Christmas Tree

How CGMs Can Help You Lose Weight

At Chain Effect, our dietitians are often asked the question, “Can CGMs help you lose weight?” Here, our expert dietitian Caroline Pope provides the answer.

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are regularly used by people with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels. While CGMs have traditionally been used by people with diabetes, they’re becoming popular with nondiabetics interested in losing weight or who want to gain insights into how food affects their bodies. If you don’t have diabetes and are wondering how you might benefit from using CGMs, learn more about what these devices are and how they could potentially help you lose weight.

What Is Continuous Glucose Monitoring?

Traditionally, continuous glucose monitoring refers to using a wearable device (a CGM) that regularly tracks a diabetic’s blood glucose levels 24 hours a day. While wearing a CGM, the device’s sensor is placed just below the skin, where it measures blood sugar levels in the interstitial fluid. After measuring blood sugar levels, the device transmits the results to a smartphone, smartwatch, insulin pump, or another display device.

With continuous glucose monitoring, diabetics can better manage diabetes. For example, the data provided by a CGM can help diabetics see how factors like stress, illness, exercise, and food affect their levels. These devices can also alert diabetics to potentially dangerous high or low blood sugar episodes, allowing them to take action quickly. CGMs also give healthcare providers the information they need to provide more personalized care and can reduce the number of fingerstick checks diabetics need.

What Is Continuous Glucose Monitoring for Nondiabetics?

Continuous glucose monitoring for nondiabetics allows people to track their blood glucose levels throughout the day with a CGM. While more commonly used by diabetics, CGMs for nondiabetics can help those with other conditions that impact glucose levels, such as glycogen storage diseases, insulinoma, obesity, and prediabetes. Many people without these conditions also use CGMs to track how their diet or workout routine affects their blood sugar. 

What Are the Benefits of CGMs for Weight Loss?

If you’re not diabetic, a CGM can still help you track how different foods and patterns of eating affect your blood glucose levels. High blood sugar levels can make it more difficult for your body to burn fat, as they cause your body to produce more insulin. Increased insulin levels signal to your body that it doesn’t need to use stored fat to fuel your body, resulting in your body storing excess glucose as fat and leading to weight gain. By monitoring glucose levels, you can spot foods that spike your levels and try to avoid them.

Besides giving you the data you need to know what foods to avoid, CGMs can work as a behavior tool that encourages you to control your diet. For example, a study found that 90% of participants felt wearing a GGM had helped them adopt a healthy lifestyle. This study also found that 87% of participants reported they changed their food choices following the use of a CGM. By increasing awareness of your blood glucose levels and giving you an easy way to monitor them, you’ll be far more likely to start making better diet choices.

What Are the Optimal Blood Sugar Levels for Weight Loss?

If you want to use your CGM for weight loss, knowing where your blood sugar levels should be is essential. Review the recommended blood sugar levels for weight loss in nondiabetics below:

  • Average glucose levels: Typically, your average glucose levels should be between 89-104 mg/dL. However, an optimal glucose average is between 79-100 mg/dL.
  • After-meal glucose: After you eat a meal, your blood sugar will rise. However, standard post-meal glucose levels will stay below 140 mg/dL, and if you want an optimal level, you’ll want your levels to stay below 110 mg/dL.
  • Fasting glucose: If you’re fasting, standard glucose levels should be below 100 mg/dL, but optimal levels will have your glucose levels staying between 72-85 mg/DL.

With your CGM, you’ll want to work towards keeping your glucose levels in the optimal range while fasting, after meals, and throughout your day. Keeping your glucose levels in the optimal ranges can prevent high blood sugar spikes that lead to greater fat storage and weight gain. If you notice your glucose levels are consistently under or over the standard levels, you’ll want to work with a dietitian to develop tests and experiments to better understand how your body is influenced by specific foods, timing of eating, and the order of eating different foods at meals.  If your blood sugar continues to be out of normal range, speak with your doctor since it could indicate you may have prediabetes or other conditions.

Can Continuous Glucose Monitoring for Athletes Improve Athletic Performance?

Currently, the use of CGMs for improved athletic performance doesn’t have much research supporting it. While some think CGMs for athletes may provide some benefit, almost all of the current research focuses on CGMs used for diabetics, with some discussing its potential for helping people lose weight. Besides the lack of available research, a CGM’s sensors may not provide accurate readings during vigorous exercising, meaning any results it picks up during an athlete’s workout could be misleading. 

However, athletes may benefit from using a CGM to track how the foods they eat before or after physical activity impact their blood glucose levels. For example, an athlete might see how eating different types of carbohydrates before a workout affects their blood glucose levels and performance, or how ordering their meals in a specific way can help their blood sugar response. If you plan on using a CGM to measure your levels before and after a workout, remember that high blood sugar levels are normal after a workout and don’t indicate you’re eating the wrong foods.

Can You Buy a CGM Over the Counter?

In the past, CGMs were only available to patients who had been prescribed them. However, in March of 2024, the FDA cleared the first over-the-counter CGM, which can be purchased over the counter starting in the summer of 2024.

What Is the Best CGM for Nondiabetics?

As of June 2024, the only CGM available for purchase over the counter is the Dexcom Stelo Glucose Biosensor System, which is the first CGM approved for over-the-counter sales. However, more CGMs will likely receive FDA approval in the future, with each trying to become the best CGM for nondiabetics.

How to Get a CGM Without Diabetes?

If you don’t have diabetes and would like to start using a CGM, you’ll need to wait for the release of the Dexcom Stelo Glucose Biosensor System. While the product has a general release date for the summer of 2024, it still hasn’t been offered for over-the-counter sales as of early June 2024. Unless a medical professional gives you a prescription for a CGM, you’ll need to wait for Dexcom’s FDA-approved CGM to be released later this summer.

Unlock Your CGMs Results With Chain Effect Dietitians

If you plan to purchase an over-the-counter CGM later this summer or have one prescribed to you already, Chain Effect can help you understand your results and take action based on them. 

Looking to maximize your blood sugar maintenance and understand how different foods and meal times can assist your maintenance?

Our team of registered dietitians and personal trainers can create a personalized dietary and exercise plan to optimize your blood sugar levels and help you reach your goals.

Learn more about our nutrition counseling and personal training services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, please contact us.

Authors

Our registered dietitians focus on accountability to build a trusting relationship and create a safe space to dig deep into your nutrition goals

Authored by:
Caroline Pope, MS, RDN, LDN

Caroline Pope began practicing as a Registered Dietitian in 2015 after completing her Master of Science in Nutrition from Meredith College and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill.