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Metformin for Weight Loss: Does This Drug Really Help?

Metformin for Weight Loss: Does This Drug Really Help?
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 8 min read

With the obesity rate rapidly growing in America, many people are seeking new ways to lose weight. Fad diets can be hard to stick to. They are often ineffective, leading many people to turn to prescription medications to reach their weight loss goals. Many believe that Metformin, a diabetes drug, is effective in helping people lose weight. But does it really work? The short answer is yes.

A 2013 study conducted by PubMed found Metformin to be effective in helping people lose weight. The study found that 154 patients with a high body mass index benefited from Metformin to lose weight. The study took place over six months and found that patients taking Metformin lost a considerable amount of weight, when compared to participants who did not take Metformin. Metformin was first introduced to the public in 1995.

Many patients taking Metformin lose an average of 15 pounds over the course of several months. The drug is especially effective in helping those with insulin resistance. Studies have found that obese patients taking Metformin lost an average of 3.2 percent of their body weight. This is a significant finding, considering that weight loss drugs were once the only options available for those seeking weight loss. 

Metformin is most often prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes. The drug helps regulate blood sugar levels, allowing the body to better utilize insulin. It is one of few diabetes drugs that help people lose weight. Many diabetes drugs can lead to weight gain, so using Metformin may be beneficial for obese individuals with diabetes.  

Metformin begins working in your stomach the moment it is ingested. Many medical professionals think it alters the balance of digestive bacteria that exists naturally in the gut. It also may activate enzymes that allow the body to process fat more efficiently. Studies have found that many people taking Metformin for weight loss continued to lose weight after they stopped taking the medication. 

Metformin helps bring down blood sugar in a few ways. It makes your muscles utilize insulin better. That way, glucose can get into the muscles more easily. As a result of this, glucose doesn’t linger in the blood for too long. Metformin also causes the intestines to absorb less glucose from your food. 

Although Metformin was not originally to be a weight loss drug, weight loss is a beneficial side effect for those seeking weight loss. According to experts, you must take between 500 and 1,000 milligrams of Metformin per day to achieve weight loss. This drug reduces the amount of glucose that is released by the liver. As a result, existing insulin in the body works more effectively. This results in lower blood sugar levels. It also sets off a number of other benefits, including better glucose metabolism and a lowered risk of diabetes complications. Studies have found that Metformin may reduce the risk of stroke, retinopathy, heart disease, and neuropathy. 

Metformin works by stopping the body from releasing large amounts of insulin into your bloodstream. As a result, the body begins to metabolize glucose properly. You tend to lose weight when your insulin resistance goes down. Metformin helps with weight loss, because reduced hunger is a side effect of the drug. The drug also minimizes blood sugar spikes that can make you feel hungry.  

While Metformin has many benefits for weight loss, the drug also has a few unwanted side effects. It can cause diarrhea and stomach aches. However, losing weight is an added perk of the medication. Some experts believe that Metformin aids in weight loss, because it raises the body’s leptin levels. Leptin creates feelings of fullness. Because of this increase in satiety, some people are inclined to eat less.

The weight lost from this drug comes mainly from fat stores, and does not disrupt lean muscle mass. Many people taking Metformin experience a lower waist circumference. Body fat as a whole significantly decreases from this drug. In one study, researchers found that those who lost weight from Metformin are able to maintain that weight loss for over fourteen years. However, participants who did not take Metformin also kept the weight off for the same amount of time. For this reason, it is unwise to rely on Metformin as a primary aid for weight loss.   

Metformin may also lower your A1c. It can also prevent prediabetes from developing into full blown diabetes. Research shows that it is effective in helping people of all ages lose weight. In a study of non-diabetic and obese teenagers, researchers found that teenagers involved in the study saw a significant decrease of their body mass index or BMI. You can find ads online that advertise Metformin as a weight loss drug, even though it was primarily created to treat diabetes. Some people have considered using it primarily as a weight loss drug. However, those looking to take Metformin for weight loss should also implement other lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet of lean meats and grains and staying active. Experts recommend exercising five days of the week and using two days as rest days. 

However, for those who need an added boost for weight loss, incorporating Metformin might be effective in reaching a healthy weight. Experts recommend 2,000 calories per day for women and 2,500 calories per day for men. When combined, all these factors help promote weight loss and a healthy BMI. It is beneficial for obese people with diabetes to take Metformin. It not only treats diabetes, but also helps diabetics to treat their condition and decrease body mass at the same time.   

 There may be cases where a doctor will prescribe Metformin for weight loss, but it is meant primarily for those with diabetes or insulin resistance. For this reason, it is more beneficial for diabetics seeking weight loss to take this medication. Metformin is not typically prescribed for people with type 1 diabetes, so those with type 2 diabetes are most likely to benefit from its ability to cause weight loss. In addition to weight loss, Metformin has been found to prevent cancer and has some anti-aging effects. 

While Metformin has many benefits, it is also important to know the risks of the medication. You should not take Metformin if you have kidney disease or diabetic ketoacidosis. As with any medication, it is important to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need for your body to function properly. Also be aware that in rare cases, Metformin may cause the development of lactic acidosis, a rare but serious condition. 

Metformin alone is an effective diabetes treatment option. However, it is not the only diabetes drug with the ability to cause weight loss. Dapagliflozin, another diabetes medication, was found to promote weight loss in people who take the medication. However, some patients who take Metformin may initially see an increase in weight before they actually lose weight. All medications affect people differently, so what may work for one person may not work for another. By controlling low blood sugar, Metformin helps prevent sexual function problems, blindness, and loss of limbs.

Your risk of stroke is lower, if you take Metformin or another brand of diabetes medication. The drug works by making the body respond to the insulin it naturally produces. It also reduces the amount of sugar that your liver makes. It is typically taken one to three times per day with meals. You should stay well hydrated when taking this medication. In most cases, the dose you take of this medication will depend on how you react to treatment, your condition, and other prescriptions you may be taking. All these factors should be taken into consideration.

You should also inform your doctor of any other medications you may be taking, if you are considering taking this medication. To avoid adverse side effects when starting this medication, your doctor may start you out on a small dose, and increase the dosage later. You should take this medicine at the same time every day. However, you should also be aware of any adverse side effects. These may include loss of appetite, a metallic taste in your mouth, and nausea. To avoid nausea, it is best to take Metformin with food. 

To avoid feeling nauseated, you should eat at times when you’re normally hungry. You may also eat small meals throughout the day.    If you experience diarrhea when taking this medication, drink a lot of water and fruit juices, such as apple juice and lemonade. Metformin may cause a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you experience any ill effects, such as muscle weakness or problems with your vision, call 911. A doctor can check your vitamin B12 levels, and may prescribe vitamin B12 supplements if your levels are too low.

If you experience sweating, confusion, or have difficulty concentrating, contact your doctor. You should also look out for symptoms of low blood sugar, such as brain fog. 

 

8 Sources

Nu Image Medical has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23147210/

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/metformin-cause-weight-loss

https://diabetesstrong.com/metformin-weight-loss/

https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/treatment/metformin-weight-loss-truth-behind-side-effect/

https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/metformin-side-effects

https://www.drugs.com/metformin.html

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-11285-7061/metformin-oral/metformin-oral/details

https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/metformin/side-effects-of-metformin/


This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.