Tracking bodily data to optimize one’s fitness needs is not a new trend. What started with daily step counting has evolved into heart-rate tracking, sleep analysis, and borderline obsessive calorie counting. Metabolism trackers take this one step further by helping you keep a consistent eye on your blood sugar.
Unlike a blood glucose meter, which has been used by diabetic patients for decades, these devices don’t require you to prick yourself every time you want a reading. Instead, a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) sensor is inserted in your skin, which measures your blood glucose levels 24 hours a day, helping you identify foods that cause a spike.
While there are a few brands in this niche space, Ultrahuman proved to be the first to break out in India,
raising $17.5 million in funding in 2021. “Out of the available biomarkers, we found glucose really interesting because of its ability to offer real-time feedback on your food. We realized that if we wanted people to change their eating habits, we would have to establish a positive or negative feedback loop,” says Mohit Kumar, CEO & Founder, Ultrahuman.
The growing number of people wearing black patches in the gym can be attributed to the genius branding stroke by Ultrahuman for its first product, Ultrahuman M1. The patch with the brand’s logo covers a semi-invasive continuous CGM sensor, which stays mounted on your arm for a period of two
weeks, after which you need to replace it with a new sensor. It stores up to eight hours’ worth of data, and you can scan it with your NFC-enabled phone to access real-time readings and insights on the Ultrahuman app.
What’s interesting is that the M1 uses a FreeStyle Libre CGM sensor by Abbott. HealthifyMe, a digital health and fitness ecosystem, uses the same sensor for HealthifyPro, a program that offers you access to a smart scale, pro coaches, calorie tracking, and a metabolic panel, apart from the CGM sensor. You can also opt for the Abbott sensor as its portable reading device directly from the brand’s website, but it comes at a similar cost as an M1, minus the advanced app of Ultrahuman.
But is there really a need for all this constant data, especially for someone not suffering from diabetes? Aman Vig, 29, comes from a family of diabetics and falls in the prediabetic zone. “Using a CGM was a precautionary step for me. You can’t change habits you don’t measure,” he says. The National Urban
A diabetes survey estimates the prevalence of prediabetes in India at 14 percent.
Additionally, millions of people globally suffer from different types of metabolic disorders. By recognizing problem foods and changing eating habits accordingly, metabolism trackers can help prevent and reverse more damage. It’s no secret that your diet plays a huge role in your fitness. Whether you’re a pro-athlete or a regular gym-goer, eating a balanced diet is a must if you want results. You might already have an understanding of what is generally considered healthy, but did you know that no two bodies respond in the exact same manner to the same foods? With no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to blood glucose, it becomes essential to study individual responses to what you eat. I was surprised to learn that a bowl of poha caused a larger spike in my blood sugar than a pizza. By using the M1, I was able to figure out which type of foods gave me a better glucose score at varying times of the day. It also helped me stay optimally fuelled for my workouts. The app also had a collection of video workouts covering a range of fitness disciplines.
Ultrahuman also allows you to sync some popular fitness trackers with their apps so that you can correlate your sleep and workout data with your glucose trends. Lumen, too, offers advanced integrations with brands like Garmin and Apple. In its second integration phase, Lumen allows Garmin users to conduct post-workout metabolism measurements by tracking new data metrics such as body battery, resting heart rate, and high heart rate. Lumen’s metabolism tracking app is also available for Apple Watch users, making it easier to track your fat burn on the go.
The M1’s two-week trial kit costs `4,999. For you to keep up with that kind of investment, you would
need to know if there’s a continuous requirement for CGM in your life. “I honestly think that you can learn everything you need to from the two-week trial, without opting for the annual subscription—unless you have a super experimental lifestyle,” says M1 user Aarushi Singh, 25. On the flip side, discontinuing the service may also result in settling back into old, unhealthy habits. “Even though I now know the best-suited foods for my body, I have decided to keep the M1 tracker on. Without it, I would slack off from my best eating behavior as the app was no longer alerting me. This led to a significant drop in my peak power and endurance,” says Partha Varanashi, 37, high-performance coach and aquatic educator.
In a country where people aren’t overly concerned with what they’re putting inside their bodies as long as it tastes good, the concept of metabolism tracking may not be welcomed by the masses. In the two weeks that I had the M1 on, my family repeatedly reproached me for being ‘too conscious’ and unnecessarily stressing myself out. Singh points out how logging every food item and closely tracking its result on the body can be harmful to those who have had a complicated relationship with food in the past. “Sometimes you won’t see a spike if you eat something unhealthy, but a healthy food may cause your glucose to rise. Seeing those unexpected spikes can be triggering if you have settled into a healthy lifestyle after a lot of hard work,” she says.
If metabolism trackers sound tricky and complicated, it’s because they are attempting to solve a complex problem. Whether they’ll succeed or not, only time will tell. In the meantime, if you are looking to try them out for yourself, just remember that you will only get what you put into the process. And yes, it’s a fair amount of work. Without logging your foods, analyzing daily glucose trends, and optimizing your metabolic score, the CGM sensor will be nothing more than a fancy patch on your body.
The crucial question to ask before making your purchase is whether you are investing in your health or you are participating in a fad.
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(Featured Image: Partha Varanashi Ultrahuman)