Can Individuals Without Diabetes Benefit from CGM Sensors?

Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) are increasing in popularity amongst healthy individuals. Manufacturers claim that individuals without diabetes can benefit from wearing CGMs. They are using CGMs to help with weight loss management, improve athletic performance, and inspire healthier lifestyle choices.

Key takeaways:

What are CGMs?

CGMs are small wearable devices used to automatically check sugar (glucose) levels throughout the day and night. This is done through a tiny sensor placed just underneath your skin, often applied on your upper arm. Results are sent to your phone so that you can keep track of your glucose levels in real-time. People with diabetes use CGMs to manage and treat diabetes.

Why should I care about glucose?

Your body breaks down food into glucose to be used as energy. It does this by releasing the hormone insulin from your pancreas. Insulin moves glucose from your blood to your cells, where energy production takes place. Your body stores some glucose in your liver for later use.

Normally, your body maintains a healthy glucose range with the help of insulin and glucagon hormones. When your glucose levels are too high, your pancreas releases more insulin. When your glucose levels are too low, your body releases stored glucose from your liver with the help of glucagon.

What happens when glucose levels are abnormal?

People with diabetes either do not have enough insulin or are unable to use insulin. Without functional insulin, glucose stays stuck in the blood and levels keep rising. Over time, continually high glucose levels can lead to diabetes. Processed foods, refined carbohydrates — such as white bread or white rice — and sugary foods raise glucose levels higher than other foods. Glucose levels can be improved with physical exercise and eating a healthy diet.

Prediabetes is a condition where glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. People with prediabetes are often unaware of it because there are no symptoms. Prediabetes increases your risk of developing diabetes.

Potential CGM benefits

Now that you know what a CGM is and how glucose works in your body, it’s time for the fun part. Let’s discuss some potential CGM benefits for people without diabetes.

Detect early abnormal glucose levels

If you are at risk of developing diabetes, you may consider using a CGM to check for abnormal glucose levels. Because CGMs automatically check glucose, wearing one may alert you to early abnormal levels. This may help you make healthier lifestyle choices, which in turn could help prevent or delay diabetes progression.

Increase healthy behaviors

Physical exercise and eating a healthy diet can help prevent diabetes. CGMs may help motivate you to do both. A healthy diet — particularly one that is low in processed foods and sugary foods — helps prevent high glucose spikes. Observing how your glucose levels are affected by the foods that you eat (while wearing a CGM) may inspire you to improve your diet.

If you have prediabetes, physical exercise will cause your body to become more sensitive to insulin — and this will improve your glucose levels. Seeing how your glucose levels change with physical activity (while wearing a CGM) may motivate you to exercise more.

Improve athletic performance

In 2020, Abbott launched the first CGM specifically designed for athletes called Libre Sense. Abbott claims that athletes can benefit from understanding real-time glucose levels by knowing what to eat and when. Athletes may use CGMs to properly fuel before training. Athletes could benefit from new research in this area.

Potential CGM barriers

While there are many potential CGM benefits, there are also some possible hurdles that individuals without diabetes may face with CGMs. Let’s review some possible barriers.

  • Cost. CGMs can be expensive. Most insurance companies will cover CGMs for people with diabetes, but they are not yet covered for those without diabetes.
  • Confusion surrounding glucose levels and what the numbers mean. You will need to learn what your normal glucose levels are before and after eating to understand how to best utilize the sensor.
  • Care. You will have to replace the sensor regularly, often every two weeks.

Emerging research

Current research is investigating whether CGMs can help with weight loss. A new study found that overweight individuals without diabetes improved body weight, cholesterol, and glucose while using a CGM after receiving education about low glycemic foods (foods that don’t cause high glucose spikes).

Signos is sponsoring a research study for individuals without diabetes. The study aims to link CGM data - along with nutrition coaching - with weight loss and improved overall wellness. This study will be completed in 2026.

People who do not have diabetes but use CGMs for health benefits is a relatively new topic. New research shows promising use for weight loss management. Further research on CGM benefits for healthy individuals is needed so that you can be well-informed about your health choices. Stay tuned for new findings and updated information, as this is an evolving discussion. Ask your doctor if using a CGM would be beneficial for you.

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