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{"id":556700008521,"title":"Does Metformin Cause Weight Loss? We Investigate","created_at":"2022-06-27T22:32:54-04:00","body_html":"\u003cscript type=\"application\/ld+json\"\u003e\/\/ \u003c![CDATA[\n{\n \"@context\": \"https:\/\/schema.org\",\n \"@type\": \"Article\",\n \"headline\": \"Does Metformin Cause Weight Loss? We Investigate\",\n \"keywords\": \"metformin, metformin weight loss, metformin for weight loss, does metformin cause weight loss, how to lose weight fast on metformin, metformin and weight loss, metformin dosage for weight loss, metformin weight loss dosage, can metformin cause weight loss\",\n \"description\": \"Our MD and research team analyze published medical studies to determine if Metformin is safe and effective for weight loss. We explain how Metformin works for weight loss, and whether the medication is approved by the FDA for weight loss.\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/metformin-weight-loss\",\n\"author\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Taylor Graber MD\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/taylor-graber\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/taylor-j-graber-md-81351642\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"Content Partner\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"medicine, health, anesthesiology, iv therapy, science, drugs, pharmaceutical, medical research, scientific research, medical journals, entrepreneurship, healthcare, orthopedic surgery, biomedical engineering\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"University of California San Diego\",\n \"Arizona University\",\n \"University of Arizona College of Medicine\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"creator\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Taylor Graber MD\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/taylor-graber\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/taylor-j-graber-md-81351642\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"Content Partner\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"medicine, health, anesthesiology, iv therapy, science, drugs, pharmaceutical, medical research, scientific research, medical journals, entrepreneurship, healthcare, orthopedic surgery, biomedical engineering\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"University of California San Diego\",\n \"Arizona University\",\n \"University of Arizona College of Medicine\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"contributor\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Calloway Cook\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/calloway-cook\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/calloway-cook\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"President\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"entrepreneurship, dietary supplements, herbal supplements, eCommerce, medical research\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": \"S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University\"\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"editor\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"DJ Mazzoni\",\n \"honorificSuffix\": [\n \"M.S.\",\n \"R.D.\",\n \"C.D.N.\",\n \"C.S.C.S.\"\n ],\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/dj-mazzoni\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/dj-mazzoni-rd-cdn-cscs-00a33038\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"Medical Reviewer\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"exercise, drugs, pharmaceutical, health, workout, strength and conditioning, nutrition, dietetics, medicine, medical research, scientific research, scientific method, healthcare, patient care, wellness\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"State University of New York College Oswego\",\n \"D’Youville College\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"image\": {\n\"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n\"url\": \"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Metformin_Weight_Loss_Thumbnail.jpg?v=1656384150\",\n\"width\": \"1522\",\n\"height\": \"1522\"\n},\n\"citation\": [\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6520185\/\", \n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6258123\/\",\n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/23147210\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/books\/NBK518983\/\",\n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/17924864\/\",\n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/30511328\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC7243386\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.accessdata.fda.gov\/drugsatfda_docs\/label\/2017\/020357s037s039,021202s021s023lbl.pdf\",\n\"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/how-to-lose-weight-fast\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6768815\/\"\n],\n\"mentions\": [{\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"type-2 diabetes\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"FDA\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"insulin resistance\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"dietary fiber\"\n }\n],\n\"datePublished\": \"2022-06-27\",\n\"copyrightHolder\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n},\n\"publisher\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/\",\n \"description\": \"Illuminate Labs is the most transparent supplement company in the U.S., and is a leading publisher of research-based health information.\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"supplements, science, nutrition, exercise, health, medication, pharmaceutical, wellness, diet, weight loss, medical research\",\n \"publishingPrinciples\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/editorial-guidelines\",\n \"logo\": {\n \"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Illuminate_Labs_Logo.png?v=1641249064\", \n \"width\": 150,\n \"height\": 150\n},\n \"foundingDate\": \"2019-01-30\",\n \"Address\": {\n \"@type\": \"PostalAddress\",\n \"streetAddress\": \"50 Union Street, Unit 9\",\n \"addressLocality\": \"Northampton\",\n \"addressRegion\": \"Massachusetts\",\n \"postalCode\": \"01060\",\n \"addressCountry\": \"US\"\n},\n \"sameAs\": [\n \"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/illuminatelabs\",\n \"https:\/\/twitter.com\/illuminatelabs\",\n \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/company\/illuminate-labs-supplements\",\n \"https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/channel\/UCpgSJAsIPb-fZ25djtTxBEA\"\n ]\n }\n}\n\/\/ ]]\u003e\u003c\/script\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cimg src=\"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Metformin_Weight_Loss_Article_Header_Image_Optimized.png?v=1656383892\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eDisclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s) and published for informational purposes only. We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to weight loss.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cspan class=\"dc\"\u003eM\u003c\/span\u003eetformin is a prescription medication used to treat and manage type-2 diabetes. However there is some early research suggesting that the drug may cause weight loss in overweight and obese patients, and thus patients are curious about whether the drug is actually effective to use for this off-label purpose.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIn this article we’ll review the clinical research on Metformin to determine if it’s actually safe and effective for weight loss, and we’ll share our thoughts on off-label drug use generally.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eResearch on Metformin and Weight Loss\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAfter researchers began noting weight loss as a side effect of Metformin use in some medical trials, more research has recently been conducted specifically on whether Metformin can cause weight loss.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAn extensive \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6520185\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emedical review\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e of metformin and human obesity was published in the \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eCurrent Obesity Reports\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e journal which evaluated results from many individual clinical trials on the topic. The researchers found that Metformin was effective for both weight loss and also potentially for weight prevention on average.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe study authors noted that in a large study called the Diabetes Prevention Study, patients lost 2.1 kilograms (kg) which equates to 4.63 pounds (lbs) on average over the course of the trial.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA separate \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6258123\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emeta-study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e published in 2018 also concluded that Metformin was effective for weight loss. The average weight lost on Metformin compared to placebo was 2.23 kg (4.92 lbs). Most of the studies had a duration of around 6 months to 4 years, so this is a modest reduction in weight over that time period.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA recent \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/23147210\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eclinical trial\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e was fascinating because it found that Metformin was effective for weight loss even in non-diabetic patients. Over the course of 6 months, the obese patients lost an average of 5.6% of their weight, while the control group only lost an average of 0.8% of their weight.