Why track blood glucose if you’re not diabetic?

Staff Review: Monitoring glucose levels can be helpful for anyone who wants to better understand how their body deals with food and exercise.

Levels app hero option black sticker on man

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Tracking glucose levels is part of the daily routine for people living with diabetes, but Levels (an app and platform for monitoring blood sugar) thinks everyone should be tapping into the metabolic benefits of knowing these metrics.

Pros:

  • Extensive data metrics
  • Integrates with Apple Health/Google Fit
  • Downloadable data to share with healthcare providers
  • Pain-free application

Cons:

  • Expensive ($400 initially)
  • Limited onboard data storage
  • Initial high learning curve

Different people respond to different foods differently! To figure out what works for your body specifically requires some testing and investigation. By keeping tabs on your glucose levels, you gain a better understanding of your body and metabolism in a very granular way. This is something that people who are diabetic or pre-diabetic know intimately well, but Levels thinks this information should be tracked by anyone who is looking to improve their health.

Everyone's body processes foods differently. Levels can track how your body does this

Their app empowers people to track their glucose levels throughout the day to improve their wellness and performance. The app pairs with two of the most popular types of continuous glucose monitors to provide on-going data about how the foods you eat, or even the foods you pair together, along with exercise could be affecting your blood sugar, and ultimately your overall wellness.

Levels app on phone with woman
Source: levelshealth.com

Product Specs:

  • What's in the box: When you order a Levels kit you will receive two continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), alcohol wipes for cleaning your skin before application, waterproof and sweatproof patches to place on top of the sensors, along with the applicator, plus some product documentation.
  • Compatibility: The Levels app is compatible with two of the most popular CGMs, the Dexcom G6 and Abbott FreeStyle Libre.
  • Features: Including real-time glucose monitoring, personalized insights, meal tracking, and health trend analysis.
  • Accessibility: The Levels app is available for download on both iOS and Android devices and data syncs with Apple Health and Google Fit.

What we like about the Levels App

  • Real-Time Glucose Monitoring: The Levels app provides users with real-time glucose readings, allowing them to monitor their blood sugar levels throughout the day.
  • Meal Tracking: You can track meals and see how different foods impact your blood sugar levels to make more informed dietary choices.
  • Health Trend Analysis: The app analyzes the user's glucose data over time to identify trends and patterns, providing valuable information about their overall health and well-being.
  • Ease of Data Collection: The app syncs with the CGM through near field communication, so you just tap your phone against the patch to get up-to-date data on your glucose levels.


What Might Deter You From the Levels App:

  • Cost: To get the full benefits, you're paying about $400 immediately. This covers your CGMs, and access to the app for one year. But those monitors need to be replaced every two weeks, so between the on-going cost of the sensors and the annual subscription, brace your bank account for a hard hit. 
  • Device Compatibility: The app is only compatible with certain CGM devices, which may limit its accessibility for users who use other CGM brands.
  • Initial Onboarding: While the app tries to simplify data with tricks like ratings foods on a scale of 1-10 related to their impact on your body, there is a lot of learning you'll need to do to understand what's going on with blood sugar spikes, and in the first week or two, you'll be hitting up the Levels blog a lot to get up to speed on the app and data
Continuous glucose monitor compatible with levels health
Source: levelshealth.com

The Thought Behind The Product

While glucose monitoring is common for people with prediabetes or diabetes, Levels believes everyone can benefit from knowing what spikes their blood sugar. 

If you're inexplicably tired throughout the day, irritable, have weight fluctuations, frequently sick or suffering from infections often, then maybe there's something going on with how your body metabolizes food.

Levels believes glucose tracking can benefit anyone's health and performance

To unlock the benefits of the Levels app, a CGM is attached to your body in an out-of-the-spot. If you've never used one before, this can seem intimidating but it's really not. There is a tiny needle, but that needle is only part of the equation for a second. Using the CGM's applicator, you press down, there's a click, and the monitor makes a tiny pinprick into your arm. The needle immediately retracts and slides a tiny fiber in place, and that is what is continuously sampling your blood to provide data. It's more likely you'll feel slight discomfort when the time comes to remove the stickers that protect the monitor than you would feel pain actually applying the CGM.

Applying a continuous glucose monitor is virtually painless

For the first week of using the Levels app, you're just on observe and report mode. You eat what you normally eat. Do what you normally do exercise wise, and track it within the app (tracking is as easy, if not easier than what you'll experience with your average food tracking/calorie counting app).

Levels app dashboard
Source: levelshealth.com

For the following two weeks, you're supposed to experiment a bit with different foods and note how aggressively they spike your blood sugar. It can take an hour or two after a meal to see the full impact, and interestingly enough (if you're new to this) pairing a "bad" food with other foods can mitigate the spike on your blood sugar. The goal is to see the app's graph roll up and down in gentle curves around your meals and exercise, not in aggressive spikes.

Within the first month there's a lot of data to sift through and learn from

When you log foods the app gives them certain scores (1 is the worst 10 is the best). These numbers are based on your individual body's response. So while one of your friends may be able to snack on a KitKat with no major havoc, you might need to balance out that KitKat with some pistachios or celery. 

At week four, your goal becomes data review (you get daily and weekly reports). Youre now identifying which foods your body is responding to in a negative way and trying to move the numbers of individual foods or meals closer to that 10 rating. 

Interestingly, the Levels app's target insulin level is between 70 and 110 mg/dL. 140 is "pre-diabetic," so they're helping you aim for an optimal target, rather than not unhealthy. 

Levels targets an optimum glucose level, not a non-unhealthy level

You can also log daily exercise and stressors in the app, which can further help you identify spikes in blood sugar.

The data can be a bit overwhelming, but if you stick to it, Levels can help provide insights that may ultimately help your athletic performance, energy levels, and focus in your day-to-day activities.

The Bottom Line

The Levels app offers users a comprehensive and personalized approach to health monitoring. With its real-time glucose monitoring, personalized insights, and meal tracking features, the Levels app can change the way people manage their health and well-being. It comes at a premium price, and it's not covered by insurance (boo!) but if you want to have a fitness app that gives insights into how your body metabolizes food, this is an excellent option. 

Brian Leddy Profile Image
Brian Leddy CEO & Co-Founder, BodyStack (FDN-P)
Certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner (FDN-P) and owner of Leddy Functional Wellness. Formerly an Adweek Executive and Media Entreprenuer, Brian pivoted his career to focus on inspiring and coaching people from all walks of life to make positive strides in their respective health journeys. Brian is a Co-Founder, and now serves as the CEO of BodyStack.
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