If you've gained weight since you started taking blood pressure meds, it's not your imagination.

It's your prescription.

Researchers have found that beta blockers, drugs used by millions to lower blood pressure levels, can dramatically slow the rate at which your body burns calories and fat... and cause your weight to inflate like a balloon.

In a study of 11,438 patients who were treated for either high blood pressure or diabetes, the researchers found that those who took beta blockers weighed an average of between 11 and 37 pounds more than the ones who didn't.

That's just observational data--but the researchers then took this study to the next level, and went for a closer look at 30 of the patients: Eleven who took beta blockers, and 19 the same age and weight who did not.

Using a calorimeter, they found that the patients who took the meds actually burned calories and fat after meals up to 50 percent slower than those who didn't, according to the study in the International Journal of Obesity.

So if the known side effects of these meds weren't bad enough--circulation problems, sex problems, dizziness, lethargy, sore throats, depression and more --now you can add weight gain and a slow metabolism to the list.

The real shame of it is that no one needs to take these meds--and face those risks--in the first place.

Many people treated for hypertension don't even have the condition--they have perfectly normal levels... most of the time.

But when they set foot in the doctor's office, it shoots right up.

It's called white coat hypertension, and there's an easy way to find out if that's what's causing your high BP: Buy a $40 blood pressure reader you can use at home.

If they're normal or close to it most of the time, you've got nothing to worry about.

But even if they are truly high, you've got much better options than BP meds.

First, ditch the sugar. One of the most immediate impacts of a low-carb diet is lower blood pressure, and it's not hard to see why: Repeated studies have found that sugars cause blood pressure levels to spike.

That's why soda drinkers, for example, almost always have higher blood pressure than those who don't touch the stuff.

Next, make sure you're getting enough potassium and magnesium from your diet or your supplements.

Finally, add some BP-friendly foods to your meals: Both cinnamon and oatmeal have been shown to lower blood pressure, and they just so happen to go great together.

And they're much better for your waistline than beta blockers.