Keeping Off The Prednisone Pounds

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy 27 Comments

I still remember the first time I took Prednisone; it was quite an experience, to say the least. First, most of my pain and symptoms just seemed to magically disappear. Then, there was the euphoric buzz that made me feel like the Road Runner with Acme rocket-powered boots, after drinking a couple of cans of Red Bull. Last was the hunger–a hunger that I never experienced before in my life. I started to eat so much, that I felt like a Hobbit: first midnight snack, second midnight snack, and so on. (Don’t even get me started on how much I ate once I actually ‘woke up’ for the day!)

My weight gain was so immediate, that during my follow-up appointment my rheumatologist kindly suggested that I opt for healthy snacks, such as apples. And all I could think of in response was: are you kidding me…apples? Give me potato chips, give me cookies, give me ice cream, and give me pickles!

Fast-forward a few weeks, and I quickly realized that I had to come up with a better action plan for future prednisone tapers, when it came to snacking. And even though I haven’t done a prednisone taper in almost a year (last time around, I reached a point where I was really concerned about the withdrawal symptoms that I experienced), should I need to do so again in the future, these are the two things I will get ready the day before I take my first dose, just as I’ve done so many times in the past.


Presto 04830 PowerPop Microwave Multi-Popper

Okay, I remember a time when “healthy” popcorn meant air-popped popcorn…and no matter how much I tried to pretend that it tasted good, it didn’t. This microwave popper solves that problem. Even without butter or oil, the popcorn it makes is both tasty and healthy. Additional benefit: once you calculate the per-serving cost, it’s much less expensive than traditional microwaveable bags of popcorn.

More info:



When I’m in a taper, I can never eat too much jello. I prefer the type from the box, with real sugar. (I don’t like artificial sweeteners; it’s a taste thing.) Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: nine boxes of Jell-o are sold every second in the U.S. Additional benefit: if you’re missing the alcohol, due to all of the medicines you’re currently taking, with a little imagination you can pretend you’re downing jello shots!

More info:

What tricks do you use to keep off the prednisone pounds?

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis!

Comments 27

  1. Aida

    prednisone or not i always keep carrots and celery on hand along with grapes apples and oranges and like you popcorn , like yourself i went hog wild and wanted just junk food but after packing on the weight i said no more and it wasn’t a good idea for me due to my diabetes . but having the healthy food in the house gives you no choice but to snack healthy …. wish me luck losing this weight

  2. Melanie

    I gained 33 lbs in my first 6 weeks of being on prednisone, which was a lot on my previously 5’9″ 140 lb frame. I ate EVERYTHING. It also made me homicidal. Thanks for the tips in case I ever have to take it again!

  3. Christine

    I called myself a Hoover vacuum during my prednisone days. Still haven’t list the pounds from 2 yrs ago. Weight watchers and I are going to be besties starting tomorrow.

  4. Wende

    Great article…. I put on so much during my pred days. I couldn’t get rid of it no matter how much I tried, so I started to taper, though my Rheumy suggested I would never be able to come off it completely, I am now 7 months prednisone free – I crave the pain free days but am happy to be getting back to a weight that my joints are more please to carry me around with. xx

  5. Jeanette

    Jennifer…while your tapering it may work but I quickly discovered it was not much to do with what I actually ate. Pre pred I could do shakes and the weight would drop off but while on a decent dose of pred long term even doing 3 shakes a day and no food did not help except to frustrate me that I was starving ….taking in minimal cals and gaining or staying stagnant at best..even after weeks of shakes. My doc said I have to accept it until the pred can come down…which is not now 🙁

  6. Squirelly666

    Only had the Prednisone for a one month period, and had the same thing. I was bouncing round the house like Jim Carey in the Mask, and I ate everything I could see. Managed to put on 15 pounds in 3 weeks, mostly by having 5 meals a day, and some serious snacking in between them 🙂 Got some nice stretch scarring on my belly that still haven’t completely disappeared 18 months later thanks to it as well.

    Luckily (for my waistline at least) it didn’t actually help with my symptoms (apart from energy levels), so I’ve not tried it again.

