Will metformin work for weight loss? It is a question that science has asked on several occasions after finding that diabetic patients on a regimen with this drug also reduce kilograms after months of use.
The protocols of diabetes proposed approach metformin indicate persons with impaired blood glucose levels that also have a body mass index greater than 25, i.e., who are obese. But what if we want to use it only as weight loss therapy?
What is metformin?
Metformin is a medication used for type 2 diabetes. It was specially formulated to reduce the sugar absorbed by the intestines from food and, in this way, help to keep blood glucose levels at bay.
Type 2 diabetes is the form of the disease in which insulin is still circulating, so the patient does not need to inject it, as in type 1. There is a large battery of oral antidiabetic drugs that are prescribed for these people, although metformin is the current therapeutic star.
The basic functions in the body are as follows:
- Reduces the entry of glucose through the intestinal mucosa when eating.
- It stimulates the liver to make glycogen to store sugar and not spill it into the bloodstream.
- Accelerates glucose entry into muscle tissue by improving the insulin sensitivity of muscle receptors.
The general guideline is with meals. Doses of 500, 800, 850 or 1000 milligrams are usually indicated with lunch and dinner. Some commercial presentations are combined with another oral antidiabetic.
Does metformin work for weight loss?
We know that the drug is antidiabetic, but science has also determined that it causes weight loss. So can it be used in this regard? Is it valid to prescribe it for a person without diabetes who wants to lose weight?
The question is complex. The use of metformin for weight loss is an off-label or off-label use. This means that the professional indicates it for a utility that is not approved by the government associations that regulate medications.
The prescription is not illegal, although neither can it be said that it has sufficient evidence. What is known so far is that the effect is long term, in the context of an LTWL, as long-term weight loss stands for. These are the treatments that have proven effective for weight loss after months or years of use.
The available studies on metformin indicate that the greatest benefit on body mass indices recorded after a year of continuous use. However, consistency is reached around 10 years after starting it.
Side effects that contribute to weight loss
Metformin, like any drug, is not without side effects. During its consumption, it is common for gastrointestinal signs to occur which, although not intolerant, are associated with its effect on the intestine.
These reactions have been speculated to contribute to weight loss. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal inflammation and flatulence are some of the problems that manifest themselves. Some diabetic patients reduce their food intake because of this digestive upset.
Read More: Health Benefits Of Balsamic Vinegar
On the other hand, the drug is an appetite reducer. The mechanism by which this decrease in the craving to eat is not clear. It could be a hormonal change linked to the effect on the distribution of body fat. In any case, in some series of case studies, there was an increase in hunger at the beginning of the treatments, in the opposite direction to what was expected.
Alternatives to metformin for weight loss
Metformin cannot be the first option to lose weight. Its use in weight loss is not endorsed as an initial indication, nor can it be used as the only way to approach a diet plan.
On the contrary, the recommendation is to exhaust the traditional and proven ways of losing weight earlier. Both low-calorie diets and physical exercise are logical ways to deal with being overweight and obese.
Like any drug, even the diuretics that popularized its use in nutritional terms, we must not forget the adverse effects. One of the most complicated of metformin is lactic acidosis, capable of life-threatening. Therefore, strict medical control is required and never proceed with self-medication.
If it is a diabetic patient with extra kilograms, then the drug will be the choice, since a possible decrease in weight will contribute to the improvement of glycemic values. Still, the need for a specific diet and regular physical exercise also applies.
There is insufficient scientific evidence to support metformin’s sole use for weight loss. It would be unwise to prescribe the drug without exhausting the previous instances, especially since there is relevant information to develop dietary and sports plans that help in weight loss.