Propranolol & Weight Gain: What to Know

Published on: 28 Jun 2023
Clinically Reviewed by Meaghan Rice PsyD., LPC
Propranolol & Weight Gain

Propranolol is a medication in the class of drugs known as beta blockers. A beta blocker like Propranolol is commonly used as a high blood pressure medication and treatment for irregular heartbeat, migraine, and some cardiovascular conditions — but it’s also used off-label for various mental health conditions, including anxiety and panic disorder. When researching Propranolol online, you will find it can be very effective in treating the symptoms of these conditions. However, like any medication, Propranolol has the potential for mental and physical side effects — one possible physical common side effect is weight gain. 

Here, we’ll explore how Propranolol can lead to weight gain, what some of the causes are, and measures you can take to prevent Propranolol weight gain.

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Does Propranolol Cause Weight Gain?

“The short answer is yes, it does cause weight gain. However, it is not scientifically proven to cause a specific gain or percentage. It also depends on the person, since everyone processes food intake and medications differently.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S

Research shows that, yes, Propranolol can cause body weight gain. In fact, it’s one of the top 3 beta-blockers most likely to have weight gain as a side effect, according to some studies. Not everyone who takes Propranolol will experience weight gain as a side effect, though.

How much weight do you gain on Propranolol?

While weight gain is a known side effect of Propranolol, exactly how you’ll gain varies from person to person. Most people who take beta-blockers experience a 2 – 3 pound gain over the first few months — although Propranolol users might gain slightly more, up to 5 pounds on average. If you’re worried about putting on too much weight while taking Propranolol, consult your physician for potential options or other alternatives. 

Why Does Propranolol Cause Weight Gain?

We know that when we look at Propranolol side effects, weight gain is possible. The exact reason why isn’t fully understood. The drug’s ability to reduce metabolic rate might play a role. Additionally, many people report feeling hungrier than usual when they take Propranolol, which could clearly contribute to weight gain. Other possible reasons for Propranolol weight gain might include:

Social eating

If Propranolol is used for treating symptoms of anxiety in social situations, it’s reasonable that you might encounter more social eating opportunities as you start to feel better and are trying to be more social.

Reduced tolerance of exercise

According to research, beta-blockers like Propranolol can make working out more challenging, leading to weight gain. 

Appetite increase

Another theory suggests that Propranolol might affect appetite hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, leading to increased hunger and food cravings. 

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis disruption 

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis disruption could be another reason Propranolol may lead to unwanted pounds, according to some research. BAT helps burn fat for energy production; however, Propranolol might interfere with this process, leading to fat accumulation instead of burning it off for fuel. 

Depression and fatigue 

Research has suggested a link between Propranolol and depression. This, especially when coupled with another side effect, fatigue, can cause some people to be less active and gain weight over time.

Hormonal modulation 

Studies show that Propranolol can alter testosterone levels. It’s also believed that using Propranolol might affect hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which regulate energy levels. The changes in hormone levels may contribute to less energy and changes in body composition, ultimately leading to weight gain. 

Slower metabolism

Some research suggests that Propranolol might be linked to a reduced resting metabolic rate, which can lead to weight gain. Ironically, this seems to be a bigger risk for people who are more physically fit. 

Does Propranolol Weight Gain Go Away?

Propranolol users who experience weight gain may find it can disappear as your body adjusts to the medication. In cases of more substantial weight gain, it can take more time and effort before the weight comes back off. 

Propranolol weight gain can also disappear once you stop taking the drug, but how long that takes can depend on how much Propranolol was taken and for how long. If you are thinking about quitting the medication, be sure to talk to a doctor about safely tapering to avoid Propranolol withdrawal.

How to Avoid Weight Gain on Propranolol

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid weight gain and possibly promote weight loss while taking Propranolol tablets. Here are some tips:

  • Monitor your weight – Eating too many calories can lead to body weight gain when taking any medication. Be sure you’re eating healthy meals that are low in fat and sugar and high in fiber and protein. Replace low-nutrition snacks with fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly – Regular exercise reduces stress and helps keep your metabolism up so you don’t store extra calories as fat instead of burning them off. Strive for at least 30 minutes of average-intensity physical exertion daily, like walking or cycling. High-impact or cardio activities, such as running or swimming, can also help you avoid weight gain.
  • Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated is essential no matter what medications you’re taking — aim for 8 glasses per day.

“Maintaining a healthy diet, practicing fasting, and exercising can help you avoid weight gain. Consulting with your doctor about possible medications to reduce hunger or control appetite could also be beneficial.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S

Talk to Your Doctor About Propranolol Side Effects

Being aware of potential Propranolol side effects is crucial when considering any prescription medication, and that starts with professional medical advice. Weight gain is just one of the side effects of Propranolol — your healthcare provider can tell you about other possible side effects, like diarrhea, dizziness, or being more tired than usual. 

With careful monitoring and lifestyle modifications, you can help minimize any risk of unwanted Propranolol weight gain.

If you want to take control of your health, explore the benefits of therapy and psychiatry with Talkspace. An online psychiatrist can help you understand how Propranolol, or any other mental health medication, might affect you so you can make informed decisions about your well-being.


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  8. Rosen RC, Kostis JB, Jekelis AW. Beta-blocker effects on sexual function in normal males. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 1988;17(3):241-255. doi:10.1007/bf01541742. Accessed March 25, 2023. 
  9. Tremblay A, Coveney S, Després J-P, Nadeau A, Prud’homme D. Increased resting metabolic rate and lipid oxidation in exercise-trained individuals: Evidence for a role of β-adrenergic stimulation. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 1992;70(10):1342-1347. doi:10.1139/y92-188. Accessed March 25, 2023. 

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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