In This Article
In This Article
I wore a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for two weeks to see how my diet, supplements, exercise routine, and everything else affected my blood sugar levels. I learned some interesting things and gained some important insights into my health.
To easily record and analyze my data, I used Nutrisense. If personalized medicine is the future of healthcare, then Nutrisense is at the forefront of this movement.
Using their app and analytics, I could see a 24-hour readout of my blood sugar level and how it responded to my daily habits.
So how exactly does Nutrisense work, what did I learn, and is it worth it?
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Nutrisense is a program that uses an app in combination with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and expert dietitian support to help you understand how your diet and lifestyle affect your blood sugar levels.
A CGM is a device that takes continuous measurements of your blood sugar levels. The device is placed on the body—usually the back of the arm—-and a tiny sensor measures the glucose levels in your interstitial fluid (fluid that surrounds cells).
This data can then be uploaded to an app and analyzed to provide actionable health insights. Doctors typically prescribe CGMs to people with diabetes to help them better manage their blood sugar levels.
Research shows it’s effective–at least for diabetics.
One study in nearly 200 type 1 diabetics found that wearing a CGM resulted in better blood sugar control and lower average blood sugar levels than measuring blood sugar levels using traditional finger prick tests.1
So how do you access a CGM if you don’t have diabetes or a doctor’s prescription? That’s where Nutrisense comes in.
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You don’t have to be diabetic to benefit from better blood sugar management. High blood sugar levels and poorly-managed blood sugar levels are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and death–even in people without diabetes.2
This may be because large spikes in blood sugar cause oxidative stress, which damages tissues and organs. High blood sugar may even cause you to age faster. Through a process called glycation, sugar molecules can stick to proteins and damage them, accelerating the aging process. The more sugar in your bloodstream, the more likely this may occur.3
Wearing a CGM provides real-time feedback on your body's blood sugar response to various foods, exercises, supplements, and lifestyle practices.
Using this feedback and a little trial and error, you can make impactful changes in your habits to achieve better blood sugar control and improve your health.
Nutrisense makes this process easier and more effective by helping you make sense of your CGM data and providing insight into how your habits affect your blood sugar levels.
From start to finish, the whole process is quick and painless.
There’s no need to go to a doctor to get a prescription in advance.
Nutrisense takes care of the medical prescription when you sign up. You will need to submit a government-issued ID, as this is required by law, for Nutrisense to provide you with your subscription.
You can learn more about the subscription plans for Nutrisense here and sign up for the one that fits you best.
Nutrisense offers a 1-month, no-commitment plan for $399. This includes one month of free personal support from an expert dietitian.
They also offer three different subscription plans which reduce the monthly cost substantially:
Each plan includes two CGM Sensors delivered monthly and one month free of dietitian support. The dietitian support includes:
After the first month, the dietitian support costs $100/month.
Nutrisense doesn’t accept health insurance. However, they are currently working on getting coverage for its programs.
You can purchase the Nutrisense program through a certain flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA).
|Price||3-Month Plan for $250/month 6-Month Plan for $225/month12-Month Plan for $199/month||$199 for the first month + $199 annual fee$199 per CGM shipment|
|Nutrition coaching||Yes, $225.00 to $299.00 per month||Yes, independent nutritionists that set their own prices|
|CGM compatibility||Freestyle Libre||Freestyle Libre + Dexcom G6|
Over the course of two weeks, I tested various supplements, exercise routines, and lifestyle practices.
Some of the supplements that noticeably lowered my blood sugar and/or prevented large spikes included:
Of these, apple cider vinegar (especially taken before a meal) had the largest effect according to Nutrisense.
Taken in the morning, the resistant starch also had the interesting effect of blunting my blood sugar response later in the day.
Going for a 10-minute walk after eating a meal was also an easy way to lower my blood sugar levels.
I was surprised that both resistance training and aerobic exercise raised my blood sugar level substantially, with resistance training causing the largest increase.
However, after working out, my levels were lower throughout the remainder of the day. This made sense, as weight training has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.4
Another interesting thing I learned is how much the sauna raised my blood sugar. Just a half hour in an infrared sauna was enough to spike my blood sugar to 157 mg/dL–the highest my levels reached over the two weeks. This may be a sign that I need to drink more water when using the sauna or split up my visits into two 15-minute sessions.
