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Metformin Diarrhea: Is Eating Carbs Related?

Metformin is a very popular diabetes medication, It’s prescribed to patients suffering from type 2 diabetes.  But it also has some nasty side-effects.

The most common side-effect of metformin is diarrhea. It’s commonly seen in patients who take a high dose of metformin every day. It can be especially problematic for patients who are elderly.

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So what are the ways to manage Metformin diarrhea?

In this article, we’ll show you how to deal with Metformin diarrhea after eating carbs. We’ll also go into how to prevent Metformin diarrhea and its other symptoms.

Table of Content

Why Does Metformin Diarrhea Occur?

The cause of Metformin diarrhea can be attributed to its mechanism of action. It mainly acts to reduce the glucose in the blood to control diabetes.

Metformin works to reduce glucose metabolism. It acts on the liver, the organ which controls glucose uptake. It reduces the amount of glucose the liver processes.


It also reduces the absorption of glucose by the intestine. This ultimately leads to lower sugar in the blood, controlling the level of diabetes. Metformin also makes the body more sensitive to insulin. Thus leading to more glucose uptake by the cells.

In the first few weeks of metformin, the body does not recognize its functions. This causes the body to respond to it by triggering diarrhea. This mainly occurs to rid the bowels of any potential foreign substance. This the body’s natural way of dealing with gastrointestinal problems.

So as you can see, Metformin diarrhea is a natural response by the body to a new medication.

Diarrhea As A Side Effect Of Metformin

Metformin may cause diarrhea as a side-effect in some cases. Metformin is known to have some gastrointestinal side-effects. This factor responsible is the metformin mechanism of action.

Metformin may cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms normally prevail for the first few days of taking metformin.

Metformin works directly on the gut. For this reason, the body may interpret its action as some sort of abnormality. This in turn causes a response by the body, leading to diarrhea.

How is Eating Carbs Related?

The relationship between eating carbs and metformin diarrhea has not yet been fully explored. Many people have complained that metformin diarrhea after eating carbs has gotten worse.

However, studies have also revealed that metformin diarrhea is more common when it is taken on an empty stomach.

If you think that taking carbs while on metformin is causing diarrhea, you should consult with your doctor. Oftentimes, gastrointestinal distress can be caused by other factors.

Diabetes is a complicated condition. It can cause complications with several organ systems. So it can be likely that your diarrhea is being caused by another issue.

Sometimes, the dosage of metformin can lead to diarrhea. In this case, eating a heavy meal full of carbohydrates can cause a stomach upset. This leads to gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. So, eating carbs may be a factor in causing metformin diarrhea in this way.

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How to Manage Metformin Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common side-effect of Metformin. As a patient, having to suffer from both diabetes and diarrhea can be a nightmare.

But thankfully there are many ways for Metformin diarrhea management. These bowel problems only seem to last for a week or so. So if you can hold it down, they’ll improve on their own.

The major ways you can manage Metformin diarrhea are:

Take a break from your medication

Talk to your doctor and request to be put off your meds. Taking a break from Metformin can help your bowels to readjust. This will immediately stop your diarrhea and allow your digestive system to recover. It might even help to reduce the side-effects the next time you start.

Do not do this without your doctor’s advice. Never start or stop medication without the guidance of a medical professional.

Watch What You Eat

Some foods can trigger diarrhea while taking Metformin. They might also worsen the symptoms. Metformin diarrhea can be aggravated by foods like raw vegetables, onion, garlic, gas-producing foods, dairy products, etc. Try to avoid oily foods like junk food.

Eat foods with high fiber as it helps to solidify stool. Avoid milk-based foods like coffee or tea. These types of food can cause diarrhea to get worse. So these are foods to avoid while taking Metformin.

Drink Plenty of Water

One of the most important steps to manage diarrhea. Drink at least 8 glasses of clean water every day. Avoid taking artificial drinks like soda.

Soft drinks and alcohol might cause further dehydration. So it’s better to avoid those. Keeping your fluid levels up will make you feel better and also reduce the draining effects of diarrhea.

If your diarrhea is out of control, contact your doctor immediately. Severe diarrhea is dangerous to health and may even cause death. So be sure to get proper medical attention if the situation gets out of hand.

Ways to Prevent Metformin Diarrhea

It’s always better to prevent a problem than to look for a solution. Diarrhea is a side-effect of Metformin. So by preventing the side-effects of Metformin, you can prevent diarrhea.

