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Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2012 Apr;25(2):124-8.

High energy deficit in an ultraendurance athlete in a 24-hour ultracycling race.

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  • 1Instituto Nacional de Educación Física de Barcelona, Spain (Bescos, Rodríguez, Iglesias, Benítez, Marina, Padullés, Torrado, Vázquez); and Gesundheitszentrum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland (Knechtle).


This case study examined the nutritional behavior and energy balance in an official finisher of a 24-hour ultracycling race. The food and beverages consumed by the cyclist were continuously weighed and recorded to estimate intake of energy, macronutrients, sodium, and caffeine. In addition, during the race, heart rate was continuously monitored. Energy expenditure was assessed using a heart rate-oxygen uptake regression equation obtained previously from a laboratory test. The athlete (39 years, 175.6 cm, 84.2 kg, maximum oxygen uptake, 64 mL/kg/min) cycled during 22 h 22 min, in which he completed 557.3 km with 8760 m of altitude at an average speed of 25.1 km/h. The average heart rate was 131 beats/min. Carbohydrates were the main macronutrient intake (1102 g, 13.1 g/kg); however, intake was below current recommendations. The consumption of protein and fat was 86 g and 91 g, respectively. He ingested 20.7 L (862 mL/h) of fluids, with sport drinks the main fluid used for hydration. Sodium concentration in relation to total fluid intake was 34.0 mmol/L. Caffeine consumption over the race was 231 mg (2.7 mg/kg). During the race, he expended 15,533 kcal. Total energy intake was 5571 kcal, with 4058 (73%) and 1513 (27%) kcal derived from solids and fluids, respectively. The energy balance resulted in an energy deficit of 9915 kcal.

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