If you are a diabetes patient and currently have metformin, also known as Glucophage, for its management, you must be aware of the unwanted side effects. These side effects include diarrhea, upset stomach, muscle aches, and sleepiness. They can be a literal pain, but if you struggle to lose some weight, you must welcome the side effect with open arms.
Metformin is a blood glucose management drug not specifically for weight loss. But Researchers have found a strong link between weight loss and these drugs. Research in the Diabetes care journal says that metformin can benefit weight loss.
Though there is satisfactory evidence that it benefits weight loss, more research is still needed to answer whether metformin is used for weight loss. Let’s dig into the article to know its details.
What is Metformin, and how does it work?
Metformin is considered a first-line medication for type 2 diabetes treatment. It works by lowering the glucose amount that is released by our liver. It also benefits the insulin hormone working and aid in helping the muscles to use the blood sugar effectively.
Person insulin sensitivity starts improving when insulin works appropriately, and insulin levels get better and more manageable. Unfortunately, there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, but the right combination of medications and a healthy lifestyle can benefit in managing the glucose level. It is, of course, the goal of any diabetes treatment.
The medications benefit the body in adequately metabolizing the glucose from the food breakdown and improve the ability to respond to insulin. You will feel the improvement in your health, and it also avoids many other diabetes complications like kidney disease, eye disease, eye problems, or heart complications.
How does Metformin Work?
Metformin starts working in your gut. According to the researchers, it changes the number of natural bacteria in our digestive system. It also turns on the specific enzymes that can benefit the body using fat effectively.
Researchers are trying to know how metformin results in weight loss. As it affects the gut’s natural bacteria, it’s common to have some side effects. So, one of the early theories says that stomach pain can cause people to eat less as it alters their appetite. Or it’s also said that people lose their water weight with diarrhea.
Most of the above-mentioned side effects go away in a few weeks. But the people who started losing weight on metformin continue to do so. A more accepted explanation says that metformin reduces the appetite by raising the leptin hormone levels. This hormone makes you feel full. Since your appetite is not working correctly, you start to eat less.
The weight loss on this medication is from the stored fat and not from the lean muscles and fat mixture. People using metformin also notice a lower waist and hip ratio and low waist measurement.
Can Metformin Cause Weight Loss?
The FDA hasn’t approved metformin as a weight loss drug. However, people using it for blood sugar management notice weight loss as a side effect. Besides, like other diabetes medicines, metformin does not increase your weight.
According to the research, metformin benefits weight loss by adjusting your appetite. However, the methods by which metformin affects our appetite aren’t precise. Metformin interferes with the gut microbiota and helps release the appetite-suppressing hormone that regulates the appetite in our brain.
Some person also experiences the side effect of nausea, diarrhea, and bloating. These side effects also reduce the appetite of a person.
Long-Term Weight Loss:
A long-term study in diabetic patients evaluates weight loss over 15 years. In the study, researchers found that the people who lose more than 5% of their weight in the first year are among the person who successfully maintains their weight over the next 15 years.
However, for proper weight loss, you must also follow other healthy habits. Individuals who follow a healthy diet and do daily exercise lose more weight than inactive individuals. Besides, there are chances that this weight loss will last till you are taking the medications.
That means if you stop taking the medication, you will have maximum chances to transfer to your original shape. And even it’s also seen that while taking the medicines, you slowly gain back your actual weight.
Is Metformin an Effective Weight Loss Pill?
No, you will experience weight loss, but it will be low. A diabetic prevention study discloses that about 29%people lost about 5% of their total body weight, and just 8% lost around 10%. On average, this was about 5 pounds.
But this weight loss might be the start you need for your health improvement. But it may not be enough if you are currently overweight. It will not make a prominent difference for people who need to shed 30 pounds or more.
In this study, there was another group in which people only changed their diet and exercise without the medicine. Among the 29% of the people who lose weight on medicine kept it off halfway for the next 14 years. At the same time, the other group loses the same amount of weight with exercise and dietary changes. So the study concluded that there isn’t a long-term benefit of the pill whiles the dietary and exercise changes give many other health benefits like heart health improvement.
Metformin is a drug that benefits diabetes treatment and is not specifically for weight loss. You can take it as a happy side effect if you shed some extra pounds. Besides, it can never be a substitute for exercise and healthy eating habits. The experts recommend making lifestyle changes with this drug to make the most out of it.
Can my Doctor Prescribe Metformin for Weight Loss?
Suppose you have type 2 diabetes or is a diabetic patient facing weight issues. In that case, your doctor can recommend metformin for blood sugar management and to avoid the risk of developing diabetes.
A doctor can also recommend metformin for weight loss if you have diabetes and maybe when you aren’t. But it would be an off-label use. The off-label means FDA does not approve the drug for that use. For example, weight loss in the case of metformin.
What is the required dose for Weight Loss?
Metformin is a diabetes medication with no official recommended dose for weight loss. If your doctor recommends metformin for weight loss, they will prescribe you a specific dose according to your body condition.
