Metformin and Insulin Resistance

About a year ago, my endocrinologist determined that I was exhibiting signs of insulin resistance[1]. In short, my body requires more than the average amount of insulin to cover carbohydrate. She suggested that I start taking metformin, noting that it would do two things for me: It would decrease the amount of insulin I need to take and it would help curb my appetite, thus resulting in weight loss.

When I first got on it, I thought it was great. My blood sugar levels improved, my appetite was in fact curbed, and all seemed wonderful — until I stopped taking my metformin. As a high school senior, I had atrocious sleeping habits! That, coupled with the fact that taking metformin was really killing my appetite, was causing me to become exhausted and get some pretty severe headaches.


Looking back on it now, it’s very clear that the metformin wasn’t the problem, it was me. However, as a stubborn senior in high school, I was determined to maintain my sleeping habits, as I deemed them completely normal and in accordance with the typical behavior exhibited by my peers (boy, how I’ve changed…). So, I stopped the metformin.

The last three weeks or so, I’ve been back on metformin regularly. I decided to start it up again after my last appointment with my CDE[2]. Thus far, it’s really been working wonders and my blood sugars have decreased substantially! Where my 30-day average was hovering around 190 just a few weeks ago, it has now dropped to 137! I was seriously shocked when I saw how much my average fell.

For the most part, my blood sugar levels are in range, but I have had my fair share of lows as well. Managing metformin really is a science that can change on a daily basis depending on my activity level. For example, the first two weeks that I was back on metformin, I was in the gym every single day. I knew that I would have to cut my nighttime basal rate[3] by at least 70% if I wanted to avoid a 5 AM low.

However, in the last week, I’ve only been to the gym once because of a fundraiser I’m organizing. What I realized is that I still need to cut my nighttime basals by about 50%, even without exercise. The metformin, coupled with being really stressed out about organizing the event, has essentially diminished my appetite! I force myself to drink a lot of water and snack on some form of fruit throughout the day, but I honestly have no desire to eat! (Which, if you knew me personally, you would know is VERY out of the ordinary!)

It’s been a really interesting couple of weeks seeing how metformin has affected my body and how it works when combined with exercise, stress, etc. This first year in college has really put me in tune with my body like never before. Where I once relied solely on my care team and parents to do all insulin dosing and so forth, I now realize that I have the ability to control these things just as well. I just have to constantly be in tune with how I feel, what my blood sugar levels are, and whether I’ve taken metformin.

I really would recommend talking to your endo about metformin if you find yourself struggling with weight or wacky blood sugar levels that are difficult to bring down no matter how much insulin you give yourself.

  1. insulin resistance:
  2. CDE:
  3. basal rate:

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Maryam Elarbi: Maryam Elarbi is an 18-year-old freshman in college who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 10. Eight months after her diagnosis, Maryam’s family began attending the “Children With Diabetes” conferences, which changed their entire view on Type 1 and how to cope with it. Over the past eight years, Maryam has been actively involved in advocating for people with Type 1 through these conferences, as well as fund-raising for diabetes research through JDRF’s annual “Walk to Cure Diabetes.” In her spare time, Maryam enjoys reading (especially works by Jane Austen and Kurt Vonnegut), writing, spending time in the beautiful city of Philadelphia, and defeating her brothers in the new “Dance Central 2″ game. (Maryam Elarbi is not a medical professional.)

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