What is Metformin
If you haven’t heard of metformin, it is a drug designed to treat patients with Type 2 diabetes. However, like most pharmaceuticals, it comes with a side effect: weight loss.
The popular website, Reddit, which boasts itself to be the “front page of the Internet” is filled with stories of people who have lost weight on the drug Metformin. One Redditor wrote, “Was trying to lose weight for a long time with no success,” about their experience with Metformin. Additionally, they went on to say, “I’m on 1,000 milligrams a day and am down 10 pounds.” “I saw weight loss at first with 500 milligrams twice per day,” wrote another user. “The difference was almost immediate.”
While some people wrote that the drug, Metformin, didn’t do much for them as far as losing weight goes; others swear by it. In fact, even those who do not even have Type 2 diabetes, says Fatima Cody Stanford, M.D., an instructor of medicine and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Stanford is also an obesity medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. In fact, Cody Standford says that she often prescribes the medication to overweight or obese people. Even if they do not have Type 2 diabetes.
Here’s all you need to know about the drug.
How it Works
Metformin works by causing a decrease in the release of glucose from a person’s liver. This helps to lower a person’s blood sugar when it is too high and restore the way someone uses food to make energy, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Weight loss can occur because it decreases appetite in some people who take it,” says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D.
In order for the prescription to work properly and effectively, the amount of Metformin you take must be balanced against your diet and exercise. This is because it helps level out your blood sugar, the clinic says. For that reason, if you change your diet or exercise, your doctor may need to change the amount of Metformin you are taking.
Can it Help You Lose Weight?
Cody Standford says she uses the medication often in her practice. Even among those with and those without Type 2 diabetes and she says it works. “While Metformin is typically prescribed for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, it has been shown to produce weight loss symptoms in some individuals with a low likelihood of adverse effects,” she says.
Here’s why: Regardless of whether or not the patient who is taking Metformin has Type 2 diabetes or insulin release resistance, the medication can improve a person’s insulin sensitivity. That increase in sensitivity to insulin can keep a person’s blood sugar level stable. This prevents the hunger and carb cravings that come with spikes and subsequent drops in blood sugar, Stanford explains. Ultimately, with fewer cravings and carbs, you are more likely to have an easier time losing weight.
Additionally, the meds also decrease a person’s glucose levels. This causes a lesser likelihood that excess sugar will be stored as fat tissue in the body, she says.
Finally, the drug can improve a person’s sensitivity to leptin. Leptin is a hormone that makes you feel full and might increase your metabolism, Stanford says.
Is it Dangerous?
The medication is considered safe to use, but the Mayo Clinic notes that it can negatively interact with certain medications like aspirin. It is also not recommended that you drink alcohol on Metformin. Also, you should be cautious about using the drug with certain conditions. These conditions include anemia or Vitamin B12 deficiency. Also, people with kidney and liver problems should steer clear, Wider says.
The Bottom Line
Metformin is a fairly popular drug prescribed by doctors, Stanford says. It has shown to help with weight loss but the medication is only available by a prescription. See your doctor for an evaluation to see if Metformin is right for you.