Do Beta-Blockers Cause Weight Gain?

By Zina Semenovskaya, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
July 5, 2022

If you’ve ever been prescribed a medicine called metoprolol, you may have heard about or experienced weight gain as a side effect.

Concerned about your weight? You aren’t alone. Close to 3 in 4 adults aged 20 and over are overweight or obese, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Obesity increases the risk of numerous diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Many people taking metoprolol may already be overweight or have risk factors for diseases.

This article will answer some common questions about metoprolol and weight gain.

What is Metoprolol?

Metoprolol is a beta-blocker, a class of medications prescribed for high blood pressure

It’s available by prescription as a tablet and as a long-acting (extended-release) tablet.

Metoprolol works by slowing your heartbeat and relaxing blood vessels. This improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.

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Metoprolol Uses

Metoprolol is often prescribed for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension

The medicine is also sometimes used for irregular heartbeat, migraine headaches, and for movement disorders caused by some psychiatric medications.

Metoprolol and Weight Gain

Metoprolol can cause weight gain as a side effect. Studies have shown that people taking metoprolol gain a median of 2.64 pounds compared to people who aren’t. 

Weight gain caused by metoprolol typically occurs within the first few months of taking it. After that, any gains tend to level off as your body adjusts.

Curious how metoprolol causes people to gain weight? While experts are unsure why, there are a few possible factors.

It may be caused by changes to your metabolism that affect how your body processes fats and how insulin affects the cells that store and release sugar.

Another reason experts think metoprolol may cause weight gain is fatigue.

When you take beta-blockers, it can make you less energetic and less likely to move around, which can lead to putting on weight. 

Metoprolol is thought to cause you to gain more abdominal fat, which is related to problems with high cholesterol.

Other Beta Blockers That Cause Weight Gain

Metoprolol isn’t the only beta-blocker that can cause weight gain – atenolol and propranolol can cause it too.

However, some beta-blockers don’t appear to cause weight gains, such as timolol, acebutolol, and carvedilol.

A study on people with type 2 diabetes taking metoprolol for high blood pressure compared to another newer beta-blocker, carvedilol, found that carvedilol didn’t cause weight gain, but metoprolol did.

The reasons your healthcare provider may choose one beta-blocker over another can vary depending on your individual health needs.

If you’re prescribed a beta-blocker and are concerned about gaining weight, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.

How Much Weight Gain is Too Much?

People who take metoprolol and have weight gain as a side effect tend to gain around two to three pounds over a few months.

However, if you’re taking metoprolol for heart failure, a sudden weight gain can mean that fluid is building up if your heart failure is getting worse.

Reach out to your healthcare provider if you gain more than two to three pounds in one day or five pounds in one week.

Tips for Losing Weight on Beta-Blockers

Even modest weight loss can improve your health dramatically. Losing just 5-10% of your body weight can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

If you have high blood pressure and you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can help with your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Healthy weight loss isn’t always just about diet – it’s also about long-term health habits, including: 

Diet Changes

A healthy eating plan stays within your calorie needs and is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. 

Protein from a variety of sources is best, such as: 

  • Seafood
  • Lean meats and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Soy products
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Sugars, sodium, and fats should be limited. Stick to water instead of high-calorie or sweetened beverages.

Some drinks can help with blood pressure too, such as tomato juice and beet juice.

Regular Exercise

Physical activity is good for maintaining a healthy weight and overall health. It can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and even some forms of cancer.

Exercise also can help with arthritis, bone health, and mental health.

If you want to lose weight, it’s best to combine exercise with healthy changes in nutrition. 

To maintain your healthy weight, experts recommend that you work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, or an equivalent mix of the two every week.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking cigarettes harms every part of the body. If you use tobacco, one of the best things you can do for your health is to quit. 

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

Smoking also increases the risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and immune system problems.

It’s never too late to quit smoking, and there are medications available that can help. Reach out to your healthcare provider for support.

Alternative Medications

If you have high blood pressure and are prescribed medication to treat it, your doctor will talk to you about the reasons they choose a particular medication and why that’s right for you.

If you’re concerned about weight gain, you should mention this to your doctor to see if there is a different option that would also work for you.

Metoprolol can cause weight gain, but some other beta-blockers don’t appear to cause weight gain, such as timolol, acebutolol, and carvedilol.

Beta-blockers aren’t the only medications used for high blood pressure.

Another class of medications called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors – such as enalapril, lisinopril, and ramipril – don’t cause weight gain.

Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) are also commonly prescribed for high blood pressure, including telmisartan, losartan, olmesartan, irbesartan, and valsartan. These medications don’t cause weight gain.

Calcium channel blockers are another class of drugs used for blood pressure that doesn’t cause weight gain, including amlodipine and diltiazem.

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When to See a Healthcare Provider

Tell your healthcare provider if you suddenly gain more than two to three pounds in one day or five pounds in one week. 

If you’re taking a beta-blocker for heart failure, weight gain can be a sign that fluid is building up in your body.

This can indicate your heart failure is getting worse, and your doctor will need to evaluate you to determine the cause.

How K Health Can Help

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does Metoprolol Make You Gain Weight?
Experts don’t know for sure the reasons metoprolol causes weight gain. There may be a few possible factors, such as changes in your metabolism, how your body processes fat, and how insulin affects your cells. Weight gain may also be due to metoprolol causing side effects such as tiredness and low energy, resulting in less physical activity throughout the day.
How Do I Not Gain Weight on Metoprolol?
Not everyone who takes metoprolol will gain weight. Some people experience side effects of weight gain with beta-blockers, while others don’t. If you’re prescribed metoprolol, follow healthy habits such as good nutrition and physical activity. Keep track of your weight and habits so that you can talk to your doctor about a weight management plan that’s right for you.
Can You Lose Weight While on Beta-Blockers?
For people who are overweight and take metoprolol or other beta-blockers for high blood pressure, weight management may be more difficult. It’s important to follow a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to manage your weight and improve your health. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re on a beta-blocker and have questions about losing weight.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

Zina Semenovskaya, MD

Dr. Semenovskaya specializes in emergency medicine, and received her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College. She is currently the medical director at Remote Emergency Medicine Consulting, LLC and splits her time working clinically as an emergency medicine attending in California and Alaska. She is the first of our doctors to be fluent in Russian.

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