Can using a sensor that monitors your blood sugar really help you lose weight also?
The short answer is yes. But in this article I am going to explain HOW it can help with weight loss.
CGM or Continuous Glucose Monitoring has been a game changer for many people with diabetes. If you want to learn more about that check out my blog article that explains some basics on how they work.
Here are 7 ways CGM can help with weight loss if you know how to use it effectively.
1. The carb connection.
This is the biggest reason why CGM can help you lose weight. Both high blood sugar and unwanted weight gain are often a result of eating too much carbohydrate.
Carbohydrate is what we need for energy, but when we eat too much it can make our blood sugar go high AND the extra energy goes to fatty weight gain, especially belly fat.
Extra belly fat interferes with our body’s insulin working the way it should. That’s called insulin resistance, and it’s the main root cause of type 2 diabetes. Our body makes enough insulin, but can’t use it the way it should.
When you use CGM you see how high your blood sugar goes after you eat, and the more carbs you eat, usually the higher the blood sugar will spike. You can see in my example below where my blood sugar spiked over 200. That was a high carb meal. When I eat lower carb meals, I get smaller spikes.
2. Immediate feedback that’s personalized to you.
When you use CGM you can look at your blood sugar in the 2-3 hours after eating and see exactly what happened. If you track your carb intake and what you ate you will quickly start to connect the dots on how different amounts of carb affect your blood sugar, or even different types of foods or different times of day.
Each person has a unique situation of health concerns, genetics, activity level, work schedule, stress level, sleep situation, hormones, and other things that can affect weight and blood sugar. So two people can eat the same meal and yet have very different responses.
For many people, weight gain happens first, often years before diabetes is diagnosed. But with CGM you have the opportunity to prevent diabetes because you can catch higher than normal blood sugar patterns years before they become high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
3. The exercise effect.
Moving around and using muscles tends to keep blood sugar lower than sitting. Seeing your blood sugar go down after a walk or other exercise is very motivating.
You can experiment with how different types of activity or different times of day affect your blood sugar. And if you end up being more active, it can only help your weight loss efforts right?
In my CGM example below you can see the afternoon drop in my blood sugar after a 45 minute walk and 20 minutes of yoga. It bottomed out about 76, which made me feel hungry. I wanted to eat bunch of carbs but I kept it to 30 grams to avoid spiking up again. (the spike before my walk was because I ate chips).
4. The effect of fasting.
Since CGM measures your blood sugar constantly while you are wearing a sensor, you can see how your blood sugar does overnight when you are sleeping and not eating. For some, the longer they go without eating the closer their blood sugar will get to normal.
If you have diabetes, it is very common to see blood sugars go up a little overnight. Hormones that wake us up can cause an early morning rise in blood sugar.
Intermittent fasting has become popular lately to lose weight as well as help diabetes. It’s not something I would do without help from a health care professional if you have diabetes, but if you are using it, CGM would be a very valuable tool to see how that is affecting blood sugar.
5. The fat effect.
Fat is digested very slowly, over several hours. So when you eat a high fat meal that’s also high carb, such as fast food, your blood sugar stays up longer. Seeing that on the CGM graph can be a motivator to choose healthier meals and eating less fast food can definitely help you lose weight!
6. You can throw out the food rules .
You will find that all of the rules you have read or heard may not be reality. Even as a health care professional I have learned that there really are no rules that apply to everyone when it comes to food. This is one of the best things about CGM. YOU get to be in the driver’s seat instead of just blindly following instructions and not really knowing if they are working.
Once you get the information you need to get started with CGM, I also recommend working with an expert in interpreting CGM data to help you put things into perspective and answer questions. It will make CGM a much more valuable tool.
7. You see what happens when you have cravings.
If you have frequent cravings and can’t figure out how to beat them, CGM might just help you figure out what is triggering them. You can keep journal notes and make some connections once you see your blood sugar before and after cravings, and then pull in other puzzle pieces like stress, boredom, hormone effects, hunger level, alcohol, caffeine, diet soda and other possible factors.
That’s part of what I do in my program to help busy women lose weight. CGM is just one tool we can use to figure out the best nutrition and wellness plan for each person. If you would like more info on my program, click here to send me your questions!
You can learn more about Freestyle Libre here, an affordable CGM option for most, even without insurance.