At the start, you will be recommended a lower dose that will increase with time over weeks. It will help avoid the side effects and risks. Off-label metformin use is for antipsychotic drug-induced weight loss.
Immediate-release metformin doses can range from 750 to 2000 mg; extended-release amounts can vary differently.
Should Metformin be used for Weight Loss?
The FDA disapproved the drug metformin for weight loss purposes. However, doctors prescribe this medicine to overweight and type 2 diabetes patients to get the most out of it.
If metformin is prescribed to you with the conditions mentioned above, you must adopt other healthy habits to support weight loss. These habits include a low-calorie diet, nutrient-rich foods, and daily exercise.
Metformin is not a quick-fix miracle drug. It’s a simple thing that people taking medicine for blood sugar management see weight loss as a side effect. And it’s not fixed that everybody is going to see this effect.
Remember that in most cases, people taking this medicine for weight loss regain their weight as soon as they stop taking it.
Risk and side effects
Metformin tablets can have some harmful side effects as well. The FDA has already issued a severe warning about metformin’s side effects. Though rarely but metformin can cause lactic acidosis. It’s the unsafe storage of lactic acid in our blood.
If you are taking metformin and see the following side effects, seek medical help as soon as possible.
- Difficulty in breathing
- Irregular or slow heartbeat
- Stomach pain
- Vomiting or nausea
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Unusual sleepiness
People who are at a high risk of developing lactic acidosis include:
- People with kidney problems
- People with liver issues
- People who misuse alcohol with metformin
Another severe reaction is a low blood sugar reaction. When it happens, a person’s sugar level can drop to a seriously unsafe level. A person has to face the following risks during a low blood sugar level.
- Brain damage
- Passing out
- Sometimes death
A blood sugar management treatment should be started immediately as it can help avoid serious side effects. The treatment consists of 15 to 20 grams of glucose. There are many ways to bring low sugar to its usual ways, like eating candies or drinking sugary drinks.
The symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Feeling shaky
- Increased heart rate
There are some other less severe effects that metformin can cause as well. Some of the side effects a person can experience include:
- Stomach pain
Different Ways to Lose Weight
Fortunately, without metformin, there are thousands of ways to lose weight. Most of them include healthy lifestyle changes like dietary changes or daily exercise.
Here are a few steps that will benefit you in starting your weight loss journey.
- Limiting sugar intake
- Following a healthy diet by eating low in carbs, vegetables, and fruits
- Doing stretch exercises for muscle building
- Getting at least 30 minutes to do cardiovascular exercises five times a day
- Drinking plenty of water
- Getting proper sleep
- Keeping track of your macronutrients
- Getting support from your family and friends
In some cases, weight loss surgery is recommended for the person who can’t lose weight in any other possible way.
When to Consult a Doctor
Anyone who is overweight or obese and wants to lose weight healthily should consult a doctor. A doctor can advise the best way to begin your journey, especially when you are trying to lose weight but have been unsuccessful.
Type 2 diabetics and prediabetics should consult a doctor to know if metformin is used for weight loss. I hope this article has answered all your answers in detail.
Metformin is a medicine for type 2 diabetes patients and prediabetics to control their blood sugar levels. A secondary side effect can be weight loss, resulting in people believing it’s a viable medication for weight loss. However, research doesn’t clarify the statement; metformin is used for weight loss.
People who aren’t prediabetics or have type 2 diabetes should avoid using metformin for weight loss. There are many other effective ways to lose weight and possibly other effective medicines that are only designed for weight loss.
How much weight can I lose on metformin?
A larger trial covering 4000 type 2 diabetes patients finds that metformin usage benefits losing 2.4 kg of weight in four years. There are many ways by which metformin impacts weight loss. One is the effect on your appetite.
Does metformin reduce belly fat?
Metformin treatment significantly changed the visceral fat compared with the up-regulation of fat oxidation-related enzymes in the liver. UCP-1 in the brown adipose tissue and UCP-3 in the skeletal muscle.
Metformin is used for weight loss. Is it true?
Metformin is a type 2 medication that benefits the management of blood glucose levels. It isn’t designed for weight loss, but shedding a few extra pounds is probably a good side effect.
When should I take metformin for weight loss?
Metformin should be taken with meals to reduce the common stomach issues in the first-week treatment. Swallow the tablet with a glass of water. Avoid breaking, chewing, or crushing it.
Is metformin good for PCOS?
However, experts don’t recommend using metformin as a first-line therapy for women with PCOS. Metformin is the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes patients; it’s not recommended for PCOS. Though, it has been prescribed as the treatment option.
Can metformin cause weight gain?
Metformin has two advantages over other diabetes medications. It has the lowest risk of making your blood sugar level fall too low. It doesn’t result in weight gain.
Can I lose weight with Glucophage?
Metformin is a diabetes medication that comes on the market under the brand name Glucophage. It benefits people in losing weight by reducing their appetite. At the same time, insulin increases weight b making the brain hungrier.