6
MIN READ
How continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is revolutionising health tracking
Allowing more people to gain powerful health insights.
Written by
Team Compound
Medically reviewed by
Team Compound
Last updated
April 30, 2024

When it comes to optimal health and peak performance, continuous glucose monitoring can help you better understand the relationship between your blood sugar levels and food, physical activity, and stress.

In traditional healthcare, these tracking devices have been associated with diabetics. But, with a greater emphasis on preventative healthcare, these devices are allowing more people to gain powerful health insights to learn how to perform at their best.

If you’re wanting to understand how your blood sugar levels can be impacted by your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle factors like stress or illness, then you’ve come to the right place.

Here, we’ll dive into how continuous glucose monitoring works, who can use these tools, the costs associated with the devices, and the benefits that extend beyond that of diabetes treatment.

What is continuous glucose monitoring?

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) refers to the CGM devices that allow individuals to check their glucose levels (otherwise known as blood sugar levels) throughout the day and night.

As a form of wearable technology, the use of CGM devices means you don't have to prick your finger for glucose readings or blood glucose monitoring. As a result, CGM readings are easier, more efficient, and more effective.

CGMs give you roughly 14 days of data on your blood sugar levels and allow you to monitor how your blood sugar levels respond to food and your environment. For example, if you exercise, your blood sugar levels will rise; if you're stressed, your blood sugar levels will rise — this allows you to monitor how your environment and lifestyle choices are impacting your blood sugar.

When it comes to the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, the hormone insulin is key [1]. Insulin allows blood sugar to be used for energy and signals to the liver to store the rest for later use.

However, too much blood sugar in the bloodstream can be damaging to the body and needs to be moved into cells as quickly as possible. When the liver and muscles store as much blood sugar as possible, the liver sends the excess to fat cells to be stored as body fat, resulting in weight gain. 

Those with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce enough (or any) insulin, while those with type 2 diabetes can make insulin but can’t use it effectively within the body. A continuous glucose monitor can be worn in this instance, providing alerts so insulin pumps can be used during periods of low blood glucose.

However, blood glucose monitoring is also beneficial for anyone who wants to track their glucose levels and see what factors may impact them, which allows you to make more informed health choices.

How does a continuous glucose monitor work?

A CGM uses a tiny sensor to pierce the skin so that the wearable device continuously measures glucose levels. This sensor remains in place (although it needs to be replaced every 1-2 weeks) and is typically positioned on the upper arm or abdomen and protected by an adhesive patch.

This allows the user to keep track of their blood sugar levels throughout the day, with results being displayed on a receiver or transmitted to their mobile phone for real-time monitoring.

The CGM sensor estimates the glucose level in the fluid between your cells, which is similar to the glucose level in your blood. Whether you’re exercising, sleeping, or working, the CGM remains on and continues to record glucose levels.

In doing so, the device can help to detect trends and patterns regarding blood glucose levels, giving greater insights into your health. These include: 

  • Sending notifications of oncoming lows and highs, regardless of the time of day 
  • Showing how much time you spent within a high, low, or healthy glucose range
  • Showing in real-time the direction your blood glucose levels are going so you can take appropriate action in the instance of hyperglycemia (very high blood glucose levels) or hypoglycemia (very low levels)
  • Understanding how food, exercise, medication, and illness impact glucose levels

Who can use a CGM?

Typically, CGMs have been prescribed to those who need insulin to manage type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and other forms of diabetes — the CGM has replaced the constant need for fingersticks that used to be required to manage diabetes.

With continued monitoring the device alerts users when glucose levels are entering hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia so they can adjust their insulin dose or consume more glucose to prevent complications. 

However, with cases of type 2 diabetes on the rise and more individuals seeking to reach fitness and performance goals, CGMs can also be used by those without diabetes [2].

Monitoring blood glucose can play a significant role in the prevention of diabetes and is a powerful tool for those much earlier in the risk curve, but it's also incredibly useful in helping to maintain a healthy weight and unlock optimal performance.

And, while monitoring blood glucose can play a significant role in the prevention of diabetes, it's also incredibly useful in helping to maintain a healthy weight, and unlock optimal performance. This is why we use CGMs in our Compound program — more on that later.

What are the benefits of CGM?

While CGMs have been traditionally used by those who have diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels has several benefits for those who want to take a preventative approach or simply want to achieve specific fitness goals for optimal health [3]. These include:

Predicting prediabetes

Those who are prediabetic often record blood sugar that is slightly high but not yet high enough to meet the definition of diabetes. If prediabetes is diagnosed, repeat testing typically occurs yearly.

A CGM could help diagnose the condition earlier and help those at risk of diabetes due to family history or other factors.

Reaching peak performance

Blood sugar monitoring can help you make changes to improve your health and perform at your best, which could be advantageous for elite athletes and sportspeople, as well as those simply trying to reach their health and performance goals.

