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Understanding Glucose Measurements
Understanding Glucose Measurements
Alex avatar
Written by Alex
Updated over a week ago

To start, remember: glucose is a compass - it’s not a GPS. It can tell you the direction to go, but you’ll rely on the rest of Veri’s features to understand where you are and where to go next.

This is a roundup of some of your most common questions on glucose measurements.

What should my glucose levels be?

Just getting started? Your goal should be a fasting glucose under 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) a post-meal glucose under 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L). The post-meal window we consider is 2 hours.

Ready to optimize? You can aim for fasting glucose under 90 mg/dl (5 mmol/L) and post-meal glucose under 120 mg/dL (6.1 mmol/L).

Sometimes you eat before your glucose has returned to baseline, so a good rule of thumb is to keep post-meal spikes under 20-40 mg/dL (1.1 - 2.5 mmol/L).

Are glucose spikes bad?

Seeing a "spike" on your graph can be stressful - but it’s not necessarily a bad thing!

We want to set the record straight that your glucose rising and falling is a part of normal physiology. In fact, your glucose can spike for healthy reasons, like during intense exercise as your liver and muscles turn glycogen into glucose for fuel. You can also have a spike when you wake up - something known as the “dawn phenomenon.

Therefore, trying to entirely eliminate natural fluctuations is not a healthy goal. While following extreme diets or completely avoiding an entire food category/macronutrient may flatten your glucose curve, these lifestyle strategies do not generally represent sustainable, balanced ways to achieving optimal lifelong health.

What you want to avoid are the sharp increases and rapid falls in glucose often caused by things like processed carbohydrates - spikes outside of the range that we discussed above. Those lead to poor health outcomes (1)(2)(3).

Think rolling hills (right), not jagged mountains (left):

A note about this member’s graph on the right (the good day): their first meal had sourdough bread and their second had farro - healthy carbohydrates are important for our body!

The graph is orange where Veri detects a glucose “spike” after a meal. Spikes where exercise has been logged will be bright green to indicate this is a “good” spike from your body releasing glucose to meet your energy needs. Help text has been added to further explain the colors.

Here's another example:

This graph illustrates what you could expect to see from three different meals. The first meal had a very minimal rise. Nice! 

The second had a steeper rise but it returned to baseline in under 2 hours and did not go beyond the target zone. Also good! 

The third meal went beyond the target range and did not come down after 2 hours. This is what we want to avoid.

Your Meal Score is a good indication of whether the rise was severe. You want to aim for a Meal Score of 7 and above.

What about a "double spike" ?

A biphasic curve or "double spike" is nothing to worry about! Learn more about this phenomenon from our blog.

Over time, you’ll learn what carbohydrate sources you respond to the best, how pairing carbs with fat and/or protein can minimize unhealthy rapid rises, and how exercise, sleep, and lifestyle factors also play a role.

Understanding how your body interacts with these key factors will allow you to take action to lose weight, live better, or to achieve whatever your goal may be.

Our blog and community are a great way to get ideas for different foods and behavior changes to make.

Deep Dive for the Curious

Glycemic Index (GI) = the rate at which a food or ingredient will drive an increase in blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia).

Glycemic load (GL) = GI x grams of carbs; gives you the total exposure to carbohydrates by factoring in the amount/weight of carbohydrates along with the GI.

Higher GI and GL foods drive blood glucose up rapidly (jagged mountains). These rapid increases, as well as diets consisting of high GI/GL foods are associated with poor health outcomes (1)(2)(3).

Conversely, lower GI and GL foods result in more modest increases (rolling hills). A low GI/GL diet produces a more stable response and improved health outcomes, including protection against developing Type 2 diabetes (4).

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in your blood. Insulin resistance is when your body needs to produce more insulin than before in order to maintain the same glucose level. Negative lifestyle factors like poor quality sleep or not exercising, as well as a high GI/GL diet play an important role in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is well-known to have a negative impact on your health (5).

The journey from being healthy to becoming diabetic exists on a continuum. There is a long lead time of having a high insulin level (to keep glucose normal) before overt hyperglycemia manifests itself (diabetes). A large percentage of the adult population does not realize that metabolic dysfunction starts long before overt diabetes is diagnosed.

How can I make sense of all this data?

To help you understand your metabolic health so you can achieve your goals, Veri calculates a Meal Score.

The Meal Score brings together evidence-based glucose measures to rate your meals from 1 to 10. A higher score reflects a meal with a more stable glucose response. A lower score reflects a meal with a less stable glucose response.

And remember, health is about more than just glucose. Eating a variety of whole foods, especially plants, ensures you’re getting all of the micronutrients you need to be your best self.

How does Veri measure glucose spikes?

Veri has two features that measure and report sharp increases in blood glucose: your glucose graph and Automatic Event Detection, which prompts you to add a meal, exercise, or event when Veri detects a spike has occurred.

For graph coloring, your spike may appear orange if the rise is over 25.2 mg/dL (1.4 mmol/L) or more.

For Automatic Event Detection, a spike is defined as an increase of 19.8 mg/dL (1.1 mmol/L) or more.

We increased the sensitivity of Automatic Event Detection compared to the glucose graph to provide the best user experience for these alerts.

CGM Accuracy

Remember that a CGM measures interstitial glucose values, which are not the same as blood glucose. As a result, there may be differences up to 20 mg/dL (1.11 mmoL/L) in reflected values from your CGM.

There can also be differences from sensor to sensor.

Think of glucose as your compass. It can tell you what direction to go, but it's not a GPS. You will use the other features in the app, like Meal Scores and Metabolic Healthspan, to understand where you are and where you need to go.

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