Everyone’s talking about it, the biggest cycling media is writing about it, and the pro Tour teams are using it. And it’s easy to understand why. Over the years, we’ve all watched countless new technologies once used exclusively by professionals become available to the masses. Some have been niche, others have been game-changers. The latest big thing making headlines could well be the latter. It’s glucose monitoring.
Words: Ashleigh Maxwell
Any cyclist who has been hunched over the handlebars by the side of the road mid-climb knows that to optimise and sustain performance, you need the right fuel at the right time.
A new system by Supersapiens incorporates a sensor attached to your arm that continually monitors glucose levels, allowing users to obtain real and meaningful data about how their body reacts to different fuels. And it’s making a big splash.
Glucose is the body's preferred fuel source during threshold and high intensity exercise. So, optimising glucose levels in training helps you go faster for longer and get bigger gains.
When you eat or drink something, the available glucose in that substance is either used for immediate fuelling demands or is stored for future use. This means too much or too little glucose leading up to - or during - big efforts can have detrimental effects on your performance.
"Until now, understanding how to maintain glucose levels during exercise was something that could only be learned through hard-earned experience."
More than 40 factors can influence glucose levels at any given time and every body has its own unique fuelling requirements, which means you can’t just use another athlete’s winning strategy to fuel your own. That’s why optimising fuel levels to maximise your performance is nearly impossible without real-time visibility of your own glucose levels.
It takes only one disastrous misstep to realise how important fuelling is in endurance sports. But until now, for most of us, understanding how to maintain glucose levels during exercise was something that could only be learned through hard-earned experience. For many, it’s a game of trial and error based entirely on feeling. Imagine if you could have cold, hard numbers to back up your choice of gel or your strategy for how and when to eat before, during and after a ride?
Well, now you can. Tech that has traditionally been used by diabetics to maintain a healthy blood glucose level, is now being transformed by Supersapiens to help bring greater awareness about fuelling to both pro and amateur athletes.
"Here’s where you can turn the guessing game of fuelling and energy management into a personal science."
This specialised sensor was created by health-technology company, Abbott. The circular device is remarkably unobtrusive, measuring 35mm in diameter and just 5mm thick. It works via a 5mm filament that sits underneath your skin. Each sensor can be used for up to two weeks at a time, giving you a good stretch of time to measure what’s working for you. The device pairs via bluetooth to the Supersapiens app, which also now syncs with your Garmin for in-real-time updates.
Here’s where you can turn the guessing game of fuelling and energy management into a personal science. With the Supersapiens tech, you have the possibility to learn your body’s individual response to glucose. Once you understand your body's fuel requirements, you can find your optimal glucose performance zone and learn how to sustain power more efficiently.
Could glucose biosensors be the next big thing in fitness wearables? We already measure our heart rate, oxygen consumption and calories burned. So, why not glucose, too?
Written in collaboration with Supersapiens. For more information, visit www.supersapiens.com.