For many people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, taking metformin is an important first step to improving blood sugar levels and health.
However, when you take metformin can be almost as important as if you take metformin at all.
This article will explain everything you need to know about the best time to take metformin.
How is metformin taken?
Metformin comes in tablet form and is taken orally. There are two different types of tablets: standard and slow-release metformin.
There are pros and cons to the different types of metformin, and your doctor will recommend which version they think is best for you, and advise you on how to take it and how often the medication needs to be taken.
Standard metformin pills release the medication into your body more quickly and may require several doses per day.
Slow-release metformin is gradually released into your body and does not need to be taken as often. The potential side effects may be less severe as a result, especially gastrointestinal side effects like bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
Metformin tablets are swallowed whole and usually taken with water. Do not chew metformin tablets.
Metformin in the form of liquid or sachets is available for children or for people who have difficulty swallowing.
What is the standard dose of metformin?
Metformin comes in different doses. The maximum daily dose of metformin is 2,000 mg, which would be taken as four 500 mg tablets per day.
Liquid metformin is taken in 5 ml doses of 500 mg, 850 mg, or 1,000 mg. Sachets come in both 500 mg and 1,000 mg doses.
Your doctor will most likely start you on a smaller dose of metformin to begin with, and then ratchet up your dose over time if you’re seeing good results in blood sugar levels without too serious of side effects.
Do not increase your metformin dose without the guidance of your doctor. If you start to experience negative side effects after increasing your dose, let your doctor know, and they may decrease your dose or switch you to slow-release tablets to help mitigate those side effects.
Never take more metformin than your doctor has prescribed to you.
If you do, you can experience severe side effects, such as uncontrollable vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomachache, or dangerously low blood sugar levels.
Contact your doctor immediately or call 911 if you’ve taken more metformin than prescribed or if you’ve accidentally overdosed.
When is the ideal time to take metformin?
Some times of day are better for taking metformin than others. Work with your doctor to figure out when is best for you to take metformin, but these hints may help.
Lean into consistency
First and foremost, the most ideal time to take metformin is a time each day that you will remember to take it.
The key to taking metformin or any prescription drug is consistency, and if you cannot routinely remember to take your medications, they will not be helpful. It’s best to take your metformin at the same time every day.
And remember, what works for you may not work for someone else, so make sure that when and how you take your metformin is what will work best for you!
Taking metformin with or after a meal can curb side effects
Metformin can be taken with or without food. However, if you’re prone to its side effects, such as nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting, it is best to take metformin with or after a meal.
This will make it less likely that you’ll experience side effects and it will make metformin easier to digest.
Many people take their daily metformin with or after their evening meal, letting the medication work all night long to lower blood sugar levels without the side effects.
Do not take metformin before exercise if you are on insulin
If you’re on insulin, taking metformin right before you exercise can increase the likelihood that you’ll experience low blood sugar. To help prevent this, take metformin several hours before or after you’ve finished exercising.
Be wary of taking metformin on an empty stomach
Taking all of your medications first thing in the morning may be the easiest way to remember to take them daily, but if you take metformin on an empty stomach (or only with coffee), it may cause nausea that can last all day.
However, if you’re fasting for bloodwork, a procedure, or doing intermittent fasting (IF), metformin is safe to take on an empty stomach.
Frequently asked questions
If you forget to take your daily dose of metformin, skip your missed dose and simply take your next one at your regularly scheduled time.
Never take two doses as a way to make up for a lost dose. Missing one dose will not harm you or increase your blood sugar levels.
Metformin is generally safe, but taking too much metformin can cause negative side effects like extreme nausea, vomiting, stomachache, dangerously low blood sugar levels, feeling cold, shallow breathing, sleepiness, weakness, and fatigue.
Call your doctor or 911 if you’ve taken too much metformin and are experiencing any of these symptoms.
There is no cure for diabetes, and treatment is usually for life. However, if you’re not seeing results, are experiencing negative side effects, or not seeing improvements to your health, it may be time to talk with your doctor.
Your doctor may recommend you either wean your dose, find an alternative to metformin, or they may take you off of the medication completely.
Know that it can take several weeks to months to start seeing results from metformin, depending on what your health goals are. Never stop taking any diabetes medications without proper guidance from your doctor first.
Metformin is best taken with a meal, so whether that’s a morning or evening meal is up to you. However, many people with diabetes struggle with the Dawn Phenomenon, which is higher blood sugar levels in the morning.
Taking your metformin with an evening meal can help alleviate the next day’s morning high blood sugar levels, whereas if you take it in the morning, you may still struggle with higher blood sugar when you wake up.
You can take your first dose in the morning with breakfast, and your second dose in the evening with dinner.
It is best to keep metformin locked away from children, in a sealed container at room temperature.
Do not put metformin in the freezer, and keep it away from heat, light, and moisture.
Always check expiration dates and do not take expired medicine. Talk with your doctor about disposing of any old or expired medications that you can no longer use.
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