In partnership with Nutrisense.
I’m deeply interested in any sort of fitness tracking. Normally, that translates to watches and apps, bells and whistles that accompany my gym treks. On a nutrition level, I generally don’t track calories, preferring just to eat what I think is good for me. I’ve had too many friends go overboard on calorie counting and it generally doesn’t seem mentally positive.
Enter Nutrisense, a more data-driven way of determining how you should be fueling your body. Instead of tracking your input, the continuous glucose monitor instead tracks your body’s reactions: how your glucose spikes, falls or remains stable after meals, drinks, and snacks.
If a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sounds familiar, that’s because the device is normally used by diabetics in their monitoring. Nowadays, it’s popped up in fitness and lifestyle circles as a health & wellness tool designed to help optimize choices and habits. The CGM device can yield astonishing insights (and tangible results) that make it a worthwhile curiosity. Read on for my first experience using the Nutrisense program.
Why Should Anyone Use The Nutrisense Program?
The Nutrisense program allows people to see how their blood glucose reacts to different food, activities, stress, and sleep. In that vein, it’s excellent for experimental personalities like mine as well as those who want to lose weight with long-term healthy choices rather than yo-yo dieting (which is proven to be ineffective). The programs range from $199 to $350/month, and the brand offers a discount for committing to a longer plan. Your program may also be eligible for FSA/HSA plans.
When my CGM came in the mail, it was easy to set up. I received a prescription device, which comes with an applicator and instructions. Essentially, you set up the applicator on the back of your arm and push it in with a little *pop* noise. And with that, this little device — which looks like a small plastic disk — sits there for two weeks under a circular patch. While it may sound scary at first, the process was easy to figure out and didn’t hurt. There were moments over the next two weeks of my testing window in which I was keenly aware of the device, but it was never uncomfortable.
Once you download the Nutrisense app, you’ll pair your device to the app. It works like tap-to-pay technology. You just hold your phone to the back of your arm and you’ll hear a little buzz as it scans. Then, your data will appear on your screen in front of you, with graphical charts and explanations that track your levels over time.
A Registered Dietitian Helps You Parse Through Your Data.
You can scan the device as often as you’d like, but must scan at least every eight hours. I scanned mine once I had my morning coffee, sometime in the mid-afternoon for lunch, and again at night. For those taking the plunge, I’d recommend turning your phone notifications on as the app notifies you when you need to scan. Your device can only hold eight hours of data, so I missed some gaps during the beginning of my use. Even with my missed scans, however, the app spat out enormous swaths of data that made my scientific heart happy. There’s also an included habit tracker and food database.
This consistency — and tailored approach — is incredibly motivating in making healthy choices. It’s easier to opt for one meal instead of another when you have a physical view of what makes your body feel good. There’s even a chat window in the app where you can get real-time feedback from a team of registered dieticians — a reason why Nutrisense stands out amongst other CGM-related programs.
Onboarding can take time because there’s lots of data. My advice — take full advantage of your expert dietitian. Still, I understood the basics and was confident that over time, the program would become more intuitive. Dietitian support is a key pillar of Nutrisense’s offering. For example, I benefited from the dietitian checking in with me about foods that caused the worst spikes, foods that were best for me during my program, and some nutrition advice based on my consumption patterns. During my second week, the dietitian told me to reduce my portion size, eat less carbohydrates and more protein, and to focus on whole foods and ingredients rather than anything processed. As I’ll get into below, my data backed up these insights — home-cooked meals were better for my glucose stabilization than processed foods.
Yes, Nutrisense Changed My Eating Habits
I enjoyed having a graphic depiction of what my days looked like nutritionally in a way that didn’t involve counting calories or macros. During my use, I ate a wide variety of foods in an attempt to figure out what was most efficient for me — some I would eat normally and some I was experimenting with purely for the device.
The most tragic aspect of my Nutrisense experience for me was learning that out of everything I consumed in my experiment — McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries, a Five Guys burger, plenty of beer — a poké bowl I had for lunch one day was my worst. It spiked my levels up more than anything else, which genuinely surprised me in light of some of the other ‘junk food’ I had consumed during my testing.
For anyone that struggles with knowing "what" to eat or has been yo-yo dieting for a long time, this data can be empowering. It eliminates food rules created by one-size-fits-all diet culture and allows you to identify which food and behaviors work best for your individual goals and preferences. This data can help you find a sustainable way you’d like to eat long term. That being said, for individuals that have struggled with eating disorders in the past, this data can be triggering. This is not intended for individuals with active eating disorders or those that are currently recovering from an eating disorder. If you monitor glucose and find yourself triggered or reverting back to disordered eating behaviors, this may not be the right time for you to monitor (and that's okay!). Since my priority was increased energy, the Nutrisense insights were helpful in determining what exactly got me closer to that goal.
The Nutrisense program really excels in providing clarity and inspiring action. After seeing that unexpected hurtle upwards, I swapped my next sushi order for brown rice rolls and experienced stabilized glucose levels. Although I’ve seen info online saying that brown rice is better for you, I never ever would have switched if not for the clear, tangible motivation of seeing what it did to my body. I also learned that food I made at home was significantly better for my body than takeout (even the healthy kind!), which motivated me to cook for myself more often. Similarly to the rice, although I’d seen that fact before, I could never get myself to fully care before now. Those tailored, personalized insights affected me way more than any advice ever could have. I wanted to make the most nutritional choices for myself, and that clarity is what results in genuine long-term change.
I’m excited to continue to test out and understand the impact of different dependent variables. Will a burger spike my blood glucose after eight hours of sleep the same way it would after six? What about at a different time of day? I’ll need to repeat certain experiments with my food options so that I can most accurately determine which foods independently impacted my levels versus which foods were unlucky choices at unlucky times (or vice versa). Because I opted for breadth instead of depth in my initial testing and review phase, I got an initial impression of a wide range of foods in my system rather than repeating the same several to understand them.
Overall, I was impressed by the sheer volume and intensity of the data that the Nutrisense program gave me. Most of all, I expect that most who buy it will note the extreme value that the tailored insights provide each and every day. Unlike shelling out for a diet program, fitness coach, or swanky gym membership you rarely use, Nutrisense doesn’t demand that you change anything that you’re doing — but it gives you the insights that make you want to do it for yourself, for good, over time.
Five Reasons To Love The Nutrisense Program:
- Each member is assigned a dedicated dietitian to help parse through the data for free for the first month; they can make personalized recommendations based on the feedback you receive from the app. After one month, you can opt-in for that service.
- There’s also a tab where you can run formal experiments and the app will crunch the numbers for you — tracking a certain food’s effect on you over time, for example.
- Scanning is immensely easy and takes a few seconds.
- Even if you’re confident in the way you eat for yourself, Nutrisense can also confirm the benefits of your health journey.
- If you do follow a specific diet, like keto or paleo, the app can make adjustments and track levels for you too.