Science before beer, you’re in the clear

Pat Pearson

It is time to tap the Science On Tap keg again at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Feb. 12 at The Ore Dock Brewing Company.

This month’s session is titled “How much fat can a fat bike bust?” and will be led by professors in the health and human performance department, Phil Watts, Ph.D., and Scott Drum, Ph.D.

The idea of the speech stems from a Men’s Health article in which Watts had found scientific discrepancies. According to Watts, the article states that you can ride a fat bike (fat tire bike) for an hour and burn 1,500 calories.

“As an exercise physiologist, who has been somewhat connected with energy expenditure data over the last 40 years or so, that [statement] just causes me to shake my head a little bit and I’m like, there’s no way,” Watts said. “So we want to approach our presentation as mythbusters, or fatbusters.”

Watts will speak first in regard to this scientific investigation, which will provide a transition for Drum to give a talk about high fat and low carbohydrate diets in long endurance activities. Their presentations will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

Drum said the presentation is intended to be lighthearted, fun and also thought-provoking.

“We are not trying to freak everyone out with very scientific vocabulary,” Drum said. “We don’t want people to think we are total geeks.”

Tim Martin, a junior sports science major, said he does not agree with the statement in Men’s Health either.

“Sounds like total B.S. ‘cause, I mean 1,500 calories is a lot,” Martin said.

Watts is an expert in performance exercise physiology particularly dealing with high performance sports physiology.

He started out in the clinical area in cardiac rehabilitation center roughly 40 years ago. According to Watts, he was able to break down the controversial claim in his head.

“In order to burn 1,500 calories in an hour on one of these fat bikes, you would have to have the capability of an elite racing cyclist and you may even have to be better than that,” Watts said. “Hopefully we won’t have any Tour de France racers in the audience because the implication is none of you guys can do this.”

Brian Budd, a senior sports science major, said that the claim from Men’s Health is unbelievable unless you were superhuman.

“That statement is not true,” Budd said. “Your body can’t burn that much energy in an hour, unless you go some insane speed.”

Drum’s portion of the discussion will investigate the appropriate balance and intake of fats and carbohydrates that marathon and ultrarunners should consume.

“Is it cool to be high fat, low carb for these races? Yeah. Is it for everybody? Can you try it? Yes,” Drum said. “But Ultrarunners need to practice their diets and do what’s right for themselves.”

Martin said he is looking forward to the event because he is not certain which information is accurate – the professor’s study or the Men’s Health claim.

“I think they’ll either prove or disprove the article,” Martin said.

Drum said having disputable information and claims are good to come across because they cause a buzz in the scientific world and start interesting and intelligent conversations.

“We are not entirely saying these things are impossible, we are just saying maybe it is,” Drum said. “It’s amazing the moment you say something is impossible somebody out there will prove you wrong.

The session begins at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Feb. 12 at The Ore Dock Brewing Company and is an all ages event. This is the second Science on Tap event.