What I Learned From Tracking My Blood Glucose For 6 Months

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

For those of you not familiar with the acronym CGM and unfamiliar with the device, a CGM, or continuous glucose monitor, is a small device about the size of a matchbox that sticks to the body, usually on the back of your arm below the shoulder. It is worn like a typical insulin pump and typically for people with diabetes. It is attached to a small, disposable, adhesive sensor that users wear on their skin for about 14 days before being replaced. The sensor continuously measures the glucose levels in a person’s interstitial blood and sends the data through a phone app from the CGM, easily tapped with the NFC sensor on your phone.

I personally don’t have diabetes. So why should I care about glucose? It might seem like a strange thing to worry about and deal with, and there is some truth to that argument. However, I have found the insights over the past 6 months of tracking my glucose with an Abbott Freestyle Libre 2 sensor I got online through Veri’s service quite interesting.

It’s more nuanced than you think. I started tracking how my body responds to blood glucose levels because I was initially surprised by the results of lab blood test I had done at my doctor’s office and the fasting glucose level was slightly above normal. When I re-tested a month later and checked A1C levels to confirm, it was apparent that likely due to COVID-19 related weight gain, I was almost in the prediabetes threshold; a crazy thought for a healthy 24 - year old who is generally highly active and has a fairly healthy diet and lifestyle. I heard about GCM’s from my doctor, but since I couldn’t be formally prescribed one because I didn’t have provable diabetes levels or symptoms I subscribed to Veri. I was then on my own (and the app’s analysis) for the sake of my “wellness” monitoring how my body’s glucose (and presumably insulin) responds to foods I consume, sleep, exercise etc.

There are a few other wellness - focused continuous glucose monitoring services in addition to Veri to consider, mainly being NutriSense, January and Levels that all do similar analysis with a phone app and wearable CGM. I was drawn to Veri because of the app’s user interface being easy to understand and well-designed as well as the price point being slightly lower with no commitment at $159/monthly compared to $199 with NutriSense (requiring a 12-month minimum to get that price), January.ai and Levels were around $250–300 a month when I checked.

If you would like to save 20% off your first month with Veri consider using my link here to save if you choose to subscribe.

Consider The Trends

Glucose monitoring is a niche. Simply put, many dismiss it as too expensive or not worth the hassle to collect data that could be viewed as “well duh”. For example, eat a donut or piece of cake and shortly after your blood glucose level will rise…. a “duh” moment right. Well viewed like this I believe the main point is being missed. The real benefits lay in the areas of macronutrients and fiber vs protein, refined carbs vs complex carbs, various proteins combined with different carb or low-carb alternatives and measuring the results over time and viewing them as trends. It forces the user to make more conscious choices to eliminate blood glucose spikes.

Alternatives include zero-net carb bagels instead of regular bagels for breakfast, and high-protein cereals like Magic Spoon and comparing this with “normal” cereals and bagels to see how the differences affect you.

It’s not always about carbs. Every metabolism processes macros differently, so the idea of glucose monitoring is simply to see how your body responds to what you eat so that you don’t have large swings where levels rise and fall multiple times a day. Staying under 110 mg/dL is ideal and if you go over, the quicker your body is able to manage that increase, the better, generally.

Comparing Meals

I have found it enjoyable to compare meals, especially breakfasts. I love comparing hotel buffet breakfasts. Generally, you are at a hotel for a few days, so it is a great time to experiment with your metabolism and see how certain combinations affect you. Here is a screenshot of the two meals, both breakfasts with a protein base of scrambled eggs, and to experiment the main differences are that I combined the first meal with potatoes (high carb) with turkey sausage and scrambled eggs, whereas the second day’s breakfast was scrambled eggs with pork sausage (higher fat) but throwing in a pancake with the egges. Both meals had black coffee. For my body, the starch of potatoes and the sugar of ketchup cause a second spike, keeping levels elevated. This has become an odd obsession to find ideal combinations.

Screenshot taken directly from my Veri app, compare meals feature

Main Takeaways

  1. Combine protein sources with carbs to damper the impact and reduce spikes. Limit alcohol to one drink or less and reduce alcohol consumption overall.
  2. Light or moderate exercise for roughly 30 minutes following a meal can reduce the glucose spikes.
  3. Sugary drinks, including tea with added sugar, alcohol, especially beer, and orange juice, are the worst for managing your glucose and metabolic health because it is delivered to your blood stream via liquid form quickly. So don’t drink your fruit!

Feel free to message me on Medium or Twitter with any questions or feedback! I hope you enjoyed this quick overview of my experience and key highlights from my CGM journey over the past 6 months!

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Founder and Managing Director of Air Pixels, Inc

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Jack Armstrong

Jack Armstrong

Founder and Managing Director of Air Pixels, Inc

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