Metformin for weight loss is making a buzz among health professionals. They believe that this drug offers some benefits that can lead to weight loss. But, not all know how it works.
What is Metformin?
Metformin is commonly used as a prescription drug for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. It is available under brand names such as Fortamet and Glucophage either in slow-release or regular tablets. It targets the intestines and liver to reduce the absorption and secretion of glucose in the blood.
This drug stimulates the insulin sensitivity of the body’s tissues and muscles so that they can use glucose readily. Taking this drug is associated to weight loss, but more serious side effects can also be noticed.
How does metformin help in losing weight?
According to the American Diabetes Association, Metformin should be administered only at the onset of type 2 diabetes. This hypoglycemic medication should be taken gradually. It works in different mechanisms including the following:
- It reduces the sugar production of the liver
One of the functions of the liver is to make sugar from other substances. By taking metformin, this function of the liver is inhibited so that less sugar will be released into the blood.
- Increase sugar utilization in the liver and muscles
The muscles serve as the sink where excess sugar is deposited. When metformin flows through your muscles, the amount of sugar in your blood is reduced.
- Prevents lipolysis
Taking this drug prevents lipolysis or breakdown of fats. With this the amount of fatty acids decreases that’s why sugar production is controlled.
How to Take Metformin for Weight Loss
If you’re thinking to try metformin to help in your weight loss effort, the first thing to do is to talk to your doctor first. Generally, it is a safe medication, but some patients complain about experiencing lactic acidosis, slow heart rate, difficulty breathing, dizziness, stomach pain, and weakness.
This drug should be taken with a meal, but fatty and high calorie foods should be avoided. Instead, you should consume more vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains. Always monitor your blood sugar levels. Drinking a glass of water along with metformin can reduce your hunger pangs because it makes you feel full.
What is the Dosage for Weight Loss?
Using metformin for weight loss can be effective if done right. As mentioned earlier, it’s essential to consult your doctor before starting so that you’ll know the right dosage appropriate to your needs.
According to experts, the starting dose of this drug is 500mg twice a day or 850mg once a day. After a week, you can increase the dose to 1000mg for the first dose of the day and the second dose should be 500mg. after another week, you can take 1000mg twice a day. The maximum dosage is 2500mg a day or the equivalent of 850mg three times a day.
Side Effects for Metformin
In spite of the fact that metformin works well to control the blood glucose levels, taking this drug can cause adverse effects. To avoid experiencing the negative effects, you should ask doctor’s advice before taking it. Some of the common side effects apparent when taking metformin include the following:
Patients taking metformin may experience general malaise, occasional pains, and fatigue. Malaise happens if the drug causes adverse effects on the intestines, stomach, kidneys, and liver.
- Digestive effects
Another common effects of taking metformin is gastrointestinal disturbances. It affects the intestines and stomach. This is manifested by vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea or loose bowel movements.
- Organ effects
Taking metformin for long time can negatively impact the kidney or liver. It’s because this medication can vary the function of the liver. The condition may debilitate particularly to patients suffering from liver or kidney problems.
- Vitamin B12 malabsorption
People undergoing metformin treatment may suffer from Vitamin B12 malabsorption. It’s because this drug interferes with the chemical that helps the body to absorb vitamin B12. Deficiency in Vitamin B12 can trigger significant health risks.
Vitamin B12 plays important role in red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, and other biochemical functions of your body. When the bone marrow isn’t manufacturing red blood cells, a person has higher chance of developing megoblastic anemia.
Losing weight is not an easy task. Although metformin is closely associated to weight loss, but it won’t be effective when taken alone. That’s why if you want to see positive results, you should engage in regular exercise and proper diet.
is a registered dietitian with over 10 years of experience in the field of nutrition. She has a Master’s degree in Nutritional Science from Dhaka University and has worked with various clients to help them achieve their health goals through personalized diet plans. Mounota is passionate about educating people on the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle and has written extensively on the subject for various publications.