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Can Metformin Cause Weight Loss? We explore the science behind this diabetes drug and its potential effects on weight.
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What is metformin?
Metformin is a prescription medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called biguanides. Metformin is typically used in conjunction with diet and exercise to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Though it’s unclear exactly how metformin causes weight loss, the drug may help by decreasing appetite, increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, or by affecting certain hormones involved in fat metabolism.
A 2017 review of studies found that people taking metformin lost an average of 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) more than those who didn’t take the drug. And, compared with other diabetes medications, metformin was associated with the least amount of weight gain.
Still, some research suggests that the weight-loss effects of metformin may diminish over time. One large study found that people taking metformin for five years had only a small decrease in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference compared with people taking a placebo.
How does metformin work?
There are two forms of metformin available: immediate release and extended release. Immediate release metformin is available as the brand-name drugs Glumetza and Riomet. Extended release metformin is available as the brand-name drugs Fortamet, Glucophage XR, Glumetza XR, and Riomet ER. Metformin oral tablet comes in two forms: immediate-release and extended-release. The difference between these two forms is the rate at which the drug is released into your body.
Does metformin cause weight loss?
Metformin is a medication often prescribed for women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). PCOS can cause insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to weight gain. Some research suggests that metformin may help with weight loss in people with PCOS, but the evidence is mixed. In one study, for example, metformin was found to cause a small amount of weight loss in people with PCOS who were not obese. However, other research has found no significant difference in weight loss between people with PCOS who take metformin and those who don’t.
It’s thought that metformin may cause weight loss by reducing the amount of sugar absorbed by the body and by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Metformin may also help people lose weight by reducing appetite. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects.
Are there any side effects of metformin?
Yes. Metformin can cause mild and serious side effects. The mild side effects of metformin are nausea, diarrhea, and upset stomach. These usually go away after you take the medicine for a little while. More serious side effects are lactic acidosis (a build-up of lactic acid in the blood) and kidney problems. Lactic acidosis is rare but serious and can be life-threatening. If you have any symptoms of lactic acidosis, call your doctor right away. Kidney problems can happen at any time during metformin treatment and may cause reduced kidney function or kidney failure that may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
How can I get started with metformin?
If your doctor has prescribed metformin for you, it’s important to take it as directed. Metformin is usually taken two or three times a day with meals. You may need to start taking metformin along with another diabetes medicine, such as insulin.
If you’re taking metformin for PCOS, you may not have regular menstrual cycles. Your doctor will likely prescribe another medication, such as birth control pills, to help regulate your cycles.