How can a petite mother of four devour two complete 72-oz steak dinners in under 15 minutes? It’s this question that has 5-foot-7, 125-pound Molly Schuyler making headlines after she inhaled not one – but two – of the extra large slabs – with shrimp and sides – in less than one fourth of the time allotted to finish just one and win the Big Texan Steak Ranch’s challenge.
That’s right; most people can’t finish one in an hour. She ate two in less than 15 minutes.
Back in January the stay-at-home-mom from Nebraska broke Peter Czerwinski’s record for eating a single 72-oz steak in 6 minutes and 48 seconds by inhaling one in only 2 minutes and 44 seconds. She’s not just inching her way past the competition, she’s blowing them out of the water.
How are thin competitors like Schuyler, hot dog king Joey Chestnut, and Japanese phenomenon Takeru Kobayashi leaving their stouter challengers in the dust?
Room for Expansion
One theory is that it’s easier for a person’s stomach to expand enough to receive mass quantities of food if there’s less fat to push against. A trim waist presents no impediments to an expanding gut. After all the object is to have the most elastic stomach, not the most adipose tissue.
It’s a Sport, so Training’s Essential
Kobayashi, who weighs 145-lbs, trains for competitions by forcing his stomach to contract and then expand – basically working it, like a muscle. He’s a long haul jogger, an activity which helps him burn calories, and also shrinks his stomach.
After running he consumes competition quantities of cabbage, a food that supplies bulk but few calories, to stretch his stomach out.
Chestnut extols the virtues of exercise as well, “I go on three-mile runs twice a week, and it not only helps me stay in shape, it helps me eat faster,” Chestnut explains. “When you’re eating 20, 30, 40 hot dogs in very little time, it’s hard to breathe. That’s one reason big guys sometimes have trouble at competitive eating.”
Another Kobayashi trick is using water to distend his stomach. Water not only adds calorie free volume, it also aids in digestion.
Schuyler does the same thing. She told Omaha.com, “I used to drink a two-liter bottle of soda in 17 seconds or less.”
Avoid Pre-Binge Starvation
Chestnut steadies himself before a big competition by eating moderately. “But starvation itself is a very bad plan to prepare for a big meal,” he insists. He also advocates exercise just before a big feed to work up an appetite.
Like most sports, competitive eating is as much a mental game as a physical one. While training can teach the stomach muscles to relax, so it will expand more rapidly, these exercises also confuse the part of the brain that lets you know you’re full.
This aspect of of competitive eaters’ training may help us understand why extreme diets don’t work long term.
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