Foods to Avoid while taking Metformin

If you are a diabetes patient and taking metformin for treatment and confused about what you should eat and what you should not, there are some points that you should take care of and know about metformin. There are some food items that you should avoid while taking metformin, for example, high-fat and carbohydrate food, alcohol, caffeine, grapefruit, etc to get better results from metformin. Let’s explore the foods to avoid while taking Metformin in this article.

What is Metformin? 

Metformin is a medicine that is given in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It works by decreasing the amount of glucose (sugar) that is produced by the liver and absorbed by the intestines, and increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. Long-term complications of diabetes, such as nerve damage, kidney disease, and eye problems can be prevented by controlling your blood sugar level.

Metformin is typically taken orally, usually two or three times a day, with meals. You can take metformin alone or with a combination of other drugs as instructed by your doctor. It is important to take metformin as instructed by your doctor. Regularly monitor blood sugar levels regularly to ensure that the medication is working effectively.

In addition to its use in diabetes management, metformin is sometimes used to treat other conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and obesity. It is generally considered safe and effective, but like any medication, it can cause side effects, such as gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort), vitamin B12 deficiency, and in rare cases, lactic acidosis, a serious condition that can occur when there is a buildup of lactic acid in the body.[2]

Foods to avoid while taking Metformin

It is important to be mindful of certain foods that can interact with metformin and affect its effectiveness, absorption, and side effects. Here are some foods that should be avoided while taking metformin:

  • Alcohol: The risk of lactic acidosis increases due to the consumption of alcohol while taking metformin. Lactic acidosis is a rare but very serious side effect of metformin.
  • High-carbohydrate foods: Foods that are high in carbohydrates can raise blood sugar levels, which can counteract the effects of metformin. Therefore, it is best to avoid high-sugar content drinks.
  • High-fat foods: Foods that are high in fat can slow down the absorption of metformin, reducing its effectiveness. Avoid fatty meats, fried foods, and high-fat dairy products.
  • Grapefruit: Grapefruit can interact with some medications, including metformin, and interfere with how the body metabolizes the medication.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine can increase the risk of side effects such as nervousness, jitteriness, and heart palpitations. You should limit caffeine intake.

It is important to talk to your doctor and ask them what you should eat or not to prevent any side effects

Food to take while taking Metformin 

When taking metformin, it is important to follow a healthy and balanced diet that supports your overall health and helps manage blood sugar levels. Here are some foods that you can include in your healthy diet:

  • High-fiber foods: Foods that are high in fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains are examples of high-fiber food.
  • Lean protein: Protein can help slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and improve satiety. Turkey, fish, and tofu are good sources of lean protein.
  • Healthy fats: Healthy fats can help in reducing inflammation. Examples are nuts, seeds, avocados, etc.
  • Low-carbohydrate vegetables: Vegetables that are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber are ideal for diabetes patients. Examples are broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.
  • Berries: Berries are rich in antioxidants and fiber and have a lower glycemic index than many other fruits. Examples of berries are blueberries, strawberries, etc.
  • Water: While taking metformin it is important to stay hydrated. To prevent dehydration drink water and keep your body hydrated.

It is important to take advice from your doctor or dietician before you start these and tell them all the history. Avoid if you have an allergy to any of the above-mentioned food items 

When should you take Metformin?

The dosing and timing of metformin can vary depending on the needs of the individual. Always follow instructions provided by your doctor and written on medication.

In general, metformin is usually taken orally, with meals, and typically 2-3 times a day. This can help reduce gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea or diarrhea, that can occur when taking metformin on an empty stomach.

It is important to take metformin at the same time each day to maintain consistent blood levels of the medication. Take your dose as soon as possible if you forgot to take your dose. Skip that dose if it is late and continue with another dose.

Monitor your blood sugar level continuously to ensure the effectiveness of metformin in case you are taking it for the first time or changing doses.

Adverse effects of Metformin? 

Metformin is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, but like any medication, it can have potential adverse effects. Here are some of the common adverse effects:

  • Gastrointestinal side effects:  Digestive system side effects are the most common side effects of metformin. These include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and flatulence. These side effects can occur in up to 50% of people taking the medication.
  • Lactic acidosis: This is a rare but potentially serious side effect of metformin. It occurs when there is a buildup of lactic acid in the bloodstream. Lactic acidosis can cause symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, and confusion. People with kidney or liver disease and chronic alcohol drinkers are more likely to develop it.[1]
  • Hypoglycemia: Metformin can lower blood sugar levels, and in rare cases, it can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This is more likely to occur in people who have other conditions that can affect their blood sugar levels, such as kidney or liver disease, or those who are taking other medications that lower blood sugar.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency: Metformin can cause vitamin B12 deficiency by decreasing its absorption. Fatigue, weakness, and tingling in the hands and feet all are symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Other side effects: Other potential adverse effects of metformin include a metallic taste in the mouth, reduced appetite, and skin reactions such as rash and itching.

