Metformin for Weight Loss

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

Metformin   for Weight Loss
Table of Contents

Can Metformin Help You Lose Weight

There’s been a ton of buzz around Metformin lately, and the hype has gotten louder with the multiple studies on weight loss as a side effect. It’s one of the most widely prescribed drugs for type 2 diabetes in the United States. It was “the eighth most commonly prescribed drug consistently from 2008 to 2012, the number of prescriptions rising from 51.6 million in 2008 to 61.6 million in 2012,” according to a 2017 review in Diabetologia. The global health burden of diabetes has increased substantially from 2000 to today. Additionally, of the two types of diabetes, 90% of people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—this is when we develop insulin resistance or have a reduced capacity to produce insulin and can’t lower blood sugar levels naturally. Patients must treat type 1 diabetes with insulin, while they can often treat type 2 diabetes with healthy lifestyle changes, oral medications, and increased physical activity. The diabetes crisis is dire, with diabetes causing over 1 million deaths per year alone. According to The Journal of Epidemiol Global Health, this makes it the ninth leading cause of mortality. In turn, when Metformin treatment can help with diabetes management, it makes a big splash in the healthcare industry, and to the people who may be taking it to save their lives. Let’s back up and talk about the medication’s history first. Metformin has been around clinically for over 60 years. It was widely studied from 1960 to 1980 to verify the efficacy of lowering blood glucose levels, eventually becoming the “‘optimal’ therapy in type 2 diabetes,” says Diabetologia. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ultimately approved Metformin to treat type 2 diabetes in 1995. However, questions remain about the possible side effects of Metformin, and if there are any noticeable differences in treating overweight and obesity. Although it's proven to be a very effective drug over the years, there’s still research on using Metformin for weight loss—let’s chat about what we know about it now.

Does Metformin cause weight loss?

As an FDA-approved diabetes drug, weight loss doctors have prescribed Metformin off-label as a weight loss drug—here’s why. Let’s start from the beginning of the Metformin weight loss trials. A novel study in 1998 explored the effects of Metformin on women with obesity with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)—meaning those people who had diabetes but didn’t need insulin. To test how Metformin reduces body weight, 48 participants who hadn’t successfully lost weight after changing their diet were initially put on an American Diabetes Association-approved calorie-reduced diet and then given either an 850-gram dose of Metformin or a placebo. The clinical trial results were outstanding as they discovered that the medication triggers the feeling of fullness, reduced appetite, and successfully decreased calorie intake. After 24 weeks, the average body weight of those on Metformin was lowered by about 17 lbs more than the placebo group that practiced a healthy diet alone—further evidence substantiating that Metformin can be instrumental for weight loss. A 2012 clinical study confirmed Metformin sparked weight loss and determined long-term treatment was safe and remained effective in sustaining weight loss for at least 10 years. What’s more, when participants routinely took Metformin with no healthy behavior changes, participants lost a greater amount of weight and body fat.— The placebo group lost no weight in the same study, concluding Metformin was the reason for the weight loss— not lifestyle changes. Additionally, “Metformin lowers glucose and reduces risk for diabetes in part through weight loss,” asserts The Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. All the research demonstrates Metformin can be a powerful weight loss tool. And after speaking with your doctor at Found, you may be prescribed Metformin for weight loss if you’re a candidate.

Does Metformin have other health benefits?

In addition to Metformin weight loss, it has other health benefits like improved cardiovascular health and ease of symptoms associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. This hormonal disorder causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts and can lead to infertility. Metformin can also help the effects of antipsychotic weight gain. “A recent meta-analysis-examining 12 studies with a total of 743 patients treated with metformin and atypical antipsychotics showed a significant reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI),” according to a 2019 issue of the Current Obesity Report. With this information, it does lead us in the direction of supporting Metformin as an all-around extremely therapeutic medication. Its efficacy has been proven across multiple conditions in reducing symptoms, and aiding in treating diseases.

Is taking Metformin for weight loss safe if I don’t have diabetes?

There are risk factors with all medications, but the consensus is that the diabetes medication Metformin is safe to use. If you experience adverse side effects, they’ll typically lessen within a few weeks. The common side effects include mild gastrointestinal issues—like diarrhea—but these don’t outweigh the benefits of Metformin weight loss. Along those lines, participants in the clinical trial with obesity and pre-diabetes by The Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group (DPPOS), found “no significant safety issues,” and continued with, “Metformin participants reported more gastrointestinal symptoms than placebo participants, however these abated over time and both types of gastrointestinal symptom reports were similar between groups by the latter years of the DPPOS.” This suggests that regardless of Metformin use, those candidates who didn’t even take the medication still experienced those stomach issues later on in the study. It’s important to note that the FDA recommended certain batches of the extended-release Metformin tablets for recall in January of 2022, but they recommend talking with your doctor before stopping any previously prescribed medications. In addition, the recall was because of the level of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)—a substance that could cause cancer—found in a batch distributed by Viona Pharmaceuticals specifically. Don’t sweat—phew!—your Found healthcare provider will discuss all of this information with you.

Will Metformin weight loss be more effective if I take it at a certain time of day?

Many studies have given different doses of the medication before, after, and even with meals. Most commonly, Found healthcare providers recommend taking it right before bed to avoid nausea or with a meal to avoid an upset stomach. Your doctor will know best and give you personalized guidance on when to take it. If you’re experiencing symptoms while taking it before a meal, your Found physician may switch it up to help alleviate some of those side effects. It’s important to follow instructions and listen to your body. Also, if you’re prescribed Metformin, share any feedback you have when taking it so we can come up with the best possible solution for you.

Is taking Metformin for weight loss the “end-all and be-all”?

The short and truthful answer is, no, the effects of metformin weight loss are promising, but physical activity, lifestyle changes, and a healthy diet and food intake are fundamental in maintaining your weight-care journey. It also needs to be continually taken over a long period to sustain the results and support ongoing weight loss. Although originally used for diabetes care, Metformin is important for weight management as well. Another reason Metformin needs to be taken in addition to behavior and habit changes is that, “a new study finds overweight and obese people maintained an average weight reduction of 10.6% over 3 to 5 years with a program of lifestyle changes in combination with anti-obesity medications,” The Endocrine Society announced in June 2022. Okay, it’s time to pause here in the present—no more going back in time or fast-forwarding—in a nutshell, the advancement of research on Metformin weight loss is encouraging because the drug can not only be used to help to treat overweight and obesity, but it's proven to be safe and effective. All big wins in our book!

Is Metformin Right for You?

Take the quiz at Found to find out.