wearing a continuous glucose monitor

Wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor: What I learned

How can wearing a continuous glucose monitor help you improve your health?

If you’re relatively young, and in good shape you properly think there isn’t much utility in wearing a continuous glucose monitor. I thought the same thing until one winter after the holidays I had noticed I had put on 5-10 lbs. I was committed to shedding the weight. The only problem was I couldn’t.

At the time, I was already practicing a pretty healthy diet.  I kept sugar low, ate whole, real foods, and went moderately low carb.  

But for me, this wasn’t enough to see the type of results that I was looking for.  The type of results I was looking for could only come with precise measurement. 

It was at this moment that I started to think outside of the box.

I had always been able to lose weight and get in shape when I was at my most insulin sensitive. I thought it would be really valuable for me to track my blood glucose levels. So, it was at this point that I started wearing a continuous glucose monitor to monitor my blood sugar levels. Wearing a continuous glucose monitor enabled me to have the type of precise measurements I was looking for. 

Insulin Sensitivity

So what does your blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity have to do with losing weight and getting jacked? A whole lot; actually.

One aspect of nutrition that I have come to learn more about is insulin sensitivity.  The more insulin sensitive a person is, the easier it is for them to lose fat and gain muscle.  Anything that helps lose fat and gain muscle is like the holy grail for anybody looking to improve their bodies

How Insulin Works

Here’s how insulin sensitive works: the cells in your body have glucose transporters (GLUT4) located on their membranes.  Their job is to let in the glucose in your bloodstream after you have eaten a meal. 

When you eat food, insulin gets secreted from the pancreas.  The insulin is like a key that binds to the insulin receptors on the cell membrane which then triggers the glucose transporters to allow nutrients to enter into your cells.  (With diabetes type 1, your pancreas doesn’t create insulin, and therefore, you can’t absorb the nutrients from the food you eat.)  

When someone has sensitive insulin receptors, it means that it doesn’t take very much insulin to trigger the transportation of glucose into the cells.  On the other hand, when someone is insulin insensitive, it means it takes excess insulin to elicit a response from your insulin receptors, and the transportation of glucose from the bloodstream into the cells is inefficient.

Insulin Insensitivity

When someone becomes insulin insensitive, what happens is their blood sugar levels stay elevated for a longer period of time.  An insulin sensitive individual is able to remove blood sugar efficiently.

When blood sugar levels stay elevated for long periods of time (like years) it can lead to metabolic diseases like diabetes.  It also leads to fat gain and muscle loss.  A double whammy. 

“A Traffic Jam” of Sugar In Your Blood Stream

In many ways you can think of elevated blood glucose levels like having a traffic jam on a highway.  The sugar in your blood is like a bunch of cars trying to get to their end destination. 

In this analogy the end destination would be your cells.  When the sugar can’t get into the cells efficiently, it blocks up other nutrients that are trying to reach the cells; this is the traffic jam

Nutrients, like more sugars and nutrients like amino acids, can no longer enter into your cells.  Your muscles can’t get the necessary amino acids that help to maintain their size and strength. As a result, your muscles break down leading to muscle and strength loss.

What’s so problematic about this is the energy that is supposed to nourish you isn’t getting absorbed by the body.  This leaves you feeling hungry and usually leads to more eating, which leads to more insulin secretion, and leads to fat gain.  

Combatting Insulin Insensitivity while wearing a continuous glucose monitor

One of the best ways you can combat insulin insensitivity is by reducing your carbohydrate intake. This allows your insulin receptors to have a “break” and resensitize to the hormone insulin. In fact, for many of my clients and for myself, I use a special “insulin reset” diet that helps you to become more insulin sensitive so you can handle carbohydrates again.  Schedule a talk with me if you want to learn how I can help you achieve this. There are other ways to become more insulin sensitive.  Check out this article if you’re interested in diving deeper.

Monitoring Insulin Sensitivity is Paramount for Improved Body Composition

If insulin sensitivity is important for body composition, then being able to monitor your glucose levels is very important because you can see in real time how different foods affect your blood sugar levels. 

What I learned Wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor

While wearing the continuous glucose monitor I was surprised to learn that many foods I thought were “healthy,” actually raised my insulin levels considerably.  I also learned that certain combinations of foods barely move your glucose levels.

