What is Metformin?
Sold under the brand name Glucophage, metformin is a medication used for the treatment of type-2 diabetes, particularly in people who are obese. Metformin is also used for the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. Metformin needs to be used with a proper diet and an exercise program. This medication can also be used with other medications for controlling high levels of blood sugar. Metformin works by restoring the body’s proper response to naturally produced insulin. It also reduces the amount of sugar that is manufactured by your liver and which is absorbed by your stomach/intestines.
Does Metformin Promote Weight Loss in Diabetics?
Many people say that metformin helps in losing weight. According to several studies, metformin can help with weight loss in people suffering from type-2 diabetes. The reason behind why metformin causes weight loss remains unclear, though it is believed that it prompts you to eat less by lowering your appetite. Another theory is that it changes the manner in which your body uses and stores fat.
While metformin has been shown to help with weight loss, it is in no way a quick-fix solution for obesity. It takes nearly one to two years for metformin to help you lose weight and the amount of weight loss also depends from person to person. On an average, the amount of weight loss after two or more years of consuming metformin is between five to seven pounds. On the other hand though, if you continue to eat foods that increase your blood sugar levels, you will end up counteracting the effects of metformin. As with all medications, though, metformin will not help you lose weight unless you follow it up with healthy habits. Studies have shown that individuals who lose the most weight on metformin are those who follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. This is so because one theory suggests that metformin actually boosts the number of calories you burn while exercising. Therefore, if you are not exercising, you will not be able to avail this benefit of metformin.
A point to consider is that any weight loss which occurs while you are on metformin will only last for as long as you are taking the medication. If you stop taking metformin, there is a very good chance that you will return back to your original weight. In fact, even while you are on metformin, you may still gain back your weight slowly if you do not follow it up with exercise and a healthy diet.
Therefore, metformin is not actually the magic weight loss pill that many people believe it to be. It has worked well in reducing weight in some people, but there are many who have had no success. The benefit of using metformin for diabetes treatment is that while it may or may not lead to weight loss, it will definitely not make you gain weight, unlike some other medications that are available for type 2 diabetes.
Can Metformin Be Used By Non-Diabetics For Weight Loss?
Using metformin when you don’t have diabetes and with the sole purpose of losing weight is known as an off-label use and is generally not recommended, as metformin is not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a weight loss medication.
When Do The Doctors Prescribe Metformin?
If you suffer from type 2 diabetes and are overweight, your doctor is likely to prescribe metformin to help lower your risk of diabetes, help you manage your diabetes, and of course, to also see if metformin helps you lose weight. Some doctors actually even prescribe metformin for weight loss if you have prediabetes or even if you don’t have diabetes.
What is the Correct Dosage of Metformin for Weight Loss?
The dosage of metformin for losing weight is dependent on your individual health condition. Your doctor will prescribe a low dosage to begin with and then gradually increase it over time so that there are minimum side effects.
Can Other Factors Also Cause Weight Loss When Taking Metformin?
Yes, if you start to lose weight while taking metformin, then it is possible that the weight loss is not due to the medication. Apart from metformin, there could be some other health conditions as well that may cause a loss of appetite, leading to weight loss. Some other factors that may cause weight loss while being on metformin include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Parkinson’s disease
Apart from this, there are also certain other medications that cause weight loss. It is known that chemotherapy drugs make you lose weight by lowering your appetite. Many thyroid medications, such as liotrix, liothyronine, levothyroxine, etc., give a boost to your metabolism, causing weight loss. Some ADHD medications such as Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), and Concerta (methylphenidate) are also known to cause weight loss. So if apart from metformin, you are on any of these medications, you may be losing weight due to those as well.
Are there any Side Effects of Metformin?
Metformin is considered to be a safe drug and any minor side effects also tend to disappear over time. Weight loss from metformin should be gradual and minimal, not a cause of concern. However, if you notice that you are losing a lot of weight suddenly while taking metformin, then you should discuss this with your doctor to determine what the actual cause of the rapid weight loss is and if any steps need to be taken to counteract it. Keep your doctor informed about your lifestyle and dietary pattern so that they can accurately determine how effective metformin actually is in helping you lose weight.
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