There are many measures you can take to reduce the Metformin side-effects. These steps should help you to prevent Metformin diarrhea as well as other symptoms.

The things you could do to prevent Metformin Diarrhea are:

Take Metformin During a Meal

There is common confusion about when to take metformin, before or after meals? Take your Metformin just as you begin your meal. People have reported far fewer problems if there is food already in the stomach.

On the other hand, an empty stomach tends to cause more problems. So time your Metformin intake so that its effect kicks in when there is food in your stomach. You should also avoid anything that may cause Metformin food-drug interactions.

If you take a single dose, take it with the largest meal of the day. If you have two doses, take them as far apart as you can. This greatly minimizes the side-effects like diarrhea.

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Choose Extended-Release Variants

Metformin is available in both instant-action and extended-release forms. The instant-action formula acts immediately to reduce blood sugar levels. It is generally prescribed to new patients. It’s more affordable and helps get diabetes under control fast. But this version is also notorious for causing gastrointestinal side-effects.

The extended-release formula takes some time to act by releasing the medication slowly. This drastically reduces any gastrointestinal issues. So switching to the extended-release formula can help you prevent Metformin diarrhea.

Be Careful About Dosage

In many cases, improper Metformin dosages can lead to many side-effects. It might also potentially damage your liver and kidneys. Doctors generally prescribe small doses. This helps new patients to ease into the medication. However, if the starting dose is too large, it may cause serious side-effects. Diarrhea is a prime example of such side-effects.

So make sure you are taking the appropriate dose at the right times. If you have any problems arising due to the dosage, talk to your doctor. Do not attempt to change dosage by yourself.

Remember, the doctor prescribes you medication evaluating your condition. It is done under the decision that the benefits outweigh the inconveniences.

Look For Alternatives

If you find that your current Metformin medication is causing side-effects like diarrhea, you can ask your doctor to change your meds.

Metformin is widely available from many different manufacturers under many different brand names. Their formula can differ from each other by minute chemical variances. But these differences can play a big role in how our bodies react to them. So trying different brands might help you find one that doesn’t cause you any side-effects.

Again, there are options available for diabetics who can’t take Metformin. These types of patients are suggested SGLT2 inhibitors, GLP1 meds, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, etc. If all else fails, you can ask for these meds from your doctor.

Alongside your normal medication, there are also non-pharmaceutical alternatives to help you control diabetes. These are not a substitute for mainstream medication but may help you get better results. You can check out Glucoflow and Sugar Balance to help with your issues.

So in short, these are the steps on how to stop Metformin side-effects.

The Last Word

So this is all you need to know about Metformin diarrhea after eating carbs. Metformin diarrhea is a solvable issue. By following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to control diarrhea as well.

Remember to always consult your doctor if you’re facing any difficulties. Always refer to your doctor in case of any untoward symptoms and side-effects. There is no alternative to proper medical attention.

The FAQs About Metformin Diarrhea

Q. How long do Metformin side-effects last?

Metformin can cause side-effects for the first few weeks. Though some people might not face any symptoms or side-effects at all. These side-effects gradually reduce over time. They should completely disappear after one month.

Q. What is the normal dosage for Metformin?

The normal dose for Metformin is 500 gm or 850 gm daily. This dose may be increased to over 1000 mg depending on the tolerances of the patient. These doses may vary from person to person depending on the prescription they are given.

Q. Can I use Metformin for weight loss?

Metformin is known to cause weight loss. This is partially due to its mechanism. However, this Metformin weight loss is very limited and unsustainable. So it’s not a valid method for weight loss.

Q. Can I take Metformin with just milk?

Milk and milk-based products can cause gastrointestinal irritation. Especially fermented milk products like yogurt can cause diarrhea regardless of Metformin. So it’s best to avoid these kinds of foods.

Q. Does Metformin cause loss of appetite?

Metformin does not normally affect the appetite. Some people may face reduced appetite but the cause is not yet known. High doses of Metformin have shown marked appetite suppressant action.

Q. Can Metformin cause sugar cravings?

Some people might face sugar cravings while on Metformin. But usually, Metformin isn’t to blame.

People who are recently diagnosed with diabetes are normally prescribed Metformin. So naturally, it takes them some time to adjust to their new sugar-free diet. These people may face sugar carving but it tends to get better with time.

Related Reading:

  1. When to Take Metformin Before or After Meals
  2. Why does metformin make me poop?
  3. What to Know Before You Lose Weight With Metformin

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