Is Metformin Effective for Weight Loss?

Nearly more than 35% of American adults are obese which means every one-third of American is obese or overweight. According to statistics, it shows that the annual medical cost for persons who are obese is $1,429 higher than that of the persons with normal body weight. 
Metformin, sold under various brand names like Glumetza , Glucophage, Fortamet is a drug of group Biguanides. It is an oral hypo-glycemic drug introduced in late 50’s. It is used as first line of treatment in diabetes mellitus type 2 as well as in pre-diabetic condition. But recent studies has shown that it also helps non-diabetics persons in weight loss. 
Obesity or overweight is a condition when the weight of a person is greater that of which is considered as healthy for a given height. 

You might be wondering whether your weight is normal or not? 
Well let me explain you the simple way to find. It is calculated by using BMI (Body Mass Index). If a person’s BMI is between 25 to 29.9 then the person is over weight and the person with BMI higher than 30 is considered as obese. 
Since obesity has been linked with a lot of new world diseases like different heart diseases and stroke, diabetes, gall diseases, hypertension and many more. And due to the growing numbers of individuals with increased body weight, now obesity is growing as a serious problem in our modern society. 

So, what causes obesity?

Obesity or overweight can be due to various reasons. 

  • Your body is producing excess insulin. Which means your blood glucose level is always getting low and as a result of which insulin activates your hunger receptors in the brain. So, you might be feeding yourself a lot.
  • Insulin also causes liver to convert the excess glucose into fat, which is stored under the skin in the subcutaneous tissue.
  • Taking high amount of sugars in your diet like cakes, Ice-cream, chocolates, and other high sugar containing food is also another major reason leading to obesity.
  • You might be genetically obese. It means your grandparents were obese, your parents were obese and now you are also obese.
  • The major cause for obesity in women is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It is a condition when there are multiple cysts in the ovaries , which causes hormonal imbalances. 
  • Most common growing cause of obesity nowadays is sedentary lifestyle. Lack of physical exercises can lead to insulin resistance leading to diabetes 

How does metformin work on your body and cause weight loss?

The mechanism of action of metformin is very different compared to other oral hypoglycemic drugs. These are the ways, how metformin causes weight loss

  • It suppresses glucose release from liver. As a result of which, your blood glucose level remains normal. Thus the insulin level remains constant. As I have already mentioned insulin activates hunger receptor. So, less insulin secretion means less hunger, which means decreased intake of food.
  • It also enhances insulin mediated glucose disposal in muscle and fat.
  • It inhibits intestinal absorption of glucose and other hexoses, vitamin B12 and proteins(amino acids) 
  • It also promotes peripheral glucose utilization by enhancing anaerobic glycolysis.

In a study published by diabetes research group in 2012, participants were allowed to continue metformin for weight loss in open label fashion. The total weight loss during the open label period of 7-8 years was 1.9 kg. In those patients who were highly adherent to metformin, it was found that the average weight loss was 3.1 kg compared with the baseline.
In another study comparing metformin and exercise and the combination of both in persons with impaired glucose tolerance (diabetes type 2 patients excluded). it was found that metformin decreased body weight more than exercise alone while combining exercise and metformin decreased body weight more . 
In a separate study, it was shown that patient with insulin resistance lost more weight than insulin sensitive patients. The weight loss was also independent of age, sex, BMI. So they concluded that metformin is an effective drug to reduce weight in naturalistic settings in insulin sensitive as well as insulin resistant obese and overweight persons. 

So metformin is a safe medication, which can be used in weight loss but taking metformin alone to reduce weight is less effective. “If you are eating high sugar containing foods daily and taking metformin for weight loss then it’s sure that you won’t get any loss of weight”. So what I mean is if you take metformin together with diet containing less sugar ,It can be very beneficial in weight loss. 

Metformin side effects

But as we all know every drug has side effects. But metformin has lot less side effects. Some of the common side effects of metformin are 
Abdominal pain
Metallic taste 
Mild diarrhea
Vitamin b12 deficiency
Also note that unlike other hypoglycemic drugs metformin doesn’t cause lactic acidosis, but small increase in blood lactate occurs. But wait there are some contraindications for the usage of this drug.


Metformin contraindications

Some of the contraindications for metformin usage is hypoglycemic state, hypotensive state, cardiovascular, hepatic, respitatory and renal disease. It is also contraindicated in alcoholics due to increased risk of lactic acidosis.