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eClearly Metformin is effective on average for weight loss. It appears to be definitively effective on diabetic patients, and early research is emerging suggesting the drug may be effective even for non-diabetic patients, but we believe that more research needs to be published to conclusively state this.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eHow Does Metformin Work?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMetformin primarily works by increasing insulin sensitivity, \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/books\/NBK518983\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eaccording to\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e StatPearls, which is the largest free medical database in the U.S. and is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIt’s a member of a class of drugs called biguanides, which affect several biological processes: they decrease the liver’s production of glucose, decrease how much glucose is absorbed by the intestines, and decrease blood levels of glucose.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe reason Metformin may be effective for weight loss is because it normalizes processes like pre-diabetes and diabetes which cause downstream weight gain in some patients. There’s a medical term called “insulin-associated weight gain” which \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/17924864\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eis documented\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e to affect diabetics. \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eBecause Metformin directly improves insulin resistance, it may counteract this process and halt (and even reverse) weight gain. This research suggests that Metformin may not be likely to be effective in patients without any blood sugar or insulin issues. The study from the previous section which found Metformin to be effective for non-diabetic patients still used a patient group with insulin dysregulation.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eMetformin Dosage for Weight Loss\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe dosage of Metformin found effective for weight loss depends on the age of the patient. We want to clarify here that we do not recommend taking Metformin for weight loss; we are simply reporting the research outcomes from published trials. This information may be useful for consumers generally, or for patients to speak with their doctor about.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/30511328\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emedical review\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e of Metformin for weight loss in overweight people without diabetes found that 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day was most effective for adolescents, while 3,000 mg per day for adults for a maximum of 6 months was most effective.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA separate \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC7243386\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emeta-study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e analyzed results from 21 individual clinical trials on Metformin and weight loss. The effective dose range from the studies ranged from 1,000 mg\/day to 2,550 mg\/day.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eIs Metformin Approved by the FDA for Weight Loss?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMetformin is not approved by the FDA for weight loss. It is only approved for the treatment of type-2 diabetes according to the \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.accessdata.fda.gov\/drugsatfda_docs\/label\/2017\/020357s037s039,021202s021s023lbl.pdf\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emedication’s label\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eFor a drug to be approved by the FDA, it must demonstrate consistent statistically significant improvements in the health outcome over the course of multiple trials. According to the StatPearls resource referenced previously, Metformin’s performance in weight loss trials has been too inconsistent for the regulatory agency to approve the drug for weight loss at this time.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe believe that Metformin may be approved for weight loss in the near future since it clearly can cause weight loss on average in overweight diabetic patients, but we’ll wait for more research to emerge.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eDo We Recommend Metformin for Weight Loss?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe do not recommend Metformin for weight loss. As we outlined in our article on \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/how-to-lose-weight-fast\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ehow to lose weight fast\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e, we believe it’s unsafe to use drugs off-label (meaning to use them in a different way than they’re approved by the FDA to be used).\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWhile some doctors may prescribe medications off-label, we would recommend avoiding those doctors. The FDA is likely to have reviewed more relevant research about a drug than your local doctor, because it’s their entire job to do so. We trust the approval process of the FDA more than most doctors’ judgment in regard to off-label medication use.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere are a number of research-based treatments for weight loss which are either approved by the FDA or are dietary supplements or food (and thus don’t need to be approved by the FDA), so we find it illogical to use Metformin off-label for weight loss at this time.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003ePharmacist’s Take\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eOne of the most popular YouTube videos on Metformin for weight loss comes from a channel called “Pharmacist Tips.” The video has nearly 200,000 views at the time of publishing this article, and breaks down medical research on whether Metformin is effective long-term for weight loss:\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003ciframe width=\"560\" height=\"315\" src=\"https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/embed\/5-QCUV3MTIg\" title=\"YouTube video player\" frameborder=\"0\" allow=\"accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture\" allowfullscreen=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/iframe\u003e \u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\n\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003eNatural Weight Loss Option\u003c\/b\u003e\n\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe recommend significantly increasing dietary fiber intake for patients looking to lose weight naturally. This is the most cost-effective, safe and side-effect-free weight loss option in our opinion.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAccording to medical research, fiber intake predicts \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6768815\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eweight loss\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e. The science behind this process is simple: fiber is non-digestible plant matter that occupies space in the stomach and delays gastric emptying. It makes you feel full longer without adding calories.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eFiber is the reason why it’s challenging for most people to eat 1,000 calories of beans, rice and a side salad, but easy to eat 1,000 calories of pizza. The former option is much higher in fiber and the latter option is nearly devoid of fiber.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eYou can get fiber from whole foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, beans and fruits and vegetables. You can also get fiber from a dietary supplement if that’s more convenient. Just make sure the supplement contains no additive ingredients like cane sugar or artificial flavoring which would degrade the health benefits.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAiming for a daily fiber intake of around 40 grams (g) may improve weight loss efforts, but we recommend that patients work with their doctor to gradually increase fiber rather than increase its intake all at once, which could cause digestive discomfort.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eConclusion\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMetformin may cause weight loss in patients with either blood sugar or insulin dysregulation. Medical research shows that these patients lose weight on average while taking Metformin.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eHowever the weight loss is moderate, and we don’t recommend Metformin for weight loss because it’s not approved by the FDA to treat obesity; only to treat type-2 diabetes. There’s significantly more research backing Metformin’s efficacy for diabetes than for weight loss.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWeight loss may be a positive side effect of Metformin for obese patients who have type-2 diabetes, but for non-diabetic obese patients we believe it makes more sense to adopt lifestyle changes like increasing dietary fiber intake and increasing exercise to lose weight, both of which are backed by significant medical research.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e","blog_id":49281925193,"author":"Calloway Cook","user_id":26601750601,"published_at":"2022-06-27T22:46:20-04:00","updated_at":"2022-06-28T17:33:25-04:00","summary_html":"We analyze published medical studies to determine if diabetes medication Metformin is safe and effective for weight loss. We explain how Metformin works for weight loss, and whether the medication is approved by the FDA for weight loss.","template_suffix":"","handle":"metformin-weight-loss","tags":"_related:diabetes, _related:weight-loss"}

