Get Skinny on Metformin: Can It Truly Help in Weight Loss?

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Get Skinny on Metformin - Can It Truly Help in Weight Loss - My Concierge MD

Metformin is a common name in the world for type 2 diabetes management. However, It is also popular for its potential to aid in weight loss. While many consider it a weight loss option, some remain skeptical.

But what research says – does Metformin cause weight loss?

Well, Metformin can indeed cause weight loss as a side effect. The impact of losing weight is modest yet consistent. However, metformin is not a miracle cure for weight loss. You should not take it solely for weight loss without consulting a doctor first.

This blog will explore the mechanism, benefits, and side effects of metformin on weight loss.

How Does Metformin Work?

Metformin is a widely prescribed medication that is primarily used as a first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes. The medication effectively lowers blood glucose levels and is safe and affordable.

Metformin helps regulate blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of glucose the liver produces. It works by stopping GPD2 from creating glucose in the liver, which is a major cause of high blood sugar levels. Metformin also helps the body use insulin more effectively to regulate blood sugar levels.

Besides managing type 2 diabetes, doctors often prescribe metformin for off-label uses such as prediabetes, gestational diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

However, Metformin requires guidance from a healthcare professional.

Does Metformin Cause Weight Loss?

Yes, metformin may cause modest but sustainable weight loss in some people with and without diabetes. It may promote weight loss by improving insulin and glucose levels in the body, supporting a healthy gut microbiome, regulating appetite, and impacting certain effects of aging.

According to the study, metformin-treated participants experienced an average weight loss of 2.1 kg after one year, which persisted over 10 years of follow-up. Another study on non-diabetic individuals with obesity found that the mean weight loss in the metformin-treated group was 5.8 kg after six months.

A meta-analysis of 21 trials, including 1,004 participants, found that metformin reduces BMI, especially in obese patients. It caused significant weight loss in people with a BMI over 35 kg/m2, taking doses above 1,500 mg/day for at least 6 months. Overall weight loss ranged from -1.84 to -0.39.

Besides, its long-term use leads to a mean weight loss of 6.2% compared to 3.7% in the lifestyle intervention group. In trials with longer follow-up periods, weight loss begins after 4 weeks of metformin treatment and is prominent during the first 6 to 12 months.

However, remember although metformin may cause weight loss, it is not a weight loss pill. Besides, the amount of weight loss is typically small. Its primary purpose is to treat or delay diabetes.

So, always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.


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Does Metformin Cause Rapid Weight Loss?

No, metformin does not generally cause rapid weight loss. Weight changes are usually gradual and moderate over several months while overall blood sugar control improves.

Metformin helps normalize energy balance hormones like leptin and ghrelin by improving insulin sensitivity. It can slightly curb appetite and reduce excess calorie intake over time.

People may lose between 2 to 8 pounds over 6-12 months.

Why Does Metformin Cause Weight Loss?

Metformin may cause weight loss through various mechanisms.

Improved Insulin and Glucose Levels

Metformin may make the body better at using insulin, which helps control blood sugar. It also lowers the amount of glucose the liver produces and improves how the body uses glucose for energy. These actions might contribute to weight loss by helping the body regulate blood sugar and energy better.

Regulation of Appetite

Metformin increases circulating levels of the peptide hormone growth/differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) in certain tissues, such as the small intestine, colon, and kidney. It provides an endocrine signal of nutritional stress contributing to its effects on weight loss and energy balance regulation.

Also, GDF15 levels activate GFRAL, a receptor that is highly expressed in the hindbrain’s area postrema (AP) and the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS). This activation of GFRAL results in a decrease in food intake and body weight.

Activation of AMPK

Metformin’s inhibition of mitochondrial complex I leads to 5′-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activation. It plays a critical role in regulating glucose uptake, carbohydrates, and lipid metabolism, which can contribute to weight loss.

Besides, metformin may reduce abnormal extracellular matrix remodeling in adipose tissue and ameliorate insulin resistance in obesity by activating AMPK.

Can You Use Metformin For Weight Loss?

Although metformin may lead to mild weight loss, it is not intended for weight loss purposes. It is a medication primarily used to control blood sugar levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Any weight loss that occurs while taking metformin is more of a side effect.

Also, metformin alone does not burn fat directly.

So, opt for a healthy diet and regular exercise to lose weight and maintain it over time. Besides, other medications are safer and more reliable for weight loss. But consult with your doctor before taking any medication for weight loss.

Can A Nondiabetic Take Metformin To Lose Weight?

Metformin may cause weight loss; however, the FDA does not approve metformin for weight loss in non-diabetic individuals. It may include gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. Also, metformin may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, lactic acidosis, and hypoglycemia.

If you’re considering taking metformin for weight loss or any other reason, consult a healthcare professional. They can help you determine whether metformin suits your needs and provide guidance on the right dosage and duration of treatment.

Who Shouldn’t Take Metformin?

Metformin is usually well-tolerated, but certain people consult doctors before taking it. These include-

  • Allergy or Hypersensitivity to metformin
  • Severe Kidney or Liver Disease
  • dehydration, severe infection, shock
  • Heart issues
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Metformin Vs. Ozempic For Weight Loss

Metformin and Ozempic can aid weight loss but differ in mechanisms and side effects. Studies suggest that Ozempic results in significant weight loss, highest dose losing 15 lbs over 40 weeks. On the other hand, Metformin is “weight-neutral” and may cause modest weight loss.

The choice between the two should be made based on individual health factors and in consultation with a healthcare provider.

Here is a table comparing Metformin and Ozempic for weight loss.

Feature Metformin Ozempic
Type of medication Oral pill Injection
Approved age group Adults and children aged 10 and above Adults
Frequency of administration Twice or thrice daily Once weekly
Mechanism of action Reduces glucose production in the liver and improves insulin sensitivity Mimics a gut hormone called GLP-1 to lower blood glucose levels
Side effects Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and lactic acidosis (rare) Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, and gallbladder disease (rare)
Weight loss potential Less likely More likely
Cardiovascular benefits None Lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke
Kidney benefits None Potential benefits

Other Metformin Side Effects

Other Metformin Side Effects - My Concierge MDSome side effects of metformin include:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, and constipation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Lactic acidosis – the buildup of lactic acids in the blood
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency3
  • Hypoglycemia


Will I Lose Belly Fat on Metformin?

You may lose belly fat on metformin. It may help reduce visceral fat, decrease appetite, promote weight loss, and increase fat oxidation. However, the magnitude of metformin-induced weight loss is small.

What Happens if a Non-diabetic takes Metformin?

If a non-diabetic takes metformin, he or she may encounter weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity. However, it can also cause side effects such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, stomach pain, headache, etc. So, take metformin only under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Bottom Line

Does Metformin cause weight loss? Well, metformin may cause some weight loss in people with diabetes and non-diabetics. But, you must not take metformin for weight loss without your doctor’s guidance.

My Concierge MD is an excellent choice for those seeking a holistic approach to weight management. The team of world-class concierge physicians and nutritionists is dedicated to helping you achieve your weight goals through personalized care and attention.

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