New study which looks at diet and weight loss in lupus patients taking steroids

Just wanted to share a recent scientific study with you all:

Davies R, Lomer M, Yeo S, Avloniti K, Sangle S, D'Cruz D. 2012. Weight loss and improvements in fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus: a controlled trial of a low glycaemic index diet versus a calorie restricted diet in patients treated with corticosteroids. Lupus. 2012;21(6):649-655.

The Lupus Research Unit, The Rayne Institute, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK; Nutrition and Dietetic Department, St Thomas' Hospital, London, UK; and Department of Gastroenterology, St Thomas Hospital, London, UK.

Details of the study:

*Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may require prolonged periods of corticosteroid therapy which lead to excessive weight gain and increased cardiovascular risk.

*Objective of the study: To assess the utility of a low glycaemic index diet in patients with corticosteroid dependent SLE in achieving weight loss and improving glycaemic control.

*A total of 23 women were enrolled in a 6 week study. All had mild, stable SLE, were receiving corticosteroids and had a body mass index (BMI)?>?25?kg/m(2).

*Subjects were randomly assigned to a low glycaemic index (Low GI) diet or a calorie restricted (Low Cal) diet. *The primary reason for the study was to measured weight loss.

*Other things being measured in the study included tolerability of diet, bio-markers of cardiovascular risk, disease activity, fatigue and sleep quality.

*Weight loss in both treatment groups was statistically significant.

*There were also significant improvements in waist and hip measurements.

* There was a statistically significant reduction in Fatigue Severity Scale in both diet groups.

*Both Low GI and Low Cal diets were well tolerated, resulting in no serious adverse effects or increase in disease activity.

*Conclusion: Significant weight loss is achievable over 6 weeks in a diet-specific trial in subjects with stable SLE, who are on low dose prednisolone. Both diets were equally tolerable, and did not cause flares in disease activity. Our results suggest that dietary manipulation may significantly improve fatigue in subjects with SLE.

For more information about glycaemic index please visit this reputable site

Ani x

10 Replies

Hi Ani

This is very interesting. I have been continuously on steroids for 3 years of various strengths. I have SLE & mild fibromyalgia. When I was on 2.5mg prednisolone I decided to try to lose some of the weight that I put on. I managed to lose 3 stone following a low fat diet and walking around the park as much as I could. To start with it was only bench to bench but as the weight came off and my fitness improved I managed a lap of the park - approximately 1 km. I want to share this with everyone as I did't think I could lose weight while on low dose of pred. I felt so much better in every way. However, the bad part is I have put it all back on as I have been back up to 40mg of pred! This is the frustrating bit of SLE and having take steroids. I don't know what the answer long term is as I see it as continual yo-yo dieting. I certainly have more fatigue, off days and heavy lead like legs now. Anyway, I am trying to get my head around the fact that I need to start to lose the weight yet again to feel better than I do now.


Loopy-Lou, your story is similar to mine! I've been on Prednisolone for almost 5 years with doses ranging from 60mg a day to 3mg a day (which i am trying to stay at for a while). My weight has risen two stone and dropped off again rapidly recently after having pneumonia.

I am now trying to eat healthy and it has made me feel better both physically and mentally! Its all swings and roundabouts with Lupus and I get really down when I have a bad flare and have to hike up the drugs. Guess that's life being a lupie and we should try to except it but its hard isn't it. I feel like people judge me and just think I've been eating too many cakes!!!

does anyone else feel like wearing a t shirt saying "I'm not a pig it's Lupus".

Keep well all xx


Snowwhite, so sorry to hear you had pneumonia and hope you are better now. You sound very similar to me-my pred was put up to 40mg for my chest infection lasting 6 weeks. To add to it all I also have an under-active thyroid-what a mix! I was hurt recently when my mother mentioned my weight to my son saying I would be so much better if I lost it. I would love to be slim!! I find when I am having a bad lupus time I do nibble out of frustration and get the munchies from the pred. Does anyone know if there is any support through the NHS for our weight problems? I think there is room for a t shirt to be designed!! Take care x


dear loopy-lou

you are exactly the same as me i too have the under active thyroid as well as sle and fbromyalgia i also have osteoperosis what a mix eh? i am also carrying too much wieght and would like to diet but i have no will power and find it really hard! i also would like too know if there is any help out there! or has anyone here any ideas on lfighting the flab!!!

i hope all of you are enjoying the good weather, i wish you all well living with this stuff.


Hi talula

It is so good to "meet" someone else with the same combination as me!! I also apparently have osteoarthritis - I actually don't think I have...I think it is lupus/fibro related. I am trying to get my head into gear to get on a low fat diet...not happening at the moment. It is really hard isn't it. I am finding the hot weather hard. Keep well.


Hi Talula - sorry for the time lapse in replying to this....I have been away on holiday.

Looking at the piccies - I see that I'm a lot rounder than this time last year and realise that Something Has To Be Done, or my poor treetrunks of legs will give out!

A long while ago, a nurse gave me an excellent tip for quick weight loss (the sensible way - not like these whacky celeb diets). Because my husband often eats late (and I wait for him) I cannot sometimes keep to it - but the logic makes sense. She said - eat no solids after 6pm, just drinks. Unless we go for a run around the block, or equivalent burn-up of fuel (food) - then the fat gets stored! Don't know about you, but after a meal, there's no way I'm going to lose sweat - so it is easier to have a main meal at mid-day, and keep it light later on.....

Seems that lots of us Lupies have hypothyroid too - wonder if there is a link? That is also a factor in making us lethargic. One day, someone will invent a serum that we can inject to give us a boost in energy that lasts.......


Hi peeps,

This is interesting info. I am unusual in that all doses of steroids give me a raging appetite but it almost always leads to weight loss.

If I am on a low dose, I eat enough to put weight on but never seem to. If I am on a high dose, I eat even more but still don't put weight on, probably due to higher doses making me very hyperactive.

I may sound lucky, but it's exhausting, expensive, and upsetting.

X x


Hi laughItUp

I do understand what you are saying. I am hyper on high doses but the weight with me unfortunately goes on. Have you ever had your thyroid tested- mine is underactive so I don't think this helps. Good luck and take care. x


Hi Guys. I find this very interesting. I too have SLE,fibro,under active thyroid,supposed arthritis amount other issues. However I feel as though I could cope better if I could loose weight. I eat very health meals and am on a gluten free diet. I have tried everything to loose weight to no avail. If anyone knows of anything else to try or help I can reach out to I would me most great ful. Hope everyone is enjoying this lovely weather. X


Have a look at my reply to Loupylou (1 July) - and see if this helps!

Loosing the flab while taking lots of meds is a TALL order.....


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