Does Metformin Cause Weight Loss? We Investigate

Does Metformin Cause Weight Loss? We Investigate


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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.


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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s) and published for informational purposes only. We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to weight loss.

Metformin is a prescription medication used to treat and manage type-2 diabetes. However there is some early research suggesting that the drug may cause weight loss in overweight and obese patients, and thus patients are curious about whether the drug is actually effective to use for this off-label purpose.

In this article we’ll review the clinical research on Metformin to determine if it’s actually safe and effective for weight loss, and we’ll share our thoughts on off-label drug use generally.

Research on Metformin and Weight Loss

After researchers began noting weight loss as a side effect of Metformin use in some medical trials, more research has recently been conducted specifically on whether Metformin can cause weight loss.

An extensive medical review of metformin and human obesity was published in the Current Obesity Reports journal which evaluated results from many individual clinical trials on the topic. The researchers found that Metformin was effective for both weight loss and also potentially for weight prevention on average.

The study authors noted that in a large study called the Diabetes Prevention Study, patients lost 2.1 kilograms (kg) which equates to 4.63 pounds (lbs) on average over the course of the trial.

A separate meta-study published in 2018 also concluded that Metformin was effective for weight loss. The average weight lost on Metformin compared to placebo was 2.23 kg (4.92 lbs). Most of the studies had a duration of around 6 months to 4 years, so this is a modest reduction in weight over that time period.

A recent clinical trial was fascinating because it found that Metformin was effective for weight loss even in non-diabetic patients. Over the course of 6 months, the obese patients lost an average of 5.6% of their weight, while the control group only lost an average of 0.8% of their weight.

Clearly Metformin is effective on average for weight loss. It appears to be definitively effective on diabetic patients, and early research is emerging suggesting the drug may be effective even for non-diabetic patients, but we believe that more research needs to be published to conclusively state this.

