In this article, we'll discuss:
- What is Glucose Variability?
- How do I interpret the data to see what is working for me or not?
- How can I use it to discover stable and sustainable (optimal) fuel sources?
- What do I need to do to improve my Glucose Variability in and out of training?
What is Glucose Variability? It’s the key metric to use to validate how fuel provides stable and sustainable energy in a specific time frame. (Or, how it doesn’t provide.) See the ups and downs on the Live Graph? That’s the degree of movement (ups and downs) of your glucose levels. That’s the metric that indicates the "dispersion" of glucose data. Basically it’s how widely your glucose levels are spread around your Average Glucose.
Consider Glucose Variability a good way to understand how much your glucose levels vary. Analyzed in conjunction with your Off-Hours Glucose Zones, you get a precise representation of both the amplitude and frequency of your glucose levels over time outside of training.
Check out the movement of the line on the Live Graph: it should be normal as your body naturally regulates glucose levels with an average variability of 10-12 mg/dL during rest (unpublished evidence). During rapid drops (and even rapid increases) in glucose, you might experience fatigue, lack of focus, and an overall lack of energy. In other words: a slump. Significant changes–say, a steep and large upward or downward movements–can impact energy levels, feeling, key training adaptations, and performance in general.
So here’s how to get in front of that: Determine which type of food and amount of that food you have to consume to help prevent that dip or that steep spike in your glucose levels.
This is critical. This is the difference between sustained peak energy and basically bonking.
See How Food Impacts Your Body in Real Time and How to Discover Your Optimal Fuel Sources
Eat a banana. See immediately how your body reacts to it. From this, you can discover which foods provide the most stable and sustainable energy. (Hint: It may or may not be a banana.)
Look at the two graphs below. This is about limiting the steep "spikey" nature of the line on the graph—stable and sustainable (optimal) means relatively flat. Your goal: Find fuel sources that result in the graph on the right, not left.
So you eat a banana. Then you analyze your training sessions. Compare your workouts. Then, fine tune your fueling strategy.
To help discover what foods provide stable and sustainable energy for you, check out our article EXPLAINED: CGM AND THE ENIGMA OF ENERGY MANAGEMENT FOR ATHLETES
Glucose Variability is also associated with vascular health and oxidative stress. It can potentially increase the risk of developing cardiovascular events long term. A series of published evidence has demonstrated that vascular function is strongly linked to endurance capability. In fact, most of the key parameters around endurance capacity (like VO2max and the anaerobic threshold) are molecules-delivery dependent (like glucose or oxygen) that rely on vascular functionality.
Let’s talk optimising performance: Glucose Variability is a good proxy to understand the level of metabolic perturbations your body is facing. Say you take in simple sugars (e.g., concentrated high-glycemic carbohydrates) immediately before exercising. This might cause blood sugar to rise rapidly. And that often triggers insulin release, which can potentially affect endurance performance. This is caused by rebound hypoglycemia, depressed fat metabolism, and early depletion of glycogen stores.
Basically, a low Glucose Variability before exercise would mean an ideal source of glucose that stabilises blood sugar and sustains muscle metabolism. Reducing Glucose Variability in the hours leading up to an event and then consuming a low-glucose response food immediately before exercise should provide a relatively slow rate of glucose absorption into the blood. That provides a stable glucose supply to the muscle as your exercise progresses. You’re reducing the impact of insulin release on subsequent performance. And a relatively normal plasma insulin level allows you to preserve blood sugar availability and optimises fat oxidation and catabolism while sparing glycogen reserves.
In other words, you’re in sustained peak performance mode.
Using Supersapiens helps you discover fuel sources and other techniques to lower your Glucose Variability and support stable and sustainable energy. Validate your current strategy. Or use that data to discover a better plan. Over time, you will learn what works best for you. And remember, what works for you may not work for someone else.
Data visualisation is key to unlocking your power source. You hold the keys. We just make it easy for you.
For more information on Supersapiens and stories from our athletes, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @supersapiensinc