Eating 70 hot dogs in ten minutes should be impossible, but competitive eaters have found a way. But how exactly does it work in the body?

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

Competitive eating has taken off in the US and around the world, and doing it really comes down to three things: What's happening biologically, what's happening mentally, and how they got like this?

Let's start at the beginning, before eating, the stomach muscles relax in a process called  gastric accommodation. It's a way the body anticipates a meal. Saliva builds up in the mouth and the stomach is bombarded with acid and enzymes that help in the digestion process.

This happens with everyone, and competitive eaters are no different. But, it's about there the similarities between thanksgiving and competition end. When you eat, your body has systems to tell you when it's full. Competitive Eaters -- like distance runners -- have trained themselves to push through these kinds of natural barriers.

So the eater shoves the first pie, hot dog, or taco into their mouth and it travels down the esophagus and enters the stomach.  The stomach recognizes this is food, and starts to stretch to accommodate. A regular human stomach starts out about the size of a clenched fist, and can expand five-fold, but a competitive eater's stomach can stretch quite a bit more.

 

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