Jill here - we're pretty switched on when it comes to performance nutrition.
We have a no nonsense approach based on physiology, nutritional science and a whole lot of in-field experience. The body hasn't really evolved from the basic model but sports nutrition marketing sure has so it's easy to get confused and waylaid.
We're no different to anyone else, when something new hits the airwaves we have a look at it, if it makes sense we try it but after we try it we ask a critical question - does the extra data generated from this 'new' thing improve the way we keep the bike moving forward or is it just more data?
Continuous glucose monitoring by Supersapiens intrigued me from the get-go.
Glucose is the body's most critical fuel source - muscles, organs, brains depend on it.
All three macronutrients - carbohydrates, proteins and fats - will eventually get broken down or converted into glucose.
They get broken down, converted and utilised at different speeds so there is great variation in how each macronutrient impacts accessible fuel for performance.
(I should say that the one caveat to everything being broken down into glucose are ketones. Ketones are created when the body oxidises body fat in a low carbohydrate environment. They can be used as a substitute for glucose but they are not as flexible a fuel for performance.)
Anything that shows me how Joe's blood glucose levels are responding to time, distance, effort (and we use heart rate as the measure of that) and environment is valuable. As he goes into multiple days and nights it can also be a useful indication of how efficiently his body is managing his fuel stores, primarily glycogen and body fat.
Now match that to how he's fuelling on the bike, how often, the amount of carb grams, fat grams the mix of complex v simple carbohydrate and the impact of our standard 3-4 hour top-up feeds. You can read more about how I fuel Joe here.
It's a lot of data but I have a more complete, real time picture of performance because Joe's glucose levels are streaming live onto my phone.
And because i've spent time observing the glucose patterns within that picture we've managed to improve some of Joe's fuelling habits, which has lead to a measurable improvement in performance.
Three Nutrition Things Joe Does Better
Consistent, dedicated hour over hour fuelling - those of you who know me or have worked with me know that I'm a stickler for this. There's a reason I hang out of the car when we go racing to remind Joe to fuel. I watch like a hawk and see when his hand goes into the back pocket or when the bottle comes out of the cage. And when it doesn't I'm on it quickly.
I do this because I know that consistent fuelling helps the body manage carbohydrate stores better, manage body fat oxidation better leading to a more reliable, sustainable fuel stream and therefore a smoother, more confident performance.
After long training rides Joe can now see the difference between the jagged peaks and troughs of inconsistent fuelling versus the beautiful glucose wave pattern of hour over hour fuelling.
More importantly he feels the difference and oh my, has he ever leaned down beautifully to the state of 'race ready' while maintaining, even increasing power output.
Continuous glucose monitoring has been the tool that has helped him tweak fuelling behaviour. Does it mean that I don't have to hang out of the car - nope - I have to hang out of the car to scan his biosensor!
Choice and volume of on-bike food - now that we have that beautiful glucose wave pattern hour over hour it's been interesting to see how different foods impact it.
Take our home made date squares or performance bars made with a good amount of complex carbohydrate versus a processed sports bar like CLIF or a chocolate bar like Snickers (Joe's favourite). When you see and feel the difference in the glucose peaks and troughs the choice is clear. We still use sports bars or chocolate for variety, we keep them to about 10% though.
You can also see the impact of volume. Eating a whole bar versus eating a '2-bite sized' bar is a world apart.
When you have a body on the move small, consistent feeds are easier for the gut to manage and provide a steady stream of glucose so easier for the performance body to utilise.
Recovery - what's the first thing you eat or drink when you finish your training ride? How quickly do you eat again? And how's your pre-bed snack after a long day on the bike?
It's been educational to watch Joe's glucose respond to our recovery protocol. The immediate 3:1 carb:protein drink hits the blood stream quickly and drops just as quickly as the muscles gobble up that glucose looking to replenish glycogen.
The next feed, 30 mins later, still creates a softer but significant rise and drop, especially if he has returned home in a depleted state. These are the muscles continuing to demand glucose. Again it is shunted quickly out of the blood and into muscles.
It's the pre-bed snack that finishes the cycle. It's carb and protein based and just might involve his favourite Apple and Cinnamon toasted oats with greek yogurt. By then his muscles have had enough glucose to restore glycogen and you can see the return of the an even, wave like glucose pattern. What he's eating is now available to his whole body, the muscles have let go of the glucose monopoly.
If we've matched the volume to the level of depletion, his body can continue to manage glucose levels effectively for a good 8 hours of sleep.
Recovery is well on it's way and he's good to go again the following day.
It's so easy to use. You install a simple APP on your phone that reads the biosensor data. Applying the biosensor is super simple. It's comfortable to wear. We've had zero issues with it other than the fact that Joe hates it when all my hanging out of the car, nagging him to fuel...has proved to be so right!