Levels Health review: optimize your fitness with a $400 glucose tracker

I have been asked what that thing is on my shoulder a lot in the last month. It's understandable so. There has been a big black sticker under my T-shirts for the last 30 days. It is about two inches in diameter and looks like a Band-Aid. The sticker is a cover. There is a small plastic disk under it that is used to analyze my blood-sugar levels. It is the closest I have ever been to being a human.

Levels Health is a new product and service that is currently in late-stage alpha but is open to the public. It costs $400 for a one-month program and is similar to a fitness tracker. It is aimed at athletes and health-conscious people who are looking for everything from optimum performance to simply staying healthy.

These devices are used by people with diabetes, who need to know their blood sugar levels and when to treat it. Levels is marketed as a product for anyone to use and not making any diagnostic claims. According to the company's co-founder and chief medical officer, levels is not intended to diagnose, manage or treat any health conditions.

Let's talk about the substance of the drug.

The primary building block for energy inside your body is the substance calledglucose. Your digestion breaks down the foods you eat and converts them into sugars in your bloodstream. When that happens, your body gets a signal from your pancreas that it needs to release a hormone that allows it to take up the sugar and use it as energy.

There can be too much of a good thing. When your blood sugar is too high, it can overwhelm your system. Bad things start to happen when your muscles can't take it all up. It may be stored in fat cells. It may cause damage to your organs. If you have a lot of glucose in your blood, it can cause your cells to ignore theinsulin and cause them to become resistant to it. This can lead to a host of medical problems, including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, Obesity, and potentially things like cancer, Alzheimer's, reproductive issues, fatigue, brain fog, and much more. A study done by UNC at Chapel Hill shows that only 12 percent of Americans are healthy.

Noupscale is a file on thechorusasset.com.

The probe is in your arm. It is painless.

The photo was taken for The Verge.

This is a high-level breakdown. If you want to read more about the subject, Levels wrote a book called the Ultimate Guide to Metabolic Fitness, which is a fascinating read and goes into more detail than I can here. There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution that works for humans, and high spikes in your glucose levels are bad, but every body is different. It is possible that a spike in me is not related to a spike in you. The only way to know for sure is to experiment and track the results, and while some rules of thumb may hold somewhat constant, the only way to know for sure is to experiment and track the results.

The disk that stuck to me was a continuous glucose monitor. Levels doesn't actually make these products, they are not new. The product it works with is called the freestyle libre. The cost of the Levels program is dependent on the gadget. You have to swap them halfway through because they last for 14 days. The sensor is embedded in a plastic stamp. You try to find an out-of-the-way spot on the back of your arm, ideally in the little pocket between your deltoid and triceps, and you clean the area with an alcohol pad. You depress your arm until you hear a loud click, then put the stamp on it. In that click, the device sticks you with a small pin, which is immediately withdrawn and replaced with a small, flexible, quarter-inch thread, which is about the thickness of a single bristle on a hairbrush. It was painless and Levels promised it would be. I couldn't feel it either during or after.

Noupscale is a file onchorusasset.com.

A plastic tool is used.

The photo was taken for The Verge.

The disk is stuck to you after you remove the plastic stamp. You slap the larger, black circle over it to give it some added protection. It is completely sweat-proof and waterproof, and you will largely forget about it, as I ran, swam, surfed, and never had any issues with it. The sensor logs a sample every minute and then transfers the data to your phone when scanned. You can do that by touching the back of your phone. It has a radio that can be used to transfer data from your last scans to the Levels app.

Most of your time is spent on that app. That is where you keep a record of your exercise and food. You can either write in what you ate or take a photo of it. You don't need to be specific, you just enter enough information so you remember what you had. You can log events like sex and stress. You can see how your body responds. You should keep your blood sugar levels between 70 and 120. Levels wants you to stay clear of that and in the "optimal" zone because you are classified as "pre-diabetic" once you cross the 140 line.

The name of the game is avoiding spikes and dips. You want to see a smooth curve after meals, and the app shows you a graph of all your data points. You can easily interpret your results if Levels rates each item from zero to 10. I was surprised by the way my body responded to certain things, after I had recorded nearly everything I ate and every minute of exercise for a month.