Most people using metformin do not get any side effects. But if you are feeling something wrong immediately meet your doctor and tell them.


How do I get the best results from metformin? 

Follow a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medication, lifestyle modifications, and regular monitoring to get the best result from metformin. Here are some tips that may help optimize the effectiveness of metformin:

  • Take metformin as prescribed: It is important to take metformin as directed by your healthcare provider and to take it at the same time each day to maintain consistent blood levels of the medication.
  • Follow a healthy diet: a diet that is rich in high-fiber food, lean protein, and healthy fat can help you in decreasing blood sugar levels. It also improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Exercise regularly: you can increase your insulin sensitivity and reduce your blood sugar level by doing regular exercise.
  • Monitor blood sugar levels: Regular checking of blood sugar levels will give you an idea about the effectiveness of metformin.
  • Manage other health conditions: Other health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, can impact blood sugar levels and the effectiveness of metformin. 
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking can increase the risk of complications and worsen the effect of complications. Quitting smoking can improve overall health and the effectiveness of metformin.

Does milk affect metformin?

Milk does not have a significant impact on the absorption of metformin. However, consuming large amounts of milk or dairy products with high-fat content, such as cheese or ice cream, can slow down the absorption of metformin and reduce its effectiveness. In addition, some studies have suggested that calcium supplements may interfere with the absorption of metformin. Avoid taking calcium supplements and metformin at the same time. Take calcium at least 2 hours before or after taking metformin in case you need to take it.[3]

What is the best time of the day to take metformin?

It can depend on individual factors and medical needs. In general, metformin is usually taken with meals to reduce gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea or diarrhea. However, the specific timing can vary based on the individual’s eating habits and the dosage of metformin prescribed. Some healthcare providers recommend taking metformin in the morning with breakfast, as this can help regulate blood sugar levels throughout the day. Others may suggest splitting the daily dose and taking it with both breakfast and dinner. It is important to follow the dosing instructions provided by your healthcare provider and the medication label and to take metformin at the same time each day to maintain consistent blood levels of the medication. 

When should you not take metformin?

There are certain situations when you should not take metformin, or when its use may need to be temporarily suspended. These include:

  • Allergy to metformin: If you have a known allergy to metformin, you should not take it.
  • Kidney disease: Metformin is excreted from the body through the kidneys, so if you have moderate to severe kidney disease or are on dialysis, your healthcare provider may not recommend taking metformin.
  • Liver disease: If you have liver disease or a history of liver problems, your healthcare provider may need to monitor your liver function closely while taking metformin.
  • Dehydration: The risk of lactic acidosis increases due to dehydration. If you are dehydrated due to illness, excessive sweating, or insufficient fluid intake, you may need to temporarily stop taking metformin.
  • Radiologic procedures: If you are scheduled to undergo a radiologic procedure that involves the injection of contrast dye, you may need to temporarily stop taking metformin before and after the procedure to reduce the risk of kidney problems.

It is important to talk to your healthcare provider if you have any medical conditions or concerns that may affect the safety or effectiveness of metformin. They will give you the best advice to deal with your problem.

How do you know metformin is working?

You can tell if metformin is working by monitoring your blood sugar levels and observing any improvements in your symptoms of diabetes. Here are some signs:

  • Lower blood sugar levels: blood sugar level decreases with the use of metformin.  Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels will give you an idea about changes.
  • Improved symptoms: diabetes symptoms like frequent urination, fatigue, and increased thirst will be improved with the use of metformin.
  • Lower HbA1c levels: HbA1c is a simple blood test that gives you an idea about your blood sugar level over the past 2-3 months. Metformin can help reduce HbA1c levels, indicating better long-term blood sugar control.
  • Weight loss: Some people may experience weight loss while taking metformin, as it can help reduce appetite and improve insulin sensitivity. 

You should visit yours regularly and they might ask you to do some things that will alter your medication and suggest you exercise and the best methods.


  1. FDA SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR METFORMIN – Metformin Use in Patients with Historical Contraindications or Precautions. (2016):    
  2. Metformin. (2022):
  3. Evolving Nutritional Therapy for Diabetes Mellitus. (2020):
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