Septuagenarians Approach 4 Times the Basal Metabolic Rate During Race Across America

Alejandro M. Rosales, Nathan A. Keck, Tim C. Shriver, Dale A. Schoeller, Brent C. Ruby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Previous data have demonstrated that Tour de France riders maintain total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) between 3.5 and 5.5 times the basal metabolic rate (×BMR). In contrast, TDEE for healthy male septuagenarians has been reported to average 1.3 to 2.0 ×BMR. Purpose: Measure the TDEE and water efflux during ultraendurance work in an older population during the cross-continent cycling Race Across America. Methods: A 4-man septuagenarian team (70 [1.6] y, 72.0 [5.1] kg) received an oral dose of doubly labeled water prior to completing the Race Across America (4817 km, 51,816 m of climbing) for TDEE calculation. Nude body weight measures were coupled with collected urine samples. Results: The race was completed in approximately 6.5 days (official time: 6 d, 13 h, and 13 min) with an average speed of 30.6 (0.7) km·h-1 (age-group course record). Body weight remained unchanged (prerace: 70.4 [5.8] kg, postrace: 70.0 [5.3] kg). TDEE was calculated over 3 race segments. TDEE varied between individual riders and segments throughout the continuous event (24.7 [4.2] MJ·24 h-1, 5900 [1015] kcals·24 h-1, 3.4 [0.5] ×BMR). Water efflux averaged 10.2 (0.8) L·24 h-1 resulting in a total turnover of 45.3 (3.9) L amounting to 1.5 (0.2) times initial total body water during the race. Conclusions: Highly active septuagenarians maintain body weight prerace to postrace, suggesting near energy balance when TDEE approaches 4 ×BMR. These values exceed twice those of previously observed healthy but less active septuagenarian men and are comparable to professional riders during portions of the Tour de France. Advanced age and high metabolic output are not mutually exclusive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-809
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • doubly labeled water
  • elderly
  • total daily energy expenditure
  • ultraendurance exercise


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