The idea of someone stuffing themselves with copious amounts of food might seem foolhardy. But examine the fine sport of competitive eating closely and you see that food challenges explore the limits of the human body. Professional food competitors push themselves to achieve what no one has before (and gain eternal fame for it).
Sounds glorious, doesn't it? Yes, your body will hate you for almost consuming more calories in one sitting than Michael Phelps does in a day. Yes, you will hate yourself for forcing down more food than you ever should.
Still, once you finish that last bite and realize you'll be going up on that wall of fame forever, it becomes totally worth it. But, if you're going to attempt a food challenge, you better finish it.
How do the professionals do it?
Step 1: Pick Your Poison
You need to choose what type of challenge you're gonna go for. You can just Google "food challenges" to find the right competition for you (unless you're in central California) take a look at these massive meals). Pick something you like whether it be a pizza, hamburgers, burritos, or nachos, so that you actually enjoy eating it.
Start with something less than four pounds, because imagine what it's like to eat pretty much an entire chicken—that's MAYBE four pounds. Next, stalk the restaurant's Facebook page and reviews to make sure that the challenge is still going on. Call the restaurant to confirm you get the meal free or a shirt if you finish.
Step 2: Train
Mark your calendar, and set the date of the challenge. Your training should start at least one week in advance. Sadly, training for the meal doesn't mean eat whatever you want whenever you want. You gotta expand your stomach the right way.
Water is key, good thing it's healthy. For this week you're gonna drink a lot of water. Start with a pint and chug it in one go. Repeat every 2-3 hours. If that's easy, step it up to a quart. By game day, you should be able to chug two quarts no problemo and have to pee pretty much every two seconds.
Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables (AKA broccoli) that take up a lot of room in your stomach but don't have many calories. Try to chug after your meals as well, you want to feel your stomach expanding. The only way you're gonna be able to eat nine square feet of pizza is if you have enough space in your stomach.
Step 3: The Max Out Meal
The day before the challenge is your pregame for the real deal so it's essential you do it right. Count backward 18-22 hours before your food challenge, that is when your last meal should be. Here's where you test your limits, you want to eat as much as you would during the actual challenge.
This meal needs to consist of lots of vegetables so you aren't full for the actual challenge. Spice up your broccoli with these recipes. But it doesn't have to just be broccoli: go ham with the burgers, cheesesteaks, and pizza, today it's ok.
Step 4: Game Day
Wake up at least five hours before your challenge so that your body is active before the event. Have something small and not solid if you need to, like a smoothie. Get some cardio in so that your metabolism is boosted and you feel hungry for the challenge.
Lastly, remember it's all in your head, if you go into this believing you can do it, nothing can stop you.
Step 5: The Challenge
Make sure the restaurant knows you're coming so they're ready, and bring an entourage to cheer you on. If you feel like it, bring some headphones to listen to music to inspire you to finish. When you get the food, put your game face on, and dig in.
Start strong, and finish as much food as possible before your stomach realizes it's full. Eat any protein, toppings, or cheese first, leave the carbs for last as they go down the easiest. Have a single glass of water to wash down the food, and a carbonated beverage (if you'd like) to help break down the carbs.
You will hit a wall at some point but this whole process is only worth it if you finish. Stand up, take it slow for a little, but DO NOT give up. Your dignity as a reputed big eater is at stake and you had better live up to the expectations.
Step 6: The Big Win
You got that free shirt, picture on the wall of fame, and a free meal that will keep you full for the day. Not bad. Don't forget to tip. Then go home and sleep off that inevitable food coma.