In the first Levels internal experiment, we found that a simple walk helped mitigate the blood sugar spike from a can of soda.
Levels employees are not, for the most part, soda drinkers. That was the first thing we learned when we started logging the results of our Coke Experiment. Our Slack was full of unenthused reactions to downing what was, for many, their first Coke in years: “chest burning!,” “so many burps,” “Coke tastes pretty good … my stomach hurts now.”
Our aim, however, was serious: We wanted to back up with controlled data something we saw anecdotally from our members all the time: Going for a short walk after a meal can help blunt the rise in blood sugar caused by the carbs you just ingested.
There’s a good physiological reason for this effect: muscle contraction (as happens when you’re moving) can spur glucose uptake [see Science below for more on this]. But we were curious if we’d see the real-world impact in our Levels dashboards across most employees with a controlled glucose load: a standard American can of Coke.
We first tried this experiment using the 75g-glucose drinks used by doctors administering an oral glucose tolerance test (common for pregnant women to test for gestational diabetes). But in addition to universal disgust at the overly sweet orange drink taste, the intense glucose spike and crash left more than one employee feeling bad for hours afterward (said one, “I got super shaky, sweaty hands, blurred vision, had to lay down in bed immediately”). We also felt Coke was more relatable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , between 2011 and 2014, nearly half of adults (and 63% of people 19 and under) in the United States consumed a sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day. Although consumption is declining in some groups, it’s still far too high.