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Healthy Habits To Support Weight Loss via Metformin

Nowadays, people seek weight loss for various reasons, from health to lifestyle and cosmetics. According to a new survey from KFF, nearly 60% of adults in the US are trying to lose weight and say they would be interested in trying prescription weight loss drugs if they were found to be safe and effective. By now, most adults in the US have heard about a new class of drugs being used for weight loss, including Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, and nearly half say that they would be interested in using one.

As more people learn about weight loss drugs, pharmaceutical companies are also coming up with newer drugs to help reduce overweight, obesity, and other weight-related health conditions. Some of these drugs aren’t necessarily new. Metformin, a generic, FDA-approved medication for type 2 diabetes treatment, is sometimes used off-label for weight loss and other weight-related conditions. Doctors may prescribe metformin for weight loss as part of your weight management treatment plan depending on your medical history, goals, and insurance coverage. While generally not as powerful as GLP-1 medication, metformin is usually more affordable for cash-paying patients as it is deemed a generic drug.

As with any drug, however, it’s important to consider your daily habits and lifestyle factors that may impact the efficacy of metformin. As the drug becomes more accessible to patients in need of weight loss or weight management, adopting certain lifestyle changes can help maximize results. In this post, we’ll look at some healthy habits and precautions to help support weight loss via metformin:

Healthy diet

Some drugs may require dietary restrictions to prevent any side effects and allergic reactions. For metformin, as with most other drugs for treating type 2 diabetes, there are certain foods to avoid, including foods containing sodium, simple and refined carbs, alcohol, and even grapefruit.

Instead, doctors recommend eating foods with complex carbs, non-starchy vegetables, and healthy fats. In a previous post highlighting foods to lose weight, we emphasized the health benefits of skinny fish, which are a source of healthy fats. These help eliminate bad cholesterol and contain proteins and other essential nutrients to help with weight loss without countering the effects of metformin.

Regular exercise

Some of the research on exercise and metformin may seem conflicting. A 2019 study found that metformin diminished improvements in skeletal muscle mitochondrial respiration and whole-body insulin sensitivity. But context is necessary — the study focused on participants over 60.

A more recent study found that exercise and metformin may improve glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients. Researchers suggest that by prescribing exercise, doctors can prevent potential hazards associated with metformin therapy. Of course, it’s important to always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to check for any concerns regarding exercise when on metformin.

Supplements and other medications

Finally, it’s crucial to consider what medications you should and shouldn’t take when taking metformin. Metformin does have gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea and loose stools, so it’s best to reconsider taking other medications that may exacerbate those side effects along with metformin.

As with other diabetes medications like glipizide, you should also be wary about taking vitamins or supplements that lower your glucose levels, as drugs like metformin share the same function. Pairing metformin with supplements like ashwagandha, magnesium, milk thistle, aloe vera, ginseng, and ginger can put you at risk for hypoglycemia. Conversely, supplements that raise your blood sugar levels, like chromium, niacin, and ginkgo biloba, should be avoided as they may counteract the effects of metformin.

Ultimately, while metformin may be effective for weight loss, it’s important to balance it with healthy lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise. At the same time, it’s essential to balance maximizing weight loss and complementing the effects of metformin to prevent harmful reactions to your health and body.

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