Over the last almost decade of working with clients who want help losing weight (among other goals), I am always surprised at the various strategies they’ve been told will work (and essentially end up being another fad diet that doesn’t work). For today’s article, I want to talk about how glucose monitoring is a science-backed, effective, strategy for long-term weight loss.
Let’s start with how blood sugar influences weight. First of all, when we eat something that increases our blood sugar, our body releases insulin to take that sugar and put it into our cells for energy. This is a normal, healthy process. When it can become a problem is when the blood sugar spikes are too high, too often. Our cells can become ‘resistant’ or desensitized to the insulin. This is also known as insulin resistance, and our body requires more insulin to do the same job that it would have before.
Insulin is a fat-storage hormone so when we have chronically elevated levels of insulin (driven by high blood sugar), our body stores energy as fat, leading to weight gain.
You may be of the camp that if you just eat less, the weight will come off. The problem is that as you eat less, your body is smart and it reduces your metabolic rate to preserve energy. Not only that but long term, and we’ve seen this in clients with a history of yo-yo dieting, this can negatively affect your thyroid (which impacts metabolism and weight) and lead to major nutrient deficiencies.
Further, particularly if you are female, undereating can be a major stressor on your hormones. Stressors increase cortisol, a stress hormone, which in and of itself can elevate insulin and also lead to weight gain.
The long and the short of it is that undereating doesn’t typically lead to easy, long-term weight-loss.
Every single one of us responds slightly differently to different foods, stressors, and exercise. In fact, according to Harvard, when looking at individual responses to the same food, they’ve found a wide variation in blood glucose even when people are eating an identical meal.
When you track your own blood sugar with continuous glucose monitoring, you get to see EXACTLY how a meal influences your blood sugar. Not only does this individual data help educate you on your own physiology, but it also proves motivating because you can finally see exactly how your body metabolizes different foods.
For me personally, and the members of our last round of the Balance Your Blood Sugar Program, someone can tell you that certain meals tend not to be conducive to blood sugar balance (and therefore weightloss), but actually seeing the data in real-time when you’re using a CGM really solidifies your understanding.
In research shared on Pubmed, the following results occurred for people using a glucose monitor to lose weight: