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Does Metformin Help With Weight Loss?

In addition to its effectiveness helping type 2 diabetics manage blood sugar levels, metformin can sometimes help you lose weight.  But, before you consider this medication purely as a weight loss aid, there are some things you should know.   

First of all, it’s not readily understood how or why taking metformin can lead to weight loss.  There are a few theories to consider, one is that it is an appetite suppressant, so you eat less.  Another supposes it affects the way your body uses and stores fat. It has not been extensively studied and the FDA has not approved metformin as a weight loss aid.  Thus, there is not much information about its effectiveness for this intent.

One long term study revealed that weight loss from taking metformin does not happen quickly and actually is gradual over a few years, with the average amount of weight loss in this time period only about four to seven pounds.  Clearly, metformin is not a quick fix or a magic diet pill. And using metformin for weight loss without observing a healthy lifestyle will also not be effective. Metformin is believed to boost calories burned during a workout and if you don’t work out you will not realize this benefit.

The last consideration is that any weight loss as a result of taking metformin may not stay off.  If you stop taking the medication, the weight will likely come back. And, even if you are still taking it, there is a possibility for slowly gaining the weight back.

The good news is, that while metformin isn’t a reliable weight loss medication, it will not cause you to gain weight.  And this is not the case for all type 2 diabetes medicinal treatments.

Your doctor may prescribe metformin for weight loss with a recommendation to adopt other healthy lifestyle habits to support the weight loss.  Usually for patients who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or obesity. Your doctor will prescribe the dosing that is optimal for your health situation, and a gradual build-up should help minimize potential side effects.  

Every individual is unique and there is no consistent evidence that metformin is a reliable weight loss treatment.  You should always consult your doctor to find the weight loss method that is appropriate for you. Any weight loss program should include a healthy diet and commitment to an active lifestyle. Metformin is a relatively safe drug with minimal and short-term side effects but probably best considered for patients with type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar levels.