For years, the standard advice for those struggling with weight loss was to lower their calorie intake or increase their physical activity. However, as research has begun to uncover the mechanisms behind obesity, scientists have started suggesting an alternative route for those seeking to lose weight: medication.
One of the most popular and most prescribed medications for weight loss is called metformin. While some people may think of metformin when asked about their weight loss medications, it’s actually used to treat a number of conditions, from diabetes to cancer. If you’re looking for a safe and affordable way to lose weight, you may want to consider metformin as a possible solution.
Why Is Metformin Popular For Weight Loss?
Many people are familiar with the notion that diabetes is associated with obesity. In fact, up to 95% of diabetics are also obese, which means that having diabetes puts you at a higher risk for weight gain. However, while diabetes is certainly related to obesity, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. There are several other factors that may contribute to obesity, including genetics, inflammation, and an imbalance in the body’s leptin and ghrelin hormones.
If you or a loved one are struggling with obesity, you may be wondering if metformin is the right choice for you. To find out, let’s take a closer look at the connection between diabetes and obesity, as well as the role that metformin may play in treating both conditions.
Diabetes And Obesity Are Often Confused
It’s quite common for people to assume that having diabetes means you’ll automatically gain weight. However, this isn’t always the case. People with Type 2 diabetes may lose weight even though they have the condition, while others may even experience a weight loss once they’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. The reason behind this paradox is that diabetes and obesity are often confused with each other. In fact, they often go hand in hand. It’s not easy to determine which one you may have without doing proper testing. For example, an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is a common test that determines a person’s diabetes status simply by measuring the level of glucose in their blood after eating a load of sugar. This test can also detect obesity, as excess sugar is stored in the body as fat. In one study, researchers found that 73% of participants testing positive for diabetes also had obesity. On the other hand, only 28% of lean participants tested positive for diabetes. These findings suggest that a diagnosis of diabetes may not necessarily mean you’re headed for obesity. It depends on a lot on the individual. However, for those who do struggle with weight issues, diabetes may be a contributing factor.
Metformin May Be Helping To Fight The Battle Against Obesity
In addition to diabetes, other diseases triggered by hormones, such as thyroid disorders, are also associated with obesity. These disorders are often treated with medications such as metformin. Metformin reduces the amount of sugar the body absorbs through its receptors, which in turn helps to reduce excess fat accumulation. One study suggests that metformin is capable of increasing the amount of calories the body burns, even when at rest. This may explain why some people lose weight even while eating a steady diet. On the other hand, metformin has been shown to have weak anti-cancer effects and is therefore not recommended for use in cancer patients. In addition, people with kidney complications who are on metformin may require reduced doses of kidney medication.
How Does Metformin Work?
There are two ways in which metformin works. First, the molecule is known to increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Second, it has been shown to directly affect the amount of weight a person can store. Let’s take a closer look at each of these mechanisms.
Metformin Increases The Body’s Sensitivity To Insulin
As mentioned, one of the ways in which metformin works is by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps to regulate blood sugar. It is also responsible for transporting glucose into cells, where it is either used for energy or stored as fat. In people with normal insulin sensitivity, the pancreas produces sufficient amounts of the hormone to allow the body to absorb sugar efficiently during the day. However, in those with decreased insulin sensitivity, the pancreas may not be producing enough insulin to allow the cells to properly function, resulting in higher blood sugar levels and the risk of diabetes. Metformin helps to restore the body’s sensitivity to insulin by increasing the amount of the hormone produced by the pancreas.
Metformin Directly Affects The Amount Of Weight A Person Can Store
Metformin also has the ability to directly affect the amount of weight a person can store. In one study, researchers gave 50 obese women a placebo or 500 mg of metformin daily for 28 days and then measured their body weight. They found that those on metformin lost an average of 4.6 lbs. compared to 0.8 lbs. in the placebo group. In addition, the size of their waists decreased by an average of 4.8 inches and 3.3 inches in the metformin and placebo groups, respectively. These results suggest that metformin has the ability to reduce body weight, even at rest. As mentioned, this may be a result of increased physical activity and/or reduced appetite. However, it’s important to note that in this study, some of the participants were taking medications for depression and anxiety, so the results could be attributed to these factors as well.
Are There Any Side Effects From Metformin?
As previously mentioned, while metformin is widely used and relatively safe for those with regular use, it does have side effects. The most common side effect is mild diarrhea. In some cases, this can be severe and lead to bowel obstruction, but this is extremely rare. In addition, there have been rare reports of osteoporosis in those on metformin. However, this form of bone disease is more common among people who are also taking glucocorticoids, such as steroids. It is therefore recommended that those on metformin have their bone density tested every year or treat it with medication if it is lower than normal.
Is Metformin Effective For Everyone?
While metformin is generally safe and effective for most people, there are some cases where it may not be the best choice. For example, people who are on long-term medication for depression or anxiety may experience an increase in appetite and/or insomnia due to the medication. In these cases, they may benefit from an alternative weight loss medication.
Those who are sensitive to sugar may also experience diarrhea or abdominal pain when on metformin. In these cases, the medication may need to be discontinued or reduced. In cases of kidney disease, people are generally advised not to take metformin due to the increased risk of lactic acidosis, which is a serious condition that occurs when too much lactic acid builds up in the body. Finally, people who are already at risk for osteoporosis should avoid taking metformin due to the increased risk of the condition. In these cases, an alternative medication may be suggested.
In summary, while metformin is a safe and effective option for most, it may not be the best choice for everyone. In particular, people who are on long-term medication for depression or anxiety, as well as those with decreased insulin sensitivity, should avoid using the medication due to the side effects it may cause. In these cases, an alternative medication may be suggested.