Sleep problems, increased appetite, headaches, dizziness, nausea, bloating, and weight gain; all of these are symptoms that many sarc warriors have experienced while on prednisone. Since prednisone, a corticosteroid, is able to suppress inflammation leading to improved symptoms and possible prevention of permanent organ damage, despite side-effects, it remains a first line treatment for sarcoidosis. For many patients, the one side effects that causes the most discomfort is weight gain. Weight gain from prednisone is usually caused by water retention and an increased appetite. Some people also experience body fat redistribution, a symptom that is characterized by fat deposits collecting in unusual areas like the base of the neck or back. Trying to figure out how to deal with rapid weight gain can seem overwhelming at times, but there are a few things you can do limit weight gain from prednisone and slowly reverse the process.
FSR understand that not all diets and exercise routines are right for everyone. The following recommendations were not reviewed or approved by FSR’s Scientific Advisory Board. Any changes to your diet or exercise routine should be discussed and reviewed with your physician in advance.
Prednisone Friendly Diet
Gaining weight while on prednisone is commonly caused by fluid retention. One way to limit the amount of water you retain, is to eat a low sodium diet. Sodium binds to water inside of the body and helps maintain the balance of fluid inside and outside of cells. When you have a diet high in sodium, your using the extra salt to also hold on to extra water causing fluid retention. The University of San Francisco Medical Center recommends keeping your daily intake below 2,000 milligrams. Another way to control fluid retention is to make sure you eat enough potassium rich foods, about 4,700 milligrams daily. Potassium helps to decrease sodium levels and also increases urine production which helps flush out extra fluids.
- Ways to Avoid Sodium
- Do not eat processed, canned and prepacked foods
- Don’t add extra salt at the table
- Do not use high sodium seasoning mixes
- Low Sodium Foods to Look For
- Fresh or frozen produce
- Low or non-fat dairy products
- Whole grains
- Fresh, lean meat, seafood and poultry
- High Potassium Foods
- Dried plums
- Winter squash
Lean protein can also help promote weigh loss for patients on prednisone. Following a diet where approximately 34% of the calories come protein resulted in people feeling less hungry and promoted weight loss when compared to people on a high-carbohydrate diet.
Last, it is always important to make sure you are drinking the recommended about of water every day, about 15.5 cups for men, and 11.5 cups for women. Drinking water is a great way to help you feel full and can help prevent over eating. Drinking water also can help flush unwanted toxins from your body.
While you are making your diet more prednisone-friendly, you can slowly begin to exercise. To begin, pick an easy activity that does not put too much stress on your body. Check out some sarc-inspired yoga tips if you need a starting point! Don’t forget to include some cardiovascular exercise in your routine- this could be swimming, taking a walk, joining a class at a local gym, or making up your own personal routine at home. It might seem intimidating, but don’t give up!
Sarcoidosis, like many chronic diseases, wears down your psyche. You fall into the rut of “I can’t do that.” If people can be motivated to just walk to the end of the driveway, then the end of the block, then around the block, they are on their way.
Walking is an exercise that nearly anyone can do. Don’t make any excuses. Start with 100 feet the first day. It’s still 100 feet more than you would have gotten. Your body will quickly get used to it, and soon you’ll go farther and farther. The key is movement instead of sitting.
Finding a workout buddy can also help keep you motivated- sarc warrior Gretchen found that by teaming up with her friend to start working out, she had more confidence and accountability. Not to mention, it also makes exercising more fun!
Once you have decided on an exercise, follow the chart below, remembering to only increase the level when you feel comfortable. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
Getting Off Prednisone
If you want to explore alternative medications other than prednisone, try sharing our FSR Treatment Guide with your physician. Created by our Scientific Advisory Board, this protocol details numerous medications that can be prescribed for sarc, including off-label therapies. A lot of doctors find resource this useful for choosing a treatment method other than long-term use of steroids like prednisone.