Metformin and Weight Loss

by on May 16, 2012

Metformin (Glucophage, Glumetza) is an oral antidiabetic medication that can cause weight loss in patients with diabetes by reducing their appetites. In some cases, this is actually a desired effect as research has shown that the majority of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

Where weight loss is not a desired effect, there are several steps metformin users can take to combat it.

Understanding Metformin and Weight Loss

When a body’s blood glucose levels regularly get too high, the body has to produce more insulin than is typical for other people. Insulin acts on the brain to cause hunger, so the more insulin there is in a person’s body, the larger that person’s appetite and the more at risk they are of becoming overweight. Metformin prevents blood glucose levels from getting too high by reducing the release levels of sugar from the liver and this makes the patient less hungry, therefore making them more prone to weight loss.

However, losing weight with metformin doesn’t necessarily happen automatically; patients usually have to combine the medication with a healthy diet and exercise regime to experience weight loss.

Combating Weight Loss Caused by Metformin

In cases where the metformin user does not want to lose weight or wants to slow the pace of weight loss, he or she can combat loss of appetite by taking the medication after they’ve already eaten. Eating little and often can also help keep the appetite stimulated. Patients may want to also visit a nutritionist or other type of healthcare provider to receive dietary counselling, as this can be helpful in maintaining sufficient nutritional intake. If a patient experiences sudden or unusual weight loss whilst taking metformin, they should contact their doctor immediately.

Although metformin and weight loss usually go hand in hand, no individual should ever have to feel that his or her weight loss is out of control. By being smart about how and when the medication is taken in relation to when meals are eaten, this side effect can be effectively combatted. If a patient is particularly concerned about unwanted weight loss, they should discuss the matter with their healthcare provider when being prescribed metformin.