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What to Know Before You Lose Weight With Metformin

When someone loses weight, the most frequently asked question is, “How did you do it?” Keto diet, intermittent fasting, protein diet, and making yourself a gym freak. You might have heard several tips and tricks to lose your stubborn pounds.

Consider yourself in a changing room working out through the pile of skinny jeans you bought in. You have brought the size that fits you and the size you hope to be soon if you could make it to that size. Then you hear about metformin, a drug commonly used in diabetic patients, but will it work for you.

There is a rising trend to use metformin, also known as Glucophage, for weight reduction. Although it’s a medication used in diabetes, by lowering appetite, it helps to cut down excess weight.

If you are planning to take metformin to speed up your weight loss journey, keep reading this article-

Table of Content

What is Metformin?

Metformin is prescribed to patients who have type 2 diabetes, and this helps to lower their blood sugar levels. When the body is not making enough insulin or the insulin produced by the body is not working properly, it results in type 2 diabetes. 

So, basically, metformin improves the way your body handles insulin. Unlike other diabetic medications, metformin does not gain weight. Instead, it is becoming popular among people who want to reduce weight.

Now the question is, what does metformin do?

Metformin reduces your hunger pangs, which means you’ll not be eating much; as a result, you start losing weight. But the important point is, it is not a magic diet pill which will reduce your weight within a few days. It will take some time, most probably one or two years. 

Some researchers also believe metformin changes the way body stores and uses fat, which helps in weight loss.

Maintaining a proper lifestyle with a balanced diet is vital, too, because popping pills will cause deleterious effects on your health. People who work out and follow a healthy diet plan are most likely to have positive benefits from metformin. Exercise is necessary because metformin increases the number of calories that you need to burn down.

Can People Without Diabetes Take Metformin?

Can you still take metformin if you don’t have diabetes? This is a good question, and in short, the answer is yes, you can. Metformin can be used for weight management. Since the FDA does not approve this drug for weight loss so your dietician or doctor will first recommend traditional strategies for weight reduction.

But you should bear in mind metformin is not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise.

What’s The Relation Between Metformin And Keto Diet?

Keto diet is usually recommended to patients with type 2 diabetes, which focuses on weight loss. It may sound crazy to reduce weight, and you have to choose a high-fat diet. Actually, the Keto diet is low in carbohydrates and high in fats, which changes the mechanism of storage and usage of energy in your body, reducing your blood sugar level.

A ketogenic diet uses fats for energy instead of glucose or carbohydrates. So most of the energy is derived from the fats instead of carbohydrates. Some heart-healthy fats which are commonly eaten during the Keto diet are as follows:

  • Fish
  • Cottage cheese
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Olives
  • Nuts

You might be wondering does metformin help with Keto diet. Metformin and Keto can be considered as a good option. As it is believed, metformin itself has no effect on a ketogenic diet like insulin.

It may affect your body, but it has positive compliments towards diet. The main function of metformin is to improve your insulin sensitivity, reduce the production of glucose in your liver, and impede the absorption during digestion of carbs.

All this can only have a positive impact on your weight loss and should improve outcomes from the Keto diet. So, metformin and low carb diet weight loss are not harmful.

Ketosis is a word you’ll come across when you’re searching on weight loss and diabetes. Is it good or bad? Let’s find out. When your body does not have enough carbohydrates to burn, it burns fat for energy and produces ketones which are used as fuel. This process is called ketosis.

People who don’t have diabetes or are not pregnant ketosis kicks in after 3-5 days when you are having less than 50 g of carbohydrates per day you can also check your ketones at home as high levels of ketones are dangerous.

At some point, ketosis itself will not let your body to lose weight. You may have achieved a natural set point. It isn’t necessary that this is your desired goal, but maybe your body is comfortable at this stage. To reduce your weight further, you need to break this plateau. You can choose any other option like intermittent fasting.

Side effects of the ketogenic diet:

Although side effects associated with the Keto diet are usually less but most common side effects you may encounter are as follows:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Tachycardia
  • Confusion, anxiety or irritability
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating and chills

Metformin Weight Loss:

Metformin has several side effects like stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc. But there is one side effect that you might welcome with open arms if you are struggling to lose weight, which is weight loss.

Metformin isn’t a weight-loss drug, but there is a link between the drug and weight loss. Several theories provide explanations for weight fluctuation, yet the relationship between Metformin and weight loss is unclear. One of Metformin’s proven side effects in the suppression of appetite, or you can say reduced hunger.

