Health Journey: Levels

health Jun 1, 2023

I've been aware of glucose monitoring for quite a while given that my father has been diabetic for nearly 30 years and I've even messed around with his test kit to keep an eye on my glucose level. Sidenote: both my grandfathers were diabetic so I technically am in the "at-risk" category although I don't qualify as pre-diabetic.

After researching quite a few options in this space I narrowed it down to Nutrisense or Levels. Both have their pros and cons (it's an easy search to find plenty of articles comparing the two so I won't) but here's what tipped my choice. I broke down costs initially and didn't like that Levels pushed you into paying for a year-long app subscription regardless of how long you were going to use it (I was aiming for a 3-month stint to start) versus Nutrisense allowing you to pay for just 3 months but the cost was higher for those 3 months. To be clear, both options are a little pricey but I knew I was only going to be doing it for a short period so I was willing to sign up. And in the final analysis, they pretty much had the same cost. Also, I wanted to specifically use the Dexcom G6 sensor. It did mean that I had to install an additional app (Dexcom only syncs with their own) but it meant that it pulled in the data real-time and continuously versus having to make sure you sync it like with the Freestyle Libre. Additionally, the Levels app just seemed to have a better user experience than Nutrisense. To be fair, I might consider trying out Nutrisense but I've been super happy with Levels so far.

So having this device has become a bit of an obsession for me. I think I check it more than any other app on my phone and am regularly playing out what-if scenarios with my upcoming food (I think about food A LOT). I've learned a lot about what my biology does with what I feed it. Eating meal components in a particular order; vegetables first, protein next, and only then touching a starch I might have. Adding mushrooms to my eggs in the morning blunt the spike if I add cheese. Otherwise, I have to skip the cheese. And even if I have an unstable day, for the next 2 days I'll likely spike on something that is normally not impactful. Our metabolism is so cool and complicated!

One other cool thing I learned was just how much my glucose spikes when I'm doing creative work. Building talks, writing, whiteboarding ideas/frameworks/etc. It caught me off-guard the first time it happened (90 point spike out of nowhere) and I thought I'd done something wrong or unconsciously eaten something but no it was just my body feeding my brain. It also made me realize that taking a walk or moving around right after this type of work helps bring my numbers back down. Cool stuff!

There are 2 specific challenges I've had with Levels though. First is the "Guidance" feature they recently rolled out. I appreciate the effort and am sure some folks enjoy the content but I find quite a bit of it to be remedial and the girl in the videos is kinda annoying to me. I wouldn't normally complain but I can't seem to find a way to opt out of the content now. The other challenge is that I believe their app may have a memory leak in it because occasionally it hangs up and I have to restart it (the dev in me cringes a little bit just sharing this).

All in all, I'm likely going to wrap up using it continuously after the 3rd month but I've seen how it can inform us about our bodies and food in some pretty awesome ways. A side note: I did take a survey earlier this week that mentioned the possibility of doing 1 sensor a month (normally it's 3 because they last 10 days) so that might something I'd be interested in keeping up with for a longer period. We will see!

Referral link warning: You can sign up for Levels using my personal link

DISCLAIMER: I'm not getting paid for any of this. Just sharing what I've learned and my experience.