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If you’re looking to lose weight, you might be wondering if metformin can help. Here’s what you need to know about this medication and weight loss.
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What is Metformin?
Metformin is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It belongs to a class of drugs called biguanides. Metformin is sometimes used in combination with other diabetes medications, but it is not for treating type 1 diabetes.
The exact way that metformin works for weight loss is not known. However, it is thought to help by decreasing the amount of sugar your body absorbs from food, increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and lowering insulin levels. Metformin may also help by decreasing appetite or cravings for high-sugar foods.
Metformin is generally well-tolerated, but side effects can include gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. More serious side effects include low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) and lactic acidosis (a build-up of lactic acid in the blood). These side effects are more likely to occur in people who have kidney problems or who are taking certain other medications.
How does Metformin work?
It is not entirely clear how Metformin works to promote weight loss. Some researchers believe that it improves insulin sensitivity, while others believe that it directly affects metabolism.
Metformin is typically prescribed at a maximum dosage of 2,550mg per day. However, some studies have shown that weight loss may occur at lower doses.
A common side effect of Metformin is gastrointestinal distress, which may limit its usefulness as a weight loss medication.
Does Metformin help with weight loss?
Though there’s no solid evidence that metformin causes weight loss, there are some theories about how it might work. One theory is that it may help you lose weight by reducing your appetite or making you feel fuller after eating. Another theory is that it may help to reduce the amount of sugar absorbed into your bloodstream after eating, which could lead to weight loss.
3.1 What does the research say?
While it’s unclear exactly how metformin works to promote weight loss, research suggests that the drug may influence how your body handles insulin. By improving insulin sensitivity, metformin may help to stabilize blood sugar levels and encourage your body to burn stored fat for energy.
A small 2019 study found that metformin may also boost the number of calories you burn during exercise. In the study, people with obesity took metformin or a placebo before exercising. Those who took metformin burned more calories during exercise than those who took the placebo, even though they didn’t exercise for longer or at a higher intensity.
Other research has shown that metformin may help you lose weight by:
decreasing the amount of sugar your liver produces
decreasing the absorption of sugar in your digestive tract
increasing your body’s response to insulin
increasing the number of calories you burn during exercise
3.2 What are the side effects of Metformin?
The most common side effects of metformin are gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting. These effects usually go away as the body gets used to the drug. Some people taking metformin develop a serious condition called lactic acidosis. This can occur if too much metformin accumulates in the blood and causes a build-up of lactic acid. Lactic acidosis is a potentially fatal condition that requires immediate medical treatment. People taking metformin should be sure to report any unusual symptoms to their doctor right away.
How can I get Metformin?
You can get Metformin by prescription from your doctor.
The bottom line is that there is no clear evidence that metformin helps with weight loss. However, the drug may be useful for people who are struggling to lose weight due to insulin resistance. If you have PCOS or another condition that causes insulin resistance, speak to your doctor about whether metformin may be right for you.