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How Many Calories to Consume During Century?(12 posts)

How Many Calories to Consume During Century?StewK
May 25, 2001 10:02 AM
I'm getting ready for my first century and would like to get some advice on how many calories I should plan on consuming during the ride. My best guess is that the ride should take me about six hours.

I'll probably have a light breakfast and then head off with a bunch of Power Bars. I've used them on three hour rides and have had no problems digesting them while I'm riding.

here's a start on figuring it outCory
May 25, 2001 10:50 AM
Bicycling printed a formula years ago for figuring how many calories you burn riding, based on your weight, speed and time in the saddle. At 17mph (6-hour pace), you use 0.0675 times your weight times the number of minutes you ride. For a 150-pounder, that's 3645 calories. It stays pretty consistent over a given distance regardless of speed, because while the consumption goes up as you go faster, the time goes down.
You can find the table online at
From the Racing messageboardBrian C.
May 25, 2001 11:29 AM

Check this Web site; click on physiology - There's a good program for calculating calories, etc.
Calorie ConsumptionJon Billheimer
May 25, 2001 12:02 PM
One thing to note, regardless of how many calories you burn on the ride, you're limited as to how much you can digest while riding. Most estimates fall in the 225 kcal to 300 kcal per hour. The reason being the rate of gastric emptying during exercise.
yew axed fer it! ( stats and food from my 1st 100, 5/5/01)Haiku d'état
May 25, 2001 12:01 PM
Total time from start to finish: 9 hours, 4 minutes.
Total time on the bike, pedaling or pushing: 7 hours, 40 minutes
Total time riding (estimated): 7 hours
Total time pushing the bike (estimated): 40 minutes
Average ride speed: 14.57 MPH
Total elevation gain: 7,673 feet
States: Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia
SAGs: 4
Suck Creek at 2050 feet
Sand Mountain at 1600 feet
Lookout Mountain at 1800 feet

I'm estimating 40 minutes as the time it took to push up the main part of the final climb, Burkhalter Gap, which came at 80 miles. The rest of the time was taken dawdling off the bike at SAGs. Lesson learned, won't happen again.

* Pre-ride breakfast: banana (100 cal), bagel, breakfast bar and ½ liter of water
* Clif Bars: 6 @ 240 cal ea (1440 cal)
* PowerGels: 2 @ 100 cal ea (200 cal)
* Trail Mix: ½ cup at 240 cal total (240 cal)
* 2 quarters of a banana: 50 cal total (50 cal)
* ¼ of a peanut butter sandwich on wheat: 75 cal (75 cal)
* Gatorade: 6 @ 16 oz ea, 200 cal ea (1200 cal)
* Water/Bottles: 3 @ 16 oz ea
* Water/Hydration Pack: 135 oz total (estimation)
* Total Gatorade intake during the ride: 96 oz
* Total water intake during the ride: 183 oz (not including Gatorade)
* Total caloric intake during the ride: 3205 cal
* Calories burned: between 4314 and 5846

(Estimation considering distance, time, speed and elevation gain, rider weight, and depending upon which school of thought applied toward calorie expenditure; I weighed in at 194 the morning of the ride. Schools of thought are the 30 calorie per mile versus the bicycling magazine forumlas.)

