If you’re into life extension, I’m sure you’ve heard of metformin.
It’s a drug that inhibits hepatic glucose output and reduces inflammation in muscle. It’s among the top 10 most widely prescribed drugs in the US, and many people think it can increase healthspan and lifespan.
But if you’re into lifting and exercise, recent results suggest you may want to hold off on taking metformin. Walton et al. (2019) found that metformin blunts muscle hypertrophy (in older adults who lift). Similar results were found by Malin et al. (2012) in adults with prediabetes.
But what about cardio? No cookie. Konopka et al. (2019) found that metformin inhibits mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic exercise training as well.
Circling back to mechanisms, metformin reduces inflammation in muscle. But inflammation probably plays a role in muscular adaptations to training. So I’m thinking that’s where metformin interferes.
If you have diabetes, it makes sense to take metformin. But if you’re healthy, you keep fit, and you’re just looking to boost health and lifespan, these results suggest you should stay away from it.
One of the best things you can do to boost health
While we’re at it: lifting weights is one of the best things you can do to prevent diabetes and boost health. When you start out, it’s easy to make progress. But as you get more advanced, you need a good program. Getting a trainer to customize your program is your best option, but that’s expensive. That’s why we built Dr. Muscle. It’s a trainer in your phone that’s always up to date and 10 times cheaper than a human trainer. It doesn’t do everything a human trainer does, but it sure beats following a random program you download from the Web.
Zooming out, I believe many of the “life extension” drugs may work for people who don’t exercise and eat junk. But when you exercise, fast, and eat sensibly, I’m not sure medication really helps.