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What is the Connection Between Metformin and Weight Loss?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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Although studies are inconclusive, metformin and weight loss may be linked for non-diabetics. It was originally designed to treat diabetics by lowering insulin levels to blood sugar, but it has been shown to reduce hunger and may be used as a weight loss drug in those who do not have diabetes. Metformin works to curb appetite by lowering insulin since this substance triggers hunger in most individuals.

The link between metformin and weight loss has not been heavily studied, but it is commonly used to reduce insulin levels in those with Type 2 diabetes. It is also used in women who have polycystic ovary syndrome since they tend to be overweight due to high insulin levels. Researchers originally believed that metformin was only effective in those who did not exercise regularly since it is counteracted by lactic acid, a substance produced by the body during exercise. It has been shown, though, that exercise does not increase lactic acid enough to reduce the drug’s effectiveness.

Patients interested in metformin and weight loss guidelines should speak to their doctors. Metformin is generally only given to those who are severely overweight since the potential side effects are offset by the health benefits of losing weight. Side effects may include digestive upset and headache. Metformin is considered safe for most individuals.

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There are some who should not take metformin and weight loss drugs in general, especially in combination with one another. Those who have lower blood sugar should avoid taking this drug because it may lower blood glucose levels even more, which can be serious and lead to health complications. It has also been shown that athletes should not take this medication because they require raised blood sugar in order to perform in sporting events. Taking it before participating in an athletic game could lead to a dramatic decrease in blood sugar.

To learn about metformin for the purpose of losing weight, patients should speak to their doctors. The medication is not effective when combined with a high carb diet. Eating foods which may cause a rapid spike in insulin will counter any positive effects of this medication. These include refined carbohydrates, refined sugar, certain fruits, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn. For long-term and healthy weight loss, patients should still eat a balanced diet and engage in physical activity daily. A doctor should be consulted before going any new diet plan.

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umbra21
Post 3

@croydon - I don't think the link is strong enough that doctors will prescribe metformin for weight loss alone. They might think twice about prescribing it to someone who doesn't have much to lose though, as being underweight can be just as dangerous as being overweight, particularly if you've got a condition like diabetes.

croydon
Post 2

@Fa5t3r - I'm sure they have taken that into account. But my doctor put me on it a while ago to control insulin resistance and I've got to admit that it didn't seem to do anything for weight loss at all. The only thing that ever seems to work for me is to completely restrict myself from sugar and processed grains, which I find really difficult to do when living with other people who don't do the same.

Even then it's not really fast weight loss, so much as just a gradual process, which is probably healthier but not exactly like taking a magic pill.

Fa5t3r
Post 1

I always heard that metformin caused weight loss because it made people feel nauseated for the first few months they were on it, so they basically didn't want to eat as much.

I mean, I know that it's supposed to reduce insulin and that could be a factor as well, especially in people with diabetes or insulin resistance but I wonder if they tailored the studies so that it would account for the fact that anything that makes you feel unwell is going to curb your appetite. Considering that metformin is a fairly disruptive drug to be taking, it doesn't seem worth it just as weight loss pills.

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