Noupscale is a file onchorusasset.com.

The Levels app tells you how your meal and activity affect your blood sugar levels.

Screenshot by The Verge.

I was surprised that the high-protein and low-Carbohydrate bar I have been eating for years made my blood sugar spike aggressively. It was given a 2 by the levels. My body does not mind some sugar alcohols, but other types of sugar alcohols cause a strong reaction. If I added oatmeal to my regular breakfast of eggs with salad and coffee, my score dropped to a 3. If I switched to a sweeter sauce, the chicken tender dropped all the way down to a 0. Damn. Sweet potato fries were less bad than potatoes for causing me spikes, which was heartbreaking.

Adding something else mitigated the negative impact of one thing. If I ate the bar with some snacks, it would be upgraded to a 6. Dinner would frequently cause me to spike, but dinner with a walk immediately after improved my numbers because my muscles used up some of the excess sugar in my blood. A cocktail going to bed with someone else was not so bad. You are given a score for each day and week, from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best.

Being active after a meal can reduce the spike in blood sugar.

If you don't make any changes during the first week, you can see what happens with your normal habits. They suggest you experiment with different foods for two and three weeks. It is recommended that you try to implement your learnings and go for the lowest score possible. You can see everything in the app, but it takes about two hours to log everything, because your body doesn't respond to food or exercise immediately. The one big report at the end of your one-month journey has 14 pages of data broken down into easy-to- understand charts and graphs.

The device doesn't hurt at all, but there are some pain points. Levels is currently using a two-app solution. You need to download the sensor's app and set up an account to share info with the Levels app. Levels acknowledges that the onboarding process isn't ideal, and it's working on a better solution, but once everything is set up and linked, you don't really need to deal with LibreLink again.

The sensor can only hold eight hours of data points. If you don't remember to take it before you go to bed and again when you wake up, you'll have some gaps in your data. It is not ideal if you are one of the lucky people who get eight-plus hours of sleep. Levels is working on compatibility with another continuous glucose monitor that has a built-in phone feature, but no word on when that option will be available.

The sensor only holds eight hours of data, so you have to sync it often with the app.

Levels could help clarify what your numbers mean. The way the app is set up doesn't give you a lot of information or advice. The company has written a lot of posts about the science behind this, but it would be nice if it were integrated into the app and more built-in coaching was available.

$400 a month is a lot. For that, you could buy a very solid multisport watch with a lot of different metrics and activities that would last you for a long time. The data you get from Levels is unique in the pantheon of fitness trackers, but it would be easier to take the leap if the cost wasn't so high. The argument that fitness tech only benefits the wealthy is supported by its price.

Noupscale is a file onchorusasset.com.

As you wear the monitor, an waterproof sticker protects it.

The photo was taken for The Verge.

Levels is a useful tool for athletes who want to learn how to fuel properly for their unique body chemistry and for people who have concerns about their metabolism. I didn't lose any weight in the month I did it, but I did lose some weight. Levels works with Apple Health and Google Fit to automatically import activities, but it would be nice if it could integrate with a system like MyFitnessPal.

I came around to believe that it would be best to take a month to learn how your body responds to different foods and activities and then integrate those learnings into your diet and exercise plan going forward. I took the tracker off a few days ago and am doing that again. I am more likely to pair an apple with yogurt or cheese because I know it won't spike my blood sugar as much, which will be better for my long-term health and may help prevent an energy crash a few hours later. That is worth a lot.

Levels is aiming for a full launch at the end of 2021. If you use this link, you will be able to skip the line, and most people will get their tracker kit within two weeks of ordering.

For The Verge, photography by Brent Rose.

Every smart device requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it. It is not possible for us to read and analyze all of these agreements. We started counting how many times you have to agree to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don't read and can't negotiate.

To use the Levels Health system, you have to use two apps, one for managing and the other for managing your account.

Before using the app, you must agree to the terms of service. The privacy policy for the service is also included in the terms of service.

There were two apps and three mandatory agreements.