In this post, we’ll discuss foods to avoid while taking metformin and foods to focus on.
Metformin is the most commonly prescribed medication for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. So, it’s important to know if there are foods to avoid while taking metformin and what they are.
*This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services. This article and the links contained in it provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article is not a substitute for medical care. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or registered dietitian.*
Foods to avoid while taking metformin
Many medications have a list of foods that cannot be eaten while you’re taking that medicine. But, metformin does not.
While there is no specific list of foods to avoid, there are some categories of food to consume in limited amounts. We’ll talk more about those below.
What is metformin?
Metformin is typically the first medication prescribed for people diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. It is also sometimes given to women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
How does metformin work?
Metformin works by:
- Decreasing how much glucose you absorb from your food
- Causing your liver to make less glucose
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
Best time to take metformin
Most physicians will direct you to take metformin with a meal. Typically, traditional metformin is taken once/day or twice/day with a meal. And, extended release metformin is taken once/day with a meal.
Can you take metformin without food?
Yes, you can take metformin on an empty stomach… it will be just as effective as taking it with food. You may, however, experience increased GI distress if you take it on an empty stomach.
What foods should you avoid when taking metformin?
For metformin to work properly and be as effective as possible consider consuming these foods in moderation while taking it:
- High fiber foods
- Simple carbohydrates
Alcohol increases the risk of hypoglycemia in people with diabetes. Since metformin also lowers blood sugar, people on metformin have an even greater risk of low blood sugar when they consume alcohol. Talk to your doctor about how to consume alcohol safely if you choose to.
High fiber foods to avoid while taking metformin
A diet excessively high in fiber can decrease your body’s ability to absorb metformin… possibly. And, I know this is very contrary to my usual praise for high fiber foods. But, don’t worry. A regular amount of recommended fiber (25-30g/day) is just fine for most people on metformin. It’s when we start to consume 40-50g fiber/day or fiber supplements in combination with metformin that we may see an impact. Talk to your doctor and get their thoughts.
Part of diabetes management is eating a blood sugar friendly diet along with taking medications, like metformin. So, eating lots of simple carbohydrates (sugar, sweets, refined grains, etc.) may prevent metformin from working as well as it could. Be sure to choose complex carbohydrates. And, when you do eat simple carbohydrates, eat them with foods with moderate amounts of fiber and protein.
Good foods to eat while taking metformin
Now that we’ve covered the short list of foods to avoid while taking metformin, and foods to enjoy in moderation, let’s talk about the foods to focus on when you’re taking metformin.
Following a balanced, blood sugar friendly eating pattern will help your medication be as effective as possible. This means focusing on foods like:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Nuts & seeds
- Low/No sugar beverages
- Lean proteins
What to eat for breakfast while taking metformin
Your doctor will most likely tell you to take your metformin with breakfast each morning. It’s helpful to take it at the same time each day and taking it with food will reduce the likelihood of an upset stomach later on.
Choose breakfast options that offer fat, protein, and fiber. I’ve got lots of great ideas here.
Some quick options include:
- Eggs with whole grain toast
- Peanut butter and unsweetened oatmeal
- Cottage cheese or low sugar yogurt with fruit
- Protein balls/bites
- Low sugar breakfast bars
- Omelette with veggies
- Breakfast tacos
Metformin and grapefruit
Grapefruit can interact with a number of different medications and cause negative side effects. Metformin, however, is not on this list.
Some older research showed negative effects in animals when they consumed metformin and grapefruit juice at the same time. But, this has not been observed in humans.
Metformin and eggs
As mentioned above, eggs are a great option for breakfast or any other meal. And, they can be eaten while taking Metformin.
Try a tasty egg and veggie quesadilla like the one below!
Veggie, Black Bean & Egg Quesadilla
Foods that cause diarrhea with metformin
While there isn’t an official list of foods to avoid while taking metformin, if you find yourself experiencing diarrhea or tummy distress when you take metformin, there may be some foods you can avoid to help reduce symptoms. These include: high fat foods, high sugar foods, onions, and garlic.
Can I eat sugar while taking metformin?
What happens if you eat sugar on metformin? As we discussed above, there are no negative interactions. It is important, however, to be mindful of the foods you consume when managing diabetes to help your medications be as effective as possible.
If/when you choose to consume sugar, try to pair it with fat, fiber, and protein sources to slow down how quickly your body digests the sugar. Read more about that here.
Can you drink milk while taking metformin?
Yes! Dairy products and lactose-containing foods are ok to eat or drink while taking metformin.
Signs metformin is working
Most people find great success with metformin and notice a decrease in blood sugar levels as well as increased energy over time. There’s a reason it’s the most commonly prescribed medication for type 2 diabetes after all!
Other diabetes medication options
Looking for more information about other diabetes medications? Check out these articles…