The Tour de France is full of cyclists undertaking unimaginable feats—feats of strength, endurance, courage and ... consumption.
Tour de France competitors, who cycle more than 2,200 miles in 23 days, burn about 5,000 calories during each stage of the Tour. Naturally, a cyclist must feast on as many calories as he or she burns, but also consume more if the rider wants to remain healthy and energetic. This requires competitors to devour a massive 8,000 calories per day. Yep, those rail-thin cyclists pedaling up Alp d'Huez like it's a ride in their neighborhood park consume what is equivalent to 25 cheeseburgers in a single day.
As humans, this is not normal. The standard American diet recommends the average person ingest 2,000 calories per day. Now, if one lives an active lifestyle, he or she could increase their caloric intake to 3,000 calories. But, consuming more than twice that is teetering on gluttony or psychosis, and it shows that the TdF is one of the most physically strenuous events in the world.
So, how does a cyclist consume so many calories in a single day? Here's a taste of what that might look like.
Breakfast1 of 8
Cyclists eat breakfast just like we do, only a lot more of it. Their morning meals typically consist of porridge, eggs, fruit, nuts, a big plate of pasta and a piece of cake. They wash that down with fruit juices and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Total calories: 1,800 or the equivalent of 22 eggs
Post Breakfast Snack2 of 8
Stages normally don't begin until midday, so after breakfast, cyclists must transfer from their hotels to the race's start line. During this time, cyclists eat cereal bars and remain hydrated with fruit juices.
Total calories: 400 or the equivalent of three cereal bars
During Stage3 of 8
Cyclists continue to drink and munch during the long, four-hour stages. While quantities vary depending on the stage's layout, riders consume numerous power bars, gels, sports drinks, colas and a couple sandwiches.
Total calories: 1,750 or the equivalent of 14 bottles of sports drinks (20 oz.)
Post Race4 of 8
Exhausted after 120 miles of racing, the last thing on one's mind is food. But riders consume chocolate milk, boiled potatoes, or a bowl of rice with ham or chicken to help their post-race recovery.
Total calories: 800 calories or the equivalent of four cups of rice
Pre-Dinner Snack5 of 8
Before dinner, cyclists snack on yogurt, granola and dried fruits. For those on strict diets, this is dinner.
Total calories: 650 or the equivalent of two cups of granola with fruit
Dinner6 of 8
Teams serve dinner as a three-course meal: A salad, main course with meat, a carbohydrate and vegetables, and fruit salad or yogurt for dessert. This might sound like a normal meal at Olive Garden, but the portions are heftier than your usual night out.
Total calories: 1,800 or the equivalent of eight chicken breasts
Post Dinner7 of 8
A professional cyclist's idea of a nightcap is very different from ours. Before bed, riders consume cereal, milk, fruit and protein shakes to assist in the recovery process.
Total calories: 400 or the equivalent of four bananas