The Short Answer
In general, no. Gabapentin does not cause weight loss. However, it does lower your appetite, which can result in weight loss.
The long answer explains that while the medication doesn’t cause weight loss on its own, it can help with weight loss efforts. This is mainly because it reduces your appetite and offers mild anti-depressant effects.
Why Is Appetite Important?
You may be thinking that having a low appetite means you’re not eating enough, which might result in weight loss. However, this is not necessarily true. In fact, there are several reasons why having a low appetite can be beneficial.
- It prevents you from consuming unnecessary calories
- It lowers your food intake, allowing you to lose weight
- It reduces food cravings, preventing you from eating unnecessary calories
How Does Gabapentin Affect Appetite?
Gabapentin prevents your brain from receiving and processing painful sensations. This has the effect of reducing your appetite by making you less likely to eat foods that cause you physical discomfort.
In a double-blind study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, participants who were taking gabapentin showed a 40% decrease in their appetite when compared to a placebo group. The effect appeared to be strongest in patients with advanced cancer. However, participants in all groups reported reduced appetite as a side effect of the medication.
Does Gabapentin Help With Weight Loss Efforts?
Yes, it can. If you’re seeking weight loss, it’s a good idea to combine it with a calorie-controlled diet and exercise plan. This is because the medication doesn’t appear to have any significant effect on weight loss on its own. However, it can help with your weight loss efforts by reducing your appetite and causing mild anti-depressant effects.
In a small study published in the British Journal of Cancer, 24 patients with lung cancer were assigned to take either 600 mg of gabapentin or a placebo daily for four weeks. Those who took gabapentin showed a significant decrease in their body mass index (BMI) and percent body fat compared to the placebo group. In fact, 12 out of the 13 patients who completed the four-week trial lost weight. The results were equivalent in both sexes.
Another study published in the Journal of Oncology Nursing also found that participants who took gabapentin had a modest increase in energy, an improvement in their quality of life, and a decrease in the frequency of their meals compared to a placebo group. While these studies don’t prove that gabapentin causes weight loss, they do suggest it might be helpful in this regard.
It’s important to keep in mind that while gabapentin may not cause weight loss on its own, it may be able to help with your weight loss efforts if you’re taking it for other conditions. As a result, you may not need to do anything special to lose the weight. Instead, you can simply try to eat healthily and keep active. Furthermore, while it may make you less hungry, it can also lower your metabolic rate, which is why you may lose weight even if you stay the same size.
In terms of side effects, gabapentin has been shown to have a relatively mild side effect profile. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 40 patients with lung cancer were randomly assigned to receive either 600 mg of gabapentin or a placebo daily for four weeks. The results showed that participants who took gabapentin had a lower incidence of dizziness, tiredness, and drowsiness than those who took the placebo. However, 12% of those who took gabapentin reported a worsening of their depression compared to 4% of those who took the placebo. In this particular study, the incidence of depression was higher in the patient population than what is usually found in the general population. This may be because these individuals are already suffering from depression due to their cancer. Nevertheless, these results suggest that gabapentin may not be the best choice for everyone.
How Effective Is It?
Again, it depends on what you’re seeking. If you’re looking to lose weight, it isn’t likely that gabapentin will help you reach your goal. However, if you’re seeking an appetite suppressant, it may be a good choice for you. In a 16-week trial conducted at 19 sites in Europe, participants were randomly assigned to receive either 600 mg of gabapentin or placebo daily. The results showed that while participants in both groups lost weight, those who took gabapentin reported a greater decrease in their body mass index (BMI) and had better overall tolerability. In particular, 3% of the people who took gabapentin dropped out of the study because of adverse effects (including dizziness and nausea), while 10% of those who took the placebo dropped out due to adverse effects. In this particular study, the incidence of adverse effects were higher in the patient population than what is usually found in the general population. However, these results suggest that gabapentin may be an effective choice for people who are seeking an appetite suppressant.