Bipolar disease and to treat migraines, but it will cause weight gain. One study found that "44% of women and 24% of men gained 11pounds" over the course of one year while on Depakote. Zyprexa also causes weight gain.

Hints to Lose Weight

The best thing to do is not buy any junk food, so it is not available. I know which things I can stay away from and which foods call me by name when in my home.

I try to keep fruit because it is sweet and helps with those cravings. I find drinking something warm sometimes helps calm down the hunger. Drink several glasses of water each day. I eat at least 3 to 5 small meals a day, or maybe with a fruit snack in the afternoon if I’m hungry. That way I don’t eat any large meals. I do fill up more easily, because I’m not used to eating large meals. I also try to walk every day. The types of exercise I can do is limited, but it is better to do something than be a couch potato. Joining a gym is a good idea as well.

Dining out can be a challenge. It is good to know the restaurant you’re going to, so you can decide on what you want to eat ahead of time and not make an impulse decision to buy based on a good looking picture.

If I want an alcoholic beverage, it’s wine because that is lower in calories. No fancy looking drinks for me. If I am having soup, I stay away from cream based soups, and I also order salad with dressing on the side. Restaurants are great to drown the salad in dressing, which I don’t care for regardless of the calories. I stay away from fried foods, as there are plenty of choices listed that are broiled and baked.

If you get a large meal, plan to take home a doggie bag. It helps to divide the food on the plate immediately so you know what you are going to eat before you start. You can also share a course with a friend if you know the meal will be large. And my most important rule is do not look at the desert menu! If you know you are going to splurge, plan ahead. You can even have an appetizer and a dessert instead of a main meal. Also, everyone can eat a bit of dark chocolate now and then. After all, now they say that it is good for you. Good luck with your own food plan.

In Summary

It is difficult to have a chronic illness and then be put on medicine that only treats the symptoms and doesn't cure the disease. The kicker is it has side effects, like weight gain, fluid retention, cataracts, and so forth.

The only way I know to deal with this is to keep my mind busy, and one way I do that is writing. I'm not depressed. I try hard to eat healthy, and be as active as possible. I know I have to be more careful with my diet than most people, so I have eliminated all dairy products, sugar, processed meat, and try to find organic meat when possible. Make healthier choices! I was delighted when I found out dark chocolate was actually good for you as that is my weakness, but with limits.

The support of family and friends help tremendously as well. Over the holidays this year I'm going to try and not gain any weight!

The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Beth, First I would get checked out by a doctor to make sure you don't have a thyroid problem or some other problem. It doesn't sound like you are over eating unless you are eating higher fat food. Probably aerobic exercise is the answer as house work burns calories but you need to do something for at least 20 minutes a week with higher activity level. It can be walking, aerobic workout, swimming or anything that keeps consistently keeps your heart rate up for 20 straight minutes. I wish you the best.

  • beth811 profile image


    9 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    Daily in the morning I only have coffee & 2 meals for the rest of the day with no snacks in between. I don't take any medications because I don't have any illness so far, but I wonder why I'm still fat. I weigh 180lbs now though it drops sometimes to around 160 but not less than that. I also do a lot of household chores.

    The question is why am I still fat? There might be any abnormality in my hormones, or what?

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Roberta, Thanks so much for your comment. God Bless

  • Roberta99 profile image


    9 years ago

    Medicine can cause a lot of problems. I lost all the natural curl in my hair plus loss of hair also. But how would I live without it. It keeps me up and running.

    Good hub. Enjoy all your writings.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Jen, Thank you for your comment and I wish you the best of health. It is not easy to have a chronic illness and remain cheerful, but you have a great smile. God Bless.

  • Jen's Solitude profile image

    Jen's Solitude 

    9 years ago from Delaware

    Hi Pamela99, I can certainly relate to this hub as far as gaining weight from medication is concerned. Solu-Medrol Steroids and Lyrica are my main culprits. Like you, I would rather have the weight than the pain and flare-ups MS causes. I enjoyed this hub!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida


    Your are right. It's no fun but living without the medicine means pain and more illness, so you must learn to lived with the problem. I try not to get stressed about the whole thing as I believe I can be as happy as I choose to be. Thanks for your comment.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    9 years ago from London, UK

    It must quite cumbersome if you have to take some medicine knowing very well it is increases your weight. I am sorry to hear that. Weight is a problem and nobody likes it. Being an older person mine sticks like cement but I keep trying.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ehern, Thanks for your comment.

  • ehern33 profile image


    9 years ago

    Prednisone is a double edged sword. Glad you are taking it in low dosages. You are absolutely right about weight gain and this drug and it seems you have found a balance.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    It sounds like you have everything under control Tom.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 

    9 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    As I aged I found it necessary to eat small snack-like meals about 3 to 4 times per day to lose and maintain weight. I went from 195 pounds to 150 pounds by doing so. I also cut way down on Pepsi.

    Also eat lots of veggies.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Bpop, That is a good rule of thumb (that wasn't a pun). I think having a plan of some kind is the most important thing.

  • breakfastpop profile image


    9 years ago

    For me the secret is small portions. I try to eat nothing larger than the palm of my hand. Interesting hub, Pamela.


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