Beginning a Metformin regimen can be an important first step in taking better control of your blood sugar levels.
But people are often confused as to what they should or shouldn’t eat immediately after starting Metformin.
This article will investigate what foods to avoid and what to eat while taking Metformin, so the medicine works best for you.
Effectiveness of Metformin
Metformin is an extremely popular prescription drug, used to help people with type 2 diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels and maintain (or lose) weight.
Metformin is also sometimes prescribed to people with prediabetes.
Metformin lowers blood sugars by stopping the production of glucose from the liver, and also increases insulin sensitivity and reduces insulin resistance by prohibiting the body from absorbing all the glucose (sugar) in foods.
Metformin can cause lower blood sugar levels, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. This can make it difficult to know what to eat, and which foods to avoid.
If you’re struggling to eat enough calories on a day-to-day basis while taking Metformin, talk with your doctor about meal plan ideas, or visit a registered dietitian for extra help.
You can learn more about the potential side effect and alternatives in our guides: Metformin Side Effects: What You Need to Know and The Best Alternatives to Metformin for Type 2 Diabetes Management.
Foods to avoid while taking Metformin
While no foods are completely off-limits if you’re taking Metformin, it is best to limit certain foods to make sure that the medication is most effective for your diabetes management. Certain foods and alcohol can make Metformin much less effective.
The following foods should best be limited or avoided to make the most of your Metformin regimen:
It’s best to avoid binge drinking while taking Metformin because the drug interacts negatively with excessive alcohol.
Drinking alcohol regularly can also exacerbate kidney and liver issues, so talk with your doctor if you suffer from non-alcoholic liver disease or kidney disease before consuming alcohol with Metformin.
Also, be careful with mixed drinks that are often full of added sugars.
Many people, however, do drink alcohol while taking Metformin. Moderation is key.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following: for women, a moderate amount of alcohol is no more than one drink per day, and for men, a moderate amount is no more than two drinks per day.
Since diabetes increases the risk of inflammatory diseases like heart disease, avoiding saturated fats, especially while taking Metformin, can be extremely helpful to not increase inflammation in the body even more.
Saturated fats can also make you more insulin resistant, which can make weight loss and blood sugar management more difficult. Fatty foods also contribute to stubborn high blood sugars, which can be problematic over the long term.
Common sources of saturated fats include red meats, cheese, butter, and milk. You don’t need to avoid dairy altogether; choosing lower-fat options is an excellent way to make sure you’re getting enough protein and calcium in your diet without all the saturated fat.
Refined carbohydrates and added sugars
Metformin isn’t a magic pill; it helps you maintain blood sugar levels and can help with moderate amounts of weight loss, but it works best in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
If you’re constantly grabbing for refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, white pasta, candy, sugar-sweetened soda, chips, crackers, ice cream, cakes, chocolates, and other sweets made from both refined carbohydrates and added sugars, blood sugar management and weight maintenance will be near impossible.
Stick with whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources like chicken, fish, tofu, beans, and turkey, and lower-fat dairy like Greek yogurt, kefir, and mozzarella cheese.
Too much sodium
The average American eats way too much salt, with on average consuming about 3,400 mg of sodium per day.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the average adult eat no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (equal to about 1 teaspoon of salt!).
Too much sodium intake can increase your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease, two conditions that having diabetes puts one at higher risk for.
The majority of sodium in the American diet comes from processed and refined foods, including restaurant foods. So cooking more meals and snacks at home is an easy way to cut the salt.
Foods to eat while taking Metformin
There are plenty of foods to enjoy if you’re currently taking Metformin.
A general rule of thumb is to supplement an already healthy lifestyle with Metformin. Eat plenty of protein, and follow a lower-carbohydrate, lower-fat diet to manage blood sugar levels and support a healthy weight.
Try and eat the following foods as much as possible:
- Fresh, whole fruits and berries like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries
- Fresh, whole vegetables like kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, and other greens
- Lean proteins like tofu, turkey, chicken, egg whites, beans, legumes, and fish
- Lower-fat dairy like Greek yogurt, cheese, milk
- Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, coconut, and nuts
- Plain tea and coffee, and plenty of water!
- Make sure you’re eating at least 25 grams of fiber per day!
Always talk with your doctor or meet with a registered dietitian if you’re having trouble planning meals or finding enough nutritious foods that you enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
While no particular diet is absolutely necessary to follow, it is best to eat high protein, lower-carbohydrate, and lower-fat while taking Metformin to make sure the medication is as effective as possible at helping you to manage your blood sugar levels and maintain (or help you lose!) weight.
Aim for fruits, vegetables, lean protein, lower-fat dairy, and unprocessed, whole foods as much as possible.
Metformin may cause nausea, and if you also take insulin, Metformin can cause low blood sugar levels. This can be dangerous if you’re unable to keep liquids down, so call your doctor immediately if this is the case and you’re having trouble treating low blood sugars.
Other side effects to be cognizant of include: diarrhea, vomiting, decrease in appetite, bloating, and gas.
Taking Metformin at the same time every day can help decrease these side effects, and most side effects subside after a few weeks of taking the medication. Call your doctor if you’re experiencing side effects for longer than two weeks.
To avoid nausea, it is best to take Metformin with or immediately after your last meal of the day, which is usually dinner. Take the tablets whole (do not crush them up) with water. Never chew Metformin.
Try to take your Metformin around the same time each day.
Eating a lot of sugar may happen from time to time. We all want to have cake on our birthdays, or maybe indulge as a form of celebration or to mark a milestone.
If you eat a lot of sugar while taking Metformin, your body will have to work harder to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range, and the Metformin will not be as effective for weight loss.
However, if it happens infrequently, you should not suffer too many negative side effects. The key is moderation.
Metformin is a common prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. It can help lower blood sugar and HbA1c levels and is used to help manage weight.
It’s best to avoid saturated fats, excess alcohol consumption, too much sodium, refined carbohydrates, and processed and added sugars while taking it.
Aim for a diet full of whole, unprocessed foods including fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, fiber, lean protein, and lower-fat dairy.
When eating a healthier diet and with regular activity, Metformin can be a great way to improve your health and prevent diabetes complications.
Allan Glazer DPM says
Good info on Metformin but I disagree with you on the low fat aspect. Diabetics should not be eating low fat food products which substitute carbs for the sugar. FAT is not bad – when taken on a low carb diet. It is when it is combined with a higher carb diet that can create problems. Also, you do not mention that having too much protein an also effect a persons glucose after a meal. Each person ( diabetic) has to find their own level that works for them.
Many people have found that a Keto type diet works for them. Also, intermittent fasting is a great way to control your weight and diabetes.