Adderall-induced weightloss: how permanent?
June 2, 2008 9:15 AM   Subscribe

9 months on Adderall, and I've lost a moderate amount of weight. What can I expect if I stop taking the drug?

Details: Since starting Adderall for my adult-diagnosis ADD, I've dropped about 10 pounds, taking me from the reliably mid-120s girl I've been my whole life to a more Jessica-Alba-like 112ish. I'm wondering where my metabolism will be when/if I stop taking Adderall, assuming I don't wildly change my eating or exercise habits.

Will my current weight be my new set point, and relatively easy to maintain? Will my body drift back up to its old 120ish "normal", then stop? Or could my metabolism come back online in some sort of crazed starvation mode, causing me to gain a ton of extra weight on top of that? If the latter is at all possible, any ideas on how to avoid/mitigate that effect?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Someone I know recently got off Adderall, and he's increased a huge increase in appetite since then. Actually, I'm not even sure if increase in appetite is the right way to put it since he says he doesn't feel significantly more hungry, he just has a desire to eat a lot more than while he was on the medication. Not surprisingly, he's claimed to gain some weight from it. Not sure if this is long term, but I'm guessing it is not.
posted by piratebowling at 9:36 AM on June 2, 2008

I grew up on Ritalin and stopped taking it only after I graduated college. It was a factor in slimming me down when I was a chubby middle-schooler, though I'm sure my growth spurt had more of a hand in that.

I don't know about amphetamines kicking up your metabolism, and you seem to think you'll have no control over your body if you go off Adderall; but I do know that Ritalin-type meds can drastically diminish appetite. If you know about this in advance and want to maintain your current weight, you can make an effort to curb your eating habits. To boot: most people develop a tolerance to the side effects of amphetamines over time, so you probably would have regained your appetite in the long run.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:37 AM on June 2, 2008

Sorry, that should read "he's seen a huge increase in appetite since then." Also, keep in mind that that story was just meant as a data point, not necessarily the norm.
posted by piratebowling at 9:38 AM on June 2, 2008

Maybe this is a turning point for you - take advantage of something favorable that happened by chance. Live a more active, healthy, fit life. Clearly you understand the alternative - letting a golden opportunity slip out of your hands. Avoiding or mitigating unforeseen weight loss or gain is done by controlling the amount of calories you eaten and then burned each day.

tl;dr: Eat healthy, work out -> control your body.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 9:39 AM on June 2, 2008

I take Concerta, which is similar, and if I've been taking it regularly and then stop, I have an incredibly huge appetite on the day or so after I stop. For a while, this made me really worried that if I stopped entirely, my weight would balloon. But it turns out that my appetite goes back to normal after a couple of days.
posted by transona5 at 9:45 AM on June 2, 2008 have* eaten...
posted by crunch buttsteak at 9:46 AM on June 2, 2008

When I was 16 I started taking Adderall, and by my 17th birthday I'd dropped about 75 pounds. I stopped when I was about 20, and I've gained probably 15 pounds in the 5 years since then- nothing even remotely approaching the amount I lost. I'd have to say this is because by the time I stopped taking it I'd radically changed my previously extremely unhealthy eating habits/lifestyle to something healthy and manageable.

crunch buttsteak pretty much has it- Yes, your appetite will return, but if you steer it towards healthy foods and budget some time for exercise you're not going to notice any significant weight gain.
posted by baphomet at 11:16 AM on June 2, 2008

I think my metabolism certainly speeds up on the Adderall, and slows back down when I stop taking it. I lost about 25 pounds the first eight months I was on it, and this was when I worked in an office and was eating In-N-Out double-doubles four times a week. I stopped taking it briefly due to lack of health insurance, was not eating significantly more, and the weight came right back on within three months. I wasn't off it long enough to know whether I'd have kept gaining. (I think it's possible - everybody's different.) When I restarted the Adderall, I lost it all again, plus 15 pounds more when I started taking Wellbutrin and really did start eating less. It's still coming off steadily, to the point where I'd like it to stop before my boobs disappear altogether. :-(

Significant appetite increase is a symptom of stimulant withdrawal, so it's normal to gorge for awhile after stopping an amphetamine. That's temporary. On the other hand, if the Adderall was suppressing your appetite, when you stop your appetite might just return to normal (as opposed to COOKIE MONSTER) and the weight might come back gradually.

I also think there might be a tolerance element. I work with meth addicts and most are actually overweight, and they use in one day what I use over three weeks. Those who have been on Adderall for a long time - does the weight eventually creep back on?
posted by granted at 12:03 PM on June 2, 2008

Your appetite will almost certainly increase if you aren't taking amphetamines. But I assume you aren't taking the speed for your weight, you're taking it for your attention deficit disorder.

Here's the thing; wanting to stay slim is not a reason to keep taking amphetamines. See also: Garland, Judy. It's not good for you.

I work with meth addicts and most are actually overweight,

I'm not sure this is typical. The methheads I've known have, almost to a one, been the stereotypical gaunt type. Speed takes off the weight.
posted by Justinian at 12:10 PM on June 2, 2008

I was also on Adderall for nearly a year, and stopped due to the personality/dependency issues that arose from it.

I lost maybe 15-20 pounds on it. For me, it wasn't any metabolism thing but while on it I preferred to work and study over eat, and the only thing that tasted good was fresh fruit. After going off of it all of the weight eventually came back as my appetite returned.
posted by schroedinger at 12:11 PM on June 2, 2008

I gained the weight back.
posted by loiseau at 12:27 PM on June 2, 2008

Just as a data point, I take Adderall XR. No appetite during the day, but then I get ravenous during the evening. This happens regardless if I eat a sensible breakfast and lunch or not. If I can keep that under control, I can maintain or lose weight. If I skip a day, I don't feel any more hungry than normal.

I tried Vyvanse, and will probably switch to it when my Adderall stash runs out. It seems to work better and last longer (but not so long as to affect my sleep), and I don't have as much of the appetite suppression and subsequent evening rebound.
posted by gjc at 4:31 PM on June 2, 2008

I'm not sure this is typical. The methheads I've known have, almost to a one, been the stereotypical gaunt type. Speed takes off the weight.

Which is why I wonder about an eventual tolerance (to amphetamine-induced weight loss in general). Most of the people I see have been using meth for decades. Although, come to think of it, I've never seen a stereotypical skeletal tweaker type in our lab, even among the younger users. I suspect we just interact with different subsets of the population.
posted by granted at 5:33 PM on June 2, 2008

EVERYBODY puts on some weight when they stop taking their amphetamines. Fat people just get fatter and naturally slender people will fill out ever so slightly :) and everybody else is somewhere in between. You can fight it, but you've had a little humming bird there to burn anything and everything off. So now it's all on you. The day you stop the Adderal start eating properly. Exercise. Don't give it a chance to swamp you.

It hasn't altered your metabolism as such - think of it as a bike. If you just stop pedaling furiously then you'll slowly coast to a stop and fall over.

Oh and just an observation - almost all fat tweakers I've ever met lived at home with parents. The rest had well stocked kitchens themselves. It can only do so much...
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 10:52 PM on June 2, 2008

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