As this year’s Tour de France draws to a close, you might be wondering how many calories it takes to power all of the riders during 21 days and about 2,200 miles of bicycling. The answer: It takes the equivalent of 72,000 cheeseburgers.
To arrive at this number, an exercise physiologist performed the following calculation: Each rider needs about 7,000 to 10,000 calories per day. If an 8-ounce cheeseburger is around 350 calories, that comes to about 20-30 burgers a day for each rider. Multiply that by the total number of riders and the number of days they are riding and you get about 72,000 cheeseburgers (give or take a little for riders who drop out and for a mixture of very strenuous days and—well, all days seem pretty strenuous to most of us cheeseburger-eaters).
Conrad Earnest, an exercise physiologist at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA, did the cheeseburger calculation last year based on other researchers’ data. He wanted to better illustrate just how great the riders’ energy demands are.
The cyclists require so many calories because the energy they expend during the race, which takes them over the Alps and the Pyrenees this year, is as much as it would take to run 21 marathons in a row, if not more, says Earnest.
In reality, the riders probably aren’t eating cheeseburgers to get all of their energy. Unlike in early Tours, when cyclists had to find their own food and drink along the way, chefs and nutritionists now cater to their needs.
As a cyclist himself, Earnest says a cheeseburger is his favorite meal replacement. “The last thing I want to see when I get off a bike is a PowerBar.”
Want fries with that, mister?
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