Continuous Glucose Monitoring With Low-Carbohydrate Diet Coaching in Adults With Prediabetes: Mixed Methods Pilot Study

JMIR Diabetes. 2020 Dec 16;5(4):e21551. doi: 10.2196/21551.


Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is preventable; however, few patients with prediabetes participate in prevention programs. The use of user-friendly continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) with low-carbohydrate diet coaching is a novel strategy to prevent T2DM.

Objective: This study aims to determine the patient satisfaction and feasibility of an intervention combining CGM use and low-carbohydrate diet coaching in patients with prediabetes to drive dietary behavior change.

Methods: We conducted a mixed methods, single-arm pilot and feasibility study at a suburban family medicine clinic. A total of 15 adults with prediabetes with hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels between 5.7% and 6.4% and a BMI >30 kg/m2 were recruited to participate. The intervention and assessments took place during 3 in-person study visits and 2 qualitative phone interviews (3 weeks and 6 months after the intervention). During visit 1, participants were asked to wear a CGM and complete a food intake and craving log for 10 days. During visit 2, the food intake and craving log along with the CGM results of the participants were reviewed and the participants received low-carbohydrate diet coaching, including learning about carbohydrates and personalized feedback. A second CGM sensor, with the ability to scan and record glucose trends, was placed, and the participants logged their food intake and cravings as they attempted to reduce their total carbohydrate intake (<100 g/day). During visit 3, the participants reviewed their CGM and log data. The primary outcome was satisfaction with the use of CGM and low-carbohydrate diet. The secondary outcomes included feasibility, weight, and HbA1c change, and percentage of time spent in hyperglycemia. Changes in attitudes and risk perception of developing diabetes were also assessed.

Results: The overall satisfaction rate of our intervention was 93%. The intervention induced a weight reduction of 1.4 lb (P=.02) and a reduction of HbA1c levels by 0.71% (P<.001) since enrollment. Although not significantly, the percentage of time above glucose goal and average daily glucose levels decreased slightly during the study period. Qualitative interview themes indicated no major barriers to CGM use; the acceptance of a low-carbohydrate diet; and that CGMs helped to visualize the impact of carbohydrates on the body, driving dietary changes.

Conclusions: The use of CGMs and low-carbohydrate diet coaching to drive dietary changes in patients with prediabetes is feasible and acceptable to patients. This novel method merits further exploration, as the preliminary data indicate that combining CGM use with low-carbohydrate diet coaching drives dietary changes, which may ultimately prevent T2DM.

Keywords: blood glucose self-monitoring; diet modification; low carbohydrate diet; prediabetes; prevention & control; type 2 diabetes mellitus.