Metformin for Weight Loss

Approved in 1995 in the US and over the last three decades, metformin has been widely touted for its hypoglycemic effects on glucose, making the unique medication a perfect treatment for diabetics. But there’s one other benefit patients have discovered from using metformin for their specific medical issues; they lost a reasonable amount of weight while taking the medication. Naturally, this has prompted many healthcare professionals to utilize metformin as a possibly effective weight loss treatment for poor weight management and obesity.

Our weight loss experts at Slim Weight Loss Clinic also firmly believe metformin can be a real game changer when combined with dieting, physical activity, and other weight loss drugs, which is why we now offer metformin as one of our weight loss treatment options.

If you’re already trying to lose weight through diet and exercise and are interested in maximizing your weight loss, then metformin may be the perfect treatment to incorporate into your daily regimen. In this article, we’ll discuss what makes metformin such an effective weight-loss drug and go over what you’ll need to know about the medication to determine if it can work as a potential solution for your weight-loss goals.

What Is Metformin?

a girl taking the pill
Metformin is an oral medication primarily prescribed to help manage blood sugar levels in people with various diabetic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes–a medical condition where diabetes develops during pregnancy. The drug even works as a preventative measure for people with prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. However, in certain instances, physicians can also use the medicine off-label to treat and manage other health conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and even weight gain in overweight and obese patients.

How Metformin Works

As a diabetes drug, metformin reduces insulin resistance, decreases hepatic glucose production, decreases intestinal absorption of glucose as well as improve insulin sensitivity. After you eat, metformin reduces how much sugar the intestines absorb from food consumption, thus lowering the amount of glucose that travels through the bloodstream. In addition, metformin also works to decrease the amount of sugar that the liver produces on its own, effectively lowering the sugar production that naturally occurs in the body. This allows your cells to effectively utilize sugars from the foods you consume, which also helps to break down calories into energy more effectively, allowing you to maintain lower blood sugar levels after every meal consistently.

Does Metformin Cause Weight Loss?

Although metformin is not approved for weight loss, studies show that the medicine’s effects on glucose can help patients lose weight during treatment. There are various theories as to how metformin causes weight loss, but the most common ways that the medication has been found to decrease excess body fat include:

Appetite Reduction

Not only does metformin increase insulin sensitivity, but the medication also improves the body’s response to leptin by decreasing leptin resistance, a hormone released from your fat tissue to regulate hunger by stimulating feelings of fullness after a meal. metformin may also increase the release of the GLP-1 hormone (having a similar effect to the other semaglutide weight-loss drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic), which is also known to suppress appetite. By utilizing both appetite-suppressant hormones, metformin increases the body’s ability to inhibit food cravings, allowing for much better control over your appetite, which makes it easier to avoid ingesting excessive calories.

Promoting Insulin Sensitivity

As previously discussed, metformin also helps to improve insulin sensitivity. It achieves this by increasing insulin receptor activity, which activates post-receptor insulin signaling pathways that are responsible for transporting insulin from the pancreas to where it is needed. Activating these pathways makes it easier for the insulin to regulate your blood glucose levels, allowing for a more effective movement of sugar through the bloodstream to be used as energy in various parts of the body, such as muscle tissue, thus, reducing your blood sugar levels.

Changing Your Gut Microbiome

Metformin’s mechanism of action also works to alter the gut microbiome. This area contains essential microorganisms that exist symbiotically inside the stomach, which help to support digestion so we can better utilize energy from the foods we consume. The microorganisms that live in the microbiome help break down more distinct molecules from meats and vegetables and manage food cravings, which provide a feeling of satiety (or fullness) after digestion. By helping to optimize the microbiome in which these microbes reside, metformin can promote and maintain a healthy gut balance and more effective digestion, which can also help to stimulate and even increase weight loss.

Can I Take Metformin for Weight Loss Without Having Diabetes?

Yes. Although metformin is not approved as a weight loss drug, it can be used as an off-label treatment to assist in weight loss for people without diabetes. In fact, many physicians commonly prescribe metformin first as a weight loss treatment for obese patients struggling to lose weight.

What Is the Correct Dosage for Weight Loss in Non Diabetics?

Since metformin is used off-label for weight loss when treating weight-related conditions such as obesity, there isn’t necessarily a correct or proper dosage regarding using the medication as a weight loss treatment in non-diabetics. In these instances, a physician will typically study your medical history to determine what may be the best metformin dosage for your body to help you achieve your weight-loss goals. More often than not, many physicians will prescribe a low dose of metformin at the beginning of treatment to allow your body time to adjust to the medication before slowly increasing the dosage over the following weeks.

How Much Weight Can You Lose on Metformin?

The amount of weight you’ll lose on metformin will depend on your current weight, your medical history, and your body’s response to medication. However, in a 2013 study published in the National Library of Medicine, research revealed that overweight patients with a body mass index (BMI) less than 27 experienced 5% to 6% in weight loss after six months of treatment with metformin.

How Fast Does Metformin Work to Help You Lose Weight?

girls holding a bottle of pills
Once again, that will also depend on how well your body responds to the medication. Based on the study previously mentioned, patients can expect to see significant weight loss results after 28 weeks with metformin, as long as they combine the medicine with a balanced diet and regular exercise.

What Are the Risks With Metformin?

