Medical Reviewer: Maryellen Dance, MS, LMHC
Glucose trackers are probably not on your radar unless you have diabetes, but you might be excited to learn about the benefits that CGMs could provide for some of us average Joes or health nuts.
Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) track blood sugar levels, which can also be helpful for those seeking weight management, athletes, or anyone that wants to better understand how certain foods or activities impact their glucose levels and, therefore, their lives.
We’re checking out three of the top glucose monitoring devices and corresponding apps that track glucose levels. We’ll give a thorough breakdown of CGMs, what they track and the science behind them, their efficacy, pricing, and whether they’re worth it.
What’s the best glucose tracker?
Most cost effective
Levels Health offers the lowest monthly price and price transparency at $199 per month + an additional $199/year for the annual membership. Their app interface is also the simplest, giving you the option to input just text (like “salmon and rice” or “HIIT workout” instead of macros or calories burned). The program also works with two kinds of CGM devices, the FreeStyle Libre and Dexcom G6. The Levels app doesn’t automatically connect to fitness trackers, but you can import your data directly from Apple Health or Google Fit.
Best guidance and support
NutriSense is one of the most evolved glucose-tracking programs, with personalized support and dietitian coaching. This is helpful for anyone wanting extra guidance and support in interpreting data to optimize your diet, exercise, and lifestyle, especially in the beginning with set-up. While they are the most expensive option, the feedback provided is invaluable, and their app is one of the easiest to use and understand, with constant updates based on user feedback.
What’s the best glucose tracker?
Best Glucose Trackers: Levels vs January vs NutriSense
|Initial price||1 month plan: $399||$398 for first month (includes $199 annual membership)||$288 for first month|
|Ongoing subscription price||3 month plan: $299/mo|
6 month plan: $250/mo
12 month plan: $225/mo
|$199 per month-long CGM kit |
+ $199/year after first year
|Monthly: $28/mo |
Annually: $120 ($10/mo)
|Subscriptions includes||CGM device, access to app & private FB community, 1 month free dietitian coaching, meal, sleep, exercise & stress tracking||CGM device, access to app & private FB community, 1:1 nutrition coaching||Activation kit (telehealth evaluation, starter CGM, and AI calibration), access to the January app|
|No additional trackers required?||✅||✅||❌ Requires additional compatible activity tracker|
|Features||Real-time glucose data, connected app to track data and gain insights, dietitian coaching||Real-time glucose data, connected app to track data and gain insights||Glucose data, AI projections, connected app to track food input|
|CGM device compatibility||FreeStyle Libre||FreeStyle Libre Dexcom G6||FreeStyle Libre|
|Access to Dietician?||✅||❌ Nutritionist||❌|
|Insights offered||Blood sugar levels, personalized insights on the relationship of lifestyle and glucose, dietitian recommendations||Blood sugar levels, recommendations on nutrition and exercise||Blood sugar levels, glucose impacts of foods, nutrition recommendations|
|Activity tracker compatibility||✅ Apple Watch, Oura, Garmin, Fitbit||❌||✅ Apple Watch, Oura Ring Gen 2 & 3, Fitbit|
Why do you need a glucose-tracking device?
Glucose tracking devices provide a way to carry out continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). These devices offer support within a diabetes management plan, yet they can also help people without diabetes to improve their health and learn more about their bodies, including:
- Those at risk of pre-diabetes
- Busy professionals
- People with concerns related to blood sugar like sleep or weight problems
- Health-focused people
- Those looking for new ways to control and improve their health
The food you eat is directly connected to the insulin hormone, which controls blood glucose (blood sugar). When not managed properly, it can result in high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, which can lead to various health consequences. Through a healthy lifestyle, type 2 diabetes can actually be prevented or have the onset delayed, which is where glucose tracking devices come in.
But it doesn’t only have to do with diabetes. For anyone, when we eat carbs, the body breaks them down into sugar (glucose) that then moves through the bloodstream, thus the term “blood sugar.” When blood sugar increases in the body, the pancreas makes more insulin in response as a way to balance the blood sugar. Cells absorb the blood sugar, and the body uses it or stores it in the muscles or liver.
This balance of blood sugar plays a role in overall health. It’s one of those behind-the-scenes processes that’s happening on a constant basis, impacting the way we feel and function. For instance, research has found that blood glucose and insulin are connected to sleep and weight.
