Matt Stonie is a professional competitive eater. He is best known for his food challenges, in which he attempts to eat different types of foods in the shortest period of time. He is the winner of many world records, including the 2015 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, where he ate 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
Eating 62 anything in 10 minutes seems...not healthy?! And that begs the question, is competitive eater Matt Stonie healthy?
Matt Stonie takes his health very seriously. He spends five days a week in the gym doing cardio activity or lifting weights. He watches what he eats between competitions and maintains low-end body weight.
Even though Stonie will consume in 10 minutes what the average person will consume in a week in calories, he maintains a healthy weight. He works hard on keeping his health daily.
What is Competitive Eating?
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Competitive eating is a sport in which participants compete by consuming large quantities of food in a short period of time. These competitions usually last eight to ten minutes each, and the person who consumes the most food in the designated time is declared the winner. This sport is most popular in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. Organized professional contests often offer prizes that include cash.
The type of food used in the contests varies; however, each contest typically uses only one kind of food. Common foods used are:
- Hot dogs
Are there Health Risks Associated with Competitive Eating?
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There are potentially some serious risks associated with competitive eating. However, the true effects of participating in the competitions and training are unknown. Medical professionals speculate that these medical conditions will occur in competitive eaters.
Many argue that competitive eating can cause weight gain, which may cause obesity. Obesity is known to elevate cholesterol levels and increase blood pressure.
Some medical professionals believe that competitive eating can cause several other complications. These include stomach perforations in those with ulcers from the binge eating. Also, a part of training includes gulping large quantities of water, which can lead to water intoxication.
Gastroparesis, or stomach paralysis, can occur in those who routinely overstretch their stomachs. Paralysis can lead to the stomach no longer being able to contract, which will cause it to lose its ability to empty itself. Side effects of this condition include nausea, vomiting, and indigestion.
Competitors have even died during intense competition. Most deaths are associated with choking.
Who is Matt Stonie?
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Matt Stonie is a competitive eater from the United States. He has won several competitions and ranks high in Major League Eating. Despite his enormous capacity for speed eating, he maintains a low-end weight.
He also is a YouTuber with a significant following. He uses his channel to post videos of his eating events. He also does special videos in the offseason of Major League Eating. In these videos, he participates in a food challenge of his own. These challenges are often at the request of his fans.
He started as a competitive eater to get free food, not to become a famous competitor. In 2010 he won a local Lobster roll eating competition and won, beating the local favorite. He took home the cash prize and realized that he could make this a career. He then joined the Major League Eating organization.
Stonie studied Nutrition at Mission College and has an array of knowledge about keeping one’s body healthy.
How Does Matt Stonie Maintain His Health?
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Stonie has said that the brief time he competes requires hours of physical training, mental discipline, and special dieting. Part of his routine involves a strict workout plan of cardio and weightlifting. He also adds in a run a few hours after a calorie-heavy training session. He spends at least five days a week in the gym to keep his metabolism going.
Following a competition or a day of practice, Stonie has a particular meal plan that he follows to get his body back into its normal state. His body is in a serious state of recovery mode. Matt Stonie follows this itinerary, starting one day after a heavy-eating day:
- One day of bloating
- One day of losing the water weight
- One day of mostly getting back to normal
His focus is on ingesting protein and vitamins. He eats six meals a day, with five being protein shakes as the focus. In addition to the shakes, he eats something small like apples or almonds. He eats very little solid food during this recovery period. This small meal focuses on bringing the nutrients to his body that he needs and allowing his stomach to return to its standard resting size.
Matt Stonie will have two large, challenging meals a week to prepare when he is training for a contest. In between these two meals, he will have days of rest. Before a competition, he activates his stomach by drinking a gallon of Powerade or another liquid in a very short period of time. He follows this with coffee and then a protein shake.
During the Major League Eating offseason, Stonie eats a strict diet. He eats normal-sized meals with healthy choices. The only exception is when he does a challenge for his YouTube channel. He also follows this strict diet when not preparing for competitions during the regular competitive season.
While Matt Stonie gives the appearance of being healthy, studies do indicate that this may not be the case forever. Medical professionals believe that professional competitive eaters may eventually develop morbid obesity, extreme gastroparesis, intractable nausea and vomiting, and potentially even the need for a gastrectomy.
How Does Matt Stonie Train for Competitions?
Like any other type of competition, participants must prepare before competing.
The first thing that competitors work on is lessening the satiety reflex. This reflex is the warning sign triggered by the brain when it senses the stomach is full. The satiety reflex senses the stomach is full when about a liter of food is added. Any more food added will likely cause vomiting.
Competitive eaters like Matt Stonie drink large amounts of water in a short time to expand their stomachs. The goal is to get a lot into their stomachs while keeping it down.
They will also work on their gag reflexes and jaw strength. They will work on suppressing their gag reflex by sticking their finger down their throats. For jaw strength, competitive eaters will chew as many as 20 pieces of gum at once to strengthen the jaw and mouth.
The average male diet is 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. Matt Stonie will consume anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 calories in a practice session to train for a competition.
Training is rigorous, just like for any other major competitive sport. Without preparing his stomach for the massive intake of food, there is no way that Matt Stonie would be able to compete.
How Can You Get Into Competitive Eating?
The first thing to try to get into competitive eating is participating in a restaurant challenge. Many restaurants offer these challenges, so you need to do a quick Google search to find one and then sign up.
The second option is to find a YouTube challenge to try. This is a good way for you to see if you have what it takes to be a professional competitor. You can even find other YouTubers to collaborate with.
Competitive eaters do not get where they are without practice. So you will need to practice a lot. However, do not forget to have periods of rest to get your body back to normal and have a regular exercise regimen to keep in shape.
When you’re ready, compete in a professional competition. Major League Eating has competitions that you can sign up for on their website.
How Much Money Can You Make in Competitive Eating?
If you are good and you win in the competitive circuit, competitive eating can be a lucrative job. For example, the grand prize from winning the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is $10,000.
You can get sponsorships that increase your income. Once you have a following, you can be like Matt Stonie, creating a website and a YouTube channel and getting money from advertisements on the accounts. Matt Stonie’s net worth, for instance, is $1 million.
Why Do Competitive Eaters Try to Remain Fit?
It is a common belief among competitive eaters that if you are carrying a few extra pounds, you could lose the competition. This is known as the belt of fat theory.
This theory began with competitive eater Ed Karachie, a much larger man, defeated by a much thinner contestant in a hot dog eating contest. Karachie claimed his belly fat was the cause of his loss as it impeded his stomach’s ability to stretch as quickly and as far.
Karachie is not a doctor, scientist, or specialist in the field but his idea has merit. If you have fat in the way of your stomach, it just cannot expand. Whether or not the theory is true, most competitive eaters follow the logic and try to stay as fit as possible.