Supersapians, game changer or gadget?
Over the last 10-days I’ve been testing the new Supersapiens glucose monitoring system, designed for endurance athletes. Supersapiens is the title sponsor of the 2021 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona.
It’s basically an app and sensor, that helps you measure your performance nutrition needs, by monitoring how much glucose is in your blood. But, is it a game changer or just an expensive gadget?
Here’s my review so far…
1. Getting Started
First up, there are two parts to Supersapiens.
One is the app. And the second is a sensor which you stick in your arm for two weeks. It measures blood sugar, from the fluid in your tissues. It comes with an applicator, which has a scary looking needle in it.
The instructions claim that 92% of users find it completely painless, but I was still frightened about jabbing it into my flesh. My wife laughed at me for being a chicken. “It’s hardly child-birth!” she said.
Thankfully, it didn’t hurt a bit. I just heard a click, and then I had a white plastic sensor stuck to my arm. The next job is installing the app and pairing it to the sensor…
2. Pairing the App and Sensor
I had a few technical problems installing the app to my phone (I won’t bore you with it) but their customer support was good.
Once installed, you pair the app by tapping your phone to the arm-sensor, as if you’re making a contactless payment. I specifically had to tap the back of my phone to the sensor, else it wouldn’t scan.
3. Day to Day Use
Once up and running, the app shows you a live graph of your blood sugar levels. There’s also an education section with lots of slick videos showing you how to use your data to boost your health and performances. The first thing you notice is how your body reacts to certain things you eat and drink.
You soon learn that certain foods cause a big spike in your blood sugar. And not just sweet, sugary stuff. For example, baked potatoes sent my readings sky high. In the image below, you can see a blood sugar spike caused by me eating a “no-added sugar” breakfast cereal yesterday.
The goal is to keep your blood glucose within a healthy range, to avoid inflammation, and to promote fueling and adaptation.
That said, after 10-days, the novelty of tracking my daily diet is wearing off, and I have a better idea of which foods/drinks cause and avoid spikes.
4. Using Supersapiens During Training
The next thing is to observe how blood sugar changes around your training – in response to what you consume. These lessons take longer to learn, and require plenty of trial and error.
You learn most during your long workouts. For example…
During a long slow run, I took an energy gel after 90-minutes. And I ran for another 20-minutes. The Supersapiens app indicated that my blood-sugar was VERY low and that the energy gel made NO noticeable difference.
It might have been different, had I started taking gels earlier into the run. And these are the kinds of useful insights that Supersapiens provides.
That’s all great, but would I recommend it though?
- Yes – if you love performance metrics.
- Yes – if you’re struggling with nutrition and you’re desperately looking for clues.
In both cases, you’ll still need to invest time and effort into getting the most out of it. You’ll need to study the Supersapiens videos and be prepared to test different fueling strategies in training.
But, it’s not for everyone.
It’s expensive ($196 US or €130, for a 4-week trial) and the novelty can soon wear off. And it might not necessarily give you all the answers you’re seeking. For example, during an IRONMAN you might observe that your blood glucose is very low. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can stomach another energy gel or drink.
In other words, it highlights the problem, but it doesn’t give you the solution. That part comes down to trial and error.
However, it does provide evidence of what’s happening inside your body, rather than leaving everything purely to guess work.
And for that reason, it’s certainly worth considering.