As science evolves, so do healthcare tools. Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) were originally developed for use in individuals with type 1 diabetes, as a way to keep tabs on blood sugars continually throughout the day and night.
A CGM is a small device that is worn, typically on the back of the arm or belly, that continually monitors blood sugar levels.
It’s crucial, and can be lifesaving, for patients with diabetes to manage their blood sugars. However, in more recent years, CGMs have been used in individuals without diabetes as well.
Chronically high levels of blood sugar have been associated with various chronic conditions as well as weight gain. Using a CGM can allow someone to track blood sugars and become aware of any abnormalities that should be reviewed by a healthcare professional.
This article will review two different brands of CGMs, Signos and Levels (two of the best wellness trackers today), in terms of how they work, cost, and other key features, so you can determine which might be a better fit for you.
How Can Using a CGM Improve Your Metabolic Health?
As mentioned above, a CGM provides individuals with information on how their bodies are managing blood sugars throughout the day.
This can be useful for someone who is looking to improve their overall health and especially their daily habits. For example, some may find patterns with their blood sugars, like a certain food that tends to spike their blood sugars. With that information, they may decide to make changes to their eating habits.
Similarly, you may notice that your blood sugars tend to be higher during stressful times and opt to include more regular de-stressing techniques, like meditation or deep breathing, to help combat this.
Using the information gathered by a CGM may be beneficial for positive changes in blood sugar control, which is an important factor in overall health.
However, while any health data can be valuable, CGMs can be rather expensive and the research on their use in individuals without diabetes is still pretty limited.
That being said, one small study did find that individuals who used a CGM were more likely to make better food choices and go for a walk after a meal (1).
What About Weight Loss?
In theory, a CGM can be beneficial for a weight loss program because it allows individuals to analyze how their day to day habits and choices affect their blood sugars, which is important for weight management.
High levels of blood sugar, along with other health indicators, like high blood pressure and cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of weight gain as well as some chronic diseases.
Additionally, individuals who are already overweight or obese are at an increased risk for insulin resistance, which can lead to high blood sugar.
This can get a little confusing, but to summarize, high blood sugars can lead to weight gain and overweight/obesity can also lead to high blood sugars. This can turn into a vicious cycle over time, which is why it’s important to manage both body weight and blood sugars.
While all of this is true, there is still not very strong, specific evidence supporting the use of CGM for weight loss. However, it can be thought of as a tool that might help individuals improve their lifestyle, which we know for a fact, can help support healthy weight loss.
Quick Table Comparison on Signos vs. Levels Health CGM's
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Weight Loss powered by personalized data
Hacking your metabolism
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SIgnos is a weight loss program that combines the use of a CGM with an AI-based smartphone app to support individuals in their weight loss goals. Over time, the app will start to make recommendations to help you on your journey to improving your health.
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How It Works
You’ll first fill out a health history form that will be reviewed by a physician who can determine whether or not you’re eligible for a CGM.
From there, you’ll be sent the CGM and a glucose tolerance drink that you will use to calibrate and assess your current blood sugar control. This calibration requires an 8 hour fast and avoidance of exercise for 2 hours beforehand.
Next, you’ll begin tracking your daily habits, including nutrition, activity, and sleep, in the app.
Over time, the AI-equipped app will get to know your lifestyle habits and blood sugar levels and start to make personalized recommendations for you. You’ll receive exercise recommendations, diet recommendations, and some predictions of how your blood sugar may respond to certain foods.
Throughout your subscription, you’ll also have access to a registered dietitian within the app for additional nutrition guidance.
What It Tracks
Signos automatically monitors blood sugars and can be integrated to a wearable, like a smartwatch, to sync activity. You can also manually log lifestyle habits, like diet and sleep.
Over time, you can start to notice patterns and receive recommendations for making positive changes to your overall health.
Signos has 3 different subscription options that are based on the individual’s goals and how much weight they are aiming to lose:
- 1 month: $399
- 3 months: $747
- 6 months: $1194
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The Levels program monitors your blood sugars to help you learn how your daily choices can affect your blood sugar levels. Over time, you’ll be able to gain insights to your health so that you’ll be able to not only optimize your blood sugar, but improve your lifestyle habits as well.
How It Works
When getting started with Levels, it’s recommended that you simply observe your data for the first week so you can get a good idea of where you’re starting.
As a dietitian, this is exactly what I recommend for individuals who are ready to make any sort of changes. It’s difficult to know what specific changes you need to make if you don’t first have a good understanding of where you’re starting.
In the app, you’ll log your meals and snacks each day. Levels will give each food a score of 0-10 to give you an idea of how they might affect your blood sugar so you can plan accordingly. For example, if a food is expected to spike your blood sugar a bit, you may decide to combine it with a lower glycemic food or maybe plan for a post-meal walk to help keep your blood sugar stable.
If you’d like, you can sign up for nutrition coaching for an additional monthly fee, which varies depending on the nutritionist you work with.
What It Tracks
The CGM is worn on the back of the arm and can be scanned in the app to keep tabs on your blood sugars. You’ll also log your meals and physical activity, which can be automatically uploaded to the app from a fitness watch or other wearable, or you can log it manually.
As you continue to wear the CGM and log your meals and exercise, you’ll be able to see how your daily choices and habits affect your blood sugars so that you can make changes as needed to improve your overall health.
Levels requires an annual membership, which costs $199. Additionally, you’ll be charged $199 per month for the CGM kit.
What Are The Key Differences Between Signos and Levels?
Overall, Levels is a bit more basic than Signos. For starters, Signos will automatically sync blood sugar data from the CGM to the app, while users with the Levels CGM will need to manually scan their CGM to upload the data.
Both apps allow for tracking things like nutrition and exercise. Levels will show users a score for each food that helps them know how that food could affect their blood sugars. Both of the apps can also be integrated with a fitness wearable so that activity can be automatically uploaded.
Unlike Levels, Signos uses an AI-based app that will start to make personalized recommendations for you.
Signos also includes access to a registered dietitian within the app. Levels does have the option to pay extra for a nutritionist, but the specific cost and the background and credentials of the nutritionists are unclear.
Which Is Better for Optimizing Your Metabolic Health: Signos or Levels?
Both programs are on the expensive side, but generally, Signos is pricier. However, it has quite a few more bells and whistles than Levels.
If you are looking for the best, most-advanced program, Signos is likely the better choice, especially because it includes access to a registered dietitian, without an additional fee.
That being said, if Levels appears to be a better fit for you, it can still be a useful tool for making positive changes to your health.
Final Comparison Thoughts From a Real CGM User
Before making any changes to your routine, take a week or so to understand the information you’re receiving from your CGM. This will help you understand what specific changes to make.
On a similar note, do your best to follow the recommendations being made to you, particularly if you opt to use Signos, as these recommendations are personalized to you specifically.
The best way to make changes is to stay consistent over time. This can be challenging if we try to change too much at once. Start small, with realistic changes, so that you can develop consistency with your new habits. When you’ve tackled one change, then work on the next. Consistency and small changes will add up over time.
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