Metformin for Weight Loss: How Does It Work, & Is It Effective?

Metformin pills

If the name “Metformin” rings a bell, it’s for a good reason. According to the National Institutes of Health, Metformin is a popular diabetes drug considered one of the best treatments for type 2 diabetes. After a large clinical trial was conducted on various medications for the condition, researchers found that participants who took Metformin—along with other medicines like Liraglutide—maintained their target blood levels for longer.

Today, however, another use case is emerging for Metformin: weight loss. People who can’t lose weight due to biological factors can now turn to medical means to shed pounds. To know more about Metformin, how it works, and if it is indeed effective for weight loss, keep reading below:

What is Metformin?

Metformin is the first-line medication for type 2 diabetes. It comes in the form of a white, caplet-shaped tablet and is usually taken once daily after a meal. However, dosages may vary depending on what’s recommended for your specific needs. That’s why you can only get these upon presenting a doctor’s prescription at the drugstore.

How does Metformin work?

For type 2 diabetes

Individuals with type 2 diabetes experience abnormally high levels of blood sugar in the body. Metformin addresses this by lowering these levels in two ways: by reducing how much glucose is released by the liver and by helping cells absorb more glucose from the blood. As a result, it makes the body more sensitive to insulin—the hormone that moves sugar from the blood to the cells. Metformin has also been found to lower hemoglobin A1C (a form of hemoglobin chemically linked to a sugar) by 1% on average, making it effective for treating type 2 diabetes.

For weight loss

Weight gain is often caused by overeating. Our post “Why You Can’t Lose Weight” notes that even if you’re eating healthy food, eating too much will still cause you to gain weight. After all, the body only needs a certain amount of energy to function normally. Any excess you consume is stored as fat and can lead to weight gain. Metformin addresses this by raising the body’s leptin levels. Since leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full, more of it can suppress your appetite and keep you from overeating. That makes Metformin one of the key medications a doctor may prescribe if you find it challenging to lose weight.

Is Metformin effective for weight loss?

Since Metformin was initially created to treat type 2 diabetes, you might wonder if it’s effective for losing weight. Fortunately, research on Metformin for weight loss finds this to be the case, especially for overweight or obese individuals with diabetes. A study from 2013 on the topic found that participants with severe insulin resistance lost significantly more weight than those who were insulin-sensitive.

Metformin goes even further by not only showing positive effects on appetite regulation but also on the gut microbiome. Researchers found that it increases short-chain fatty acids in the digestive system, which can improve your body’s fat-burning abilities and boost your weight loss efforts.

How to boost the effectiveness of Metformin for weight loss

Even though Metformin can help you lose weight, it doesn’t mean that you should rely on it solely. You’ll experience the best results if you combine Metformin and healthy habits, such as healthy eating and exercise.

Eating healthy foods, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, prevents you from consuming excess sugar and fat from processed foods. In doing so, you prevent further fat buildup from occurring. Meanwhile, regular exercise will aid in burning extra calories. Even if you’re experiencing a decrease in appetite due to Metformin, this will prevent you from storing excess calories that will be converted into fat.

Metformin is an effective weight loss drug. Consult your doctor to find out if you qualify to take it to boost your weight loss efforts.