It doesn’t seem like you are eating less with this drug, but the number of calories might be lower than your average food intake. Discomfort may be severe if you don’t feel like eating much, and thus you consume fewer calories. Frequent stomach upsets and diarrhea are also the side effects of this drug, which might affect your food intake.

“Temporary gastrointestinal upset (typically experienced at the beginning of treatment) from taking metformin may also play a role in weight loss,” – Suzanne Magnotta, RD, CDE, vice president of clinical services for Achieving Better Control in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

Now let’s come to long term weight loss. On average, weight loss is only 6 pounds after one year on this drug. Metformin is given to people with high insulin levels who have difficulty losing weight; it’s not a miracle weight loss solution. You can’t expect a fair chance in your weight if you are only eating and leading a sedentary lifestyle. It is better to follow a sensible weight loss plan with healthy eating and more physical activities and the drug to see any visible weight loss.

Just keep in mind that while you are on medication, the number on the scale might drop, but it is temporary. You may regain pounds when you stop taking the drug, and your appetite turns to normal. So it is essential to stick with a healthy lifestyle.

Metformin can significantly reduce weight, mostly due to its side effects like a decrease in appetite and stomach upset. Although this drug cause weight loss but doesn’t replace traditional dieting methods.

Metformin and Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been practiced worldwide and is part of every major religious culture, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. When your body enters starvation mode, basal metabolic rate increases, which are accompanied by an increase in norepinephrine and growth hormone levels.

Fasting protocols help to reduce HbA1c, central adiposity, weight and improves insulin sensitivity and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Metformin and intermittent fasting should not be considered together as metformin should always be taken during your meals to avoid gastrointestinal disturbances.

Risks Associated With Intermittent Fasting

There are side effects which you should know before you start intermittent fasting:

  • Newbies may feel hypoglycemic:

You might experience low blood sugar levels; this can further lead to increased heart rate, headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Mood swings are also common, and no one is happy when they are restricted from food.

However, if you continue to feel light-headed, it’s better to take a small snack rather than pass out. Try to maintain your sugar level with fresh fruits and a balanced diet, so your body gets proper nutrients.

  • Binge eating behavior:

You can also develop the habit of overeating or consuming abnormal amounts of food by not finding the will to stop. This will interfere with your fasting routine and definitely gain weight.

  • Extreme hunger:

The grumbling of your stomach is also one of the side effects of intermittent fasting. You will feel extremely hungry, and your energy level will low.

Metformin Precautions

Before taking metformin, you should consider the following precautions. People who suffer from anyone these conditions should avoid taking metformin:

  • Kidney issues:

Metformin is removed by your kidneys, and if metformin is not removed from your body, it leads to the buildup of excess metformin. Which can cause lactic acidosis. If you are planning to take metformin, it’s best to get your renal function tests (RFT’S) first.

  • Heart issues:

If you are having a history of cardiac problems or you had a heart attack, then metformin is not for you. What’s the link between heart and metformin? So when your heart is not working properly, it won’t send blood to kidneys; as a result, kidneys will not eliminate metformin, which can lead to lactic acidosis.

  • Liver issues:

So, the liver is the organ that wipes away lactic acid from your body. Lactic acid can build up due if the liver is not functioning properly.

  • Use of alcohol:

Alcohol should not be taken with metformin as it may cause hypoglycemia, and it also increases levels of lactic acid in the body.

Side Effects Associated With Metformin:

Mild or serious side effects may be caused by metformin. Metformin side effects are the same in men and women. Find out further about the side effects below:

Common Side Effects of Metformin

The most common side effects of metformin include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Headache
  • Metallic taste in the mouth

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are the most common side effects which go away with time.

Serious Side Effects of Metformin

  • Lactic acidosis occurs due to buildup of metformin in your body, it is rare but a serious side effect. As it is a medical emergency so it should be treated in hospital. The symptoms of lactic acidosis include tiredness, nausea, decreased appetite, weakness, stomach pain and feeling cold
  • Anemia and low levels of red blood cells is also a severe side effect of metformin because it decreases vitamin B12 level in your body. Symptoms of anemia include dizziness, lightheadedness, and tiredness. 
  • Metformin alone does not cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar level, but poor diet, strenuous exercise, and other diabetic medications may result in hypoglycemia.


In a nutshell, metformin is a medication used to treat diabetes, but its minor side effect of weight loss has attracted a lot of people. Research is still being carried out for better understanding. Diet and exercise should never be neglected or considered a secondary choice.

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