A CGM device can provide a better understanding of how food, physical activity, and blood sugar levels interact, which can be used to improve health on many levels. Tracking blood sugar can inform a healthier diet, the best times to exercise, better sleep habits, and ways to manage weight, such as through hunger training that times eating according to blood sugar levels.
What exactly is a CGM?
A CGM is a wearable sensor device that generally goes on the arm and continuously tracks blood sugar levels and changes in real-time. It can see how glucose responds to various stimuli, such as food intake, exercise, stress, and sleep.
These trackers allow us to monitor our blood glucose to understand our internal processes better and control our health. In the past, lancets or meters were used, which required painful finger pricking and handling blood. Modern glucose trackers make tracking blood sugar much less painful and more seamless by using technology like apps and AI to enhance the data and features.
The corresponding apps can work with other fitness trackers and metrics to track your heart rate, sleep patterns, activity, and more in real-time. Combined, you can receive recommendations based on your data to optimize your health and overall athletic performance, like when, what, and how much to eat, exercise, and more.
Sound exciting?? Insightful?? You bet – the data seems almost endless, and continuing advancements can tell you insanely unique things like which kind of carbs affect you (rice could spike your levels, while they could do nothing to the next person’s), how alcohol or stressful situations impact you, and even sleep pattern or mood predictions based on trends over time.
Which glucose monitor is the best for me?
While the CGM reading devices themselves are the same (FreeStyle Libre or Dexcom G6), the apps and features that interpret the readings are different. What sets them apart from each other?
Levels puts a focus on metabolic health for people looking to improve weight, energy, appetite, and sleep. The idea is about being a healthier person through lifestyle. Through your subscription, you’ll receive CGM devices to continuously monitor your blood sugar in real time.
- Main focus: Your unique metabolism – nutrition, eating the right foods for your body, finding mental clarity, having the energy levels needed for workouts and beyond. The focus is not on diabetes, although one of the goals is to help people prevent health problems like diabetes.
- Price: $398 for the first month (includes $199 annual membership & 1mo CGM device), $199 per device delivery thereafter (monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly). If you choose to cancel your subscription, you’ll still have access to membership perks for the rest of the year.
- App: Levels app, which helps you see and monitor your blood sugar information. The app builds insights based on studying your data and offers suggestions for lifestyle changes.
- Bonus feature: Levels gives the option to have one-on-one support with a “Levels-aligned nutritionist.” The 1:1 nutritionists you can access have a deep understanding of metabolic health but are also longtime users of Levels itself, so they understand how to use biomarkers (like glucose) to guide you with diet and lifestyle choices.
Depending on how (or if) you’re already used to tracking food and movement, Levels could be a hit or miss for you. Their app lets you input your food and activity, but not specifics. This is great for someone who might not be used to tracking already, but if you prefer to track data like macros, you might want a more progressive app/program.
Levels CGM customer reviews
Review of January CGM
January also focuses on lifestyle and eating habits by monitoring blood sugar. It claims to be “the world’s first virtual continuous glucose monitor.” Virtual? How can CGM be measured without the device? The future: AI.
- Main focus: Using a CGM for 2 weeks + fitness tracker (purchased separately) + data input to combine insights for AI recommendations going forward. This creates personalized assessments for each person’s unique health for estimations of your glucose curves after you continue to log the food you eat.
- Price: $288 for the first month ($260 activation kit + $28 for the first month of membership). Then $28/mo or $120/year ($10/mo) for continued membership. Price will vary if you decide to purchase any additional CGM devices to recalibrate, or continue with just AI.
- App: January’s app shows glucose curve projections and the glucose impact of a variety of foods, helping people make better dietary choices. It gives insights like a personalized best time to stop eating before bedtime.
- Bonus feature: The CGM is optional after 14 days (saving you $$). January’s AI uses data from those two weeks + AI for insights into glucose predictions and real-time data to align key behaviors around your metabolic health.
Some people decide to recalibrate every so often with a CGM, but this is not necessary. Nonetheless, it may be helpful if something changes in your health or diet, allowing the AI to adjust to your ‘new normal.’ In addition to the CGM that’s part of the January program, you also need to use your own compatible activity tracker, such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, which may not be accessible for some users.
January’s app is still in the beta phase, so we expect many updates to continue to enhance the product and the data for users. As we said, AI is the future, so we are excited to see how January evolves. But that being said, there aren’t many user reviews on the current iteration of January and its interface.
NutriSense is about maintaining better metabolic health by tracking glucose levels and following dietitian recommendations. It provides real-time, continuous blood sugar tracking through an arm CGM.