This could look like changing the time you eat or what you consume. One study also found that CGM in overweight adults saw them report increased motivation to exercise and work out thanks to a greater understanding of their body [4]. 

Optimising your metabolism

By understanding the ways food impacts your blood glucose, you can both optimise your metabolism and fuelling strategies which is particularly useful for athletes.

This can look like adjusting your carbohydrate intake and timing based on insulin sensitivity and energy needs, preventing energy crashes which could be detrimental during endurance events. The glucose data can also be used to tailor training routines and recovery strategies to optimise the body’s metabolic health. 

Improved recovery

Muscles need energy to repair after exercise, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels is a crucial part of this recovery.

With CGM, you can recover faster from intense workouts and reduce the likelihood of muscle soreness. Inflammation and oxidative stress that accompanies post-exercise hyperglycemia can also be avoided. 

Losing weight

With insight into how different foods impact blood sugar levels, CGM can help individuals make more informed choices when it comes to their diet.

This might look like choosing lower glycemic index foods that promote stable energy levels and leave you feeling fuller for longer, all of which can contribute to weight loss, if that is something you're working on. 

How much does a CGM cost?

Continuous glucose monitors are considerably more expensive than a standard blood glucose meter or finger prick test. They may be covered by your health insurance provider, while those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes may be eligible for financial help and assistance.

However, if you’re not eligible for subsidised products, the cost of CGM in Australia is around AU$4,000 to AU$5,000 per year [5]. In the UK, the annual cost can range from £900 to £1600 [6].

For those in the US, you're looking at US$100 to US$300 a month, depending on the pharmacy and brand [7].

Longer, stronger living with Compound

CGMs give us insights on how an individual responds to the food they are eating, whether they are metabolically effective at processing high glycemic foods, and helps to showcase tangible results of small changes to diet.

In short, it's an incredibly useful metabolic health tool, which is why we leverage blood sugar management via CGMs in our Compound program.

What is Compound, exactly? Well, we're a digital clinic for performance health. Once the exclusive domain of billionaires and Hollywood stars, we're on a mission to make premium concierge care accessible to every man who wants more.

Equipped with leading diagnostic reporting, Compound’s team of dedicated healthcare professionals and expert specialists help you access the future of proactive healthcare and reach your goals.

Continous glucose monitoring, alongside DEXA scans and other diagnostics, is used as part of Compound’s tailored medication and performance supplementation toolkit, allowing individuals to gain real-time insight into blood sugar management and how it can be maximised for greater results.

With a multi-disciplinary approach to preventative care, you can unlock barriers to everyday performance.

When it comes to optimal health and peak performance, continuous glucose monitoring can help you better understand the relationship between your blood sugar levels and food, physical activity, and stress.

In traditional healthcare, these tracking devices have been associated with diabetics. But, with a greater emphasis on preventative healthcare, these devices are allowing more people to gain powerful health insights to learn how to perform at their best.

If you’re wanting to understand how your blood sugar levels can be impacted by your diet, exercise routine, or lifestyle factors like stress or illness, then you’ve come to the right place.

Here, we’ll dive into how continuous glucose monitoring works, who can use these tools, the costs associated with the devices, and the benefits that extend beyond that of diabetes treatment.

What is continuous glucose monitoring?

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) refers to the CGM devices that allow individuals to check their glucose levels (otherwise known as blood sugar levels) throughout the day and night.

As a form of wearable technology, the use of CGM devices means you don't have to prick your finger for glucose readings or blood glucose monitoring. As a result, CGM readings are easier, more efficient, and more effective.

CGMs give you roughly 14 days of data on your blood sugar levels and allow you to monitor how your blood sugar levels respond to food and your environment. For example, if you exercise, your blood sugar levels will rise; if you're stressed, your blood sugar levels will rise — this allows you to monitor how your environment and lifestyle choices are impacting your blood sugar.

When it comes to the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, the hormone insulin is key [1]. Insulin allows blood sugar to be used for energy and signals to the liver to store the rest for later use.

However, too much blood sugar in the bloodstream can be damaging to the body and needs to be moved into cells as quickly as possible. When the liver and muscles store as much blood sugar as possible, the liver sends the excess to fat cells to be stored as body fat, resulting in weight gain. 

Those with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce enough (or any) insulin, while those with type 2 diabetes can make insulin but can’t use it effectively within the body. A continuous glucose monitor can be worn in this instance, providing alerts so insulin pumps can be used during periods of low blood glucose.

However, blood glucose monitoring is also beneficial for anyone who wants to track their glucose levels and see what factors may impact them, which allows you to make more informed health choices.

How does a continuous glucose monitor work?

A CGM uses a tiny sensor to pierce the skin so that the wearable device continuously measures glucose levels. This sensor remains in place (although it needs to be replaced every 1-2 weeks) and is typically positioned on the upper arm or abdomen and protected by an adhesive patch.

This allows the user to keep track of their blood sugar levels throughout the day, with results being displayed on a receiver or transmitted to their mobile phone for real-time monitoring.

