Did you know that Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM) are now used for weight loss? These monitors, previously only for diabetic patients, are now used by non-diabetic people for health, energy, athletic performance, and losing weight. Read on to find out if a CGM would be helpful for you.
- Quick Review: Pros & Cons to Continuous Glucose Monitoring for Weight Loss
- What is a CGM?
- Why Non-Diabetic CGM?
- How Can a CGM Help You Lose Weight?
- CGM Review: What I Learned from Using a Monitor
- Tips to Balance Your Blood Sugar – Reduce Food Cravings & Increase Energy
- 15+ Healthier Foods that Can (Surprisingly!) Spike Blood Sugar
- Is a CGM Right for You to Help with Weight Loss?
- Review: CGM for Weight Loss
- Nutrisense Coupon Code
Disclosure: Nutritisense gave me the opportunity to test a CGM and share about my experience. I was given the monitor free of charge. This review and opinions are mine alone. If you are new to The Holy Mess, you can read my 100+ pound weight loss story and see before and after photos here.
Quick Review: Pros & Cons to Continuous Glucose Monitoring for Weight Loss
After wearing a monitor for two weeks, here’s a highlight of my take on using a CGM with dieting.
Pros to CGMs
- A CGM gives personalized insight into how your body is affected by specific foods like coffee, potatoes, rice, cereals, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and junk foods.
- Keeping blood sugar steady may lead to increased energy and reduce cravings, which can make weight loss easier. (But keep in mind that body fat loss is ultimately about calories, not blood glucose levels.)
- Nutrisense offers an impressive CGM program if you want to invest in one.
Cons to CGMs
- CGMs are not cheap, and at this time they are only covered by insurance if you are diabetic and your doctor writes a prescription for one.
- There’s still debate in the medical community if there’s any concern about blood sugar spikes and crashes for non-diabetic people. When your body is working properly to adjust for these, you may not be affected much by blood sugar changes.
- A CGM records blood sugar changes. While these could have an impact on food cravings and energy levels, ultimately fat loss comes from calorie reduction, not blood sugar control.
What is a CGM?
A Continuous Glucose Monitor is a small device that stays on the back of your arm and monitors your glucose values 24/7.
With a CGM, you get real-time data that shows your body’s response to:
- Foods you eat
- Meal timing
- and more
Why Non-Diabetic CGM?
CGMs were originally developed to monitor blood sugar for type 1 and 2 diabetics. There can be benefits to wearing a device even if you aren’t diabetic since it provides real-time readings of your blood sugar levels so you can optimize your diet and lifestyle habits.
CGM use is part of a growing trend of precision nutrition, or biohacking, which is adjusting general health advice to fit the unique needs of your body.
According to Forbes, Glucose Monitoring for non-diabetics is on the rise as a way to enhance wellness.
How Can a CGM Help You Lose Weight?
A glucose monitor does not directly lead to weight loss. Body fat loss comes from eating fewer calories than you burn.
While the app that comes with the sensor allows you to track calories, the feedback from the sensor is specifically designed for watching blood sugar trends.
The belief is that by moderating blood sugar to be more steady throughout the day (with small peaks and valleys within a healthy range), you can:
- Reduce food cravings
- Increase energy
- Reduce excess hunger
- Improve sleep
- and more
What are the ideal blood sugar levels for weight loss? Nutrisense recommends a target glucose level of 70-140 mg/dL.
My blood sugar tended to run on the lower side, so the dietician gave me permission to adjust my range to 60-140. There is personal variability that can be normal and perfectly healthy.
CGM Review: What I Learned from Using a Monitor
Here’s what my experience with a CGM was like.
Day 1 – July 20th – Getting Started
I was nervous to put the sensor on my arm since it has a needle. How much was this going to hurt? Would I pass out? I had my son help me just in case, but I had no reason to worry. It didn’t hurt at all. The muscles in that arm were a bit sore for about 24 hours, similar in feeling to the dull ache after a weight lifting workout.
One device lasts about 14 days.
I attended a Zoom training session led by the nutritionists at Nutrisense. I learned about using the app, the sensor, and the basics of glucose control. The monitor started picking up readings right away, although we were told that they aren’t fully accurate until the first 24-48 hours have passed.
I was impressed with the training Nutrisense provides. There are live Zoom training sessions weekly, in addition to a whole learning series of lessons available on the app to watch anytime.
The monitor didn’t bother me at all during the day. Sometimes I felt a bit of a twinge when I rolled on it during sleep, but it wasn’t painful.
Patches are optional to protect the device. Nutrisense provides them for free. You can also purchase additional ones (including flesh-colored ones) on Amazon.
Day 2 – July 21 – Calibrating
The CGM is calibrating and will continue to become more accurate over the next day. I can already see trends in my blood sugar.
So far I’ve learned:
- Black coffee does not impact my blood sugar. Hooray! (It causes spikes for some people.)
- My blood sugar is stable in the morning and becomes more variable as the day goes on. (This isn’t true for everyone. Some people see a spike in the morning, called the dawn effect.)
- I’ve been tracking food in the Nutrisense app and I love the AI technology they include. The program guesses what foods I ate based me typing just one word or phrase, or when I upload a photo. This saves tons of time tracking, and I hope that Weight Watchers and My Fitness Pal add this technology soon.
(The cracker in the photo is Top Seedz.)
Day 3 – July 22 – Geeking Out on Numbers
I’m one of these nerds who likes to geek out on numbers like with a FitBit, Apple Watch, or the WW app, so I’m having great fun with the Nutrisense monitor. It takes readings every 15 minutes, so almost immediately I get to see how foods, exercise, and other activities affect me.
