Supersapiens has launched a smartphone app that pairs with Abbott’s Libre Sense glucose bio sport sensor, claiming that it will allow athletes to monitor their blood glucose levels for more accurate fuelling.
The Libre Sense system consists of a small device that attaches to the back of the rider’s arm. This, according to Abbott, is “painless” to install and can be worn for up to 14 days. The device connects to the Supersapiens app, transmitting the user’s blood glucose levels in real-time.
The Supersapiens app is a visualisation tool for this data. The main screen of the app appears to show a graph where your current blood glucose level is shown against a scale, with a calculated target range. We haven’t been able to take a closer look at the app yet as it isn’t available to download until December 2020.
The Supersapiens app comes with no performance benefit claims. Instead, its creators say that it is a tool, like a power meter, allowing a rider to fine-tune an aspect of their performance which in this instance is nutrition timing.
Supersapiens says that “glucose visibility is your key to knowing exactly what your needs are and when”.
Tracking blood glucose levels is nothing new. Diabetics have been doing so as part of their every day lives for years, but this is the first sporting application that we’ve heard about.
Our first question when considering the potential performance benefits of tracking glucose was whether a rider could learn to spike their blood glucose levels for a crucial moment in a race or ride.
When we spoke to Supersapiens, they confirmed that this would be a possibility, though the process would involve a bit of trial and error as blood glucose levels are affected by a number of external factors in the same way that heart rate can vary from day-to-day.
The creators of the app claim that their technology will allow riders to experiment with different fuelling sources and strategies, analysing the effect that different energy products have on the blood glucose level. They claim that riders will also be able to see how long a certain product takes to cause a spike and how levels are affected by different energy sources.
The ideal aim, Supersapiens says, is to eat and drink to keep blood glucose levels high, but not to send them to a point where the body counters the effects by producing insulin as the subsequent low could be detrimental to performance.
The Libre Sense device that attaches to your arm sends data via BLE. Currently, the only option to display this is the Supersapiens app, but there is a dedicated watch in the pipeline and we hope to see a data field become available on GPS head units.
According to the creators of Supersapiens, the riders on the Novo Nordisk pro cycling team, all of whom suffer from T1 diabetes, have had their blood glucose data available on Wahoo head units for some time, but we’re yet to see if Supersapiens will expand onto GPS head units too.
Pro cycling teams Ineos Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma and Canyon-SRAM have all been using the devices, though we can’t see any signs that the Ineos or Jumbo-Visma squads using the technology at the Tour de France. The device has been used in training, however, and the
Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Principal of the Team INEOS Grenadiers said that “there is constant change and evolution in technology, and we are always looking for partners who can help us find the latest data-driven solutions. Supersapiens is a company built by athletes for athletes, so they understand the importance of energy management and finding technological solutions for optimal fuelling and empowering riders.”
"Whilst we have used continuous glucose monitors in the past this partnership will help us take this to the next stage through using the Supersapiens ecosystem to access and interpret a new depth of data and information.”
Lead Performance Nutritionist at INEOS Grenadiers, Javi Gonzalez added that “the ability to monitor glucose levels with high-resolution and in real-time will give us a better understanding of how our riders respond to specific training and nutrition protocols.”
“Over time, we will integrate glucose within our larger data science framework to optimise training, fuelling and recovery strategies.”
Head of Performance of Team Jumbo-Visma said that “the better we understand how the body responds to training and nutrition, the more we can optimise training and nutrition. Supersapiens gives us a tool to better understand this response in a way that has not been possible before.”
The Supersapiens ‘ecosystem’ is available to order now with shipping taking place ‘in the coming weeks’.