The CGM sensor estimates the glucose level in the fluid between your cells, which is similar to the glucose level in your blood. Whether you’re exercising, sleeping, or working, the CGM remains on and continues to record glucose levels.

In doing so, the device can help to detect trends and patterns regarding blood glucose levels, giving greater insights into your health. These include: 

  • Sending notifications of oncoming lows and highs, regardless of the time of day 
  • Showing how much time you spent within a high, low, or healthy glucose range
  • Showing in real-time the direction your blood glucose levels are going so you can take appropriate action in the instance of hyperglycemia (very high blood glucose levels) or hypoglycemia (very low levels)
  • Understanding how food, exercise, medication, and illness impact glucose levels

Who can use a CGM?

Typically, CGMs have been prescribed to those who need insulin to manage type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and other forms of diabetes — the CGM has replaced the constant need for fingersticks that used to be required to manage diabetes.

With continued monitoring the device alerts users when glucose levels are entering hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia so they can adjust their insulin dose or consume more glucose to prevent complications. 

However, with cases of type 2 diabetes on the rise and more individuals seeking to reach fitness and performance goals, CGMs can also be used by those without diabetes [2].

Monitoring blood glucose can play a significant role in the prevention of diabetes and is a powerful tool for those much earlier in the risk curve, but it's also incredibly useful in helping to maintain a healthy weight and unlock optimal performance.

And, while monitoring blood glucose can play a significant role in the prevention of diabetes, it's also incredibly useful in helping to maintain a healthy weight, and unlock optimal performance. This is why we use CGMs in our Compound program — more on that later.

What are the benefits of CGM?

While CGMs have been traditionally used by those who have diabetes, monitoring blood sugar levels has several benefits for those who want to take a preventative approach or simply want to achieve specific fitness goals for optimal health [3]. These include:

Predicting prediabetes

Those who are prediabetic often record blood sugar that is slightly high but not yet high enough to meet the definition of diabetes. If prediabetes is diagnosed, repeat testing typically occurs yearly.

A CGM could help diagnose the condition earlier and help those at risk of diabetes due to family history or other factors.

Reaching peak performance

Blood sugar monitoring can help you make changes to improve your health and perform at your best, which could be advantageous for elite athletes and sportspeople, as well as those simply trying to reach their health and performance goals.

This could look like changing the time you eat or what you consume. One study also found that CGM in overweight adults saw them report increased motivation to exercise and work out thanks to a greater understanding of their body [4]. 

Optimising your metabolism

By understanding the ways food impacts your blood glucose, you can both optimise your metabolism and fuelling strategies which is particularly useful for athletes.

This can look like adjusting your carbohydrate intake and timing based on insulin sensitivity and energy needs, preventing energy crashes which could be detrimental during endurance events. The glucose data can also be used to tailor training routines and recovery strategies to optimise the body’s metabolic health. 

Improved recovery

Muscles need energy to repair after exercise, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels is a crucial part of this recovery.

With CGM, you can recover faster from intense workouts and reduce the likelihood of muscle soreness. Inflammation and oxidative stress that accompanies post-exercise hyperglycemia can also be avoided. 

Losing weight

With insight into how different foods impact blood sugar levels, CGM can help individuals make more informed choices when it comes to their diet.

This might look like choosing lower glycemic index foods that promote stable energy levels and leave you feeling fuller for longer, all of which can contribute to weight loss, if that is something you're working on. 

How much does a CGM cost?

Continuous glucose monitors are considerably more expensive than a standard blood glucose meter or finger prick test. They may be covered by your health insurance provider, while those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes may be eligible for financial help and assistance.

However, if you’re not eligible for subsidised products, the cost of CGM in Australia is around AU$4,000 to AU$5,000 per year [5]. In the UK, the annual cost can range from £900 to £1600 [6].

For those in the US, you're looking at US$100 to US$300 a month, depending on the pharmacy and brand [7].

Longer, stronger living with Compound

CGMs give us insights on how an individual responds to the food they are eating, whether they are metabolically effective at processing high glycemic foods, and helps to showcase tangible results of small changes to diet.

In short, it's an incredibly useful metabolic health tool, which is why we leverage blood sugar management via CGMs in our Compound program.

What is Compound, exactly? Well, we're a digital clinic for performance health. Once the exclusive domain of billionaires and Hollywood stars, we're on a mission to make premium concierge care accessible to every man who wants more.

Equipped with leading diagnostic reporting, Compound’s team of dedicated healthcare professionals and expert specialists help you access the future of proactive healthcare and reach your goals.

Continous glucose monitoring, alongside DEXA scans and other diagnostics, is used as part of Compound’s tailored medication and performance supplementation toolkit, allowing individuals to gain real-time insight into blood sugar management and how it can be maximised for greater results.

With a multi-disciplinary approach to preventative care, you can unlock barriers to everyday performance.

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