If you specialize in a particular field and are very knowledgeable about the various related topics, it is usually pretty easy when talking to a person to tell whether he or she understands what you are saying. On the other hand, when that person is commenting, it is even easier to tell if that person has no idea what he or she is talking about. There are usually certain “triggers” depending on the particular field that just scream “I have no knowledge about the subject I am commenting on.” Since competitive eating is a sport that hardly anybody actually understands, and it involves food and nutrition which most people also don’t understand, there are numerous “triggers” that pop up all the time on different articles, YouTube videos, and social media posts. Most of those “triggers” are health related, which is why the purpose of this article is to answer the question “Are food challenges healthy?” It would be silly for me to tell you that eating a 5,000 calorie burger challenge in less than 30 minutes is good for you, because that would be a huge lie. At the same time though, it is not nearly as bad as most people think. As with absolutely everything in life, competing in food challenges and competitive eating events will not damage your health if you practice MODERATION. Too much of anything can be very unhealthy. It is possible to eat too many carrots and peas, just like it is possible to drink too much water. It is not healthy to run marathons (26.2 miles), and there are multiple people that die each year competing in various races around the world. I know from experience that you can definitely workout too much and suffer from “over-training” if you are not careful. A small glass of red wine and a portion of dark chocolate have been shown to have health benefits, but it’s not exactly healthy to have a box of wine with a 1 kg dark chocolate bar. Eating events can be very fun and won’t damage your health if you practice moderation.
Responses For The Different Health Related “Triggers”
These are the most widely used comments on food challenge & competitive eating articles, videos, and posts that are completely inaccurate which need to be addressed so that people become more knowledgeable:
Anything related to diabetes – I don’t know who taught your last health class, but no person that actually has diabetes got it because of one or even 10 specific meals. I have beaten numerous large ice cream and dessert challenges with thousands of calories from sugar and saturated fat, but I did not wake up the next day with diabetes. No active eater has experienced this issue and none will anytime soon if they practice moderation.
Anything related to giving yourself a heart attack – I have defeated massive cheeseburgers along with other greasy challenges, and one time I defeated a challenge consisting of 6 lbs of fried foods all smothered with mayonnaise between two buns, all within 15 minutes. Not one time did I have a heart attack while taking the challenge or even later that night. Your heart and body will have to work overtime to get all the food digested, but it won’t be reaching any dangerous levels. Heart attacks not stemming from being genetically predisposed are due to years of having a poor diet paired with a lack of exercise. If you do not use your heart, you will eventually lose it, but there are even some people that suffer heart attacks due to too much exercise. If you maintain a proper diet and exercise regularly, a few eating competitions will not damage your health. Worry about your friend that drinks a daily 24oz energy drink before worrying about healthy professional eaters.
Anything related to causing high cholesterol – There are vegetarians that exercise regularly that still have high cholesterol levels due to poor genetics, and there are people that eat high cholesterol foods daily that still maintain a low cholesterol due to good genetics. Either way, one 13-egg omelet challenge is not going to cause you to have high cholesterol levels. Doing one each and every day for a long period of time might have an effect on your health and weight, but there are only a few eaters in the world that will do more than 1 competition per week, and most eaters do only a few events and challenges per year. Every blood test I have ever gotten (my last test was after win #150) came back saying my cholesterol is low, mostly because I exercise regularly while maintaining a healthy weight and diet when not doing challenges. I’ll get test again when I reach 200 wins.
How do you eat like that and not gain weight? – I have won over 185 food challenges around the world, and I did not get to that number by doing one per month. I am by far one of the most active food challengers, and I will be the first to tell you that you will gain weight if you do too many eating challenges too often without giving yourself a break to burn off the additional calories. Lifting one day per week while doing nothing the other 6 days will not make you much stronger, and doing one eating competition per week while eating light the other 6 days will not make you gain weight either. Physically fit eaters don’t eat like that 7 days per week. We practice moderation and live an active lifestyle, and know that having a few less calories during the week is worth all the fun we will have on weekends doing food challenges and competitions, and believe me, the sacrifice is worth it.
Comments related to throwing up after every challenge – Any active eater who regularly competes in eating competitions that says he or she has never gotten sick afterwards at least once is lying to you, but no eater purposely throws up after every eating event, or even 1/4 of them. While it is not exactly healthy for your body to process thousands of calories at a time (many eaters use digestive enzymes to help the digestion process), it is definitely not good for your body and digestive system to throw up constantly. Similarly, it is not good to throw up after drinking too much alcohol either. Eaters that are physically fit are that way because we exercise often and eat right most other days of the week, and not because we are simply throwing up after every single event.
Comments about how many calories there are – Most people don’t know or understand this concept, but the high number of calories is not the most unhealthy part of the challenge. The most unhealthy part of a food challenge is the massive amount of sodium that many larger challenge meals have. The day after a challenge, an eater may weigh over 10lbs more than before attempting the challenge less than 24 hours ago. The number of calories in the challenge has little to do with this huge fluctuation. The large amount of sodium you just consumed is causing your body to retain all of the liquids you consumed along with and after the big meal. Therefore eaters need to consume a lot of water on the days right after a big challenge so that they can flush all the sodium and retained water weight out of their body. The extra calories factor into the temporary excess weight gain too, and must get burned, but not nearly as much as the truck-load of sodium does. Have you ever thought about that?
There is a big misconception that most eating challenges are completely unhealthy, and that is completely ridiculous. If you are wanting to run, you don’t have to run a marathon. You can have just as much fun running a 5 km (3.1 miles) race. If you are wanting to attempt a food challenge, you don’t have to try to eat a 4,000 calorie 5lb burger challenge. There are many food challenges where the total calorie count is not even more than your recommended daily amount!! Excess weight gain stems from consistently consuming more calories than you burn off almost every day. As mentioned above, there are very few individuals that actually compete in food challenges and / or eating contests more than just a few times per month, and they are professionals that understand the concept of eating light on days they are not doing events so that they can reach a point of general moderation. If you only do challenges and contests every now and then, and you are gaining a little excess weight, more than likely a poor daily diet and exercise routine is the culprit and not the actual eating challenges and contests you have been doing. Please give the credit to where the credit is due. Competitive eating can be a great and fun activity, but remember that too much of a great thing is not necessarily a great thing. Practice a level of moderation and you will be able to stay happy and healthy throughout your career.
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