I’ve Been Using the Ultrahuman Glucose Monitor for Two Weeks Even Though I’m Not Diabetic. While I’ve Learned About My Body, The Device Isn't for Everyone

I’ve Been Using the Ultrahuman Glucose Monitor for Two Weeks Even Though I’m Not Diabetic. While I’ve Learned About My Body, The Device Isn't for Everyone

The tracker is designed to help us understand our bodies better. It’s also particularly helpful for endurance athletes to optimize the supplements they take. It’s been interesting, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone.

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Life has taught me important lessons about responsibility, humor, and teamwork. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that when my colleague Enrique offered me the chance to try out the Ultrahuman M1, a glucose monitor that you can stick into your skin for two weeks even if you aren’t diabetic, I immediately agreed.

I feel responsible for informing our readers about the experience of using a glucose monitor without being diabetic. I find humor in taking on the challenge without expecting a pay rise. And I value teamwork by ensuring none of my colleagues have to undergo this experience.

Now, let’s get down to business.

What is it? A glucose monitor, similar to those used by diabetics to monitor their blood glucose levels, utilizes a filament to reach the interstitial space, a subcutaneous net where glucose appears after entering the blood. Diabetics have been using this technology for nearly a decade.

Ultrahuman’s glucose monitor connects to a smartphone and transmits information via Bluetooth. Technically, this tracker is a standard pharmacy glucose monitor. However, the health tech company also offers an accompanying app and data management.

  • Ultrahuman is a company that develops products at the intersection of technology and health. One of its well-known products is the Ring Air.

Not suitable for diabetics. The Ultrahuman approach is suitable for anyone seeking to understand their body better and identify the causes of glucose spikes, such as meals, quantities, and physical exertion. In recent years, there’s been a growing emphasis on managing blood glucose spikes and preventing them from becoming too extreme. This approach can also be beneficial for endurance athletes looking to optimize the supplements they take.

That’s the theory. Now, let’s put it into practice before coming to any conclusions.

How to start using it. The package that arrives at your home contains the glucose monitor, the sensor applicator, and several patches with the brand’s logo.

Ultrahuman What you get. The black box contains the Ultrahuman package (left) and the glucose monitor package (right, from Abbott Pharmaceuticals). | Image: Xataka
Ultrahuman And this is what the Ultrahuman package contains: promotional wipes, patches and stickers. | Image: Xataka

Using the applicator the company provides to put on the sensor yourself is as simple as stamping a form. There’s no mystery to it.

Ultrahuman The sensor applicator. The filament sticking out in the center is what will stick into your skin and monitor glucose. | Image: Xataka

People have asked me many questions in the two weeks I’ve had Ultraman’s sensor on my arm, especially those who don’t have a diabetic person in their close circle.

These are some of the most common questions:

  • Does it hurt when you put it on? No, you don’t feel anything but a little pinch.
  • Is it annoying to wear? Not at all, I forgot I was wearing it. The only times I remembered were when I rubbed it in the shower and when I had to be careful using a towel after getting out of the shower.
  • Can’t you put it somewhere else? I would’ve preferred to place it in a more discreet area, but Ultrahuman recommends that it be exactly there. Who am I to say otherwise?
Ultrahuman The sensor without the protective patch. The photo was taken upon removal of the patch after two weeks with it on. As you can see, the skin was slightly irritated. | Image: Xataka

Upon wearing the device, the app immediately starts displaying a graph of your blood glucose levels, which are updated every few minutes.

Having never used a glucose monitor before, I was eager to observe the impact of different foods and physical activities on my glucose levels.

Ultrahuman Glucose spikes coincide with meals. | Image: Xataka
Ultrahuman What kind of notifications come in? This one, at dawn, detects when I’ve woken up thanks to integration with the Health app and informs me that my glucose has remained stable and within the proper range throughout the night. | Image: Xataka

Ultrahuman provides both a phone and watch app, allowing me to monitor my glucose levels in real-time without needing to log in. To check, all I had to do was glance at my iPhone’s Lock Screen or my Apple Watch’s screen.

Ultrahuman Below the watch on the iPhone’s Lock Screen, on the right, is the glucose level. On the Apple Watch, it’s the number in the lower right corner. | Image: Xataka
Ultrahuman The Apple Watch app displays both mg/dL of glucose and a Metabolic Score between 0 and 100 based on your health record. | Image: Xataka

Understanding glucose. Blood glucose is a vital health indicator, measured in mg/dL. Normal values range between 70 and 100 mg/dL when fasting and below 140 mg/dL within two hours after a meal.

Ultrahuman Values from 0 to 100 provided by Ultrahuman (the higher, the better) and evolution of my glucose variability (ideally below 12%). | Image: Xataka

The app is very user-friendly and designed to be accessible for individuals with no prior knowledge of glucose. Its visual graphs, color coding, notifications, and explanations help users understand whether their glucose levels are normal, low, or high.

This doesn’t mean Ultrahuman doesn’t aim to educate users as they use the app. Quite the opposite, actually, and its notifications can be quite frequent. In the past two weeks, I’ve received:

  • 34 emails
  • 154 notifications

In other words, I received an average of two emails and eleven notifications per day. The emails invited me to explore different concepts, which can be interesting, but they became too insistent. The notifications mainly warned me about glucose spikes or provided self-generated reports. In both formats, there’s also promotional content about offers to renew subscriptions or similar things. Ugh.

