How Levels offers a new approach to weight management

Traditional diets don’t work. With personalized CGM data, Levels helps you find a sustainable, holistic path to a healthy weight.

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know how frustrating and ineffective it can be. The statistics back this up: almost half of Americans have tried to lose weight in the past year, but only 15-20% of those who lose weight keep it off.

Most people have a sense that their eating habits could be better. Yet, a history of failed fad diets and an abundance of conflicting nutrition information can lead to inaction. Too often, yesterday’s superfoods become today’s kryptonite; and a nutrition program that worked for your best friend may not be the best plan for you. In short, it’s easy to lose motivation to eat right when you don’t know what “right” means for you.

To combat confusion and inaction, Levels gives you data-backed, personalized, real-time information about how your food choices affect the aspects of health that matter to you—including your weight, sleep quality, and risk of chronic disease. How? Based on your unique lifestyle and biology, the app, paired with a wearable CGM device, delivers individualized, actionable recommendations that help you achieve your goals.

See how Levels can help you manage weight 

Levels, the health tech company behind this blog, can help you improve your metabolic health by showing how food and lifestyle impact your blood sugar. Get access to the most advanced continuous glucose monitors (CGM), along with an app that offers personalized guidance so you can build healthy, sustainable habits. Click here to learn more about Levels.

Why Traditional Diets Don’t Work

The term “diet” doesn’t typically evoke warm, fuzzy feelings. That’s because weight loss programs tend to focus on what you can’t eat—instantly putting you in a deprivation mindset. In many cases, diets also place an upper limit on food consumed, with calorie reduction at the center of the strategy. The less you eat, the reasoning goes, the more weight you lose.

This approach—sometimes referred to as “calories in/calories out” (CI/CO)—paints an incomplete picture of weight loss, let alone sustainable weight loss—and, because of this, often doesn’t work. In fact, dramatically reducing calorie intake can actually make weight loss more difficult. This is because when the body senses an environment of food scarcity, it slows its resting metabolic rate so as not to rapidly burn through its fuel. This may translate to fewer calories burned each day—which made sense for our food-scarce ancestors, but not in a world of unlimited calories.

A deprivation-centric approach can also affect the brain in ways that promote weight regain. When you restrict calories, heightened activity in the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex leads to cravings, an increased attention to food, and a greater focus on obtaining it. In short: when you’re on a deprivation diet, your brain becomes obsessed with food. This can feel like torture and is not sustainable in the long run.

Indeed, most diets are generic. They don’t consider differences in physiology and lifestyle that affect how your individual body responds to different foods.

Traditional weight loss programs also don’t consider the intricate hormonal and chemical processes involved in weight management and energy balance in the body. In particular, a CI/CO approach fails to account for the role of insulin in weight regulation. Insulin is our body’s primary anabolic hormone, meaning it promotes “building” in the body (e.g., the storage of fat) rather than breaking things down. To lose weight, you must manage insulin levels so the body shifts from storing fat to burning it. (Chronically high insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance, prediabetes, and, eventually, Type 2 diabetes.)

Beyond insulin, several hormones play a role in weight management, and your body’s response to a given food may vary depending on your hormonal makeup at a given moment. This factor is particularly relevant to women, who experience natural fluctuations in hormone levels throughout their menstrual cycle and their lifetime (e.g., during menopause).

Indeed, most diets are generic. They don’t consider differences in physiology and lifestyle that affect how your individual body responds to different foods. Most of us have that one friend who can eat whatever they want and not put on weight. All bodies are not created equal. So why is it that most diets assume they are? It’s no wonder they don’t work.

Moreover, most diets focus narrowly on weight loss, failing to consider other health goals and personal aspirations. In addition to jeopardizing your physical health, diets can lead to heightened stress and the cortisol that comes with it—a hormonal change that, cruelly, may prevent you from losing weight. The stress of dieting, often coupled with nighttime hunger, can significantly impair sleep. Poor sleep, in turn, has been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and inflammation.

🔬 In one study, people sleeping 5½ hours a night lost more non-fat mass than fat while on a mildly calorie-restricted diet; people who got 8½ hours of sleep shed more fat. Another study found that for participants who reduced their calorie intake by 600-700 a day, every extra hour of sleep was associated with 1.5 pounds more fat loss. This illustrates the importance of adequate sleep in achieving weight loss goals.

Not to mention, it’s hard to engage in physical activity if you’re hungry and tired all the time. As a byproduct of dieting, you may find that you lack the energy you need to participate in your favorite hobbies or regularly exercise—a critical component of health and longevity.

