Interesting graphic on how our diet has changed in 40 years. The real difference is simply added fats and sugars. I quote from Grist:
"If the food processing industry simply cut added sugars and fats by half in calorie terms—from 1,100 calories to 550—total caloric availability would return to 1970 levels: an era that preceded the recent surge in diet-related maladies like obesity and Type 2 diabetes."
Where Do Americans Get Their Calories? (Infographic)
Bill Bryson in his wonderful book, At Home, describes the beginnings of our sugary affections:
"Sweet tea became a [British] national indulgence. By 1770, per capita consumption of sugar was running at 20 pounds a head, and most of that, it seems, was spooned into tea. (That sounds like quite a lot until you realize that Britons today eat 80 pounds of sugar per person annually, while Americans pack away a decidedly robust 126 pounds of sugar per head.)"
How to deal with this? Well, on the one hand we could simply eat less sugar. Or, on the other hand we could burn off 1,755 calories per every pound of sugar we consume. That is, burn off 221,130 calories per year, just to offset the sugar we consumed.
Since 1970 when we weren't exactly stingy with our sugar intake, we've added an additional 30,660 calories to our diet from added sugars.
Last night I rode 50 miles, probably around 1,300 calories or so.
To offset the increased 30,660 calories, I'd have to ride 1179 miles (or 23 50-mile rides).
Now let's look at how many miles I'll have to ride to offset the additional calories from added fat. Since 1970, we take in an additional 149 calories a day from added fat. This adds up to 54,385 calories a year (more than we took in in 1970).
To burn off these calories, I'd have to do an additional 41 50-mile rides (for a total of 2091 miles).
In sum, just to offset the additional calories and fats we've put into our diets since 1970, I'd have to go on 64 50-mile rides this year.
Of course, if we're pumping Gu or sports drinks in our systems while we're out there, it kind of negates the whole thing. We'd have to do the rides on water alone.