Cold showers didn’t seem to noticeably affect my levels. However, this may be because I regularly take cold showers as is. It would have been interesting to see how more intense cold exposure, such as an ice bath, might have affected my levels.
One important lesson Nutrisense reinforced in me is that coffee doesn’t agree with my body. My blood sugar levels spiked within 30 minutes of drinking a cup of joe and steadily increased throughout the day. Green tea didn’t have this effect—looks like it’s matcha from here on out.
Research has consistently shown how important getting enough shut-eye is for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Both short-term and long-term sleep deprivation cause greater swings in blood sugar levels and reduce insulin sensitivity.5
This is made worse by the fact that when you don’t sleep well, you’re more likely to crave sugary, high-calorie junk foods that spike your blood sugar levels.6
I was surprised to learn that just a single night of poor sleep (four hours compared to my usual eight to nine hours) resulted in my average blood sugar level shooting up about 15% higher on average during the following day.
In the future, on days I don’t get enough sleep, I’ll make sure to eat fewer carbs and take frequent walks after meals.
I typically have my last meal two hours before bed. However, I began to notice that I got better sleep and woke up more refreshed when my blood sugar levels were lower in the hours leading to bed the night before.
Knowing this, I started eating an extra 45 minutes earlier than normal. And, indeed, my sleep did improve.
It turns out high insulin levels suppress the release of growth hormone, which your body uses to repair itself during sleep.7
Over the two weeks I used the app, I was in constant contact with my own personal dietitian. She was incredibly helpful, knowledgeable, and responded to my questions and concerns quickly.
She explained how to interpret all the different metrics the app uses to quantify my blood sugar control and made some great suggestions for experiments I could run on myself.
For example, she suggested that instead of eating cooked potatoes right away, I should let them cool down and then eat them. This results in the formation of resistant starch, a type of fiber that has been shown to improve blood sugar control.8
You can even message them within the app, which is very convenient.
The app is intuitive and easy to use.
I really like how everything is laid out on the dashboard with your glucose chart and glucose score (how well you managed your glucose that day). However, it doesn’t overwhelm you with data and information, which I appreciate.
You can easily toggle between the dashboard, meal and activity history, and insights on your data.
Inputting meals and activities is also incredibly easy. They even have the option to scan barcodes when inputting ingredients for a meal.
Although I never got the chance to explore it, there’s a “Metabolic Mastery” course in-app that teaches you all about the fundamentals of diet and nutrition, glucose metabolism, meal planning, and more.
One great feature was the ability of the app to calculate my total calories, protein, carbs, and fats for the day based on the meals I logged.
It also showed my daily intake of important minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium. This allowed me to easily see my macronutrient breakdown and pinpoint where I wasn’t getting enough nutrients (it turns out my diet was a little low in selenium).
From the moment I signed up to the moment I activated and paired my sensor, Nutrisense and their support team made the process seamless and easy.
There’s also an in-app tutorial that can help guide you through the process of applying, activating, and using your CGM correctly.
Things I Don’t Like About Nutrisense
This is the most obvious complaint about Nutrisense: it’s expensive.
However, they do offer a 1-month plan, so you can try it out and decide if it’s worth it without shelling out a bunch of money on a multi-month membership.
Other popular glucose-monitoring apps like Levels require you to pay an annual membership fee when you first sign up and pay for monthly CGM shipments.
You also get the dietitian support free for the first month, which other companies don’t provide.
Compared to the popular food-logging apps MyFitnessPal and Chronometer, Nutrisense’s food database is much more limited.
This means you may lose a little accuracy in recording your meals–which could lead to wrong observations regarding blood sugar responses to certain foods.
It would have been convenient to access and visualize my data or log meals and activities using a desktop instead of a smartphone. Sometimes, it felt cumbersome to log all of the ingredients for each of my meals. However, this was only a minor inconvenience.
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Yes, Nutrisense is absolutely worth trying.
Whether you’re the type of person interested in optimizing every aspect of their health or you’re simply curious how your lifestyle affects your blood sugar control, Nutrisense can help you.
With that being said, the cost may scare some people away. But if you think of it as an investment in your health, then it doesn’t seem as expensive.
Plus, you get a ton of value in the dietitian support, and the information the app provides has the potential to make a huge impact on your health and fitness.