I don’t have diabetes, but I wore an implant that measures the sugar in my blood to see if I could hack my performance. I’d put it back on again if I could.
Category : entrepreneur
- For 20 days this fall, I wore a device that tracks my blood sugar in real time, in the hope that it would help me find ways to boost my performance and energy through changes to my diet and exercise.
- The device I wore, a Dexcom G6, is a prescription device typically used by those living with diabetes. But it’s gained increasing popularity among “biohackers” in Silicon Valley who have hopes of using the data to improve their performance.
- While it was exciting to learn which foods sent my blood sugar soaring and which didn’t, I mostly found out that in fact my body processes blood sugar the way it’s supposed to when working out or after a big meal.
- I still learned a lot about my body, and by the end, I was bummed I had to take it off.
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For a few weeks this fall, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on in my pancreas at any given time.
That’s because I was wearing a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM. The device uses a wire inserted into my skin to get an idea of the amount of blood sugar, or glucose, found in my blood.
It’s a prescription device typically used by people managing diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, conditions in which it’s harder to regulate the amount of blood sugar present in the body.
For those managing diabetes, checking on blood sugar levels is an important part of managing the condition, and it can be done either with periodic glucose meter readings taken by finger prick or with continuous monitors like those made by Dexcom, Abbott, or Medtronic.
The one I tested out: A Dexcom G6, a version of Dexcom’s CGM that got approved in March 2018.
To be sure, I’m not the intended user of a CGM.
“Ultimately, the whole goal is to prevent low blood sugars and to ensure that you can prevent low blood sugars while achieving glycemic control,” Dr. Adrian Vella, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota told me.
That’s important if you’re managing diabetes. The device hasn’t been studied for use in people who don’t have diabetes.
“There’s no data to guide us on how to use it in a healthy person,” Vella said.
But for years, I’d been eager to see what I could learn from tracking my blood sugar as a person who isn’t living with diabetes.
I’ve tried a number of stress trackers and put on my fair share of step, sleep, and heart-rate tracking devices. Each time I took off a device I was reviewing or testing, I didn’t feel a burning desire to put it back on.
But my blood sugar levels, I thought, might reveal more information that could help me hack my diet, exercise routines, and hopefully energy levels. And I’m not the only one — Silicon Valley biohackers have also been keen users of the technology in the hopes of improving their performance.
Read more: A little-known technology that Fitbit and Apple are exploring could be the answer to healthy eating and peak performance
What I learned wasn’t exactly the case. While it was exciting to see which foods sent my blood sugar soaring and which didn’t, I mostly found out that in fact my body processes blood sugar the way it’s supposed to when working out or after a big meal.
Even so, I was addicted to checking out my blood sugar levels while wearing it, and oddly miss it now that I’ve used up my sensors.
Here’s what it was like to use.