Michael Keller still finds value in CGM after two years

One of the earliest Levels members, Michael relies on blood sugar monitoring to keep his food choices—and his mood—in check

Member Profile:

Who: Michael Keller, 40
Where: San Francisco
Time with Levels: Two years
Most Useful Takeaway: Air travel is always a struggle for Michael, and eating any airplane food causes a spike. He tries to bring nuts with him to snack on.

1. What was your health like before using Levels?

I was definitely more on the health-minded side. Even though I have a family history of diabetes, I have made different decisions around nutrition and exercise. For example, I was lifting weights about four days a week, plus doing interval training. So, I was not worried about developing Type 2 diabetes. But I was interested in monitoring my blood sugar, and this was something I had talked to my doctor about.

2. What made you want to put a CGM on your arm?

I first heard about Levels on the Peter Attia Drive podcast. For me, the motivation was health optimization. I like a data-driven approach to health.

One thing I had in mind—and this is something I tell people now—is that your blood sugar is worth being conscious about. You don’t want to wait until you’re prediabetic or diabetic to course-correct. Coincidentally, about a month before I started using Levels, I was able to get a CGM through my doctor.

So, I had been monitoring my blood sugar, but I could only do so by checking glucose readings on my phone or watch. I didn’t have a program that allowed me to track data as Levels can.

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3. What did you learn initially about your eating habits when wearing the CGM?

I found that bananas and grapes are foods I should just stay away from. I never really ate a bowl of grapes, but my blood sugar would go crazy even if I only ate 10 or mixed them with another fruit.

Another big struggle for me was complex carbohydrates. I found that I can’t have even a small amount of rice or potatoes without seeing a significant glucose response. There are not a lot of complex carbs that I tolerate well, which was frustrating. As a result, I try to eat a reasonably low-carbohydrate diet.

The biggest struggle is going to a restaurant. So I make almost all of my food at home. I lean into eating lots of vegetables and healthier fats, such as avocado. If I do go out, I might try to eat nuts beforehand to help mitigate a spike, and then I’ll ask for roasted vegetables instead of the carb.

4. How have non-food factors played into your blood sugar control?

If I do a hard Peloton ride, my sugar drops by quite a bit, sometimes to 60 or 70 mg/dL. It’s a level that would seem alarming, although I feel fine and don’t feel like I have a crash. When I lift weights, my blood sugar doesn’t change that much. That might have something to do with my pre-workout supplement, which has a small number of carbohydrates.

Also, taking a brisk walk after eating a dessert makes a difference in my blood sugar. I go out for at least 20 minutes but like a 40-minute walk. Unfortunately, it’s not much of a walk if I’m taking my dog out. She’s a sniffer and a stopper.

5. You’ve used the CGM for about two years. What more are you hoping to learn from it?

One, I like the reminder to stay on track. For instance, air travel is always a struggle. Wearing the CGM reminds me that I will spike when I try to eat airplane food. Now, I try just to eat nuts.

Two, I still encounter foods for which I don’t have a good sense of how I will respond. We live close to my partner’s family. When we go there, I eat foods I’m unfamiliar with, and it’s interesting to see how I respond.

In addition, when I wear the CGM, I experience fewer crashes. There are fewer instances of feeling ‘hangry.’ Before, I could just feel generally crappy after eating some foods. The CGM provides this direct insight: ‘Hey, it’s not just that you happen to feel this way. It’s a result of what you ate an hour ago.’ With fewer crashes and effects on my mood, changing my habits to eat for more stable blood sugar has made me just a happier person in general.