So you’ve heard about live glucose data: the latest and hottest metric in training and racing, and for good reason. You might be wondering, "How can I use my live glucose data to optimize my nutrition too?"
You’re in the right place to find that answer.
There’s a simple 4-step process to optimize your nutrition strategy during exercise:
- Know your Glucose Performance Zone (GPZ)
- Take note of your glucose levels at all intensity levels
- Use the glucose Trend Arrow to inform your real-time fueling decisions
- Fuel regularly and preemptively during exercise to maintain your GPZ and overall Slope
Understanding how glucose impacts your performance is crucial. But just understanding it is merely scratching the surface. The game changes completely when you can see your glucose levels in real time. Make real-time nutrition decisions on it and make sure your body is fueled to perform at the level you want.
Fair warning: Once you have live glucose visibility, you will forever feel blind without it. Imagine running without a watch, cycling without a head unit, or trying to analyze your workout with HR or power data. You get the idea.
The benefit of live glucose visibility is that you can actively fuel based on it, rather than hope some predefined, one-size-fits-most plan works out.
Visibility from a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) will give you two things: minute-by-minute glucose levels and a trend arrow indicating where your glucose is headed. From here, fueling becomes a personal science. If your glucose is in the right zone but plummeting downward, it’s time to fuel (whether your generic nutrition plan calls for a gel at this time or not.)
Moreover, with the Supersapiens Energy Band, you can even set alarms to alert you to fuel when your glucose levels drop below a certain threshold. This level should probably be set to a level within your GPZ, but not quite at the lower bounds so that you have time to hear the alarm, take action, and not lose the much-needed energy.
Ready to see it in action?
Here’s some data from Damian Hall, professional trail runner who recently got second at the “Lakes In A Day” 50 mile race. He found real-time glucose data to be the key to finishing strong, and he even ran the last 20 miles for his quickest time on this course, despite much more difficult conditions.
As you can see, Damian maintained his glucose in his GPZ for 97% of the race! That’s right: he managed to keep his glucose in his GPZ and above 110 mg/dL for 10 hours, while traveling 50 miles on hilly trails. He also managed to have a slope of 0. No doubt that was part of why he felt so good late in the race. For more information on the relevance of these glucose performance factors, check out our article on the Glucose Score.
Damian told us that the key to keeping his glucose levels up was by having visibility and fueling much earlier than he normally would to avoid his glucose dropping.
This can of course be used in almost the opposite fashion for training sessions that are not high intensity. When not racing or training at a high intensity, you may want to have lower glucose. This would be part of a train low type of training approach with the goal of low glycogen stores to help stimulate fat oxidation rates.
In this scenario, you would be looking to keep intensity low, and glucose low and stable. This will help ensure your intensity is low enough for these sessions and that your glucose is low enough. You can learn more about applying CGM and live glucose data to your training in our article here.
Here are the 3 Key Steps to Using Live Glucose for your Training and Racing:
- Understand your glucose: What your GPZ is and what the goal of your training session is: this will help you decide what your glucose level should be.
- Use your visibility: What is your glucose currently.
- What is the trend: Use the trend arrow to ensure your glucose is in the zone and staying there, then modify fueling and intensity as needed to keep this optimal.
Interested in more information about performance fueling? Learn more at supersapiens.com and subscribe to the Supersapiens email newsletter to get all of our newest research and nutrition guidance. Please visit the Supersapiens Education Hub for a full list of references and disclaimers.
- Burke LM, Hawley JA, Wong SH, Jeukendrup AE. Carbohydrates for training and competition. J Sports Sci. 2011;29 Suppl 1:S17-27. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2011.585473. Epub 2011 Jun 9. PMID: 21660838.
- Hawley JA, Burke LM. Carbohydrate availability and training adaptation: effects on cell metabolism. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010 Oct;38(4):152-60. doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e3181f44dd9. PMID: 20871231.