Metformin is usually sold under the brand name Glucophage. It is used primarily as a medication to manage type 2 diabetes. One of the main questions diabetics ask when being prescribed Glucophage is can metformin help you lose weight?
It is a fact that metformin/ Glucophage can help diabetics lose weight by lowering their appetite. This happens by restricting or reducing the release of sugar from their liver and thus influencing their levels of insulin.
How does insulin make you put on weight?
You may find yourself overweight because your body makes too much insulin. Having additional fat around the waist or belly is a tell-tale sign that your body is producing too much insulin. When you eat your blood sugar level rises. The higher it goes the more insulin your body needs to cover the additional levels of glucose in the body.
In a nutshell, insulin can make people put on weight as it acts as a trigger to the brain that more food is required by the body. In effect it can make you more hungry more of the time. The theory goes that the higher your insulin levels, the more your brain gets used to eating large amounts of food. Insulin also makes the liver produce fat in the gut.
How can metformin help you lose weight?
After eating a meal the sugar in the food is released into your bloodstream and is absorbed by your liver. Your liver will then release that sugar back into the bloodstream which causes your blood sugar levels to rise. As a result your pancreas secrets insulin to cover this release of sugar. Metformin or Glucophage in affect reduces or restricts this release of sugar from your liver. This means that your body does not need to produce as much insulin. As discussed above insulin can make you hungry and can make you fat. If the body does not produce as much insulin the result can be weight loss for diabetics.
You still need to watch what you eat
Glucophage is a safe medication that prevents blood sugar levels from rising too high, but its effects will be severely limited if you eat foods that are very high in sugar eg coca cola, sweets, high GI foods like chips etc. This is because those foods cause your blood sugar levels to rise too rapidly. All told, your diet is still key in managing your diabetes even if you are taking metformin/ Glucphage.
Side effects of metformin
It may lower testosterone
We have established how metformin can help you lose weight, however there are some adverse side effects from taking it. One side effect is that it has been reported to lower your levels of testosterone. Although having diabetes can also lower your overall levels of testosterone metformin may lower testosterone levels even further. Talk to your medical professional about this potential side effect although it is important to highlight that it is a risk.
Lactic acidosis build up
Another potentially serious side effect from metformin is lactic acidosis. This can be painful and life threatening. Cells can become starved for oxygen with this drug meaning high levels of blood acidity occur. It is a rare side effect but one that has been reported by diabetics taking metformin.
Lowering of thyroid stimulating hormone
Thyroid function should be evaluated in patients on metformin between 6 to 12 months
Other side effects may include – tiredness, nausea and stomach cramps, diarrhoea, dizziness, drowsiness, blue or cold skin, muscle pain, fast or difficult breathing, irregular heartbeat.
It is important to speak to your medical professional about being prescribed metformin. Discuss any concerns you have with him or her. In terms of answering the question at the top of this blog – can metformin help you lose weight, the answer is definitely yes, however the best combat against diabetes continues to be proper diet and exercise. Additional drugs should be viewed as an additional help.
Please see my blog post on a great resource that can cure type 2 diabetes without the need for additional drugs.
Please let me know if you are taking metformin and how you are going with it.