- Main focus: Optimizing your metabolism with data insights and personalized dietitian support for expert guidance and data interpretation to build sustainable healthy habits.
- Price: 1-month plan is $399. If you choose to continue, they have 3, 6, and 12-month plans for $225-$299/mo, depending on subscription choice.
- App: The app tracks glucose data from the CGM device to help you gain insights for health improvements.
- Bonus feature: NutriSense includes a dietitian coach (free for your first month) for personalized recommendations. The dietitian helps you figure out what the blood sugar data means and what changes to make to improve your data and, consequently, your health and metabolism.
One of the things we loved about the initial health quiz for NutriSense to get an idea of your goals was their inquiry about what kind of coaching style you prefer. Everyone is different and is motivated by different things, and their recognition of this made it feel more personal. Their coaching styles range from friendly to motivator, educator, peer, or tough-love.
NutriSense customer reviews
The Verdict – Which glucose tracker app is best for you?
All three options offer glucose tracking with an associated app that gives you insights to improve your health. These devices and apps are more focused on improving health than addressing diabetes. But which one is best for you?
Levels offers the best monthly CGM subscription.
Levels offers the lowest monthly subscription price for CGM delivery at $199/mo, including access to their app and private FB community (which users love for feedback, group support of the device, and “biohacks”), as well as 1:1 nutrition coaching and 2 CGM devices delivered/month. They are also the only platform with the ability to connect to both the Dexcom G6 and Freestyle Libre CGM devices, giving you more flexibility and preferences.
January’s AI technology is the most innovative.
While it hasn’t been around as long as the others, January has great potential with its AI technology. This is a great choice, especially for anyone who might not want to continuously wear a device, as it only requires wearing for the initial two weeks. After that, it uses AI technology based on your inputted data during the initial period, saving you money without needing to purchase monthly devices. The insight will help you manage your glucose levels and, in turn, your total health and well-being – from sleep and movement to food choices to help you feel and perform at your best.
NutriSense offers the most actionable feedback.
With NutriSense’s additional support from a dietitian, you can better understand what your glucose data means with actionable advice that’s personalized by a credentialed professional. While it is the most expensive option, NutriSense has been around for the longest, so their app, insights, UI, and continued technology developments provide the user with the best experience, along with personalized dietician feedback on the best changes for optimal glucose levels and health performance.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
How to sign up for Levels
- Go to LevelsHealth.com to get started.
- Choose your CGM: Manual scan or real-time scanning – real-time scanning is recommended (and the point of this article) but submits you as a participant in Levels metabolic health study. If you don’t wish to participate, you have to use the manual scanner.
- Choose subscription and delivery schedule of CGM device: Monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly (no commitment, cancel anytime, free shipping)
- Create an account & check out.
- Receive access to Levels membership & delivery of CGM kit.
- Follow the instructions included with the kit to apply and activate the device and connect it to the app.
How to sign up for January AI
- Go to January.Ai to join.
- Check your gear: must have iPhone 6 or later or any android phone and a wearable activity tracker to work with the January app.
- Choose a plan: $28/mo or $120 for a full year ($10/mo) + activation kit ($260 one-time charge).
- Create account.
- January will send your activation kit based on approval.
- Set up the device and app with included instructions.
How to sign up for Nutrisense
- Go to NutriSense.io to get started.
- Complete >10min health quiz about your goals.
- Choose your program: 3, 6, or 12-month plan.
- NutriSense will send the sensor device if approved.
- Apply the sensor and connect the app according to the instructions once received.
How much do glucose trackers cost?
Levels cost: $199 for an annual membership and $199 per month-long CGM kit. You can choose the frequency of these kits monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly and can cancel your subscription at any time.
January cost: $288 for the first month, which includes the starter CGM, telehealth evaluation and AI calibration, as well as app access. After that, you can determine whether to sign up for a monthly ($28/mo) or annual plan ($120/year).
NutriSense cost: You can choose from programs of one, three, six, or 12 months that range in price from $199 to $350 per month. The price varies by the upfront commitment and subscription length, and NutriSense plans to release additional plans with discounted pricing.
Do glucose monitors take insurance?
Levels: Insurance does not cover the cost, and HSA and FSA funds cannot be used toward it.
January: Health insurance does not cover the cost. January’s FAQs state that some providers reimburse for CGMs, but it can’t guarantee that yourt FSA or HSA will cover the cost.
NutriSense: Insurance does not cover NutriSense, but some FSA and HSA programs will cover it.
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