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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, not a GPS. Your glucose values can tell you which direction to go, but you’ll need to rely on the rest of Veri’s features to gain an in-depth understanding of where you are and where to go next.

Here is a roundup of some of your most common questions regarding glucose measurements.

What should my glucose levels be?

Just getting started? Aim to maintain a fasting glucose of under 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) and post-meal glucose under 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L). The post-meal window we consider is 2 hours.

Ready to optimize? Aim to maintain a fasting glucose of under 90 mg/dl (5 mmol/L) and post-meal glucose under 120 mg/dL (6.1 mmol/L).

We recognize that sometimes people may eat again before their glucose returns 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 by saying that your glucose rising and falling is a part of normal physiology.

There are healthy reasons why glucose may spike, like when you first wake up in the morning, engage in intense exercise, or go to the sauna. During exercise, your liver and muscles turn glycogen into glucose for fuel. Extended exposure to heat or cold can also cause a glucose spike, but this does not necessarily mean that the activity is bad for you. Simply log this as an "event" in the Veri app so the algorithm excludes the spike from your Veri scores. Lastly, your glucose can also spike when you wake up due to the “dawn phenomenon.

Therefore, trying to 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 a sustainable, balanced way to achieve optimal lifelong health.

We suggest trying to avoid the sharp increases and rapid falls in glucose outside of the ranges mentioned above. Rapid changes in blood glucose values over time can lead to poor health outcomes (1)(2)(3).

Think rolling hills, not jagged mountains.

Here are two graphs from the same customer illustrating this concept:

On the left is an example of the "jagged mountain" spikes you should try to avoid while the graph on the right shows the "rolling hills" that we suggest trying to maintain.

Glucose spikes that occur after exercise will turn lime green to indicate that it is a “good” spike. This is caused by your body releasing glucose to meet your energy needs. Here is an article with more information on how to log exercise.

Glucose spikes that occur after a meal begins will turn orange to signify the glucose increase. If you log a meal and exercise close together and spike, the graph will turn orange because meal spikes are currently prioritized above exercise.

The Veri app will only modify the graph segment between the start & end of the 2-hour window if the spike begins after the event's start time. Furthermore, we only highlight the spike if the glucose started to increase and peaked within the duration of the logged event. If you start spiking before the event start time, then the graph will not change color.

The current spike detection algorithm requires the following to be true for the color to change:

  • The max delta (difference between baseline and spike’s peak value) must be at least 1.4 mmol/L

  • The spike must be steep enough so that the steepest point between over a 30-minute segment is at least 0.5 mmol/L.

Here's an example of 3 meals logged:

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!

However, the third meal went beyond the Target Range and did not drop until after 2 hours had passed. This is what we want to avoid.
Your Meal Score provides a good indication of how severe the rise is and we generally suggest that customers aim for a Meal Score of 7 and above.

Looking for ways to dampen your post-meal spike? Here is an article with practical tips on how to manage your blood sugar response.

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 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 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 negatively impact 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 an 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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