The app can be used actively or passively. When used passively, it displays the glucose curve and provides information about its progress without requiring any input from the user. When used actively, users can input specific “events” that provide context to the curve, such as the food they’ve eaten or a subjective description of their current state.

Workouts and sleep data are added automatically. The app’s food list is mainly focused to the U.S. market, so you shouldn’t have any major issues unless you follow a different kind of diet. Moreover, it can sync with other nutrition tracking apps like MyFitnessPal.

Ultrahuman 10 That night, I went out and had an unforgettable brownie for dessert. My glucose was up to par. When I slept, it was more erratic than average, when I normally eat fruit instead. | Image: Xataka
Ultrahuman When you’ve been using the sensor for several days, the app learns from your routines and notifies you about the ideal time to exercise. | Image: Xataka
Ultrahuman Ultrahuman includes the glucose information in the Health app, so you can consult it there. In this screenshot, the effects on my glucose during one hour of strength training. | Image: Xataka

Supplements. I engage in two types of sporting activities: strength training in the gym and running on asphalt. Usually, I don’t need any supplements for either given that I tend to run an average of 4 to 9 miles most of the time.

Ultrahuman Ultrahuman scores your level of supplementation after each workout. On this occasion, the score is for a strength training session, where things have to be very bad to not get a great score. In long running, cycling or similar sports, it does get complicated. | Image: Xataka

However, when preparing for a half marathon, I find it necessary to consider supplements to ensure I have enough carbohydrates for the race and to avoid feeling faint during it. In the past two weeks, I went running and started using the glucose monitor.

I realized two things:

  1. I overdid with the supplements, fearing that I wouldn’t have enough energy by the end of the race. This is reflected in the graph.
  2. The first drop in the graph occurred at the end of the race. The subsequent spike is attributed to consuming two sugary Cokes after the race, causing my glucose levels to increase.
Ultrahuman On the left, the race. On the right, the glucose graph. | Image: Xataka.

After that came a sudden drop, also known as reactive hypoclycemia, when blood sugar drops drastically.

From this experience, I’ve learned that, despite being a big guy, I don’t need as much energy gel before and during a race as I originally thought. In fact, I found that consuming one less gel and opting for 30 grams instead of 50 grams is probably sufficient. It’s important to avoid over-supplementing.

Ultrahuman The day before the half marathon, the app already detected that my average glucose level was going up, and it was spot on about the reason: I was eating more carbs than normal. | Image: Xataka

Additionally, I learned the following:

  • Running more than 6 miles on an empty stomach is quite different from doing so after eating just a banana a while before.
  • Junk food lives up to its name when it comes to its impact on your blood glucose levels, as it tends to cause more steady spikes.
  • Late dinners also have negative impacts on blood glucose levels.
  • The same goes for increased stress. It’s recommended to have less stress or better stress management for lower blood glucose levels.
  • While sugar is often demonized, witnessing its real-time impact serves as an even better deterrent.

Final thoughts. While it can be interesting for non-diabetics to use a glucose monitor connected to an app like Ultrahuman’s to learn more about their bodies and the effects of certain factors, there are some drawbacks to consider. The device is invasive, it needs to be replaced every two weeks and is quite expensive.

There are several payment options:

One-time purchase

  • 2 sensors: $299 (1 month)
  • 6 sensors: $699 (3 months)
  • 26 sensors: $2,399 (1 year)

Monthly subscription

  • 2 sensors: $249 per month

Additionally, you need to buy Ultrahuman X, a subscription that costs $30 per year.

Social considerations. Wearing this in short sleeves means people will ask you questions. Not everyone knows about glucose monitors. One woman at the gym thought it was kinesio tape, which is used in physical therapy. My colleague Jody thought I was trying to quit smoking, while others said, “I didn't know you were diabetic." Others asked, “What the heck is that?”

Ultrahuman It’s difficult for anyone looking at you not to see the enigmatic patch. | Image: Xataka

This product may not be suitable for everyone. I’d recommend it only to those who have a predisposition to use something like this or to endurance athletes who require optimized supplementation. For those groups, it could be an interesting and beneficial option, as long as they’re willing to undergo a somewhat invasive and expensive method.

For those who don’t fall into these categories, they can wait for non-invasive glucose measuring watches, although they may not be available anytime soon. Also, for healthy people without any medical conditions, I think obsessing over glucose levels may not be healthy. Our bodies naturally regulate glucose within limits, and being overly suspicious about it could lead to counterproductive behaviors.

Ultrahuman's marketing, from its brand name to the constant references of becoming a cyborg with its products, contributes to this delicate trend of obsessing over our health.

Personally, I found using the Ultrahuman M1 to be enjoyable and educational experience about my body, but I understand that it’s not for everyone.

Image | Xataka

Related | Cardio or Strength Training? Experts Says There’s No Debate on Which Is the Ideal Exercise After 50

This device was provided for testing to Xataka on a temporary basis by Ultrahuman.

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