Metformin and Weight Loss

Many medications used to treat type 2 diabetics cause weight gain. This is a problem since 80% of people who have type 2 diabetes are already overweight or obese. When type 2 diabetics gain weight it makes it more difficult to control their blood sugars long-term. Fortunately, metformin is a blood sugar lowering medication that doesn’t cause weight gain in most people. In fact, some people experience modest weight loss while taking it. What is the link between metformin and weight loss?

Metformin and Weight Loss

According to most studies, people taking metformin either experience no weight gain, or they have modest weight loss. No one knows exactly why some people lose weight while taking this medication. According to a study published in Obesity Research, it may be related to lower food intake rather than a direct effect on metabolism. Type 2 diabetics in this study who took metformin ate fewer calories and lost weight over the course of the study. The weight loss benefits were also dose-related. Those who took a higher dose of metformin experienced more weight loss than those taking a lower one.

Some obesity specialists are combining metformin with another diabetes medication called Byetta to enhance weight loss in overweight people with type 2 diabetes. This drug combination helps to reduce appetite, but it can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal distension, diarrhea and flatulence. Some experts speculate that the weight loss benefits of taking metformin may be partially due to the gastrointestinal side-effects, which make it more difficult for people taking the medication to eat.

Not everyone experiences weight loss when taking metformin, but it doesn’t cause weight gain unlike many other medications used to treat diabetes. This makes it a popular choice for overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes.

Even if metformin does cause weight loss, it’s more effective when combined with a carbohydrate-modified diet and exercise. According to a study published in the journal Heart Disease, overweight women at high risk for type 2 diabetes lost significant amounts of weight on metformin when they combined it with a low calorie, modified-carb diet. They were also able to maintain their weight loss 6 months later unlike the group that discontinued metformin. Metformin may be helpful to overweight type 2 diabetics when combined with healthy lifestyle changes.

Metformin and Weight Loss: The Bottom Line?

Metformin has the benefit of not causing weight gain, unlike many other medications used to type 2 diabetes, and it may cause weight loss in some people. Further research is needed to find out exactly what role metformin plays in treating obesity in people with type 2 diabetes.