Blood Sugar Levels After Eating a Banana…

For example, I was astonished when I saw a banana spike my insulin levels as high as a piece of candy does.  For me, bananas always seemed like a good go to healthy snack.  This was a major eye-opener. Even zookeepers have started to restrict monkeys at the zoo from eating bananas because the monkeys were getting too fat.

wearing a continuous glucose monitor
45-60 minutes after eating 1 banana

Blood Sugar Levels After Eating a English Muffin

A whole wheat english muffin also spiked my blood glucose to very high levels.  Whole wheat is deemed as “slow burning” and something that is supposed to be healthy.  I have found that whole wheat can in many ways be worse than its white flour counterpart.  

Blood Sugar Levels After Eating Cheerios…

This shouldn’t be a surprise, but a few bowls of honey nut cheerios spiked my glucose levels the highest out of everything I ate while wearing the continuous glucose monitor.  What amazes me is this is the stuff I lived on when I was a kid, and it is one of the unhealthiest things you can put in your body.  General Mills, the manufacturer, likes to place words on the box that say “Fortified with Nutrients”, and “part of a complete breakfast”.  It’s all BS; nothing about it is healthy.

Blood Sugar Levels After Eating Eggs…

Eating 8 eggs with some ground beef and cheese in an omelette I made resulted in an almost 0% increase in my blood sugar levels.  I always knew that protein had a much lower glycemic effect compared to carbs, but I was very surprised to see almost no change in my sugar levels after eating such a large meal.

Blood Sugar Levels After Eating Yogurt…

Another food that I learned to love while wearing a continuous glucose monitor was 5% Fage Greek Yogurt.  This yogurt is absolutely delicious.  I would add a scoop of chocolate protein powder, a stevia packet, and top it off with some coconut flakes.  Talk about a meal! It’s super fast and easy to put together too.  I learned to like this dish not only because it tasted so good, but also because it barely had any effect on my blood glucose levels.  Today, this is my go to snack.

Blood Sugar Levels After Drinking a Few White Claws…

Moreover, I tested how alcohol affected blood sugar levels.  Many think that drinking vodka mixed with seltzer is “healthy.” So I wanted to put this to the test. I also tested how White Claws affected my blood sugar.  The results: both barely had any effect on blood sugar levels.  I didn’t get a chance to test beer or other hard alcohols unfortunately though. So, yes, drinking alcohol like vodka or a spiked seltzer with minimal sugars has limited effect on blood glucose levels.

insulin levels after “clean” alcohol

Blood Sugar Levels After Drinking a Fruit Smoothie…

I also discovered that drinking a fruit smoothie is absolutely terrible for your sugar levels. Fruit smoothies are often touted as the pinnacle of health food. Not so fast. This was one of the highest readings I had while wearing a continuous glucose monitor.

wearing a continuous glucose monitor
Insulin levels after a fruit smoothie

Blood Sugar Levels After a Morning Coffee…

Some of the other interesting discoveries I made while wearing a continuous glucose monitor were how coffee affects your blood glucose levels.  In a fasted state, for example when you first wake up, coffee will cause the liver to release glucose into the blood and raise blood sugar levels.  I was very surprised to see my levels hit about 120 mg/dL from something with 0 sugars.

Insulin and Your Health

Wearing a continuous glucose monitor enables you to see what your fasting blood glucose levels are.  This is very important because fasted glucose levels are a good measure of health.  Here are some of the ways chronic high levels of blood sugar can hurt your body:

  • It can erode the ability of cells in your pancreas to create insulin. The pancreas overcompensates and insulin production stays high. Over time, the pancreas is permanently damaged.
  • It can cause changes that lead to a hardening of the blood vessels, also known as atherosclerosis.
  • Keeping steady glucose levels are paramount for longevity

I think  wearing a continuous glucose monitor is an essential tool for fat loss.  You can target the foods that spike your blood glucose levels too much and eliminate them.  Just by seeing 

With the information I gained after two weeks of wearing the continuous glucose monitor I am able to make better, data driven decisions about the foods I eat which has a direct affect on my health and wellness.

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