Twirlie Hot Dogs to the Refueling Rescue

Endurance cyclists love long group rides. A full day of pedaling long distances, rotating pace lines, hill climbs, city-limit sprints and generally enjoying bike riding warms the hearts of cycling's endurance junkies.

Plenty of companies have spent hours of research to determine which foods and sports drinks are optimal for fueling the endurance athlete. While these fuels and fluids do a fine job, many athletes find they crave something different during a long group ride. They need and want a different taste sensation. How about a twirlie hot dog?

Perhaps only a few cyclists get a mid-ride crave for one of those convenience store hot dogs so named because they lay twirling on the warm grill. Others wander and scan convenience store aisles or search for a nearby burger outlet until something calls out to them.

I'm not going to try to convince you to change your twirlie hotdog or burger meal, mostly because I have my own long ride favorites and this is no time for personal confessions. Instead, I'd like to take a look at what kind of macronutrient breakdown is in certain convenient foods consumed by some of my local cyclists during a long ride. I suspect most of these items aren't confined by region and might apply to you too.

The Twirlie Dog

There is a wide variation in the nutritional content of hot dogs. Of course, if you select the giant dog versus a smaller version, you will drive your calories up.

For a generic 5-inch long, 7/8-inch diameter frankfurter and bun

Total calories: 308
  • Carbohydrate calories: 100 -- Percentage of total: 32%
  • Protein calories: 40 -- Percentage of total: 13%
  • Fat calories: 168 -- Percentage of total: 55%

Adding 12 ounces of regular soda to quench thirst, for caffeine and for more carbohydrate calories alters the numbers to:

Total calories: 448
  • Carbohydrate calories: 240 -- Percentage of total: 53%
  • Protein calories: 40 -- Percentage of total: 9%
  • Fat calories: 168 -- Percentage of total: 38%

Notice how adding a sugary drink improves the carbohydrate percentage.

The Burger

A Burger King regular burger

Total calories: 272
  • Carbohydrate calories: 112 -- Percentage of total: 41%
  • Protein calories: 60 -- Percentage of total: 22%
  • Fat calories: 99 -- Percentage of total: 37%

Add 12 ounces of regular soda and the numbers are:

Total calories: 412
  • Carbohydrate calories: 252 -- Percentage of total: 61%
  • Protein calories: 60 -- Percentage of total: 15%
  • Fat calories: 99 -- Percentage of total: 24%

While you could have stopped with the burger and drink, an uncontrollable urge makes you request a small order of fries. Add fries to a burger and soda and now the meal totals:

Total calories: 641
  • Carbohydrate calories: 368 Percentage of total: 57%
  • Protein calories: 74 Percentage of total: 12%
  • Fat calories: 198 Percentage of total: 31%

As expected, adding fries increases the fat percentage of the meal.

The Pie

On one of my rides, a cyclist thought a fruit pie would be a good choice, assuming it is high in carbohydrate content. When I investigated the details, I was surprised.

A McDonald's Apple Pie

Total calories: 260
  • Carbohydrate calories: 120 -- Percentage of total: 46%
  • Protein calories: 5 -- Percentage of total: 2%
  • Fat calories: 135 -- Percentage of total: 52%
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