  7. Jessica

    In addition to that bottomless pit of hunger, I also get what I call the prednisone thirsties. I thought that maybe drinking the amount of water that I was drinking, it would help the hunger (maybe fill me up a little). I was VERY wrong. It doesn’t and I eat just as much. Then I get bloated for water retention and add on the pounds from the never ending hunger. I feel like someone has blown me up like a balloon. Yuck! 🙁

  8. Deb aka abcsofra

    Well first, I have split my pregnisone dose years and years ago. I do 5 mg in the morning when I wake up and .5 at night around 6-7pm. And yes my rhuemie agrees with this. In fact my endocronologist said that this makes sense as our body makes it regularly throughout the day. That helped alot with the food cravies and with my pain, particularly the rising pain in the morning. I still have some but at least I can get out of bed now to some extent. For food I have tried to go more natural all the way around including air popped corn with olive oil and a touch of sea salt. I also eat just a small handful of nuts (when my jaw isn’t bothering me) of walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and almonds. I also eat oatmeal in the morning and have wanted to get back to adding natural protein powder to it. Protein really truly does help keep one full. And occassionally if I am raving in the afternoon I will eat a protein bar as a snack…natural one again. I find that by adding protein to any diet helps to help one lose weight more easily. What bothers me more about the pregnisone is the redistribution of weight rather then weight gain. Of course I am 54 so not sure if this is a natural occurance but I have noticed more fluff in odd spots since being on this little pill we love to hate.

  9. Michelle

    When my daughter was on high doses of prednisone, I always put coconut oil in some vanilla tea. The coconut oil seemed to curb her appetite.

  10. Lauren

    I found that eating a mandarin or an orange after dinner helped me not eat and eat and eat all night. I couldn’t sleep when I was taking it and I was only on 10mg!!! Amazing drug though! =/

  11. Iris

    I simultaneously love and hate prednisone. I love that I feel good. I hate that I can’t stop eating, and that I have to take diuretics or the fluid retention gives me massive headaches! I honestly can eat so many vegetable sticks that I can put weight on from them!

  12. Jason

    I have been on predinsone for 10 years straight now! Not one day in that 10 year period have I not taken the little white pill! I take other meds along with it but I have to stay on the pred to be able to function!! Just like the blimp floating above a football stadium is the way I look. Fighting the munchies is a constant battle!! From time to time I will go on the akins diet and no bread and no sugar and that helps!!

  13. Wayney

    When I was on pred starting in 2006 through 2008, I gained a LOT of weight. I went from 120s to 198 at my highest. Then by spring 2009, I had been so ill and unable to keep food down that I had dropped to somewhere between 90 and 95lbs. I don’t know the exact amount as I was unable to get on a scale and the hospital bed kept saying I weighed 140+ lbs and it was obvious I was not even close.

    But, I didn’t eat like I was ravenous when I took oral pred. I have always had a problem with my appetite taking a major dive when I am not feeling well. I know when I was seeing my ped rheumy, they kept a close eye on my weight and my Mom was concerned that I was always underweight. The school nurse finally stopped even sending the notice home I think after Mom kept repeating that my doc was aware of my low weight and was not concerned. He said I’d eat when I was hungry. He also suggested that even if it were not meal times, if I was hungry, let me eat and even if it was an odd request, to go ahead. At least I’d be eating something. By my teen years, I was no longer medicated, in remission and I ate a LOT. Very little that was healthy either, but I maintained my weight at around 100 lbs. I lived on Snickers, Reese Cup, Mt. Dew, chips of various kinds, and cheeseburgers from McDonald’s. My senior year of high school I would have a candy bar and a Mt Dew for breakfast, a bag of chips and Mt. Dew for lunch, then as soon as school was out, I headed for McD’s and 2 cheeseburgers with ketchup and mayo only. Then I’d head to work where the vending machine was my food source. After work, McD’s again. 2-4 of the same cheeseburgers. If I had fries, they were always dipped it either BBQ sauce and mayo or ketchup and mayo. After I got married, my eating habits got a bit better, but not much. It wasn’t until my mid-20s when the weight began piling on. Right after I started my buddy pred. I gained less on low dose pred than I did when I added Neurontin to the mix. That and then my dose of pred hitting 20mg made it even worse.

    In a way, my inability to eat had a good part to it, in that I lost all the weight I’d put on. The bad part is I lost too much. So, I ended up with a feeding tube. Once I was stabilized and able to eat, I was eating EVERYTHING in sight and I had been off pred while I was so sick because of the infections. So, that insatiability was just from not eating. It’s leveled off and I am back on 5mg pred. I was on a bit of a climb in my weight before starting pred. But, after being dangerously low, I’d rather be carrying a bit extra than be so ill I am underweight after that horrible experience. The 5mg of pred have NOT made my appetite appear. I have been battling the no appetite issue for months lately. I do good to eat one real meal a day and a few snacks. Extra weight is not good on the joints but for me, as long as I stay where I am or close to it, I’ll not complain. I showed some of the staff at the nursing home my driver’s license picture and hid the name etc. Only one out of 10-15 people had a clue it was me, and she even said it more like “surely that’s not you is it?” I was unrecognizable. I almost wish that I could get a small appetite boost from my pred right now. Flare=having to force myself to eat. It’s not good to take all of my meds and not eat.

