Foods to Avoid While Taking Metformin for Diabetes and Obesity

Foods to avoid while taking metformin

For those of you who suffer from or know someone who has diabetes, metformin is probably not an alien word. It is a medication that is used to treat type 2 diabetes. However, to get fast results from the usage of this drug, one also needs to work on their diet and lifestyle. Hence, knowing what foods to avoid while taking metformin is essential.

This drug is primarily prescribed to those with comorbidity of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Also, this drug is prescribed to those suffering from PCOS. Hence, it is even more important to know foods to avoid while taking metformin for PCOS or diabetes.

Foods to avoid while taking metformin

First, just because you are taking metformin doesn’t mean you must cut down on significant food items. It means that you need to be more mindful of what food you eat, its quantity, etc.

So, here are a few food categories or items that you should ideally stay away from:

Saturated fat

Most of us need to be more informed about the effect of fats on our health and body. It is essential to know that healthy fats are good for our health. If taken in the correct quantity, healthy fats can help us maintain a balanced diet.

However, for those of you who have diabetes and also carry the risk of obesity, you must avoid saturated fats at all costs. Saturated fats are mainly responsible for internal bodily inflammation. This can enhance the risk of cardiovascular issues.

Hence, it would help if you avoid saturated fats such as butter, ghee, and other fatty dairy products. However, you can only avoid some dairy products completely. You can always look for low-fat dairy options, which will not cause any issues. You must also avoid red meat entirely because it can act as poison if you are on metformin.


While sodium intake is not necessarily harmful to you, it is also essential to watch your sodium intake. Ideally, your sodium intake should be at the most 2300 mg per day when you are on metformin. Since high sodium levels enhance the risk of blood pressure and diabetes can lead to hypertension, too, this combination is not lethal.

Trans fat

Just like saturated fats, these also increase the risk of cardiovascular or heart diseases. Hence trans fats should also be avoided at all costs. These include fast food, bakery items, and so on.


It is advised to avoid alcohol consumption when you are on metformin. Doctors usually suggest that you don’t indulge in heavy drinking at all. Also, you must refrain from drinking regularly or even frequently. Keeping alcohol intake limited is best as it will also help you steer clear of any kidney or liver-related issues.


It will help if you keep your intake of carbohydrates low. This is essential because carbs can lead to an increase in blood glucose levels. Also, food rich in sugar content has a similar impact. This can put you at severe risk whether you take metformin for diabetes or PCOS. Hence, you must avoid food items such as desserts, carbonated drinks, rice, and anything and everything made of flour.

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It is also essential to understand that if you don’t reduce your carb intake, it doesn’t mean that the medicine will not work. It means that the medication will have to work a lot more.

Food rich in fiber

While most of us know and believe that fiber-rich food is good for health, it can be detrimental when you are on metformin. Because when you consume fiber-rich food, the fiber tends to bind to the metformin. Consequently, this reduces the efficacy of the metformin in your body. Hence, it is advisable to restrict your fiber intake to around 30 gms of fiber per day. So, a few food items you need to keep your distance from are oatmeal, chia seeds, avocado, beans, etc.


This is one thing that you must not eat at all when you are taking metformin. An experiment concluded that those who took the drug and consumed grapefruit juice witnessed the rapid formation of lactic acid. Hence, it was concluded that consuming grapefruit while on metformin can cause lactic acidosis.

Another way in which simultaneous consumption of grapefruit and metformin can impact you is it creates a build-up of metformin in the liver. This also enhances the level of lactic acid. Hence, you must avoid eating grapefruit altogether while on this medication.

Foods to avoid while taking metformin

Medication To Avoid While On Metformin

Apart from foods to avoid while taking metformin, you also need to be mindful of other medications that you must categorically avoid while taking metformin regularly. You must also inform your doctor in advance about any other medication you might be taking.

So, here are some medicines that you need to maintain distance from:

  1. Oral contraceptive pills
  2. Alcohol
  3. Any blood pressure medication
  4. Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

Ensure that your doctor is informed of any medication (apart from those listed here) while he prescribes metformin. The effect of taking any of the drugs mentioned above, along with metformin, can even amount to fatality.

Food items that you should have while taking metformin

Fruits low in carbohydrates

Fruits low in carbohydrates also tend to be better for glucose balance in the body. Hence, it is advisable to eat low-carb fruits to control your diabetes. Lastly, and most importantly, intake of such fruits will not interfere with the functioning of the metformin that you are on.