Currently, Nutrisense is using the Freestyle Libre monitor, which requires holding the device up to the sensor on your arm to take a scan. (Newer models instantly upload data to the app, which would be nice.)
I experimented with eating frosting off a slice of cake and saw just now much it spiked (and then crashed) my blood sugar. I wasn’t surprised, but I admit it was a bit alarming to see the dramatic impact. I ate it after a meal, so I had protein, fiber, and healthy fat first, too, which somewhat blunts blood sugar spikes.
Day 4 – July 23 – Trying for an Ideal Day
Today I tried for an “ideal” blood sugar day in order to have a baseline of what a day of controlled blood sugar would look like for me.
Blood sugar variations are completely normal. The goal is to keep levels within a healthy range and not have too many huge spikes and dips.
Now that I know what my healthy range looks like, I can test more foods.
Day 5 – 7/25 – Healthy Foods Can Spike Blood Sugar
A huge benefit of working with Nutrisense is that they offer dietician support. The first month of support is free with enrollment, then it’s $99 a month thereafter. I found the dietician friendly, helpful and supportive. We talked via private message chat within the app.
One of the surprises for me was how much certain fruits spiked my blood sugar, especially watermelon and tropical fruits.
Some people see a spike from no-calorie or low-calorie sweeteners. I didn’t see this with the foods I tried, which included Lily’s chocolate and Halo Top ice cream.
Day 6 – Testing Foods
As I continued testing, I’ve noticed that healthier foods like oats and fruit cause a blood sugar spike, but the return to normal is more gradual, and I don’t see the drastic dip like I did after eating sweetened junk food.
Day 7 – More Testing
While I’m not typically a big fan of protein bars (which I consider little more than glorified candy bars), we had an early morning meeting at my son’s school so I grabbed one for a quick on-the-go breakfast.
This Ratio bar did not spike my blood sugar, but it also didn’t fill me up. I was starving an hour later and ended up eating my usual eggs and vegetables mid-morning.
Tips to Balance Your Blood Sugar – Reduce Food Cravings & Increase Energy
Whether you choose to invest in a CGM or not, here are some helpful tips to balance your blood sugar. These tips are beneficial for everyone, and especially those of us trying to lose weight.
- Move after meals. A short walk is ideal, but even getting up and doing the dishes helps.
- ACV hack. Try drinking a shot of apple cider vinegar before high-carb meals.
- Protein is king. Eat protein with every meal and snack.
- No naked carbs. Eat carbs with some protein, fiber and fat to slow digestion and prevent spikes.
- Be smart about meal sequence. Start meals with high-fiber veggies, then eat protein and fat, then carbs.
- Watch healthy carbs. Even healthy foods like oats, bananas, apples and rice can spike blood sugar. Don’t eliminate them, but try some of these other tips when eating them. Also, watch portion size. Bigger portions mean more carbs (and calories).
- Blood sugar isn’t everything. See the Ratio bar example above during Day 7.
- Watch no-calorie sweeteners. I didn’t see a spike with the types I tried, but some people do. Watch especially for sugar alcohols such as maltitol.
- Every body is different. This is where using a sensor can be helpful to learn what works for you specific body.
15+ Healthier Foods that Can (Surprisingly!) Spike Blood Sugar
Here are some healthier foods that can spike blood sugar for some people. You can still enjoy these foods, but try pairing them with protein, fiber, and healthy fat, and consider eating smaller portions.
- Sushi and Chinese food (which is often made with additional sugar)
- Oatmeal and oatmilk
- Granola, energy, and protein bars
- Pineapple, mango and other tropical fruits
- Dried fruit, including raisins
- Sweet potatoes – for many people, sweet potatoes spike glucose more than white potatoes.
- Yogurt sweetened with sugar
- Fruit and vegetable juices
Is a CGM Right for You to Help with Weight Loss?
Are you are considering using a monitor as part of your weight loss journey? Here’s my take.
Who a Glucose Monitor is good for
It goes without saying that if you are diabetic and your doctor recommends it, you should certainly use a CGM.
For those of us who are not diabetic, consider investing in a CGM if you have one of the following:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Want improved athletic performance
- Geek out on data
- Believe that specific foods, especially carbs, may be affecting you negatively
- You have energy crashes and surges throughout the day
- You are vegan, vegetarian, or follow a Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) diet – Because this diet is high in carbs and lower in protein, you can determine how that way of eating impacts your body’s regulation, cravings, and energy.
Who a CGM is NOT right for
While these monitors provide helpful information, they aren’t right for everyone.
A glucose monitor is not right for you if:
- You are scared of needles.
- You can’t afford it. (While it’s valuable data, it’s not necessary in order to lose weight.)
- You find that extra data can trip you up, make you anxious, to drive you to overeat or binge.
My take: Use of a CGM for non-diabetics is an interesting biohack to learn from, but certainly not required for weight loss.
Review: CGM for Weight Loss
If you are trying to decide which CGM is right for you for non-diabetic use, I recommend Nutrisense for these reasons:
- Excellent app that is user-friendly, especially with the new artificial intelligence (AI) food tracking features
- Good dietician support
- Helpful webinars and learning modulues
- Facebook group for members, with dieticians actively involved in the group.
- Get 20% off with coupon code HOLYMESS20.
- Take their free quiz to see if a CGM could benefit you.
Nutrisense Coupon Code
Nutrisense has graciously provided a coupon code for Holy Mess readers, and I believe their program offers the best CGM for weight loss.
HOLYMESS20 for 20% off at the Nutrisense website.
Will you try a CGM for weight loss or health reasons? Share about it in the comments below.
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