Metformin for weight loss – action, effectiveness, side effects

Who can take metformin to lose weight?

Metformin is the world’s most popular diabetes drug. Its main task is to lower the level of glucose in the blood. By the way, metformin may promote weight reduction. Here’s how the effects of metformin on weight loss are assessed by scientists.

Metformin therapy is one of the primary treatment options for type 2 diabetes. The drug is intended for diabetics, especially those who are overweight or obese, who have at least minimal insulin secretion. But this is not the only group that can benefit from metformin treatment. The drug is also prescribed to people who have been diagnosed:

  • prediabetes
  • insulin resistance,
  • polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Metformin is a hypoglycaemic medicine, which means that it reduces the level of sugar in the blood. The mechanism of its action consists in inhibiting the production of glucose in the liver, delaying its absorption in the intestine and strengthening the action of insulin in muscle and fat tissue (increases tissue sensitivity to insulin).

There are many benefits to metformin treatment. It is a medicine that has a cardioprotective effect

  • reduces visceral fat
  • improves the lipid profile,
  • has anticancer properties.

It is hardly surprising that interest in the drug is increasing.

The undoubted advantage of using metformin is that even in high doses it does not cause a dangerous drop in sugar in the body, i.e. hypoglycemia, because it does not increase insulin secretion.

The drug is taken in the form of tablets and dispensed by prescription. It occurs under various trade names, as Metformax, Glucophage, Metfogamma and Siofor.

Metformin for weight loss : is it effective?

Metformin is recommended for the treatment of type 2 diabetes especially for people who are overweight and obese, because it helps control weight and can reduce weight by reducing visceral fat (this is the fat that surrounds the internal organs). It is worth mentioning that antidiabetic drugs can have various effects on body weight – after some of them kilograms even increase. Taking metformin can also gain weight… Therefore, the doctor will certainly inform you, prescribing the drug, that metformin should be used in combination with a healthy lifestyle: daily physical activity and diet. In such a combination, the drug will certainly help in weight loss.

Metformin, however, is not a miracle slimming drug. The effect of weight loss, if it occurs, is generally small. It is also not a drug registered and approved for the treatment of obesity, although it can be prescribed to obese people on an off-label basis, i.e. off-label in the leaflet, if a given person has a risk of metabolic complications resulting from overweight.

Remember that metformin, even if it does not lose weight from "external" fat, will certainly deprive the body of excess unhealthy fat that circulates in the blood vessels and causes the deposition of atherosclerotic plaque. One study involving women with PCOS found that although the drug does not have a significant effect on reducing body fat, it reduces total cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol and triglycerides. Thanks to this, it prevents dangerous cardiovascular diseases.

How many pounds can you lose weight during treatment with metformin?

Of course, this depends on our lifestyle habits, as well as the dose of the drug, which is always decided by the doctor. However, the general conclusion emerges from the studies that the weight loss during metformin therapy is rather small. Unless we make additional changes.

In a 3-year study on the prevention of type 2 diabetes – Diabetes Prevention Program – it was proven that metformin was effective in preventing diabetes and caused weight reduction of 2 kg. This was the case for patients taking 2 × 850 mg/d. In comparison, the behavioural intervention in this study aimed at lifestyle change resulted in an average weight reduction of 5.6 kg in participants.

It is therefore easy to conclude that the best results will be achieved if metformin treatment is accompanied by regular physical activity and diet.

side effects

Like any drug, metformin can also cause side effects. Its use causes patients unpleasantness , especially at the beginning of treatment. Regardless of the purpose for which they use the drug. The most common side effects are:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea,
  • abdominal pain
  • lack of appetite,
  • metallic taste in the mouth.

Usually, the symptoms appear at the beginning of therapy and disappear over time. There are also sometimes headaches, drowsiness and weakness.

Metformin very rarely causes more dangerous side effects that can lead to complications. In this context, for example, lactic acidosis and inhibition of vitamin B12 absorption are mentioned, which may result in megaloblastic anemia. However, these are rare side effects.

To prevent undesirable consequences of therapy, the doctor prescribes in most cases first a lower dose of the drug, and over time gradually increases it.



4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: