In this article, we'll discuss:

  • What is Glucose Exposure?
  • How do I interpret the data to know what is working for me?
  • How do I use Glucose Exposure to achieve my fuelling and performance goals?
  • How can I manage my Average Glucose and Glucose Exposure?

If you’ve used the Supersapiens app, you know the feeling: The anticipation as data comes in from your Abbott Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor. (Who doesn’t get stoked for quantifiable data?!)

But wait: What’s the best way to interpret this data? Good question. We're using this article to break down some key metrics for you.

Let’s start with the right terms:

Average Glucose: Your actual average glucose level.

Target Average: A value you set as the Average Glucose level you want to achieve. You can adjust this value anytime on the Glucose Exposure card on the Insights tab on the Supersapiens app.

Today's Average Glucose: Your Average Glucose level so far since 12am today. This metric is displayed on your Glucose Exposure card on the Insights tab on the Supersapiens app.

Glucose Exposure: The total amount of glucose you have exposed your body to in a day. This metric is displayed at the top of the Insights tab on the Supersapiens app.

Target Exposure: Your Target Average multiplied by the number of hours since 12am today. For example, if it is 2:00 pm, your Target Exposure will be your Target Average multiplied by the number of hours since 12:00 am today (100 mg/dL x 14 hours = 1400 mg). Use this to

Daily Exposure Limit: The total amount of glucose you want to expose your body to in a day, between the 24 hour 12 am-12 am window. Your Daily Exposure Limit is calculated by multiplying your Target Average by 24 hours in a day. For example, if your Target Average is 100 mg/dL, then your Daily Exposure Limit will be 2400 mg (100 mg/dL x 24 hours). This serves as the upper bound of your total daily Glucose Exposure goal.

What is Glucose Exposure?

Glucose Exposure is a key metric you can use to manage your Average Glucose level hour-by-hour throughout the day. It visually represents the total amount of glucose you have exposed your body to at any given time.

Everything starts with Average Glucose when we talk about managing glucose levels. And your Average Glucose? It’s just that: your average.

To calculate Glucose Exposure, we take your Average Glucose value each hour from the start of the day (at midnight) and sum them up to get your total Glucose Exposure–expressed in milligrams (mg) of glucose. Therefore, at any given hour, your current exposure is equal to the total amount of glucose you have exposed your body to since 12:00 am today. Your total Glucose Exposure at the end of the day is equal to your Average Glucose multiplied by 24 hours.

Got that? It resets back to 0 mg at midnight so you can easily analyze trends in your Glucose Exposure over time, similar to how you would count daily calories. Except now, you can really truly see your most efficient fuel source and what it’s doing in your body.

How do I interpret the data to know what is working for me?

On your Glucose Exposure card, you will notice that the color is either blue or salmon. The blue coloring indicates that your current exposure is under your Target for that hour. The salmon coloring indicates that your current exposure is over your Target. Check out the chart above. Got it? Nice.

Use this to quickly identify whether you are on track to achieve your hourly or daily Glucose Exposure Limit. This Insight becomes actionable when you use it to drive behavior change throughout the day–striving for the post-prandial walk, skipping the snacks and intermittent fasting, or opting for low-glycemic fuel for the next meal. It’s all an experiment until you know what works best for you.

How do I use Glucose Exposure to achieve my fuelling and performance goals?

Increasing your Glucose Exposure would imply a higher circulating glucose level, and increasing short-term glucose availability for storage or consumption. Glucose Exposure can be a proxy for carbohydrates loading and can be used as a reference to increase fuelling leading up to a particular training session or to a competition. Increasing the total glucose ingested would promote a series of adaptations like enhanced carbohydrate absorption and oxidation that would promote peak performance.

On the other hand, reducing Glucose Exposure would signal a lower short-term carbohydrate availability while decreasing the total glucose oxidation for energy purposes. Paired with a low variability, it might be a proxy for enhanced fat metabolism.

Let's look at an example that explores two scenarios: One when you'd want to set a higher Target Average and Exposure Limit–maybe before a big run, ride, or race, when you'd want to build up fuel stores–and one when you'd want to set a lower Target Average and Exposure Limit–maybe for increasing power to weight ratio or managing total glucose intake.

Increasing your total glucose intake for performance reasons is called glucose loading (which you may know as carbo-loading) serves as a proxy for glycogen stores. In scenario 1, when you're glucose loading, you may want to set your Target Average level and Exposure Limit higher 2-3 days before a performance bout. For example, if your typical Target Average is 90 mg/dL (an Exposure Limit of 2160 mg for the day), you may want to set it to 105 mg/dL (for an Exposure Limit of 2520 mg for the day).

Decreasing your total glucose intake serves a different purpose. In scenario 2, in an effort to help lose a kilo or two when you're looking to manage your power-to-weight ratio, you may want to reset your Target Average lower, say from 100 mg/dL (an Exposure Limit of 2400 mg), down to 90 mg/dL (an Exposure Limit of 2160 mg), or potentially lower depending on your individual body and goals.

How can I manage my Average Glucose and Glucose Exposure?

How you alter your Glucose Exposure would impact nutrients availability before and during exercise. Peak performance may be improved following High Glucose Exposure strategies. On the other hand, exercise undertaken with reduced availability of carbohydrates (Low Glucose Exposure) can increase the activation of key signaling processes, potentially influencing longer-term training adaptations.

Altering the availability of nutrients before exercise can also impact the training response by modulating the exercise stimulus and/or the physiological and molecular responses to the exercise-induced perturbations.Therefore, setting a Daily Exposure Limit and Target Average glucose level that’s appropriate for you will help you stay on track with your daily fueling strategy while meeting specific training adaptations: a lower target might be recommended when your nutritional and training strategy focuses on enhancing fat oxidation and adaptations, while a higher target may help guide you in carbohydrate loading strategies and general carbohydrate absorption and oxidation.

In any scenario, the hourly Target helps you with intra-day glucose management. With a quick glance, you can easily note if you are over or under your Target, signaling whether you are in line with your Target Average, your Target Exposure, and staying on track with your goals.

Let's sum it all up now: Glucose Exposure is the total amount of glucose you have exposed your body to, updated every hour. It is intimately tied to Average Glucose and its primary function is to help you:

  1. Visualize your hourly glucose levels
  2. Empower positive intra-day behavior change
  3. Keep your Glucose Exposure within your Target to meet your performance or personal goals

Understanding Glucose Exposure is critical for building up to the right level of fuelling before a race and for glucose management during the offseason. Knowing how to set a Target Average and Exposure Limit that is appropriate for you helps you stay on track with your strategy so you can make a regular habit of breaking your own performance records.

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References

  1. Kloby Nielsen, L. L., Tandrup Lambert, M. N., & Jeppesen, P. B. (2020). The Effect of Ingesting Carbohydrate and Proteins on Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients, 12(5), 1483.
  2. Impey, S. G., Hearris, M. A., Hammond, K. M., Bartlett, J. D., Louis, J., Close, G. L., & Morton, J. P. (2018). Fuel for the Work Required: A Theoretical Framework for Carbohydrate Periodization and the Glycogen Threshold Hypothesis. Sports Medicine, 48(5), 1031–1048.
  3. Rothschild, J. A., Kilding, A. E., & Plews, D. J. (2020). What Should I Eat before Exercise? Pre-Exercise Nutrition and the Response to Endurance Exercise: Current Prospective and Future Directions. Nutrients, 12(11), 3473.
  4. González-Rodríguez, M., Pazos-Couselo, M., García-López, J. M., Rodríguez-Segade, S., Rodríguez-García, J., Túñez-Bastida, C., & Gude, F. (2019). Postprandial glycemic response in a non-diabetic adult population: the effect of nutrients is different between men and women. Nutrition & Metabolism, 16(1), 46.