How Does Metformin Work?

Metformin primarily works by increasing insulin sensitivity, according to StatPearls, which is the largest free medical database in the U.S. and is maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

It’s a member of a class of drugs called biguanides, which affect several biological processes: they decrease the liver’s production of glucose, decrease how much glucose is absorbed by the intestines, and decrease blood levels of glucose.

The reason Metformin may be effective for weight loss is because it normalizes processes like pre-diabetes and diabetes which cause downstream weight gain in some patients. There’s a medical term called “insulin-associated weight gain” which is documented to affect diabetics. 

Because Metformin directly improves insulin resistance, it may counteract this process and halt (and even reverse) weight gain. This research suggests that Metformin may not be likely to be effective in patients without any blood sugar or insulin issues. The study from the previous section which found Metformin to be effective for non-diabetic patients still used a patient group with insulin dysregulation.

Metformin Dosage for Weight Loss

The dosage of Metformin found effective for weight loss depends on the age of the patient. We want to clarify here that we do not recommend taking Metformin for weight loss; we are simply reporting the research outcomes from published trials. This information may be useful for consumers generally, or for patients to speak with their doctor about.

A medical review of Metformin for weight loss in overweight people without diabetes found that 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day was most effective for adolescents, while 3,000 mg per day for adults for a maximum of 6 months was most effective.

A separate meta-study analyzed results from 21 individual clinical trials on Metformin and weight loss. The effective dose range from the studies ranged from 1,000 mg/day to 2,550 mg/day.

Is Metformin Approved by the FDA for Weight Loss?

Metformin is not approved by the FDA for weight loss. It is only approved for the treatment of type-2 diabetes according to the medication’s label.

For a drug to be approved by the FDA, it must demonstrate consistent statistically significant improvements in the health outcome over the course of multiple trials. According to the StatPearls resource referenced previously, Metformin’s performance in weight loss trials has been too inconsistent for the regulatory agency to approve the drug for weight loss at this time.

We believe that Metformin may be approved for weight loss in the near future since it clearly can cause weight loss on average in overweight diabetic patients, but we’ll wait for more research to emerge.

Do We Recommend Metformin for Weight Loss?

We do not recommend Metformin for weight loss. As we outlined in our article on how to lose weight fast, we believe it’s unsafe to use drugs off-label (meaning to use them in a different way than they’re approved by the FDA to be used).

While some doctors may prescribe medications off-label, we would recommend avoiding those doctors. The FDA is likely to have reviewed more relevant research about a drug than your local doctor, because it’s their entire job to do so. We trust the approval process of the FDA more than most doctors’ judgment in regard to off-label medication use.

There are a number of research-based treatments for weight loss which are either approved by the FDA or are dietary supplements or food (and thus don’t need to be approved by the FDA), so we find it illogical to use Metformin off-label for weight loss at this time.

Pharmacist’s Take

One of the most popular YouTube videos on Metformin for weight loss comes from a channel called “Pharmacist Tips.” The video has nearly 200,000 views at the time of publishing this article, and breaks down medical research on whether Metformin is effective long-term for weight loss:

Natural Weight Loss Option

We recommend significantly increasing dietary fiber intake for patients looking to lose weight naturally. This is the most cost-effective, safe and side-effect-free weight loss option in our opinion.

According to medical research, fiber intake predicts weight loss. The science behind this process is simple: fiber is non-digestible plant matter that occupies space in the stomach and delays gastric emptying. It makes you feel full longer without adding calories.

Fiber is the reason why it’s challenging for most people to eat 1,000 calories of beans, rice and a side salad, but easy to eat 1,000 calories of pizza. The former option is much higher in fiber and the latter option is nearly devoid of fiber.

You can get fiber from whole foods like avocado, nuts, seeds, beans and fruits and vegetables. You can also get fiber from a dietary supplement if that’s more convenient. Just make sure the supplement contains no additive ingredients like cane sugar or artificial flavoring which would degrade the health benefits.

Aiming for a daily fiber intake of around 40 grams (g) may improve weight loss efforts, but we recommend that patients work with their doctor to gradually increase fiber rather than increase its intake all at once, which could cause digestive discomfort.

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Conclusion

Metformin may cause weight loss in patients with either blood sugar or insulin dysregulation. Medical research shows that these patients lose weight on average while taking Metformin.

However the weight loss is moderate, and we don’t recommend Metformin for weight loss because it’s not approved by the FDA to treat obesity; only to treat type-2 diabetes. There’s significantly more research backing Metformin’s efficacy for diabetes than for weight loss.

Weight loss may be a positive side effect of Metformin for obese patients who have type-2 diabetes, but for non-diabetic obese patients we believe it makes more sense to adopt lifestyle changes like increasing dietary fiber intake and increasing exercise to lose weight, both of which are backed by significant medical research.





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