foods to avoid while taking metformin

Metformin (brand name Glucophage) is an oral diabetes medication that lowers blood glucose levels by decreasing the amount of glucose your liver releases into the bloodstream and helping your body respond more effectively to insulin. 

When taking the popular diabetes drug Metformin, it’s essential to avoid certain foods to help lower your chance of experiencing common side effects like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and flatulence. 

Look at the top 10 foods to avoid while taking Metformin and potential alternatives.

  1. Oils
  2. Carbonated Drinks
  3. Pickled Vegetables
  4. Caffeine (Coffee/Tea)
  5. Nuts and Seeds
  6. Fried Meats, Poultry, Seafood, and Meat by-products
  7. Caffeinated Drinks and Soda
  8. Dairy Products
  9. Mushrooms
  10. Some Leafy Greens


Oils high in unsaturated fats, including sunflower, safflower, and corn oil, can interfere with metformin’s absorption into your bloodstream. 

When combined with a meal containing fat, as most meals do, you risk taking in too much of either substance which could lead to unpleasant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

To avoid these unfortunate circumstances while eating at home or dining out, opt for one of several options.

Cut back on how often you consume foods containing oils, switch to cooking methods that reduce fat content, like steaming or boiling, or use smaller portions of healthy oils like olive oil.

Carbonated Drinks:

Carbonated drinks, such as soda or sparkling water, contain a lot of bubbles. And if you’re taking metformin to reduce your blood sugar levels, you’ll want to avoid these because they can make you burp or cause gastrointestinal issues. 

That’s not to say you should give up all carbonated beverages while taking metformin, but stick to non-carbonated options like seltzer or club soda instead. If your doctor has warned you against drinking alcohol with metformin, it’s essential not to mix them.

Alcohol releases acid in your stomach and can change how well metformin works. If anything makes you feel sick (including alcohol) when taking metformin, call your doctor as soon as possible.

Pickled Vegetables:

Pickled vegetables are high in histamine, which interacts with metformin to raise blood sugar. If you’re taking metformin and want to eat pickles, ask your doctor about taking Benadryl (diphenhydramine). 

The medication will also make it more difficult to fall asleep at night if you take it before bed; it might be better to just avoid pickled foods while on metformin. If you’re taking metformin and choose not to take Benadryl or avoid pickled foods, 

it might be a good idea to monitor your blood sugar levels after eating large amounts of vinegar or dill to ensure they remain normal.

Caffeine (Coffee/Tea):

Drinking a lot of coffee, particularly caffeine, can increase your risk of lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is a rare complication that can occur in people with type 1 diabetes who take certain diabetes pills and those who are on dialysis for kidney failure. 

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain or discomfort. You might have trouble breathing or feel weak or tired. Drink less than two cups (500 ml) of coffee daily while taking metformin and less than one cup (250 ml) if you have kidney failure. 

Your doctor may also recommend you stop drinking caffeinated drinks while taking metformin if they raise too much blood sugar.

Nuts and Seeds:

Did you know that eating certain foods, such as nuts and seeds, while taking metformin can raise your blood sugar and increase your insulin levels? 

That’s why it’s important to read food labels to see whether or not they contain any of these ingredients while taking metformin.

Fortunately, these types of foods are often relatively easy to avoid. For example, try buying trail mix without nuts in it!  

Fried Meats, Poultry, Seafood, and Meat by-products:

Because metformin can cause lactic acid to build up in your blood, you should avoid high-protein foods. Specifically, fried meats and any kind of poultry should be avoided as they’re high in fat and protein. 

If you’re not careful about what you eat, lactic acidosis could lead to a dangerous buildup of acids in your blood (metabolic acidosis) and kidneys (renal failure). 

As with most medications, moderation is key; while eating meat is generally considered healthy while taking metformin, it needs to be consumed occasionally. After all, excess protein or fat can cause complications if not monitored properly.

Caffeinated Drinks and Soda:

Researchers say consuming caffeinated drinks or soda while taking metformin may increase your risk of lactic acidosis, a dangerous medical condition in which excess lactic acid levels build up in your blood and tissues. 

To avoid problems, drink plenty of water throughout the day instead. Metformin is generally considered a safe drug with few severe side effects. Still, talk to your doctor before starting a new diet and exercise program while on metformin; 

they can help you assess whether these changes are right for you or if they might pose an increased risk of side effects. If you’re on medication such as metformin and experiencing severe symptoms, such as vomiting, dehydration, drowsiness, or fatigue, seek emergency medical attention.

Dairy Products:

Dairy products contain casein, which takes longer to digest than most other proteins. If you’re taking metformin to help your body manage its insulin levels, you’ll want to avoid dairy products because their slower digestion can cause a spike in blood sugar levels later on. 

The following types of dairy should be eliminated from your diet: milk (regular, skim, and soy), cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, and any foods that contain these ingredients.

 Instead of consuming these popular food sources for calcium and protein with your meals, consider non-dairy substitutes such as almond milk or soy milk for adding flavor and nutrients to your diet while on metformin.


Some mushrooms contain compounds that can slow down your body’s ability to process metformin, reducing how well it works to help with blood sugar control. 

That’s why people taking metformin should avoid eating wild mushrooms like chanterelles and shiitake, as well as any white or brown mushrooms like portabella, button, crimini, and oyster.

One exception is canned straw mushrooms (also called shitake), but only if they’re packed in water instead of oil.

If you aren’t sure about whether a mushroom is on your list of Foods to Avoid While Taking Metformin (check with your doctor first), stick to packaged varieties. They tend to be reliably free of dangerous additives.

Some Leafy Greens:

While taking metformin, you should monitor your family members’ intake of green leafy vegetables. Often referred to as cruciferous vegetables, these greens have a slightly bitter taste and can negatively affect how well your body absorbs metformin. 

The most common cruciferous vegetables are cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. When you’re on a dose over 1,000 mg daily (if your doctor recommends), avoid eating these for at least 24 hours before or after taking a metformin dose. 

Otherwise, try sprinkling some non-cruciferous veggies like carrots and tomatoes into your next salad!


Before taking any medication, it’s a good idea to do some research, and it will help you decide if specific side effects are worth getting for those who need them. Above is a list of 10 Foods to Avoid While Taking Metformin.

Also, read How Much Vitamin C Should I Take With MSM?

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