Runner Abdi Nageeye wears a diabetic monitor on his left arm. GETTY IMAGES

Olympic athletes like Dutch marathon runner Abdi Nageeye are incorporating a novel tool in their training regimen to enhance their medal prospects this summer: miniature monitors that adhere to the skin to monitor blood glucose levels.

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), initially designed for diabetes management, have caught the attention of sports and wellness sectors, with companies like Abbott and Dexcom leading the way.

The upcoming Paris Olympics, commencing on 26 July, offer a platform to highlight this technology, despite the absence of concrete evidence demonstrating its impact on athletic performance.

"I do see a day where CGM is certainly going to be used outside of diabetes in a big way," said Dexcom's Chief Operating Officer Jacob Leach. The primary focus for CGM specialists remains on diabetes patients, yet Dexcom is exploring potential applications for optimising athletic performance. Details of these projects were not disclosed.

Dexcom's Stelo device, tailored for early-stage diabetes without insulin, received U.S. approval for over-the-counter purchase in March, set for launch this summer. Abbott introduced a CGM for sports users without diabetes in Europe in 2020 and has sponsored elite athletes like Eliud Kipchoge since 2021.

Dutch marathon runner Abdi Nageeye wears a diabetic monitor on his left arm to manage his glucose levels. GETTY IMAGES
Dutch marathon runner Abdi Nageeye wears a diabetic monitor on his left arm to manage his glucose levels. GETTY IMAGES

Abbott's FreeStyle Libre sales reached $5.3 billion (€5 billion) in 2023, while Dexcom reported $3.6 billion (€3.3 billion) revenue. Market data forecasts robust growth in the lifestyle CGM market, driven by factors including weight-loss medication users seeking tech support.

Nageeye, a Dutch marathoner and Tokyo Olympics silver medalist, uses CGM to optimise training efforts for Paris. "That's your energy, actually, that's your fuel. We have to monitor that," said Nageeye, whose team have been sponsored by Abbott since April 2021.

Australian swimmer Chelsea Hodges, a Tokyo Olympics relay gold medalist, attributed CGMs to helping her manage fatigue and dizziness during training by adjusting her calorie intake and workout times. Hodges, now retired due to hip problems, shared her experience with Reuters while preparing for Paris. Sports nutrition scientists view CGMs as a promising area for research.

"A big guesswork for endurance athletes has always been: Am I training hard enough or am I training too hard? It seems with CGMs, we have a better understanding," added Associate Professor Filip Larsen from the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences.