When Should I Take My Diabetes Tablets? Frequency, Type, a Guide

Posted December 23, 2019 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

It’s not always obvious when you should take your diabetes tablets. So, we’ve put together this guide on when you should take them depending on which type you have.

As we offer a wide range of drugs available on our patient assistance program, we’re able to provide a comprehensive answer on this subject.

So, first, here’s the quick takeaway answer, then we’ll dive into more details.

diabetes tablets

When should I take my diabetes tablets? When you should take diabetes tablets depends on the type of tablet and how it works. Some tablets need to be taken with meals, whereas some before and some after meals. Some tablets will also need to be taken during a specific period or at the same time of each day.

Read on to learn about when your particular diabetes medication should ideally be taken. Look to work this into your daily routine.

Diabetes tablets are for people with type two diabetes mellitus. These diabetes tablets are also known as oral hypoglycemics (meaning glucose-lowering medications) or antihyperglycemics (meaning stopping high blood glucose levels).

Diabetes tablets are prescribed for people with type two diabetes – mostly when their blood sugar levels cannot be controlled by diet and exercise alone.

While tablets can be beneficial to prevent diabetes patients from diabetic complications, the appropriate time or when the tablets should be taken is very crucial. 

When Should I Take My Diabetes Tablets?

There are a number of diabetes tablets that are available to treat type 2 diabetes. You will need to understand the dosage for the tablet that has been prescribed to you.

With every tablet varying from one another, the appropriate time to take each of them will vary significantly. So below is a clear breakdown of diabetes tablets, how they work and the best time to take them.


Metformin (Glucophage, Fortamet, Riomet, and Glumetza) are biguanide. These tablets decrease the amount of glucose released from the liver. It also boosts your body’s sensitivity toward insulin.

And at the same time, it may also improve cholesterol levels and might even help you lose a bit of weight. For reducing the unwanted gastrointestinal side effects, diabetes medications containing metformin should be taken twice a day with or at the end of a meal.

You can take metformin during breakfast or your evening meal. Metformin extended-release is taken once a day with or at the end of breakfast.

Be sure to tell your healthcare provider when you’re having a dye study or surgical procedure, for which the intake of medication should be changed or stopped. 


[Glimepiride (Amaryl), Glyburide (DiaBeta, Micronase), Glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL) and Micronized glyburide (Glynase)]

These are fast-acting tablets used in treating type 2 diabetes. These tablets stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin right after a meal and to continue for several hours after that. 

Sulfonylureas are recommended to be taken once a day with a meal. It can also be taken twice a day with a meal if not effective. However, since these medications release more insulin, the intake of this medication can cause low blood glucose easily. So always make sure you carry a source of carbohydrate with you. 

When taking these medications, it’s advisable for you to follow your meal plan and activity programs. If your blood glucose levels consistently reduce you might have to stop the tablet and consult your doctor. 

If there is a spike in your activity level, weight loss or reduction in calorie intake, your dose may need to be lowered. That is from twice a day to once a day or if you’re already taking once a day the dosage will have to be reduced further.


Repaglinide (Prandin) and Nateglinide (Starlix) are meglitinides. These tablets stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin just after a meal.

This quick release of insulin after a meal helps in reducing high blood glucose levels. However, unlike sulfonylureas, these medications do not cause low blood glucose levels. So, as you might be able to guess, you should always take meglitinides with a meal. If you skip a meal, you should skip the dose. 


Rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos) are thiazolidinediones. This increases the amount of glucose absorbed by muscle cells while controlling the liver from overproducing glucose.

At the same time, this medication improves your HDL (good) cholesterol. All in all, this medication makes your body sensitive to the effects of insulin. Thiazolidinediones should be taken once a day and most importantly taken at the same time every day.

Dipeptidyl-peptidase 4 (DPP-4) inhibitors

DPP-4 inhibitors such as Sitagliptin (Januvia), Saxagliptin (Onglyza) and Linagliptin (Tradjenta), improves the insulin release after a meal and at the same time lowers the amount of glucose made by the body. This results in an overall stabilization of blood sugar levels. 

These medications are also called incretin enhancers, or gliptins. These inhibitors should be taken once a day and at the same time each day. These medications can be taken alone or as a combination with metformin, sulfonylurea or Actos.  

Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

Acarbose (Precose) and miglitol (Glyset) are alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. This works by slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates into the bloodstream.

As such the absorption of carbohydrates into the vessel is slowed down. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors should be taken once a day with a meal. Although it’s recommended to take it with breakfast. And if you skip the meal do not take this medication.

Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors

Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 work by stopping the kidneys from reabsorbing the glucose released. They also help in lowering blood pressure and weight loss.

Sometimes these medications are combined into one pill or tablet such as canagliflozin (Invokana), dapagliflozin (Farxiga), empagliflozin (Jardiance) and ertuglifozin (Steglatro).

SGLT2 are not prescribed on their own, they are used in combination with other medications. 

SGLT2 is also available in combination with metformin such as dapagliflozin plus metformin (brand name Xigduo) and empagliflozin plus metformin (brand name Jardiamet). They are also available combined with DPP-4 inhibitors (gliptins) such as dapagliflozin plus saxagliptin (brand name Qtern) and empagliflozin plus linagliptin (brand name Glyxambi). These are prescribed to be taken once daily.

Bile Acid Sequestrants

Colesevelam (Welchol) is a bile acid Sequestrants that works with other diabetes medications to lower blood glucose levels.

Bile Acid Sequestrants are taken once or twice a day with a meal and liquid. If you take thyroid medication or glyburide you are advised to take them 4 hours before taking Colesevelam (Welchol).       

When to Take Diabetes Tablets – General Advice

diabetes tablets

For any diabetes tablet to be effective, when you take them is crucial and directly impacts the effectiveness of the drug.

The most important thing when deciding when to take your medication is to ensure you’re consistent with your doses each day without missing them.

In conjunction with this, rigorous planning on when you should take your diabetes tablet is making sure you’re maintaining a healthy diet with regular physical activities.

Diabetes Coupons

Prescription Hope can provide you with access to all of these medications on our patient assistance program. If you need coupons towards your diabetes medications, then apply today and we’ll be able to help.

To Finish

We hope this guide has been useful as a quick reference. As always, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor or relevant medical practitioner if you feel something is wrong or needs clarification concerning your dose and frequency.

If you have any questions about how Prescription Hope can help you save money for any other drugs that we offer, or, if you’re having trouble affording any of the medications you’ve been prescribed, then contact us. Visit the enrollment page to create an account and fill out an application and let us save you money!