Your diet

Maintain a healthy body weight

Being a healthy weight helps to control your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It also lowers your risk of developing transplant heart disease.

What is a healthy weight?

Men should weigh 106 pounds for the first five feet. Then, add six pounds for each inch. For example, a man who is 5 feet 11 inches tall should weigh 172 pounds.

Women should weigh 105 pounds for the first five feet. Then, add five pounds for each inch. For example, a woman who is 5 feet 7 inches tall should weigh 140 pounds.

The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The results tell if you are underweight, normal, overweight or obese.

According to the National Institutes of Health, BMI ranges are:

  • normal: 18.5 to 24.9
  • overweight: 25 to 29.9
  • obese: 30 and over.

Find your BMI.

Medicine may increase your appetite

Even if your weight was not a problem in the past, having an increased appetite is a common side effect of prednisone. You may find yourself feeling hungry more often and eating more than you realize.

If your weight starts to slowly increase, you are eating too much. Prednisone alone has no calories. It is what you eat while taking prednisone that is causing the weight gain.

To avoid weight gain:

  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Eat less often.
  • Avoid eating foods that are high in calories (such as sweets, desserts and extra fats).
  • Try to eat only when you are hungry, not out of habit.
  • Get enough exercise.

Limit cholesterol and fats

Cholesterol and saturated fats are found in animal products such as meats, dairy products and eggs. Saturated fats raise your blood cholesterol more than anything else in your diet.

Limiting foods like butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream and fatty meats will lower your blood cholesterol level and your risk of developing heart disease.

Limit sodium (salt)

Eating foods low in sodium will help control your blood pressure. It will also help keep your body from holding (retaining) extra fluid. As a result, your heart will not have to work as hard.

Avoid eating salty foods and do not add salt to your food.

It is important to make—and stick with—these changes to decrease your risk of long-term problems.

A dietitian can meet with you to talk about how to plan your meals. Please call the transplant office to set up an appointment.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Care After Heart Transplant, cvs-ah-95405 (1/18)
First Published: 01/06/2013
Last Reviewed: 01/19/2018


After your transplant it is important to make lifestyle changes so you can live a heart healthy lifestyle. This includes:

  • exercise
  • healthful diet
  • weight control