Have you ever felt so hot after a good workout that you think you could fry an egg on your forehead? That’s probably not a recipe for success, but it got us thinking about just how much human power energy it would take to prepare a post-workout snack in your oven.
As we learned last month, it would take a gargantuan effort to keep your refrigerator running on human effort alone — the average American man would need to pedal a stationary bike for 7,784 hours to keep an average fridge cold for a full day.
And that’s based on a typical 700-watt refrigerator. When an electric oven is baking at medium to high heat, it’s drawing about 2,500 watts. I hope you stretched first.
While there’s promise in technologies that generate electricity from human power using modified exercise equipment, the science of harvesting energy from humans has a long way to go. In the meantime, it’s interesting to see just how much effort it would take for the human body to compete toe-to-toe with a major appliance.
To get an idea of how much sweating it would take to produce a perfect souffle, we need to start with METs, a unit of measurement used in calorie calculations. One MET is the metabolic equivalent of a person at rest, but during a strenuous activity like vigorous calisthenics, a person generates 8 METs, according to the Compendium of Physical Activities.
We consume calories through metabolic energy, and one calorie is equal to 4.1868 watt seconds. That means that every calorie we burn is the energy equivalent needed to sustain one watt for just over four seconds.
So when you’re talking about a hot oven churning up 2,500 watts,
2,500 watts ÷ 4.1868 watt seconds = 597.11 calories
You’ll need to burn 597.11 calories for every second of baking time. So maybe warm up with a frozen pizza before you try making your Thanksgiving turkey this way.
How Long Would I Have to Run to Bake a Cake?
To plan our workout, we’ll need the weight of our athlete-chefs, so we’ll use the American averages according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 88.76 kg for men and 76.43 kg for women.
We’ll also need our cooking time. How about a nice chocolate cake? At just 30 minutes baking time, it should be a piece of cake, right?
Running at 6 mph (a respectable ten-minute mile) generates 9.8 METs. And if we multiply the METs of an activity by the weight in kilograms of the athlete, we’ll discover how many calories that athlete will burn per hour.
9.8 METs x 88.76 kg = 869.848 calories per hour for men
9.8 METs x 76.43 kg = 749.014 calories per hour for women
With 597.11 calories per second needed to keep the oven warm, it’ll take a grand total of 1,074,798 calories to bake your cake to perfection.
That means the average man will have to keep up that ten-minute mile for 1,235 hours and 37 minutes. The average woman will need to stay on the treadmill for a bit longer: 1,434 hours and 57 minutes.
Take It Easy
Running around the clock for two straight months is no way to bake a cake. Or is it? Prior to a redesign in 2011, Hasbro’s Easy-Bake Oven served up tasty cakes using just the heat of a standard 100-watt light bulb. And according to the manual for this classic design, baking a cake only takes 12 minutes!
First, let’s see what one second of Easy-Bake baking will cost us in calorie consumption:
100 watts ÷ 4.1868 watt seconds = 23.88 calories
12 minutes breaks down to 720 seconds, so to bake this cake to completion,
720 seconds x 23.88 calories = 17,193.6 calories
Generating 17,193.6 calories of metabolic energy will take the male runner a mere 19 hours and 45 minutes, and only 22 hours and 57 minutes for his female counterpart.
That’s less than a day’s work! Lace up!