Your treating doctor is likely to administer a comprehensive treatment plan to control blood sugar levels. This plan often includes regular exercising, intake of a proper diet and prescription of diabetic drugs like metformin. Timely start of such plans is necessary to avoid complications such as kidney problems, cardiac ailments as well as strokes. In this milieu, one needs to remember that metformin is not an OTC drug. But, can you fast while taking it? It is essential to know more on this.

Your medication plan for keeping blood sugar under control needs guidance and supervision of a qualified clinical practitioner. Also, no two people living with diabetes or a high level of blood sugar may have the same treatment plan. Your plan is customized and factors influencing it include your age, body weight, severity of your medical condition and the way your system reacts to the first few doses. Drugs such as metformin are widely used and these help your body to turn more responsive to insulin. As a result, a decrease in insulin resistance is observed. It is hence highly recommended to check blood sugar levels on a periodic basis.

Can I fast while consuming metformin

A few established sources such as the Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases consider fasting in an intermittent manner as a good practice; especially, for those living with diabetes. The benefits are known to multiply when you fast while taking diabetic drugs such as metformin. However, it is unsafe to fast without needful guidance and clinical supervision. If you are fasting for say, 16 hours and eating for the balance 8 hours, it is known to boost the efficacy of metformin. Such a practice is unlikely to cause low blood sugars or a condition called hypoglycemia.

You are advised to ensure that active ingredients stay in your system for at last 7 hours during your eating cycle. Any distortion may eventually lead to an imbalance of blood sugars. Never fast for a full day or 24 hours, and also refrain from taking this med during such long fasting hours. This can trigger risks of very low sugar levels in your blood. Above all, make sure to take metformin along with a meal; this helps prevent abdominal problems such as nausea, vomiting or stomach pain.

Foods you need to be wary of while taking metformin

While you are eating, you need to remain cautious of a few foods such as refined & simple carbs, fats, alcohol, foods that are rich in fiber, grapefruit, etc. In general, your treating doctor or dietitian will recommend you to reduce the intake of sodium or salt. Care to keep the quantum of salt at less than 2200 milligrams (mg) within a 24-hour timeline. Also, carbs are known to boost your blood sugars. Hence, keep away from both refined as well as simple forms of carbs. Refrain from taking candies, desserts as well as soda. On a related note, it is not a good practice to take pasta, white bread or white rice. Talk to a qualified dietitian to know more on the types of carbs to stay away from.

Intake of fats: Metformin may not go well with a few types of fats. For instance, healthy forms of unsaturated fats are not harmful. In fact, your caregiving team may encourage you to take such healthy forms of fats. But, harmful fats such as saturated as well as trans fats are not good while you are consuming metformin.

Stay away from alcohol: Consumption of a large amount of alcohol can result in reduced level of blood sugar as well as risks of lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is triggered by a build-up of lactic acids in the bloodstream. Such an increase is quite rapid that your body may have little time to burn them away as energies. If you observe spells of drowsiness, respiratory troubles (such as panting for breath or gasping), erratic pulse rates or faster heartbeats, your caregiver must be informed of such discomforts without much delay. You may need to be cared for in a professional healthcare set-up. Excessive intake of alcohol along with metformin may cause a severe decrease in blood sugar levels. This condition shows up as dizziness, acute spells of headaches and being in a confused state. It is highly recommended to stop consuming alcohol.

Foods rich in fiber: Fiber is known for its ability to reduce the concentration of meds such as metformin. As a result, your system finds it difficult to absorb this diabetic drug in full. Owing to this, your caregiver may tell you to reduce the amount of fibers in your daily diet. For those who are taking a normal dosage of this drug, quantum of fiber is monitored and is maintained at less than 30 grams each day.

Caveat: People who take metformin need to stay aware of a likely deficiency of vitamin B12. A timely diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency can save you from possible damages of nerves. If you are diagnosed of such deficiencies, your caregiver may prescribe a few supplements of B12 vitamin. Natural ways to get vitamin B12 include intake of liver of beef, lamb or veal, kidneys of these animals, fishes like sardine, trout, salmon, etc., milk based foods, eggs (which are high in vitamin D content) and / or by taking B12 fortified cereals.

Other foods such as grapefruit can also lead to increased production of lactates. Also, juices of grapefruit – when taken along with metformin – may trigger a build-up of diabetic drugs in your liver. This is another reason why you may witness an added production of lactic acids. It is a good practice to stay away from deep fried food products, sweetened drinks such as tea or coffee, drinks that can give you an instant supply of energy or those with added-sugars.

In sum, fasting intermittently can be done while taking diabetic drugs like metformin. But, it is extremely dangerous to fast without consulting your treating doctor. Those who are fasting for say, 16 hours and eating for 8 hours may enhance the functioning of metformin. But, never fast for a whole day. Such practices may cause low sugar levels. You need to remember that metformin works best if taken along with food. As a safety measure, talk to your caregiver, dietitian or a pharmacist to know more on how to fast while consuming metformin.

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