How you use drinks and beverages during your food challenge can most definitely be the difference between you winning or losing the challenge, so you need to incorporate the use of liquids into your pre-challenge strategy and also monitor your intake while you are eating. Rules regarding drinks and liquids can vary significantly from restaurant to restaurant, along with the selection of which beverages are actually available. There are some times you may even need to bring your own. During most quantity challenges, you are allowed to drink whatever you want and as much as you want. A large majority of challenges do not require any drinks in particular, but there are some that require you to drink at least one drink or a milkshake as part of the challenge. There are some bars that even require that you drink a particular beer!! This is very rare and silly, but a few restaurants restrict your use of liquids during quantity challenges, and they will only allow you to drink one cup of liquid. Then there are a couple restaurants that don’t let you drink anything at all during their quantity challenge, and it is recommended that you avoid those places. As you will read below, spicy challenges go by a different set of rules regarding drinks and beverages, and it is common for restaurants to now all you to drink anything during those. Before even arriving at the restaurant, you should already know what the rules are in regards to what you can drink and how much you can drink. Planning around that rule needs to be part of your strategy. Apply these guidelines so that you can use beverages to your advantage when possible and win your next food challenge:

Guidelines For Proper Use Of Beverages During Food Challenges

If the restaurant does NOT allow the use of liquids during a quantity challenge – Many really spicy challenges don’t allow you to drink any liquids until the challenge is over, but those challenges usually involve just a regular sized burrito, burger, sandwich, bowl of chili, or plate of wings. The restaurant doesn’t want you using a drink to help overpower the intense spiciness so that you can finish your item and win the challenge. Since there is only a small amount of food, restricting the use of liquids is not very dangerous. There are some restaurants though with quantity challenges that don’t allow you to drink anything during the challenge. It would be smart to completely avoid challenges like this because they are dangerous, especially ones that involve really chewy buns and other foods. While liquids can help Mix Things Up To Minimize Flavor Fatigue, they also help moisten the food and allow it to slide easily down your throat into your stomach, minimizing your risk of choking. If a restaurant restricts you from being able to do that, they basically have a large sign on their front door saying “SUE ME.” Challenges and restaurants this dumb are very rare, but please avoid them for safety reasons.

If the restaurant only allows you one beverage – There was a restaurant in Wisconsin that had a 28″ team pizza challenge, which was pretty standard, but the “kicker” was that each member of the team was only allowed one small glass of water. Using liquids during a pizza challenge is very important because the flavor gets old after a few slices and you need to moisten the chewy crust. Because challengers were only allowed one cup of water, this made the challenge A LOT tougher than it already was. In situations like this, complaining isn’t going to help the situation, so you just have to do your best to conserve your drink for as long as possible. Set your drink to the side in the beginning and act like it is not even there, and then sip your drink as needed later on once flavor fatigue starts to slow you down. Keep on switching between the different components and flavors of your challenge until you really feel that it is time to start drinking some liquid to help get the rest of your meal down. The one benefit of this silly rule is that it keeps you from consuming so much liquid that you fill yourself up on extra drinks and can’t finish the last few bites of your meal. Luckily, as mentioned above, this rule is very rare.

Drink all of the required beverages first – There are some challenges that don’t restrict the amount of beverages that you consume, but they do require that you drink at least a certain amount. Some restaurants specify a particular beverage and quantity, and then some others just specify that you must drink a particular quantity of the beverage of your choice. For example, there is a bar in St Louis, Missouri (USA) that hosts a burger challenge for adults of drinking age which includes 1 pint of Guinness beer and 1 shot of Jameson whiskey. There are some challenges like that, but most restaurants simply just specify that you must drink a 32 ounce (1 liter) beverage, for example. If your challenge includes beverage(s), be sure to drink the required drinks first, before drinking other beverages that are not required. If you are allowed to pick which beverage you want, make sure to choose something that you enjoy, just like during any other normal challenge. Be sure to drink only that drink though, and don’t worry about switching up flavors until that one is gone. This does not mean you should be chugging your drink though, simply because you have to finish it anyway. Do your best to only sip and conserve it until the end. You don’t want to fill your stomach up with liquid and not have room for the last few bites. It is much easier to fit liquid into your stomach after the food is finished than it is to fit more food in your stomach after you have already hit the food “wall” and your liquid is gone. You also don’t want to have to struggle through finishing your required drink(s) at the end while staring at empty glasses of beverages that weren’t required in the first place.

