Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health.
This week we’re going to talk about my recent experience using the Freestyle Libre Continuous Glucose Monitor, and how you can use something like a CGM to improve your overall health.
Remember, high blood sugars cause damage to every organ of your body.
What is a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)?
A CGM is a system that tracks your blood sugar levels day and night. I had mine attached to my arm.
The Freestyle Libre that I used has an App for your phone that you can download and then upload your information to. You can also add providers to the App and invite them to look at your information. Performance Medicine is actually on the App.
With a CGM you can download a report of your results. It shows a daily graph of your sugars and your averages.
In my opinion, the most important piece of information is the “time in target”.
You set your target range in the beginning. We set mine to be between 80-140. (FYI: you can watch me do this with Andy Rogers, PA-C HERE.)
Time in range is a better indication of “control” than an A1C is.
An A1C tells you how much sugar is sticking to the red blood cells. It’s an average, so even if you have highs and lows, it’s going to say the same thing.
The recommended time for being “in range” is 80%. I’m going to go over some of my results below, but over the two week period, I was “in range” 87% of the time.
I’ve been using the Freestyle Libre Continuous Glucose Monitor the last two weeks because I wanted to see the effects of different types of foods and drinks on my blood sugar, which I think is a good idea for anyone!
Here are a few things I learned:
- In the first week I had less control than the second week. I learned what I could and could not do.
- What I drank popped my sugars up quicker than what I ate.
Obesity and Insulin Resistance
One of the reasons someone like me would want to monitor their sugars is for insulin resistance.
A lot of weight gain has to do with insulin resistance (without Diabetes). This is what we see most often in our Performance Medicine offices.
Type 2 Diabetes is an effect of insulin resistance, which basically means you put out a lot of insulin that doesn’t work well.
When you put out more insulin that doesn’t work well, you gain and retain fat. It also makes you hungry.
It’s hard to lose weight when you are insulin resistant.
Interpreting Continuous Glucose Monitor Results
There will be some fluctuation in your levels depending on when you’re checking your sugar.
You don’t want to be over 180 post meals, and you don’t want to be below 60 at any time. .
Ideal is below 100 fasting, and below 140 non-fasting.
Most of the time my sugars were in range (80-140 for me), but for example when I went and drank a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks, my sugar popped up from 100 to 150 in about 30 minutes.
I also ate a donut which popped my sugar levels up to 170. My highest reading was 172 over the two weeks.
I wanted to test and see what “bad” foods would do to my sugar level and how I felt afterwards.
How I felt correlated with what the Continuous Glucose Monitor showed, which was neat to confirm.
Note: Normally when you eat something like a donut that is high in sugar, you’re going to have a big spike followed by a big crash. This is because they are highly refined sugars.
My insulin response was pretty good. Within 40-50 minutes of a sugar spike, I would be back to normal.
Note: You want your blood sugar to be lower at night because you’re not eating, and you’re not metabolically active.
Interestingly enough, raw unpasteurized honey did not spike my blood sugar levels. So take note of that if you need a sweetener.
Note: Your brain feeds off glucose. Glucose is not the enemy. It’s only the enemy when you have too much or too little.
After reflecting on my experience using a CGM, a few things really stand out:
- Don’t drink your carbohydrates. It is such a waste!
- Focus on “time in range”.
Using a CGM can really help you gain control by learning what foods and drinks are actually doing to your sugar levels. Remember, high blood sugars cause damage to every organ of your body. I can’t emphasize this enough: Get control of your blood sugar!