Despite being relatively safe for most people, metformin can come with its share of side effects and present certain health risks to some patients. The most common side effects that patients have reported after taking metformin include:

  • Stomach pain or discomfort
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Muscle pain
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn

Generally, your physician will start your treatment with a low dose of metformin to help your body get used to the medication and reduce the chances of experiencing these side effects. Taking metformin with a meal can also help to lessen feelings of nausea or stomach discomfort. Typically, these precautions will help the side effects subside as you continue to progress through treatment.

You can also request an extended release of metformin to help avoid the side effects. This form of metformin gradually releases the medicine inside the body over a period of time, making it easier for your digestive system to process the medication and decrease the chances of experiencing side effects. However, if the side effects continue to persist or worsen, make sure to notify your doctor so they can adjust your dosage to help alleviate those issues.

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    Other Risks From Taking Metformin

    B12 Deficiency

    Taking metformin may also decrease the amount of vitamin B12 that your body absorbs from food, eventually causing B12 deficiency. The condition can lower your blood cell count and cause you to experience anemia, which can cause various symptoms such as fatigue, pale skin, and muscle weakness. There’s also an increased risk of developing a B12 deficiency while taking metformin if you are older, have had gastrointestinal surgery, struggle with previous stomach conditions that affect B12 absorption, or if you refrain from consuming animal products due to a vegan or vegetarian diet. It is essential to talk to your doctor about the risks of taking metformin if these conditions apply to you so that they can determine the best approach for your metformin treatment. Talk to your doctor about B12 injections like cyanocobalamin and hydroxocobalamin to mitigate this issue.

    Lactic Acidosis

    One other serious medical complication caused by metformin is lactic acidosis–a condition in which the lactate or lactic acid produced by your muscles accumulates in your blood. This can occur due to increased lactic acid production or your body’s inability to clear the lactic acid from the liver, kidney, or both. Lactic acidosis can also cause you to have cold skin or breathing difficulties, which can appear suddenly or gradually over several days, so make sure to monitor your symptoms and notify your doctor if you begin to experience these side effects.

    In many cases, lactic acidosis rarely occurs from taking metformin. But in certain instances, adults may be at increased risk for developing the condition if they struggle with other issues such as:

    • Liver disease
    • Reduced kidney function
    • Heart failure
    • Excessive alcohol consumption

    You may also need to temporarily discontinue metformin if you’re preparing to have any type of X-ray, CT scan, or surgery that uses dye, as the contrast used in these procedures can also increase the risk of lactic acidosis. Inform your physician if you have a past history of lactic acidosis, as metformin may not work as a suitable option for you. Your doctor will likely recommend other alternative treatments to help you lose weight.

    Unexpected Pregnancy

    Metformin may also stimulate ovulation in premenopausal women and lead to unintended pregnancy, so discuss the potential risks with your physician if you do not have plans on becoming pregnant.

    Even if it turns out that you are indeed pregnant, metformin is usually safe for use during pregnancy and even combined with insulin for pregnant women with type 2 diabetes. However, some pregnant women who take metformin may experience an increase in the severity of mild side effects such as heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal changes during pregnancy.

    Pre-existing Health Conditions

    Unfortunately, certain patients may also need to avoid metformin altogether if they already struggle with more serious health complications. Your physician may not recommend metformin, if you suffer from pre-existing conditions such as:

    • Metabolic acidosis
    • Diabetic ketoacidosis
    • Kidney disease
    • Liver disease
    • Heart disease or congestive heart failure

    Make sure to disclose any pre-existing health issues with your healthcare provider before considering metformin treatment. They can determine whether or not metformin can exacerbate your current health condition and recommend other weight-loss treatments that may be more suitable to your circumstances.

    Can You Take Metformin and Ozempic Together?

    Yes. Metformin and Ozempic are generally safe to use together. In fact, many physicians commonly integrate the two medications into a combination therapy to help manage blood sugar levels, assist in cardiovascular health, and of course, promote weight loss. However, taking metformin and Ozempic together can also increase the risk of certain gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, so always discuss these potential issues with your doctor before combining the two medications as part of your treatment.

    How Slim Weight Loss Clinic Can Help

    At Slim Weight Loss Clinic, we strive to help all our patients work towards a better version of themselves, guiding them to a healthier lifestyle that can stimulate effective weight loss and allow them to maintain a healthy body weight. We’ll be with you during every step of your therapy to make sure your weight loss experience is as comfortable as possible as you work to achieve a leaner physique and improved overall health.

    Our friendly and knowledgeable weight-loss specialists will study your unique physiology and accurately tailor effective doses of metformin to fit your specific weight-related condition and help you reach your weight-loss goals.

    If you’re ready to work with a team that’s invested in your journey to weight loss, contact us at 1-866-755-0594 and schedule a consultation with one of our physicians to learn more about how our metformin treatment options can help you lose your unwanted body fat.



    Does metformin reduce stomach fat?

    Yes, Metformin can help reduce the amount of visceral fat in the abdominal cavity, leading to decreased stomach fat and reduced waist circumference.

    What should I do if I’m losing too much weight on metformin?

    Any weight loss achieved with metformin should be gradual and minimal as you progress through treatment. If you find that you’re losing too much weight or your weight loss is happening too fast, you should inform your doctor immediately so they can determine what other conditions or issues may be causing the rapid weight loss.

    Can a non-diabetic take metformin for weight loss?

    Yes. Although metformin is primarily prescribed for diabetes, non-diabetics who are overweight or struggle with obesity can also use the medication as a weight-loss treatment.


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