T Nation

Effect of Corticosteroids on Tummy Fat?


Hi All,

I was diagnosed with adult onset asthma 3 years ago, and I was very ill at first and was unable to exercise, or breathe really and I was hospitalised a couple of times (Mountain biking and hiking were and still are my main hobbies) I put on a significant amount of weight as well.

I now have to take quite high doses of inhaled steroids and occasionally IV steroids if I go into bronchospasm.

I started strength training in March and have lost 34lbs and my legs, and arms butt and hips, shoulders and back all look much better and have some definition, but my tummy still looks bad, I have another 30lbs to lose.

I have a lots of stretch marks from when I had my son, as had eclampsia and massive oedema as well as being pregnant. So it looks like I have had a fight with Freddy Kruger and lost. I had to have an emergency c section as well.

I know I will have to have an abdominoplasty eventually, but I want to be in the best shape possible before I commit to surgery.

I have lost some fat off my tummy as I have gone down 3 dress sizes but it looks like it doesn’t belong with the rest of my body.

I want to know if the steroids I have to take might be the cause of the slow progress with losing my tummy fat.

I do a 5 day split for weights, Chest, Back, Arms, Shoulders, Legs, each morning before work, 45-60 mins usually.

2 yoga Classes a week which help with my sciatica, evenings after work.

2 Circuits/HIIT classes a week, evenings after work.

Hiking or Mountain Biking at the weekend on one day.

One weekend rest day.

I take a good quality fish oil supplement, Iron, magnesium and Vit D from reading the articles on this site.

Is there anything I can do with diet or supplements to make more progress?


The short answer is yes they could. Fat gain is a notable side effect of corticosteroids. It is not a guarantee in your specific case of course, but it has been documented in a significant amount of people.

I would say you are doing very well overall and to keep at it. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.

You could add a supplement like Carbolin 19 for muscle gain and fat loss, and/or yohimbine 30 minutes prior to cardio or weights sessions to help with the fat loss. I’m unsure how it might affect someone with that severity of asthma however and am cautious to say you “should” take it. Your asthma is the worst I’ve heard of in this situation and I wouldnt want to steer you wrong.

Additional supplements to consider would be TUDCA, which has shown some evidence of being able to improve insulin sensitivity in muscle, and Indigo which does the same. It would depend on your budget.

As far as training, you’re doing well. I prefer an upper/lower split for losing fat as a main focus but as long as you are progressing it is really personal preference. Don’t fix what ain’t broken, even if progress is slower than you would like.


Not only fat gain, but it does actually change your fat distribution. You will store more in your face/abdomen.

OP, I have Ulcerative Colitis, and spent way too long on prednisone. Corticosteroids suck. However, they’re a necessary evil, and straight saved me from having my colon removed at one point.

You just have to extra strict with your diet. And I don’t know if your inhaled steroids will have as systemic an effect as taking pills or IV. But you’ve made great progress, so keep on keeping on!

And this is entirely my thought, but corticosteroids can cause insulin resistance. You may benefit from a lower carb diet.


Thanks for the replies, sorry I was slow replying but we have been away camping with no WiFi.

I have had to take courses of oral steroids after chest infections a couple of times.

I am already doing fairly low carbs, I have mostly given up ‘white’ carbs like normal potatoes, bread noodles or pasta and I avoid sugar, but get carbs from veg and fruits. The only exception is if we do a long hill walk or mountain bike ride I need to eat something like flapjack or malt loaf and a few jelly babies or I run out of ‘legs’ half way.

I will have a look at adding the supplements suggested.