A hormone produced by the adrenal glands is cortisol.
Cortisol performs the “fight or flight” response that you experience when you are under stress in addition to its significant role in lowering inflammation in the body.
As synthetic copies of cortisol, corticosteroids are used to treat inflammatory illnesses like arthritis and other autoimmune diseases like lupus, Crohn’s illness, asthma, rashes, and cancer.
Anabolic steroids, which aid in muscular growth, are not the same as corticosteroids.
The number of prescriptions for steroids written in the US annually is estimated to be around 40 million.
According to a study that appeared in the International Journal of Medical Sciences. steroids frequently administered include, prednisone, prednisolone, cortisone, hydrocortisone, and budesonide.
These medications have some unsettling side effects but are very successful in reducing inflammation. One of them is gaining weight. Discover why this is the case and what you can do by reading on.
✅ Some inflammatory diseases can be effectively treated with steroids.
✅ Steroid medications are strong and can have some severe and undesirable side effects, such as weight gain.
✅ Talk to your doctor about lowering your risk if you are taking steroids and are concerned about gaining weight.
✅ Once the medicines are withdrawn, any weight gained during therapy will frequently start to disappear, but this weight reduction can take anywhere between six months and a year.
✅ Your best course of action is to try to stop the weight gain before it becomes an issue.
How do steroids function?
A compromised immune system is the root cause of many diseases that lead to inflammation. Your immune system defends you against infection by labeling bacteria and viruses as foreign invaders and launching a chemical offensive to eliminate them.
Some people have immune systems that attack healthy, normal cells for reasons that aren’t always evident. Tissue damage and an enlargement may arise from this. By lowering the molecules that generate inflammation, steroids aid in the battle against damage and swelling. To prevent the immune system from attacking healthy cells, they also aid in immunological suppression.
What causes weight gain?
But adverse side effects of steroids include weight gain. One study found that weight gain affected 70% of patients who were taking steroids, making it the most often reported negative side effect of steroid therapy.
The body’s electrolyte and water balances, as well as its metabolism, which includes how it consumes and stores lipids, amino acids, protein, carbs, and glucose, are all affected by steroids, which also promote weight gain. As a result of these variables, there is a weight increase because of:
- a heightened appetite
- Fluid accumulation
- modifications to how the body stores fat
Steroid users frequently experience an increase in belly, face, and neck fat. Because of this fat redistribution, even if you are able to minimize the weight increase brought on by steroid use, you are likely to seem bigger while taking these medications.
Numerous variables, including dose and duration, will affect how much and even whether you will gain weight (it’s not a given).
Generally speaking, weight gain is more likely to occur the longer you take the steroid and the greater the dose. There are often a few negative effects from short courses of a few days to a few weeks.
However, one study found that subjects who took more than 7.5 milligrams of prednisone per day for more than 60 days were more likely to experience negative side effects like weight gain than those who took a lower dose for a shorter amount of time. This finding was reported in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.
The good news is that weight loss usually occurs after stopping the steroids and letting your body adjust. This often occurs between six and twelve months.
Preventing weight gain brought on by steroids
Speaking to your doctor is the first step. You might have different prescription choices, depending on the medication you’re taking and the disorder it’s treating.
Additionally, your doctor might suggest switching to a new steroid kind or dosing plan. For instance, they might advise every-other-day dosing or, if you have asthma, using an inhaled steroid that targets the lungs specifically rather than a pill that can have effects on the entire body.
Without seeing a doctor, don’t stop taking your prescription (or alter when or how you take it). As powerful medications, steroids must be discontinued gradually. If you stop them suddenly, you risk developing major health issues like muscular discomfort, joint pain, fever, and a return of the disease they were treating.
Use the same methods you would regulate your weight in general to prevent weight gain:
- Opt for low-calorie, stomach-filling items like fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Eat six little meals each day as opposed to three larger ones to prevent hunger.
- Opt for complex, fiber-rich carbohydrates over refined ones since they absorb more slowly (for example, whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta, and brown rice instead of white).
- Add a protein source to every meal (meat, cheese, legumes, etc.). According to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, meals with 25 to 30 grams of protein are the most successful for reducing hunger and managing weight.
- Sip water. In addition to filling you up, it can burn calories. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, drinking merely 10 milliliters per kilogram of body weight of cold water every day boosted the resting energy expenditure of obese children by 25%. Trusted Source for at least 40 minutes following consumption.
- Keep moving. When you’re not feeling well, it can be challenging to do this. Choosing an enjoyable pastime and having a workout partner can both be beneficial.