  14. Frantasm

    Sadly Prednisone never really curbed the pain, even when I was up to 80 mgs. Now I’m down to 7.5 mgs and no real change with appetite. I have gained 15 lbs. in the last 4 months since I’ve been taking it. I hate it but know that the weekly swimming my PT says I’m ready for will help. For me my cravings involve meat, especially beef and meats that I would have never tried before. I always got steaks well done & now I like them medium. I want to eat elk and buffalo regularly. I’ve heard chia seeds can make people feel full for longer periods but have not tried that route yet.

  15. Gina

    I have been on 30 mg a day pred now for 2 months and have only gained 5 pounds but can feel it coming and am finding fat distribution around my stomach. I try to eat low carb but am hungry every second every day. The pain-free euphoria is amazing but I don’t want to gain weight because of my joints.

  16. Jill

    I took pred. in high school and was a competitive nordic ski racer in the White Mountains. I remember before each race I would be SHOVELING oyster crackers or goldfish into my mouth. I loved them more than anything, especially with the steroidal drug.

    It became such a concern for my coach that she would make me keep a food log to track how many empty calories (or complete lack of nutrition) I was eating. She was also my french teacher and during class would make me sit there and eat my lunch early in her class. She made sure I was acquiring the right amount of nutrients to workout at such a high level without letting my RA get the best of me. At the time, I hated her for it but, now I am so grateful for what she did.

  17. Lori

    When I first started on pred I had to get up to 20 mg per day just to be able to get out of bed. I quickly gained 30 pounds in 2 months. I’m only 5’2, and had kept my weight at a nice 145 with a very active lifestyle before getting sick. The pred munchies completely changed my body shape, and never before have I had food cravings like I did for those months. It was only once I began to feel better that I was able to address diet once again. I started making smoothies again (as a lowfat meal replacement) so that I can get in fruits, leafy greens, and organic yogurt. I got a juicer in the fall. I make a pint glass full of a juice mix of whatever I have on hand and I drink it as a part of a meal or in the evening after dinner when I’m craving something instead of a fatty snack.

  18. Kate @ Cooking with Arthur

    Hmm I know the pred munchies well, I tend to get them hand in hand with ‘roid rage!

    I find increasing the protein and fibre content of my meals keeps me fuller for longer, so if we have pasta, it will be wholemeal with ricotta cheese and zucchini or similar. Herbs and spices can increase satiety too, adding chilli flakes for example. Crunchy food can help you feel satisfied, we keep crudite, roast chickpeas and popcorn on standby. Low fat dairy is good too, as pred affects vit d and calcium metabolism. A fat free Greek yogurt feels creamy and luxurious, fills up and is high in protein and calcium! There are a few recipe ideas for lower cal, filling food on my site if anyone wants inspiration. I’ve never managed to conquer the puffy face or water retention though…

  19. Kiran

    I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 11. I recently started a blog to help people better understand arthritis. I’m not a doctor so I won’t be able to tell you what medications are good or bad, but I will be discussing exercises, diets, and my experience with different treatments. No one should feel alone in this, especially a child.

  20. Brenda Gaines Hunter

    I sometimes take prednisone, too. I think whether you lose weight, whether your weight stays the same, or whether you gain weight depends on a number of factors. If whatever inflammation you were experiencing caused water retention and the prednisone resolved the issue, you may lose weight. If you stay moderately active and watch your calories, you may maintain your weight. If you were not experiencing water retention, and you are not moderately active nor do you watch your calories, you will gain weight. Your appetite will likely pick up, but that doesn’t mean break out the buckets of fried chicken and large pizzas. Eat air popped pop corn. Drink lots of water. Cut sodium. Up postassium. Cut carbs, especially simple carbs. A low-cal Gatorade and a multivitamin each day. Lots of vegetables. Spare the dressings and butter… For the over all sake of our health, we need to not feel sorry for ourselves and make adjustments.

  21. Cilla O'Fiel

    I have had an autoimmune disease for the last 18 years. At first I was put on 20 mg of pred then reduced to 10 mg. for a long time. Then I was gradually reduced to 5 mg. I stayed on this dose for over 15 years. All was well until I had a bladder sling which came with massive infections. The problems with one antibiotic after another started to cause prednisone problems. At first I was thought to have allergies to the antibiotics.However after discovering that the antibiotics made the pred less effective they increased my dosage up to 7.5 mg for the last two years. I still have days ( too many ) that I’m flat on my back unable to move in pain. Now the drs. believe it is the pred. causing the problem. Once before they tried to get me off the prednisone only to be sent to ER for pred. injections and plenty of painkiller. If anyone out there has had a similar problem and a solution please help! By the way my weight has balooned 65lbs. Now I have to lose weight to have a surgery that might save my life. I wish that I had never heard of that drug!

