For many people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, taking metformin is an important first step to improving blood sugar and health.
However, When taking metformin can be almost as important as If you take metformin at all.
This article explains everything you need to know about the best time to take metformin.
How is metformin taken?
Metformin comes as tablets and is taken by mouth. There are two different types of tablets: standard metformin and slow-release metformin.
There are pros and cons to the different types of metformin, and your doctor will recommend which version is best for you, and advise on how to take it and how often to take it.
Standard metformin tablets release the drug into the body more quickly and may require several doses per day.
Slow-release metformin is gradually released into the body and does not need to be taken as often. As a result, potential side effects may be less severe, especially gastrointestinal side effects such as bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
Metformin tablets are swallowed whole and usually washed down with water. Do not chew metformin tablets.
Liquid metformin or sachets are available for children or people who have difficulty swallowing.
What is the standard dose of metformin?
Metformin comes in different doses. The maximum daily dose of metformin is 2000 mg, which should be taken as four 500 mg tablets per day.
Liquid metformin is taken in 5 ml doses of 500 mg, 850 mg or 1000 mg. The sachets are available in both 500 mg and 1000 mg doses.
Your doctor will most likely start with a lower dose of metformin and then increase the dose over time if you see good blood sugar results without too serious side effects.
Do not increase your metformin dose without consulting your doctor. If you start experiencing negative side effects after increasing your dose, tell your doctor who may reduce your dose or switch to slow-release tablets to help alleviate these side effects.
Never take more metformin than prescribed by your doctor.
If you do, you may experience serious side effects such as uncontrollable vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or dangerously low blood sugar.
Call your doctor or call 911 right away if you have taken more metformin than prescribed or if you have accidentally overdosed.
When is the ideal time to take metformin?
Some times of the day are better for taking metformin than others. Work with your doctor to find out when it’s best to take metformin, but these tips may help.
Bet on consistency
First of all, the most ideal time to take metformin is a time each day that you will remember.
The key to taking metformin or any prescription drug is consistency, and if you can’t routinely remember to take your medications, they won’t be of much help. Metformin is best taken at the same time each day.
And remember, what works for you may not work for someone else, so make sure when and how you take metformin will work best for you!
Taking metformin with or after food may reduce side effects
Metformin can be taken with or without food. However, if you are prone to its side effects, such as nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea or vomiting, it is best to take metformin with or after food.
This will reduce the likelihood of side effects and make metformin easier to digest.
Many people take daily metformin with or after their evening meal, allowing the drug to work throughout the night to lower blood sugar without side effects.
Do not take metformin before exercise if you are on insulin
If you’re taking insulin, taking metformin just before exercise can make you more likely to develop low blood sugar. To prevent this, take metformin a few hours before or after exercise.
Be careful about taking metformin on an empty stomach
Taking all your medications first thing in the morning may be the easiest way to remember to take them daily, but taking metformin on an empty stomach (or just with coffee) can cause nausea that can last all day.
However, if you are fasting for a blood test, surgery, or 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 the missed dose and just take the next one at the usual time.
Never take two doses to make up for a missed dose. Skipping one dose will not hurt or increase your blood sugar levels.
Metformin is generally safe, but taking too much metformin can cause negative side effects such as extreme nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dangerously low blood sugar, feeling cold, shallow breathing, drowsiness, weakness, and fatigue.
Call your doctor or call 911 if you have taken too much metformin and are experiencing any of these symptoms.
There is no cure for diabetes, and treatment is usually lifelong. However, if you are not seeing results, experiencing negative side effects, or not seeing an improvement in your health, it may be time to talk to your doctor.
Your doctor may recommend reducing your dose, finding an alternative to metformin, or stopping the drug altogether.
Know that it may take weeks or months before you start seeing results from metformin, depending on your health goals. Never stop taking any diabetes medication without consulting your doctor first.
The first dose can be taken in the morning with breakfast and the second dose in the evening with dinner.
It is best to store metformin out of the reach of children, in an airtight 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 medications. Talk to your doctor about disposing of old or expired medications that you can no longer use.