I recently snagged a continuous glucose monitor from the startup Levels.
I've always been very in tune with my body and how any activity, drink, or meal makes me feel. As an active person doing daily exercise ranging from CrossFit, weightlifting, running, cycling, swimming, jiu jitsu, or hikes I've struggle to find foods that properly fuel me for the activities I'm doing.
I've tried everything from low carb to high carb nutrition and much in between. I noticed when I eat higher carb diets (>150g) I tend to get bloated and crash during the day - even with whole and unprocessed foods. When I have ultra low carb + high fat, I feel better mentally, but my physical performance suffers a bit - especially if I'm lifting weights or on the mat.
I came across the idea of metabolic fitness (check this article for a full download on what that term means) and how to be able to easily switch between burning fat or carbs for duel. It led me on the hunt to better manage + stabilize my blood sugar.
With the goals of longevity, athletic performance, weight management, and sustained energy in mind, I had a big mountain to climb to try and figure out how to optimize my nutrition.
I quickly learned that, at a high level, nutrition is not one size fits all and should be treated as such. Our responses to certain foods, activities, and stressors are completely individual. For example, you and I could both eat a banana and have wildly different reactions.
A friend texted me and said 'Are you still doing the blood sugar reader? Can you try out 'x' food, I hear it doesn't have a big response but would love to find out?'
But through this month of monitoring my blood glucose I learned that my response to say, a grapefruit, is different than any other person's response. So while I might get a massive spike, you might have a completely healthy and stable response.
Another great article on how blood glucose monitoring can dial in an optimal diet for your specific life.
The process of using the monitor was simple. You apply the monitor directly to your arm where it stays for 14 days until the battery dies and you then apply the 2nd sensor to your other arm. It comes with a relatively pain free applicator that puts a filament into your arm (via a small quick needle) and the monitor adheres to your arm where it reads your blood glucose continuously.
This allows you 24/7 monitoring of your blood glucose vs going to get lab work done first thing in the morning getting you a score at a particular moment in time (like we're used to when we see the doctor).
With a continuous monitor, we're now able to see how we react to certain foods, activities, or even stressful situations like a conversation with the boss.
I was able to lose 10 pounds, have sustained stable energy throughout the day, improve sleep, and gain a better understanding of which foods my body responds to.
And the results might not be what you'd expect! While grapefruit causes me to spike to pre-diabetic levels, Reese's PB cups (my favorite) were totally stable.
I'm a fan of tracking my data any way I can and Levels was the best thing I've done since I started measuring my food + tracking nutrition.
Metabolic fitness is a relatively new term and since most people don't know what it is, the main hurdle is educating the masses on its definition and why it's even something we should pay attention to.
Think the type or quality of food doesn't matter? Consider this...
88% of Americans are not metabolically healthy. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) covering 2009–2016, researchers found that only 1 in 8 American adults showed optimal levels of all five metabolic risk factors: BMI, glucose, blood pressure, HDL, and triglycerides without medication. The same data showed only 42% of adults had fasting glucose under 100 mg/dL, the typical threshold for prediabetes.
Better inputs = better outputs.
Three of my favorite books on metabolic health:
- Why We Get Sick by Dr. Benjamin Bickman
- Personalized Diet by Eran Segal PhD, Eran Elinav MD PhD
- Metabolical by Dr Robert Lustig