Dec 28

Food, Body, Bike, and the 7000 Calorie/Day Diet


I want to talk about food.

I was eating a ridiculous amount of food on my way down from San Francisco.  Tour cycling makes you ravenous, and I quickly subscribed myself to the “seefood” diet (as in if I “see food” I eat it) in an attempt to make up the calories I was burning each day.  I am used to being able to eat whatever and whenever I want, but I have never wanted this much food before!  There is no sating this appetite, I can just keep eating forever!  HOW GREAT IS THAT?!

I remember the day I rode from Lompoc to Carpinteria (117.3 km).  I had my big bowl of porridge and a couple of bananas for breakfast.  Second breakfast was a couple of Tortillas filled with peanut butter, a big handful of dried cranberries, and two fun-size chocolate bars.  Lunch was the same as second breakfast, and my afternoon snack was one peanut butter tortilla.  I got into Carpinteria at about 4 P.M. and stopped at a supermarket to stock up on provisions.  As soon as I got out of the store, I proceeded to devour 6 large cookies, one of those cheap cherry pies, a liter of milk (full fat of course), a king size baby ruth bar, and a few handfuls of jalapeno flavoured potato crisps.  I then went to camp and started cooking.  While I was waiting for my 300 grams of pasta to boil, I ate a tin of tuna, 3 more cookies, and more constant handfuls of potato crisps.  Finally, it was dinner time and I ate a pot full of an eggplant-spinach-tomato pasta dish, normally enough to probably feed three people.  Before I went to sleep, I had a couple more cookies for dessert.  Like I said, there is no sating this appetite.  When I woke up, the stomach was growling.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I arrived in San Diego and discovered that I had lost 5 kg since leaving! That’s right!  I had gone from weighing 84 kg to 79 kg (185 lb to 174 lb).  When you consider that my legs probably gained a kilo of muscle, it means that I lost 6kg of fat and upper body muscle on a body that really didn’t have much fat to lose in the first place.  Now, I have no fat left to lose.

Having no fat on me is extremely convenient in some ways.  For example, now I can use my abdominals to wash my clothes.  But, it also means that from here on out, if I don’t eat enough food, I am going to proceed to become stick man.  Not cool.

So just how much food do I need to eat to keep up with my uber efficient metabolism?  How many calories do I burn during a day of riding?  Nobody knows.  There are just too many factors (hills, wind speed, wind drag, pack weight, rider weight, bike weight, tire type, road surface, average speed, intensity, heart rate etc…)  So, using fitness calorie counters on a few websites, I guesstimated that I burn about 700 calories per hour spent “on the bike”.  That might not sound like much, but consider that I average about 15 kph “on the bike” (“on the bike” includes short breaks, red lights, map checks etc… ) so riding 100km I burn about 4,700 calories add in the nominal 2,500 calories for the rest of the day, and you are looking at a 7,000 calorie per day diet.  This translates into about 10 Big Macs

no more beer belly...

and 4 litres of coke.   Or alternatively, 10 foot-long Subway Clubs.

Or… a lot of fish tacos!

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