What I Learned In Month One With Levels Health

One month of wearing a continuous glucose monitor taught me this

Here’s a quick summary of what I learned from my first month wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor (as a non diabetic). As I’ve mentioned before I want to continue wearing one. It’s so eye opening. So definitively the future. I haven’t had a tech “aha” moment as strongly as this since testing the Oculus Rift (yet have never purchased one, and I’m on track to spend way more on this tech than VR/AR).

For the basics of what this entails, including the rush of excitement from geeking out, watch this video.

This post will focus on my personal learnings to help me better analyze and internalize them.

Month One Learnings
  • Overall I have solid “metabolic health” and can fairly easily maintain consistent levels. I scored in the 90%’s often. I was happy to see no red flags.
  • I spent 83% of my time in my target of 70-95.
  • My baseline is about 85
  • I have a faster metabolism than my wife. My spikes would occur much faster after eating then her’s. We’ve always suspected this. I also didn’t spike as much as her after eating sweets like pie and ice cream, which helps explain why I can indulge in those foods and not gain weight and she can’t.
  • I’m most likely to screw up (get a spike) between the hours of 5-9. Those 4 hours are the most challenging of my day, health wise. I need to find healthier outlets vs. food.
  • Whenever I was feeling “sluggish” or not motivated to be active, it was due to low blood sugar. Duh! Eat and feel better.
  • I feel my best at around 75-85. I feel hungry/sluggish around 73 and lower. However I’ve since realized sensor sensitivity can vary making it harder to rely on raw numbers.
  • These foods kicked me out of the acceptable “level” of under 120: Baked Potato (140), Hazy IPA (131), BBQ Sauce (120), Spanish Rice (119), 2 small pieces of my daughters left over bagel and cream cheese (126!), Peete’s iced chai (126), 4 bites of apple (117!), sushi rice, white crackers
  • I failed to lose weight. This was disappointing because it was my goal, but understandable because I came in eating fairly healthy and didn’t need to dramatically change my eating habits to stay in my target zone. And for better, or worse, once I realized beer didn’t spike me I wasn’t shy to imbibe. The fact that month 1 spanned some hot summer days, a vacation, and holidays like the 4th of July didn’t help. And a big one: I worked out only 8 times, lightly: 2 surfs, 1 run, 1 swim, 4 long walks.
  • While drinking moderately (1-2 drinks) causes dips the bigger damage drinking does is lower my overnight levels. And drinking too much (>2 drinks) also makes my next day glucose levels a rollercoaster (bad)
  • It seems like cinnamon in the morning does help. Remember to keep adding that to my cottage cheese or coffee.
  • Type of beer matters. I can handle my anchor steams but not my hazy IPAs. When I dug a little deeper I found even my beloved anchor steam comes with calories and carbs I can easily reduce by switching to a beer like Lagunitas Daytime IPA w/o sacrificing ABV (4.9% —> 4% ABV and 5x fewer carbs, half as many calories. no brainer.)
  • More on sleep: my levels often fall too low overnight leading to what’s probably low sleep quality. Start having a scoop of almond butter before bed to help make this more even. Track results.
The Bottom Line

For me, the bottom line is the more spikes I avoid, the better I’ll feel and the better my long-term health will be. Now I know what causes spikes and can make easy decisions to reduce them, but there’s more to know. I also now better understand what my body is going through when feeling “sluggish” and how to easily change that state.

Because my first month I was doing the Wearables Challenge (I had to pay out $25 everyday my levels maxed 120) I was trying to eat super clean so didn’t get to experiment. This month I want to test a wider range of foods and mitigation efforts to maximize learning.

Objectives of Month #2

- Test a wider range of food
- Test mitigation efforts (activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, pre/post workouts)
- Find strategies like eating Keto “treats” to mentally get me through my witching hours (5-9)
- Optimize for higher overnight levels
- Switch to a lower calorie beer; try not to drink as much

Tests (a start…):
- Beans: refried, black, etc.
- Good quality pasta with meat sauce
- Red/White Wine vs. Beer (research glycemic levels)
- Beer that minimizes hyperglycemic dips (Omission, gluten free, etc)
- Bakery bread vs. mass produced
- Almond butter before bed
- Bananas (can’t find that data from month 1)

Good Snacks:

- Mixed nuts and pickles
- Full greek yogurt, honey, almonds
- Cottage cheese
- Olives
- Cheese
- Salami
- Hard boiled egg w/bitching sauce

I'm excited for this next month of experimentation. I'll update this post or post again with more learnings. 

Until then, here's how to try out Levels continuous glucose monitoring yourself. 

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