Carried on the ride:
* 9 ClifBars
* 2 ClifGels
* 3 PowerGels
* ½ cup of trail mix with peanut M&Ms
* 5 baggies of powdered lime Gatorade (2 bottles per baggie)
* 2 18-ounce water bottles
* 1 patch kit (not glueless)
* 2 small presta tubes
* 1 Topeak Alien Multitool
* 1 Topeak Master Blaster Combo frame pump
* 1 brake cable
* 1 derailleur cable
* 1 Look cleat and hardware
* 1 Nike Hydration Pack, 100 ounce bladder
* 1 spare head covering
* 2 papers with images of driver's license, insurance cards, other information (one on bike, one on person)
* necessary medication
* 1 Nikon automatic 35 mm camera
* $24 (a twenty and four ones)
re: How Many Calories to Consume During Century?Mel Erickson
May 25, 2001 12:30 PM
You'll never to be able to eat enough to replace what you burn during the ride. Eat as much as your system will tolerate. Eat complex carbohydrates that are easily digestible. I used to eat powerbars but shy away from them now. I stick to gels and/or energy drinks during races or fast paced events where I don't stop. I assume you will be stopping at food stops. Resist the donuts, say yes to the bananas and fruit. Consume as much as your stomach can stand. Eat a substantial breakfast (no Krispy Kremes or sausage) at least 2 hours before the ride. Drink lots of water before, during and after the ride. Resist that beer, assuming you're old enough ;), until you've had several glasses of water. It ain't rocket science, no calculations necessary.
I figure about 50 calories per mile plus ...Humma Hah
May 25, 2001 12:51 PM
... an additional 20 per 100 ft of climbing. A roadbike at an easy cruise in a paceline may be lower, maybe 30-40 calories per mile, but hammering hard should be closer to 50.

A rough guess, about 5000 calories burned. If you carb load the night before and get a decent breakfast, figure around 3000 calories are in your system, and you can burn around 200 calories per hour of fat. The rest needs to be food of some sort.

I usually try to take a shot of gel, 50-100 calories per shot depending on how I feel, each 5 miles during the later portions of the run. My best performance comes when I start doing that around mile 20.

Glad you can digest Power Bars. My system can't dissolve whatever plastic those are made of (PVC is my best guess). Be sure you get plenty of water with whatever food you eat.
Quality, not bayou
May 25, 2001 1:04 PM
Check out any site regarding the glycemic index. Get a feel for your own bodies use rate and tolerance for digestion. We all have our personal favorites.
You should be fineFoster
May 25, 2001 3:15 PM
If it's your first century, then I'm sure it won't be something as brutual as JefferyH's century, which btw-great breakdown of calories. If it's a flat century you should be fine with a few powerbars and powergels but you might be hungry afterwards. As others have suggested try to eat as much quality food as possible, you'll need the carbs while riding. Try to drink a lot of water and have a recovery specific energy drink such as Endurox afterwards.

I rode a flat century a few weeks ago (easy pace,6hrs) and felt fine with 3 Cliffbars, 4 Cliffgels and a couple of chocolate chip cookies.

Obviously if your century involves a lot of climbing, then it's another story-eat more!
Simple estimateKerry Irons
May 25, 2001 6:24 PM
Depending on your pace, your weight, and the amount of climbing, you'll burn between 3000 and 3500 calories. You'll get about 200 calories per hour from fat metabolism, you might have 1000-1500 stored as muscle glycogen, and you might have 500 in your stomach left over from breakfast. Simple math says that you only need to consume 500 calories to arrive at the finish "on empty." You NEVER want to do that, so try to consume around 1000-1500 during the ride, which you can easily digest. Start eating at around the 20-30 mile point, because if you dig a hole, you'll not be able to get back out. After skipping the first hour, you can eat/drink 200 calories per hour and be pretty much on target. I like to add some nuts/seeds to the carbohydrates - the fat and protein tend to level things out a bit and avoid sugar surges. If you keep something real fast acting (3 Musketeers bar is 30% fat, 240 calories) in your pocket, you can salvage the bonk just as it starts!
Question for KerryJon Billheimer
May 25, 2001 8:51 PM
I've ridden lots of centuries on a regimen of five bottles of gatorade and two power bars, which at my pace works out to 225 to 250 kcal per hour. This works fine, except I tend to lose a little power and speed (a minor bonk) the last 40 km. Any suggestions?
Bonk proofingKerry Irons
May 26, 2001 1:11 PM
Depending on the time involved, it sounds like you are eating enough. Are you drinking enough? An experiment to try is stuffing down something easily digested (like that 3 Musketeers candy bar) about 40 km from the finish. If you do better as a result, then it was a sugar shortage. If not, then consider hydration. If not either one, maybe you just need to train more. BTW, just about everyone goes a little slower in the last 1/4 of a century.