Lean proteins

Lean proteins are called such because they are low in saturated fat. As mentioned earlier, saturated fats must also be avoided while taking metformin. Consequently, lean proteins only have a positive impact and do not interfere with the metformin in your body.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats are always good for the body, irrespective of metformin. However, while on metformin, you must stick to sources of healthy fats such as nuts, olive oil, fish, and so on.

Complex carbohydrates

Foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains like brown rice usually fall in this category. Such food items are rich in fiber. As a result, they tend to get metabolized with a lot of difficulty. This leads to the release of glucose or sugar in the bloodstream. Hence, while these foods are good, they must be taken in moderation only.

Foods to avoid while taking metformin

Non-starchy vegetables

Such vegetables help lower metabolism in the body and hence should be a part of your diet.

Evaluate Your Overall Diet

While you must know the dos and don’t’s while you are on metformin, it is imperative that you also keep mixing up your diet from time to time. Otherwise, eating the same kind of food day after day can also get monotonous for you.

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Since the main job of metformin is to reduce glucose levels in your blood, you must follow a healthy diet. Without a balanced diet, the efficacy of metformin might reduce significantly.

Hence, the one mantra you need to follow in life is to avoid any food that can increase your sugar levels. As mentioned earlier, eating sweets with metformin doesn’t mean the drug will stop working. However, if you are eating sweets while taking the drug, it just means you are increasing the workload of the drug in your system exponentially.

Metformin and PCOS

So far, you have seen how metformin helps diabetic patients. However, you would be surprised to know that PCOS is another health issue metformin helps with. For those suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), metformin helps induce ovulation. It helps remind your body that you are a woman and hence need to ovulate.

However, one must know that PCOS is not curable but only treatable. This means that while one can never get rid of it completely, one can always take medicine to manage its side effects or symptoms. This is precisely where metformin comes in as a blessing.

Side effects of metformin

So far, most people on metformin have never mentioned any side effects. Even if you are on the drug for a long time, it will have little to no impact on your weight gain or loss. Many people have only mentioned that it has helped them shed some of the extra weight they had been struggling with.

On top of this, metformin also helps in keeping your cholesterol levels in control. The only situation in which metformin can have side effects is if you have kidney issues. This is also why most doctors who prescribe metformin also keep a check on your kidney from time to time. If you ever develop a kidney issue while on metformin, your doctor might tell you to stop taking the medicine completely.

Another issue that the drug can create is a deficiency of vitamin B12. This tends to happen to those who take the drug over a lengthy period.

Lactic Acidosis

Since we are discussing the side effects of the drug, it is imperative to mention that lactic acidosis is one of the most fatal side effects of this drug.

Not just this, the medicine packaging also mentions the same as a warning.

There can be times when intake of metformin can lead to increased lactic acid levels in the body. This can result in a condition known as lactic acidosis. Some of these symptoms are vomiting, dizziness, feeling of warmth from the skin, and so on.

In case of lactic acidosis, it is strictly advised to resort to immediate medical help as this can lead to death.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can you drink milk while taking metformin?

Yes, you can drink milk while taking metformin. However, it is advisable to drink milk that is low in fat.

2. Is it essential to hydrate a lot while on metformin?

You must drink water while ingesting the medicine. You should also ensure that you don’t break or crush the tablet while taking it. Also, ensure that you take the drug with your meals or right after daily meals.

3. Can I eat sugar while taking metformin?

If you have diabetes and you are on metformin, it doesn’t mean you need to eliminate sweets from your life. Also, just because you eat sweets with metformin doesn’t mean the medicine will stop working for you. The medicine will have to work much harder to keep you safe from high glucose levels than usual.

4. Can I have metformin and eggs?

Yes, you can have metformin and eggs without any harmful effects. Eggs are a great healthy option to have as part of your breakfast.

5. What is the ideal way to take the drug?

For most people, metformin should be taken twice daily after meals. The ideal way to ingest the drug is to have your meal and then gulp one tablet with a glass of water.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know of all the foods to avoid while taking metformin, you can skip those from your diet or help someone else do the same. Share this with your friends suffering from issues like obesity and diabetes to protect them from any disorder.