  22. Hopeto Inspire

    I’ve been on prednisone for 2 years now. At first it was a life saver as I’ve been battling Asthma symptoms. After about 2 mos. I noticed that I’d gained 10lbs and I wasn’t happy, but I was ok with it because the prednisone helped me breathe. As my doctors tried to taper me off, I noticed that my breathing wasn’t improving and I’d have to use my rescue inhalers more. So, they’d put me back on prednisone at higher doses ( prednisone bursts) and didn’t taper me. They’d give me 50mg for like 5 days, along with a corticosteroid inhaler (Advair). I’d end up back in the ER or hospital, then in the ER they’d give me 125mg of Solu-medrol injections (prednisone), then send me home with a taper. By this point, I noticed that I’d gained 50lbs in 3 mos. Now I was worried. They sent me to see a pulmonologist, who then switched me to Symbicort, along with a prednisone taper from 60mg by 10mg every 3 days. By the time I got to 10mg, I’d end up back in the ER. They then sent me to get a sleep study and found that due to all of the wgt. I’d gained now up to 70lbs, I’d developed sleep apnea, then to make matters worse the fat distribution was in my face, neck, shoulders, and back. I was miserable. They sent me to the Endocrinologist because of the tsh levels indicated that I had hypothyroidism (which prednisone suppresses your immune system causing Autoimmune disease). The Endocrinologist told me that I have Hoshimoto( an autoimmune disease) and I need to work with my pulmonologist to get OFF the prednisone. Still having difficulty breathing with Symbicort and the multiple dosing of prednisone, they wanted me to try Spiriva (which is usually for COPD), the Spiriva dryed my mouth and caused severe post-nasal drip, so they changed it to Spiriva Respimat, which takes my breath away, but gives some relief. Not enough relief to allow me to completely rid myself of Prednisone, so they add Dulera, then Qvar, and now they’ve offered me Xolair injections. I’ve opted out of taking Xolair shots due to the risk of cerebral, cardio, and pulmonary embolism, not to mention various forms of Cancer. My doctors have almost given up. I’ve now been up and down from 125mg to 10mg and back for the last 5mos. I am worst than where I started. I’ve now seen an ENT doctor that says my exacerbations of Asthma may come from GERD( which is due to prolong prednisone use). He ordered a barium swallow that said,” there was no GERD, but in fact a Hiatal Hernia” due to coughing, straining, trying to breathe.

    I am now over 100lbs heavier and I have edema all over my body. I am now being seen by the Rheumatologist, who believes that I have seronegative RA due to prolonged prednisone use. My breathing still hasn’t improved and they now want me to take Methotrexate for RA symptoms. Since my mobility is an issue( due to excessive wgt. gained), the arthritis in my knee, feet, hands, and back have been debilitating. The only good thing I can say is prednisone helps with my back and knee pain, that wakes up when I get to 10mg of prednisone, which is rare. I am now trying to taper again, with the hope of a bi-pap machine, and acid reflux meds, along with 3 inhalers, 3 nasal sprays, and 2 antihistamines and a diuretic. I feel like I could eat the whole house; I buy healthy foods, but I end up stopping at a drive-thru or sending my son to the store for chips. I crave Mountain Dew and Chocolate. Every morning I start out with a banana, but end my night with a soda or some chips or chocolate. When I’m down to 10mg, the cravings aren’t as bad, but I can’t seem to get there, so I’m battling a monster! I don’t even recognize myself in the mirror. It’s gotten so bad, that I only buy clothes with an elastic waist or a drawstring. This medicine was a blessing that has turned into a curse! The only way that I know how to get my life back is to try to educate myself as much as possible and do as much as I can to combat the effects of the drug by taking an active roll in my health.

    1) I can’t just take every drug given to me without getting a second opinion and requesting some sort of test to confirm the reason I’m taking it.

    2) Even if it’s just doing some breathing exercises; I need to start to prepare my body to fight by exercising.

    3) I have to eat healthier; rather it’s smaller portions of meat and more veggies( rotating my meals), less starches.

    4) Adding new foods that may be more exciting to try.

    5) Calling someone that will support me in my efforts, when I want to give in to cravings.

    6) Doing an activity that gets my mind off of the wgt, and my meds.

    I hope my list helps someone. Thanks for listening !!!

  23. Tripped out

    Yes. I feel like i can’t stop eating i had 5 meals in 17 hours plus snacks all heathly foods low salt low suger low fat lots of vedges and a few fruits nd well after 5 days of these my back pain still hurts my head is still fuzzy nd i sleep a tone its like im not even taking them. Expect the fact im hungry again …… i already ate twice in last 2 hours gahaaaa… but i can manage to stay away from my favorite snacks and drinks because i dnt want to mess up my body anymore

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *