Can a glucose monitor help you lose weight (and is it a good idea if you aren’t diabetic)?

by | Jul 10, 2023 | 6 comments

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Have you heard about glucose monitoring in people who don’t have diabetes? This is a new trend I’m seeing in people who are trying to live their healthiest lives.  Is this a good idea?  Let’s dive into the pros and cons so that you can make your own informed decision.


First you will need to understand how your blood glucose works.  If you don’t have diabetes, your body will naturally regulate your blood sugar levels. After you eat, your body digests the food into tiny components to extract the nutrients which are absorbed from your gut into your bloodstream. Any food with glucose as a component (carbohydrates) will be broken down so that the glucose can enter your blood.  When the blood glucose level rises, your pancreas releases insulin, which causes the body to absorb glucose from the blood (to be used for energy) thereby lowering blood sugar levels back to normal.  Low blood glucose isn’t good either, so if your blood sugar levels get too low, the hormone glucagon is released which causes the liver to help release stored glucose back into the blood. This way our body naturally keeps blood glucose levels within a normal healthy range.


Now that you understand more about blood glucose levels, let’s talk about how “Continuous Glucose Monitors” (CGMs) work. These monitors use tiny sensor wires that pierce your skin so that they can assess your blood sugar levels. The wires remain in place, usually on the upper arm or abdomen, protected by an adhesive patch. Your blood glucose numbers are displayed on your phone or another device.


Is glucose in the blood a problem in a person without diabetes?  How important are these numbers? Why would a person who doesn’t have diabetes want to monitor their blood sugar? The CGM marketing sells the notion that “optimizing” blood sugar can help you attain peak mental or physical performance. Some CGM makers suggest that knowing your blood sugar can help you make changes to keep it in an “ideal range” that will help you perform your best, prevent disease, lose weight, or improve your health in some way. Unfortunately there hasn’t been enough research to confirm that any of these claims are accurate. 


The CGM might also help someone feel like they have more control over their health.  Let’s face it- health tracking is a big market at the moment.  We can track our calories, our nutrient intakes, our sleep, our steps, etc. It seems that we like to gather information about our bodies that might be interesting, even if we don’t know exactly what to do with the information.  If you are someone who loves science and learning about what happens in your body when you eat different foods you may find it interesting to see what effects various foods have on your blood glucose levels.  Just like weighing yourself, this is one aspect of your body’s response to food that you can measure. 




One of the potential problems with CGM is that you would have to allow for natural reasonable ups and downs. Some people can become so focused on trying to level their glucose spike that they might choose a less healthy food over healthy foods solely based on the blood glucose reaction.  For example, someone might choose to eat a steak full of saturated fat for dinner and skip the nutrient dense, fiber-filled vegetables and whole grains because of the lower glucose response.  They also might choose to skip a nutrient dense food in exchange for a “sugar-free” food with chemicals that might alter hormone balance, hunger responses, or their micro biome simply because they’re focused on that glucose number.




Another potential problem is the psychology of becoming too worried about the numbers.  Instead of listening to your body you might make choices solely based on the numbers you see.  It can become a type of disordered eating. People can become obsessive about lots of things like exercising a certain amount, calorie counting, managing macronutrients, etc., and this is another tool that many might be tempted to put too much time and energy into, with it an unhealthy attachment to the numbers.




In conclusion, is it necessary to monitor your blood glucose all the time if you’re not diabetic?  At this point based on the lack of evidence and the potential problems, I’m going to say no. I think that most of us (who are not diabetic) would be better off trying to live our best lives while enjoying a generally healthy, balanced diet and movement routine.  Choose lots of whole foods full of fiber which helps naturally balance blood glucose levels and move your body which also helps. We simply don’t need more stress (and stress can increase your blood glucose, so there you have it).  


Do you have a nutrition or weight loss related question for Rebecca? Please let us know what you’d like to learn more about in the comments below!

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  1. Kim

    Thank you for this article. As a Type 1 Diabetic, I have struggled with the popularity of CGM’s to monitor what your body does naturally when there are people that need this technology and can’t afford it.

  2. Mary Ann

    Interesting article. I agree, too much counting and tracking can be stressful – I like learning to listen to my body as Jessica Smith advocates!

    Do you have any articles on dairy? Seems like a lot of “clean eating” advocates stay away from dairy. I don’t care for almond milk, oat milk , etc. I know it’s maybe lower in calories and sugar, but I prefer the taste and texture of regular milk. In baking, sure – but I rarely buy almond milk or other alternatives because I drink milk. I’ve heard dairy can be problematic – and can increase bloating/weight. Is this true?

    • Jessica Smith

      Thanks for reading and for your great question Mary Ann. We have shared it with Rebecca for future posts, please stay tuned! 🙂

  3. Mary Anne

    Thanks so much for the information presented here about glucose monitoring. I never really considered it.
    I do have a question for a possible future post – how much protein is the “right” amount to aim for? I’ve packed on a few extra pounds in the past year and know my diet needs better balance overall in my macronutrients, but if I’m not conscious of it, I also know I typically eat very little protein in a day. What’s a good goal? Thanks!


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