The best competitive eating training techniques have been used for many years. According to historians, face-stuffing contests were recorded as far back as the 13th century. But organized competitions like Major League Eating didn’t hit the stage until the 1900s, so many hopeful winners never learned how to prepare. Well, that changes today.
What is competitive eating?
Believe it or not, competitive eating is considered an official sport. In fact, many of the winners have been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for consuming the largest amount of food in the shortest amount of time. For perspective, the current world champion swallowed more than 28 Sloppers in under eight minutes.
Yes, aggressive munching requires you to stuff your face but there are some basic rules involved. So, before you start training, make sure you’re up to the task. Here’s what you need to know:
- Your eating surface has to remain relatively clean throughout the competition.
- Any debris left on your plate counts as a deduction to your final score.
- If you regurgitate your food during or immediately after the contest, you lose.
Meanwhile, eating competitions don’t always serve the most appetizing dishes. So, keep that in mind before entering a contest, especially if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions.
Why is it important to train for an eating contest?
As delicious as it sounds, this activity can be extremely dangerous if you don’t prepare your body ahead of time. So, most participants spend months, if not years, practicing for eating competitions. They usually stretch their stomachs to allow more mass, but they must do a lot more than that to get ready for action.
While some people can sit down at the table and start cramming food down their throats with ease, quickly swallowing Sloppers isn’t the only key to success. You have to use proven training techniques to protect yourself from getting hurt (and/or packing on the pounds). It’s important to prepare because even a fast eater has to answer to the digestive system sooner or later.
FACT: Competitive eaters face unique health risks including gastric ruptures, decreased sodium levels, and even seizures. Talk to your doctor before training for or entering an eating contest.
The 5 best competitive eating training techniques
When you mention training for this type of sport, most people think of stomach stretching automatically. That’s one of the most important steps because it helps prevent regurgitation, but you can’t stop there because it’s not enough. In fact, there are at least five other techniques you should add to your routine:
Think about it: You’re expected to chew up and swallow a bunch of food in record time, so your jaws are going to get sore. Imagine losing an eating contest simply because of facial muscle fatigue. That’s no way to admit defeat after spending months expanding your stomach.
TIP: Chew numerous pieces of gum at the same time to give your jaw a tasty workout.
Did you know that your body temperature increases when you eat? That’s because your metabolism gets kicked into overdrive, meaning you’ll probably get hot when you compete in an eating contest. Moreover, you tend to eat less when you feel overheated.
TIP: Wear breathable clothes or douse yourself in cold water before sitting down at the table.
Contrary to popular belief, most competitive eaters are in tremendous shape. They’re aware of the theory that body fat limits how far their stomachs can stretch. But even if it’s just a theory, no one can argue the benefits of regular exercise while competitively eating.
TIP: Focus on calorie-burning workouts that increase your heart rate for at least 30 minutes.
It’s almost impossible to win a speed eating contest when you’re backed up or overflowing. Yes, you want your belly to be relatively empty but that doesn’t mean starving yourself and it certainly doesn’t mean taking laxatives. Achieving good digestion is easier (and more important) than you think.
TIP: Eat a small piece of fruit or drink some strong coffee about an hour before starting.
When you sit down, you compress your internal organs and decrease the amount of space available for foods and liquids. When you stand, however, you let gravity do its job. Some competitors will get up as many as 10 times in a short amount of time just to be sure of it.
TIP: Arch your back so that your diaphragm stretches to allow more food in your stomach.
As always, monitor yourself closely by tracking your progress and setting realistic goals.
Bonus practice tips for competitive eaters
If you keep the basics covered, you should be able to compete in an eating contest without getting hurt. However, most professional eaters also do the following things to increase their chances of winning (safely):
- Watch playback videos of themselves to troubleshoot their techniques and observe opponents
- Practice at-home gag reflex suppression exercises with their fingers or toothbrush.
- Try holding and/or biting their food in different ways to boost efficiency, digestion, and speed.
And here’s something else you might not know: Cold liquids can really slow you down. The cool temperature causes your throat to restrict, limiting how much food you can fit in your mouth. So, the people you see dunking their hotdog buns are doing so in lukewarm water.
Participating in an eating contest is serious business. It’s a legitimate sport with televised events and world-renowned winners. Still, it takes practice to be perfect at anything and this is no exception. The eating competition training techniques you use are just as important as the trophies you take home.