Foods to avoid while taking metformin

Starting metformin can be an important first step in getting better control of your blood sugar.

But people are often confused about what they should and shouldn’t eat immediately after starting Metformin treatment.

In this article, we will explore what foods to avoid and what to eat while taking metformin so that the medicine works best for you.

Metformin efficacy

Metformin is an extremely popular prescription drug used to help people with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar and maintain (or lose) weight.

Metformin is sometimes prescribed to people with prediabetes.

Metformin lowers blood sugar by stopping the liver from producing glucose, and it also increases insulin sensitivity and reduces insulin resistance by preventing the body from absorbing all the glucose (sugar) from food.

Metformin can cause low blood sugar, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. This can make it difficult to know what to eat and what foods to avoid.

If you have difficulty eating enough calories each day while taking metformin, talk to your doctor about meal ideas or see a registered dietitian for additional help.

You can learn more about the potential side effect and alternatives in our guides: Metformin side effects: what you need to know and Best Alternatives to Metformin for Type 2 Diabetes.

Foods to avoid while taking metformin

While no foods are completely off-limits, if you’re taking metformin, it’s best to limit certain foods to ensure that the drug is most effective at treating your diabetes. Certain foods and alcohol can make Metformin much less effective.

To get the most out of your metformin regimen, it’s best to limit or avoid the following foods:


It’s best to avoid getting drunk while taking metformin, as the drug interacts negatively with excessive alcohol consumption.

Regular alcohol consumption can also exacerbate kidney and liver problems, so talk to your doctor before consuming alcohol with Metformin if you have non-alcoholic liver disease or kidney disease.

Also watch out for mixed drinks, which are often full of added sugars.

However, many people 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.

Saturated fat

Since diabetes increases the risk of inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, avoiding saturated fat, especially when taking metformin, can be extremely helpful to not increase inflammation in the body even more.

Saturated fat can also increase insulin resistance, which can make weight loss and blood sugar control more difficult. Fatty foods also contribute to persistent high blood sugar, which can be problematic in the long run.

Common sources of saturated fat include red meat, cheese, butter and milk. You don’t have to completely avoid dairy; choosing lower-fat options is an excellent way to ensure you get enough protein and calcium in your diet without saturated fat.

Refined carbohydrates and added sugars

Metformin is not a magic pill; helps maintain blood sugar levels and can help with moderate weight loss, but works best when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

If you constantly reach for refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, candies, sweetened sodas, chips, crackers, ice cream, cookies, chocolates and other sweets made with both refined carbohydrates and added sugars, blood sugar management and keeping the weight will be almost impossible.

Stick to whole fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources like chicken, fish, tofu, beans and turkey, and low-fat dairy like Greek yogurt, kefir and mozzarella cheese.

Too much sodium

The average American consumes far too much salt, on average consuming about 3,400 mg of sodium per day.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that the average adult consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of salt!).

Too much sodium intake can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, two conditions that diabetes increases the risk of.

Most of the sodium in the American diet comes from processed and refined foods, including restaurant foods. Cooking more meals and snacks at home is an easy way to cut back on salt.

Foods to eat while taking metformin

There are many foods to enjoy if you are currently taking metformin.

The general rule is to supplement an already healthy lifestyle with metformin. Eat plenty of protein and follow a lower carb and fat diet to control your blood sugar and support a healthy weight.

Try to eat as many of the following foods as possible:

  • Fresh, whole fruits and berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Fresh, whole vegetables such as kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, and other vegetables
  • Lean proteins such as tofu, turkey, chicken, egg whites, beans, legumes and fish
  • Low-fat dairy such as Greek yogurt, cheese, milk
  • Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocados, coconut and nuts
  • Usual tea and coffee and lots of water!
  • Make sure you eat at least 25 grams of fiber a day!

Always talk to your doctor or see a registered dietitian if you have trouble planning meals or finding enough nutritious foods you enjoy!

Frequently asked questions

What diet should I follow while taking metformin?

While it is not absolutely necessary to follow any particular diet, it is best to eat a protein-rich, low-carb, and low-fat meal while taking metformin to ensure that the drug is as effective as possible in helping you control your blood sugar and maintain (or help you lose weight!) weight.
Aim for fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and unprocessed, whole foods as much as possible.

What should I watch out for when taking metformin?

Metformin can cause nausea, and if you are also taking insulin, metformin can cause low blood sugar. It can be dangerous if you are unable to keep fluids down, so see your doctor right away if this is the case and you are having trouble treating low blood sugar.
Other side effects to be aware of include diarrhoea, vomiting, decreased appetite, bloating and gas.
Taking metformin at the same time each day can help reduce these side effects, and most side effects go away after a few weeks of taking the medicine. Call your doctor if side effects persist for more than two weeks.

When is the best time to take metformin?

To avoid nausea, it’s best to take metformin with or immediately after your last meal of the day, which is usually dinner. The tablets should be taken whole (not crushed) with water. Never chew metformin.
Try to take metformin at around the same time each day.

What happens if you eat a lot of sugar while taking metformin?

Consuming a lot of sugar can happen from time to time. We all want a cake for our birthday, or perhaps indulge as a form of celebration or to celebrate 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 in a healthy range, and metformin won’t be as effective at losing weight.
However, if it happens infrequently, you shouldn’t experience too many negative side effects. Moderation is the key.


Metformin is a common prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. It can help lower blood sugar and HbA1c and is used for weight management.

While taking it, it’s best to avoid saturated fat, excessive alcohol consumption, too much sodium, refined carbohydrates, and processed and added sugars.

Try to eat a diet full of unprocessed foods, including fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, fiber, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.

With a healthier diet and regular activity, metformin can be a great way to improve your health and prevent diabetes complications.

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