How Levels Helps You Manage Weight

At Levels, we believe that a metabolic-health-centered approach to nutrition can help you achieve your desired goals, whether that’s weight loss, improved sleep, less stress, or other aspects of your physical and social life. Our approach to eating frames food not just as a source of calories but as a well of molecular information that powers life. This is to say: we don’t vilify food; we celebrate it! This framing lends itself to a weight management plan that’s effective, sustainable, and even enjoyable.

We take a metabolic health approach to nutrition. Your body converts food into energy through a set of biological processes known as metabolism. Good metabolic health means that your body can efficiently make and use energy, helping your cells—and you—function at full capacity. Poor metabolic health, by contrast, means that cells aren’t getting the energy they need, leading to several mental and physical challenges, including weight gain.

Levels offers personalized recommendations for enhancing your metabolic health and achieving your weight loss goals.

Levels’ aims to show people how foods affect their health, with attention to the biochemical mechanisms that contribute to weight gain. This approach recognizes the unique interplay of hormones in your body (e.g., insulin, cortisol, estrogen) and how they affect your ability to store or burn fat. Rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all diet, the app analyzes your activity and eating patterns to pinpoint specific choices that could be leading to blood sugar surges and hormonal imbalances. From there, the app offers personalized recommendations for dietary and lifestyle changes that enhance your metabolic health and aid in achieving your healthy weight.

Find out what’s happening inside your body, too. When we focus only on the scale and the mirror, we can overlook key changes happening in our cells and organs. Frequent spikes in blood sugar levels, for instance, have been linked to inflammation and blood vessel damage—as well as to weight gain. Levels offers optional blood panels and continuous glucose monitoring to provide you with hard data about how your diet is affecting key markers of health. This CGM data can help you identify what is and is not working in your diet, so you can stabilize your blood glucose levels.

It’s not about following strict rules, it’s about finding what works for you. Rather than mandating a rigid diet (that may fall out of favor in a year), or prohibiting an entire food group (like carbohydrates, for instance), the app analyzes your activity and eating patterns to identify choices that may be preventing you from reaching your health goals. Based on this data, the app delivers personalized, actionable, and achievable recommendations for for how to get back on track.

LEFT: The app’s user-friendly logging interface lets you quickly record each meal—a critical first step to connecting how you eat to how you feel. RIGHT: When you log, the app doesn’t simply label foods “good” or “bad.” Instead, it draws from the latest science to (1) explain why foods affect you the way they do; and (2) provide personalized recommendations for better metabolic health and glycemic control.

Beyond the scale. Levels isn’t just about food—a metabolically healthy lifestyle is one that includes exercisestress management, and good sleep, so the app also helps you dial in these variables too. For example, the app helps you understand the relationship between your sleep patterns, weight, and energy level.

By addressing weight within the context of metabolic health, Levels ensures that your dietary and lifestyle choices support health goals beyond a shrinking waistline. For example, by improving your glucose stability and minimizing blood sugar spikes, you can lower your risk for a number of chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.

In contrast to restrictive diets that leave you feeling stressed, a metabolic health approach aims to cultivate a positive relationship with food. It does so by encouraging not calorie restriction, but rather the consumption of a diverse range of nutrient-rich foods. In addition to supporting your long-term health goals, this approach can be a lot of fun. By providing ideas for food swaps and recipe recommendations, Levels may help you find your new favorite food or even help you plan your next dinner party.

By stabilizing your glucose levels and optimizing your glucose responses, you may also experience dramatic improvements in energy levels. This can help you make good plans to exercise more or simply accomplish all the items on your to-do list, whether that’s spending more time with family or achieving a professional milestone.


“I had not had fast food for 20 years. I don’t drink sodas; I have very little processed sugar. My glucose monitor goes in, and over the first three or four days, I was shocked because my first meal was a boiled sweet potato, and my glucose shot up to 180 or 190, which was nuts. Then I had some quinoa, and the same thing happened.

By the end of October, I had a list of the 30 foods that did not spike me, and I made a commitment to myself that I would, for one month, only eat those 30 foods. Within the first month, I dropped 15 pounds. No change in exercise, I just changed what I was eating, and I was shocked. Everybody around me was shocked.

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Traditional diets often fail to consider the complex hormonal processes involved in weight regulation, as well as individual differences in physiology and lifestyle. This leads to poor results, as well as negative mental and physical side effects. Levels provides a personalized, data-based approach to nutrition that considers your unique goals and body so that you can make sustainable changes.