Minimize consumption of extra drinks and liquids – During very large and long food challenges, it is very critical that you monitor and control your use of extracurricular drinks and liquids. You may just be taking sips between every few bites, but all those little sips definitely add up after doing that for 45 minutes!! They are just liquids, but they take up room in your stomach just like food does, and you definitely don’t want to drink so much liquid throughout the challenge that you no longer have room for the last few remaining bites. Whether you fail a challenge with two bites left or two pounds left, it is still a loss. I have failed multiple challenges with just two or three really small bites left, and I definitely blame each loss on the fact that I drank too much liquid while trying to get all the carbs and other components down. I still make this error sometimes because it is so easy to make. When possible, use creamy side items and water-filled toppings like pickles to help get your food down, and avoid sipping extra liquid. For the first half of your challenge, try very hard to completely avoid drinking extracurricular beverages, especially while the food still tastes delicious and you are not experiencing flavor fatigue. It may take five or ten additional seconds to finish some of your bites, but you will be happy that you minimized your liquid consumption as you victoriously finish the last few bites of your massive challenge!!

If the challenge involves a milkshake – There are some challenges that involve finishing a milkshake, which should be treated slightly different than a normal liquid such as water, juice, or soda, since milkshakes tend to be much thicker. If your challenge includes finishing a milkshake rather than a regular drink, you have two basic options. The first option is to sip on water or some other regular liquid throughout most of the challenge, and then start sipping on the thicker and more flavorful milkshake once most of your challenge is finished and flavor fatigue is starting to set in. If you are doing a speed challenge that is focused more on quickness rather than quantity, it may slow you down if you try to drink the milkshake throughout the challenge. Just use a regular beverage while finishing the food and then chug the milkshake all at once at the end. This breaks the rule of drinking all the required beverages first, but stomach capacity really isn’t an issue in that situation. That rule applies when you are strictly focused on finishing a large quantity challenge. The second option is to simply sip the milkshake throughout the challenge when necessary and then just chug the remaining portion when you are finished with the food. What you decide to do is up to you and it also depends on how your body reacts to thick milkshakes. For some people, it is easier on their stomach to just finish it all at the end for dessert. Other people may want to drink it throughout the challenge so that not much is left at the end after their meal is finished.

Using beverages during spicy challenges – As mentioned above, spicy food challenges go by a very different set of rules than quantity challenges do. During most extremely spicy challenges, especially ones that you are awarded free if you win, you are not allowed to drink any liquids at all until the challenge is over and completed. If you drink milk or anything else before that, you are disqualified. There are a few spicy challenges though, especially larger ones, where you get to drink liquids and/or add fatty sauces to the meal and counteract the intense heat from the capsaicin (the fat-soluble chemical that creates the spiciness). During spicy challenges, if you are allowed to use whole milk and other dairy drinks, definitely take advantage of the opportunity. In most cases, you need to bring what you want to drink because most restaurants and bars do not stock milk as an available beverage for purchase. They may have ice cream for you to eat afterwards, but that won’t help you during the challenge. Drinking whole milk or a milkshake is most recommended because of the high fat and sugar content, but you are obviously able to choose other options at the grocery store. For more tips regarding spicy food challenges, check out How To Win A Spicy Wing Challenge and How To Win A Spicy Food Challenge.

If you have your own unique and preferred beverage, bring it – I have eaten with many different people since entering the world of competitive eating and food challenges, and I have definitely realized that almost every single eater has their own unique preferences regarding which beverages they like to use during their events. Some people stick to just using water, while some people prefer low calorie sports drinks. Some people prefer using carbonated drinks like soda, and then some people just don’t care and will drink whatever is available and provided. If you have a preferred flavored liquid that you know the restaurant probably does not have available, you need to bring your own so that you have it to use during your challenge. 95% of restaurants will not care if you bring your own beverages, but they will probably ask you how many challenges you have won before since they probably have not had anybody do that before. If they do have an issue with you bringing your own drinks, just put them away and select the best option from what they have available. To really use beverages to your advantage, you have to really enjoy the drinks you are using, so bring them yourself so that they’re available.

Another major topic regarding the proper use of beverages is the concept of dunking your food in liquid to help moisten it and make it easier to consume. To find out more information about dunking, please read The Pros And Cons Of Dunking Challenge Food. Another point that is not covered in detail in this article is what actual soft drinks you should use during your challenges. For more information about this choice, please read Mix Things Up To Minimize Flavor Fatigue. Using this article along with all of the beverage related strategy tips throughout the rest of our TIPS and STRATEGIES sections, you should have a very both basic and detailed understanding of how to properly use beverages to your advantage so that you can dominate your next eating challenge or contest.

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