Unexpected weight gain might cause concerns for anyone. Sadly, this is one of the unfortunate adverse effects of certain medications. On such medication is Gabapentin. As such, we want to share tips with you on how to avoid weight gain on Gabapentin.
Gabapentin is not the only medicine that can cause weight gain. Many other medications do the same. That could be good for underweight people. But if your weight is normal, gaining just a little more might not cause serious concerns. For overweight people, however, weight gain no matter how little might cause serious concerns.
Gabapentin is used with some other medicines to treat partial seizures, epilepsy problems, hot flashes, restless leg syndrome, and neuropathic pain. It is usually effective for these conditions. But it could also cause weight gain in the side.
Weight gain on gabapentin is not automatic. It usually depends on many other factors. But it can affect both women and men, regardless of age.
It seems that weight gain due to gabapentin usage depends on how long you’ll be taking the medication. Those who take it for years or many months experience the most weight gain. Anyways, only about 10-15% of gabapentin users say they notice significant weight gain.
If Gabapentin causes you to gain weight suddenly, you should not discontinue the drug, except your doctor says so. If you are bothered, you should talk with your doctor about it.
How Gabapentin Can Cause Weight Gain
Gabapentin has no direct pathway for causing weight gain. That’s why most of its users don’t end up gaining significant weight. As we mentioned before, only 10-15% of those who use it witness unexpected weight gain from the medication.
How does this happen? What causes weight gain in this 10-15% of patients?
Gabapentin has some adverse effects that might make weight gain happen. Some of them are as follows:
This tops the list of gabapentin side effects. Many of those who use gabapentin say they feel very drowsy after using gabapentin. When you feel drowsy, you lose the desire for physical activities.
With less desire for physical activities, you are likely to stay in bed most of the time. If you follow your regular diet with less physical activities, you would surely gain weight.
2. Hormone imbalance
Gabapentin is linked with nervous and brain functions. As such, it can also affect your body’s hormone levels.
Essentially, most of your hormones are regulated by the brain. So medications like Gabapentin that affects brain function can cause hormone imbalances that can lead to weight gain.
3. Decreased metabolic rate
Gabapentin can also lower your body’s metabolic rate. And when your body’s metabolic rate reduces, your body would burn extra fats slower than before. This can also encourage unexpected weight gain.
4. Water retention
Researchers were able to prove that Gabapentin can make your body retain more water. This means that your body would excrete less volume of water (in the form of urine) than before. With more water in your system, your body would weigh more.
5. More food consumption
Many people on gabapentin say that they have more appetite for food and end up eating more than before. Aside from general appetite, gabapentin can also increase hunger and sugar cravings. These can also contribute to weight gain.
6. Low motivation and energy
Low motivation and energy are also common in people using gabapentin. As such, if you are on gabapentin, you might have less motivation and energy to pursue your day-to-day routine. Instead, you might stick to your bed or other confined spaces.
By causing lethargic behavior, low motivation and energy can cause weight gain. But more than that, you might not even be worried about it because you lack the willpower to do so.
How to Avoid Weight gain on Gabapentin
Let’s start by saying that you might not need to do anything out of the ordinary. Remember, most people (85-90%) of gabapentin users don’t gain significant weight from using the drug.
So you only need to start taking steps to prevent weight gain if you notice any unexpected and unexplainable weight gain while taking gabapentin.
If this happens, your doctor might ask you to switch to another drug that won’t make you gain weight. This is most likely the approach your doctor will take if your weight gain is much and puts your health at risk.
But this is not always possible. Sometimes, gabapentin is the best bet for your condition. If that is the case, your doctor might just reduce your dosage to checkmate the weight gain.
Aside from changing the medication or the dosage, there are still other options. Your doctor might refer you to a dietitian and/or a psychologist. These professionals can teach you how to embrace a better lifestyle and eating choices.
Some of the things they might advise you to do include the following:
- Get more exercise and avoid sedentary living
- Eat small portion sizes
- Eat more slowly
- Sleep well every night
- Avoid stress
Essentially, you must eliminate any lifestyle factor that might encourage weight gain. In the end, good lifestyle choices can help keep your weight in check when you are on gabapentin.
Aside from the general lifestyle guidelines we already mentioned, healthy eating is also important. You should avoid foods with lots of carbs and sugars. They will surely make you add up some pounds.
You could keep an exercise and food diary. This would help you track your lifestyle changes as your doctor works with you to monitor your medication and weight.
If you are gaining weight due to gabapentin usage, you must place this adverse effect side by side with the benefits you’re getting from the drug. This is like a cost vs. benefit analysis.
Look at how severe your weight gain is. Compare it to how beneficial the drug is to your health. If the relief you’re getting is significant but the weight gain is only minimal after several months, you shouldn’t bother about your weight gain too much.
All you need do is pay close attention to the tips we shared in the above section. That way, you can avoid weight gain on gabapentin.