How to Lose Weight While on Effexor XR

Lose Weight While on Effexor XR
Lose Weight While on Effexor XR (Image: Alexander Kalina at

Effexor XR is an antidepressant drug manufactured by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression in adults. Weight gain is a reported side effect of Effexor XR--approximately 3 percent of users in clinical trials reported changes in their body weight, according to the manufacturer. WebMD has also found that up to 25 percent of all antidepressant users experience weight gain, although the reasons are not yet clear. However, it is possible to lose weight while taking Effexor XR, as long as you follow the basic principles of weight loss--eat less and exercise more.

Things You'll Need

  • Online calorie calculator
  • Food diary or journal

Talk to your doctor first about your weight gain concerns while you are taking Effexor XR. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different antidepressant or create a diet and exercise plan for you to follow.

Increase your daily exercise as soon as you start taking Effexor XR. According to Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian, regular exercise can help people lose weight even while they are on antidepressants. Aim for at least 30 to 45 minutes of brisk exercise, such as jogging or fast walking, at least three to four times per week. If you already exercise regularly, add an extra day of exercise each week or lengthen each exercise session by 10 to 15 minutes.

Use a calorie calculator like the one at to determine the number of calories you need each day to maintain your weight, and then subtract no more than 500 calories per day from that number to lose weight while on Effexor XR. Do not reduce your calories beyond 1,200 per day for women or 1,500 per day for men, as this will slow your metabolism and hinder your weight loss.

Fill your diet with healthful, high-fiber foods that will help you feel full and satisfied. Dietitians at the Mayo Clinic recommend that the majority of your diet consist of whole grains--like brown rice, quinoa and whole wheat breads--lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid packaged foods and sodas that contain a large amount of calories with little or no nutritional value.

Eat five to six small meals each day, rather than three large meals. This will help increase your metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. If you have determined that you should be eating 1,500 calories while taking Effexor XR, eat a small meal of around 300 calories every 2 to 3 hours.

Use a food journal or diary to record everything you eat during the day and its calorie content. According to Dr. Brian Wansink, people consume more food each day than they think they do, so accurately recording everything you eat can help you get a true sense of how many calories you are eating. If you find you are eating more than your recommended calorie amount, cut back on a few snacks or high-calorie drinks to help you lose weight while taking Effexor XR.

Be realistic. Weight loss will be a little more challenging for you while you are on Effexor XR, so your progress might be slower than it would if you were not taking the medication. If you are struggling, make an appointment with your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Tips & Warnings

  • The side effects of Effexor XR will vary by the individual. Some users may be able to successfully lose weight, while some may not. According to Dr. Norman Sussman, some users of antidepressants will not be able to lose weight no matter how much they exercise or reduce their calorie intake. If this happens to you, remember that your inability to lose weight is not your fault and your most important priority is to treat your depression. Once you have successfully treated your depression and stopped taking Effexor XR, then you can focus on losing weight.

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