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Understanding Metformin: How Long It Takes To Lower Blood Sugar

Metformin is one of the most popular drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes but do you know how long it takes to lower blood sugar. It does not help the body to produce insulin but it does help the body to use insulin more efficiently.

Metformin is prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes. Not every person with type 2 diabetes should take metformin.

This article will help you understand metformin better and how long it takes to lower blood sugar.  

Metformin 
Chemical Structure

Other Names 

Metformin goes by other different names. If you take any of these medications below then this information applies  

  • Glucophage
  • Glucophage XR
  • Riomet 
  • Glumetza 
  • Fortamet 

What Is It

Most people with type 2 diabetes are prescribed metformin by their doctors. Metformin is a drug used to control blood sugar better.  It is taken with food and can be prescribed for once, twice or three times per day. 

How Does it work 

This drug works in 2 ways to improve blood sugar levels.  The first way it works, is by telling the liver to release less glucose.  The second way it works, is by helping the fat and muscle cells utilize insulin better.  

How Quickly Does It Work

When researched, it was found that on average it takes 2-3 hours for metformin to work at its peak to lower blood sugar. It takes ~ 3.25 hours for a daily dose of 850mg of metformin to work at its peak.  When taken 3x/day a 850mg dose of metformin works at it peak in about ~2hours (1).   

A 850mg dose of metformin takes ~ 3-4hours to work at its peak for people with diabetes who have impaired renal function.

How Should I take it 

Your doctor will start the initial dose of metformin usually at 500mg. Over time, metformin is usual increased by 500mg to a max of 2550mg to help manage blood sugar levels.

Please take metformin with food. This decreases the GI issues that some people experience when taking metformin.  The extended release pill lessens these side effects.      

It takes ~ 3.25 hours for a daily dose of 850mg of metformin to work at its peak.  When taken 3x/day a 850mg dose of metformin works at it peak in about ~2hours.

Side Effects 

Some of the side effects of taking metformin include: 

  • GI Issues
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea 
    • Abdominal bloating 
  • Weight loss 
  • Improvement in lipid levels 

Precautions 

Type 1 Diabetes 

People with type 1 diabetes should not take metformin.  They do not produce insulin.  Insulin and metformin together could cause hypoglycemia in a person with type 1 diabetes. 

B12

Metformin decreases B12 levels.  A vegan needs to supplement B12 in their diet. A person with diabetes who is follows a vegan diet and is on metformin needs to take a B12 supplement. They should also get lab work to prevent a B12 deficiency.   

Lactic Acidosis 

Lactic acidosis is a build up of lactic acid in the body.  This causes a pH imbalance and lack of oxygen in the cells causing them to not function properly.  This is a life threatening issue. 

An overdose of metformin can cause lactic acidosis. People with diabetes who have kidney issues, liver issues or alcohol issues should talk with their doctor before even considering taking metformin.

Metformin lowers the liver’s ability to process lactate, which increases the risk of lactic acidosis.

        Kidney Issues

The kidneys get rid of metformin. When the kidneys have issues then metformin is not eliminated right away and can cause an excess of lactic acid being produced.      

Liver Issues

Metformin lowers the liver’s ability to process lactate. When the liver is not working efficiently then a build up of lactic acid can occur. The liver is also unable to get rid of the lactic acid efficiently.

No Alcohol Picture with wine with a red slash through it

Drinking 

Drinking alcohol increases metformin ability to break down lactate into lactic acid. This causes a build up of lactic acid in the body.     

Final Thoughts 

Metformin is a popular diabetes medication.  If you are on metformin then you know that it does not come without its risk of side effects: some good, some bad.  

It can help lower blood sugar levels. However, it can also cause GI issues.  If it causes too much discomfort, then talk to your doctor about other options to treat your blood sugar.  

Metformin does not lower blood sugar levels right away.  It takes ~2-3 hours for a 850mg multiple or daily dose to reach its peak efficiency in lowering blood sugar. Eating healthy and exercising helps to maintain good blood sugar control.   

An excess of metformin can cause lactic acidosis. Kidney, liver, and alcohol issues make it worse and increases the risk for lactic acidosis.

Metformin lowers B12. A vitamin of concern for vegans with diabetes.

Have you experienced any of the issues mentioned above? Does your blood sugar lower 2-3hours after you take it. Comment below on your experience with metformin. 

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