Level Foods: Delicous, low carb, and now in my cabinet, all the time.

Level Foods BarI’ve had the same conundrum a thousand times: It’s early in the morning and I’m heading in to a hard workout in about 30 minutes. I need to eat something to get through the workout but I don’t want to have anything that will push my BGs through the roof like a traditional protein bar. I also don’t want to bolus for anything because IOB equals crash and burn for me during a morning workout. Eggs would be great, but they don’t sit that well when eaten half an hour before a workout, and they take too long when it’s 5am and you’re trying to minimize the time between your bed and the gym (lest you remember how nice it was back in the bed and end up not getting out the door). So, I’m often left with an almond milk latte being the only thing in my stomach while I try to get through 100 box jumps at 6am. By the end of class, I’m starving and weak, barely pushing through with my stomach growling in protest.

And then I met Ethan Lewis and Level Foods. Ethan describes his brand of shakes, bars, and glucose gels like this:

“I started LEVEL Life because I’ve struggled for too long living with diabetes. I created it for both you and me — and we’re here to make your life with diabetes easier.”

I’ll admit it – when Ethan shipped me a box of shakes and bars to try I was totally skeptical. I’ve tried a LOT of  “diabetes friendly” foods that were anything but – loaded with carbs claiming to be “the good kind,” overly-fibrous concoctions that make your stomach do back flips, and some stuff that had the flavor profile of asbestos.

But still, I tried the shakes, bars, and glucose gels, expecting them to be another waste of time. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. The taste is great for both the shakes and the bars. The bars in particular are a perfect pre-workout snack for me, and only have four grams of net carbs. If I eat one before a workout, I don’t have to bolus for it. If I have one for a snack, 1 unit of insulin is enough to cover it for me. I had two on Monday while on quick flights back and forth to Seattle with no time for a real meal. And the glucose gels are great for lows because they have exactly 15 grams of carb – no more over-treating low BGs only to end up high later, bolusing, and low again.

I rarely endorse food products for “people with diabetes” because there’s so much crap out there. But Level Foods truly impressed me, and I can ‘t wait to use Ethan’s products to train for my next half marathon. To learn more about  Level Foods, Ethan was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Read below for more information (and to find out why Ethan is in to “preventative gellin’) or click here to find Level Foods.

What inspired you to create Level Foods? I started LEVEL out of personnel need. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 12 and have always struggled balancing my blood sugars from highs to lows. The easiest way for me to better manage my blood sugar was through proper nutrition. Eating the right foods at the right time. However the products on the market for people with diabetes were old, medicinal and based on outdated science. I wanted products that didn’t look tired and tasted amazing. It started with our 15g Glucose Gels that are the fastest way to treat low blood sugar. I created them a few years back after I had several dangerous low blood sugar episodes in a row. The tablets, candy and juice I was using to treat them weren’t cutting it. I knew we needed better tools to treat our lows – without creating highs.

There’s a lot of “diabetes friendly” foods out there that claim to keep blood sugars steady but are actually packed with carbs. What makes Level Foods different? I’m glad that you brought this up. It’s frightening at the number of products marketed towards people with diabetes that claim to keep blood sugar levels steady with no real science or studies behind them. Our new protein bar and shake products are totally different and backed by clinical studies that prove our minimal impact on someone’s blood sugar. We spend a very long time developing our products with a team of research and design scientists, ingredient suppliers and people living with diabetes. We make sure that the products we create amaze the taste buds, have the best nutrition possible and work hard to help raise low blood sugar or fight high blood sugar and weight.

How do you personally use your products? As snacks? Meal replacements? Preventing or treating lows?I use our products in a variety of ways depending on where I am / what I am doing. Not only do I treat my lows with our gel, but I will also use a gel if I see (with my DexcomG4) that I am trending down and going low. I call it “preventative gellin”. I eat one of our low carb protein bars / shakes (or both when I’m hungry) for breakfast. Then I almost always have a shake mid morning and a bar midafternoon for a snack. The best part about our products is they’re ultraportable and help balance blood sugar. From Highs to Lows, We’ve Got You Covered!

You glucose gels come in a delicious Strawberry Banana flavor, and the shakes are currently in Chocolate and Vanilla. The bars are in Peanut Butter and Carmel flavors and both taste great! That being said, any plans for other flavors in the future?
YES! We are actually launching new products next week. We are introducing our delicious Strawberry Crème and Rich Caramel low carb protein shakes along with our Double Chocolatey Chip and Chocolatey Crunch low carb protein bars.

 

Some folks with diabetes argue that there isn’t a need for products like this because you can get the same results with natural foods, focusing on proteins and healthy fats that keep your blood sugars steady without any rise in BGs from extra carbs. What is your opinion on that?Although there are many great natural foods that have minimal impact on blood sugar, they usually require cooking and traditional meal preparation. We believe in using these for meals and even have many of the best foods incorporated into our new 14-Day Jumpstart Diet where we provide 165 delicious Low Carb recipes free for members (To sign up for the program visit: www.LevelFoods.com). Our products are designed to deliver the perfect diabetes nutrition that someone with diabetes wants when on the move or when they simply don’t have time to make a meal. That way – we’re never left scrambling for foods that will likely send our blood sugars into orbit.

Where can I get Level Foods?Our products are available in stores that include, but are not limited to: CVS, Rite Aid, Target, HEB, Meijer and many more. To find a store near you visit www.levelfoods.com/store-locator OR you can purchase from of us online at www.LEVELFoods.com

 

We know bolusing varies greatly from person to person, but what insight can you offer for bolusing for foods like your products with “net carbs” (total carbs minus fiber).To be clear, this is not medical advice, just one person with diabetes sharing what works for himJ. For me, I find that when choosing a dose for foods like ours I really more on the “Net Carb” number more so than the total carb number. For example, the reason why we have such low “Net Carb” numbers for our protein bars and shakes is the we use high quality proteins and fibers to reduce the amount carbs that are available to rise your blood sugar. So with a new food, I always start with less insulin and titrate in more as needed; of-course everyone is different.

 

What is one thing you hope that people with diabetes take away from your products, brand, and your story? I started this business out of personal need. We needed better nutritional products to manage our blood sugar. Our goal is simple: Make Living With Diabetes Easier…After all, eating better, means feeling better.
Cheers

Ethan,

Founder and Type 1

 

 

 

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