Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Kayla
Are you tired of counting calories and looking for a sustainable way to lose weight? If so, using CGM for weight loss is one way to implement personalized solutions and adapt your eating behaviors for good.
As a Registered Dietitian and Bariatric Coach, I recognize that weight loss isn’t one-size-fits-all. Everyone has unique circumstances and lifestyle factors that impact their ability to lose and maintain weight.
CGM, or continuous glucose monitoring, is an effective, data-driven tool that can help identify patterns in your metabolism and reveal insights about how various foods impact your blood sugar levels. CGM provides flexibility to enjoy foods you love without being overly restrictive.
Read on to learn more about CGM for weight loss, including the benefits, drawbacks, and whether CGM is right for you.
What is CGM?
CGM stands for “continuous glucose monitoring.” Originally designed to help people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels, CGM allows you to view glucose readings in real-time – without the need for finger pricks.
Compared to traditional finger sticks, CGM technology tracks glucose continuously, taking readings every 1-5 minutes depending on the sensor. This information allows you to monitor trends and learn how certain meals, exercise, and stress impact your blood sugar levels.
Whether or not you have diabetes, CGM is a powerful tool to help you understand your body’s responses to specific foods and makes habit change more engaging. CGM puts you in the driver’s seat to manage symptoms of blood sugar imbalance and gives you the power to make informed decisions about your health.
How does CGM work?
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) works by applying a small sensor, about the size of a quarter, to the back of your arm. The device has a small microfilament that sits underneath the skin’s surface and measures glucose levels in interstitial fluid, or the fluid between your cells.
Technically, CGM does not provide “blood” glucose readings. Instead, glucose data from between the cells is extrapolated to predict blood glucose levels. Then, data from the CGM sensor is sent to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to instantly see your glucose readings and trends.
Popular sensors like the Freestyle Libre 2 hold glucose readings for up to 8 hours. To ensure all data is captured, you have to ‘scan’ the sensor with your smartphone at least every 8 hours.
Depending on where you order your sensors, you may have to download 1-2 mobile apps for a complete breakdown of your glucose readings. For example, I purchased my sensors from Veri and used the Veri mobile app which syncs seamlessly with the LibreLink app.
In the US, a prescription is necessary for CGM. With Veri, the process was simple. First, I registered online, then received a short medical questionnaire via email. Once the medical form was approved, my CGM supplies were shipped to my front door within a few days.
Applying the sensor takes less than five minutes. Watch me as I unbox and apply my CGM sensor from Veri.
Once the sensor is applied to the back of your arm, calibrating takes up to 24-48 hours. For example, my readings were relatively low for the first 1-2 days. Each sensor is single-use and lasts 14 days. At the end of your trial, simply remove and discard the sensor.
While it takes time upfront to read instructions and download mobile apps, using CGM for weight loss is convenient and provides 24/7 glucose monitoring in a user-friendly experience.
Benefits of using CGM for weight loss
Tracking glucose levels throughout the day is an invaluable tool for both people with diabetes and non-diabetics.
CGM provides useful, personalized data about how your body responds to different foods and activities, including:
- real-time glucose readings without the need for finger pricks
- learn how certain foods affect glucose
- glucose response to non-food factors such as exercise, stress, sleep, illness, medications, caffeine, alcohol, and more
- ability to receive alerts for high and low glucose readings
Whether you wear a CGM sensor for two weeks or two years, personal insights like this help you predict how specific foods and non-food factors affect your health and weight loss. Using CGM for weight loss empowers you to eat and move in ways that work best for you.
CGM helps you become more aware of the physical and emotional factors that impact your eating behaviors, leading to a more holistic approach to weight loss. With any new technology, though, there are downsides. So let’s look at some of the disadvantages of continuous glucose monitoring.
Disadvantages of CGM
Despite its advantages, CGM is not without its downsides. The disadvantages of CGM include:
- cost of CGM supplies and monitoring, which may not be covered by insurance
- potential for inaccurate readings
- inconvenience of scanning sensor every 8 hours
- measures only glucose (fructose and insulin readings are not captured)
- lack of knowledge on how to interpret data
Information overload can be one disadvantage of CGM. For this reason, hiring a coach who understands the importance of blood sugar balance or choosing a CGM service that includes dietitian services is helpful.
Popular CGM subscription services like Veri, NutriSense, Signos, and Levels range in price from $109 to $399 per month. If you’re willing and able to make the investment, using CGM for weight loss could be a game-changer for you.
How to use CGM to lose weight
Using CGM for weight loss is an invaluable tool to help make informed choices about what you eat and how you move. Specifically, CGM reveals how your body responds to carbohydrates and your favorite foods. This includes learning how “healthy” foods impact your glucose levels.
With CGM, you can experiment with different nutrition strategies to reduce glucose curves and improve your metabolic flexibility – the ability to switch between glucose and fat to fuel your body.
For example, one tactic I teach my clients is “cushion your carbs.” By pairing carbohydrates with other macronutrients like protein or fat, you can reduce glucose spikes and minimize symptoms of blood sugar imbalance.
To help select blood sugar-friendly food options, download a free copy of my dietitian-approved grocery list which includes an email mini-series for weight loss.
Overall, CGM allows you to create a flexible, personalized weight loss plan that works for you. With continuous feedback from CGM, you’ll learn how to enjoy foods you love without tediously counting calories or “hitting your macros.”
As a result, losing weight with CGM is both informative and rewarding, making it more likely that you change your eating behaviors for the long haul.
While CGM has its drawbacks, such as cost, the benefits far outweigh the downsides. Learning how specific foods and lifestyle factors influence your glucose levels empowers you to make informed and proactive decisions regarding your metabolic health.
As a Registered Dietitian, I’ve come to appreciate how many of today’s chronic health conditions –including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes – stem from blood sugar imbalance. This is why my online community for women after bariatric surgery involves teaching women how to manage their blood sugar to lose weight and keep it off for good!
Learn more about working with me and apply for CGM-based coaching today!
Looking ahead, I predict that CGMs will eventually be standard protocol for future weight management programs. Because of the personalized feedback and real-time data CGM provides, I hope we get there sooner than later!
Helping women after bariatric surgery lose weight without eating “perfect.” Learn how to balance blood sugar & optimize your “tool” today! Apply to learn more!
This post may contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase through any of the links, there is no additional cost to you, and I may earn a small (and very appreciated) commission. Thank you for your support!