You Won't Believe the Food Champion Hot Dog Eaters Use to Prepare For the Contest

Hot dogs in buns at the official weigh-in ceremony for the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog July 4th Contest | Stan Honda/AFP/GettyImages

Some families set off fireworks and grill a few hot dogs and hamburgers to celebrate the Fourth of July. Other families make a bolder move and head to Coney Island to see just how many hot dogs they can consume in just 10 minutes.

Champions like Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo train for the contest (as you would any major sporting event) and prepare their stomachs to consume anywhere from 40 to 75 hot dogs in a matter of minutes. It’s no easy feat: some champions prepare for months to ensure their stomachs are up to the task.

Crazy Legs Conti uses ‘alternative flavor’ to avoid fatigue

The 13-times vet of Nathan’s annual contest made potential competitors aware of the dangers of flavor fatigue. If your taste buds get “bored” of the food you’re eating, it could cost you the hot dog competition.

“You have to marry kind of a dense meat with a fluffy bun and you’re dunking the bun in a liquid. Eaters have had alternative beverage movement. I use Tang — if it was good enough to go into space, it was probably good enough to dunk your buns in. That’s to avoid flavor fatigue,” he said.

Conti relayed the details of the physical and mental training his competitors do as well. An eater he knows runs IRONMAN competitions (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a full marathon) while another visits a sports psychologist. Conti, a former three-sport college athlete, chooses to “pre-visualize” with a Zen mindset.

“Each eater comes up with own technique, whether it’s prayer or science-based,” he told USA Today. “I think the essence of what it boils down to is it’s an odd sport in that the food is the fuel in any other sport and in our sport the food is actually the sport.”

Joey Chestnut simulates the contest

The nine-time Nathan’s champion and 2017 winner told MLB Network how he trains for two months with simulated hot dog eating contests. He avoids eating hot dogs a week in advance.

Chestnut actually fasts for two to three days before the contest then eats ramen noodle soup the night before. The filling soup is easy to digest and actually mostly liquid. Like Conti, Chestnut prepares mentally for the contest as well. “I like to look at the broth,” he said, “and reflect on where I’ve been in the sport and what the future is.”

Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie compete in the 2017 Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest | Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Miki Sudo uses the right uniform to increase performance

Sudo, a competitive eater, and last year’s Nathan’s female champion perfected her game-day uniform. Sudo wears an oversize T-shirt (to prepare for stomach expansion) and a pair of spandex bike shorts which stretch with her stomach. She washes down spicy food with chocolate milk and coffee for sweet.

Her pre-competition routine includes two days of juiced meals, kale and avocado salads, and the occasional grilled chicken. Sudo works out five to six days a week for an hour each day.

When asked how she gets through all that eating, Sudo had a simple explanation; “The best I can explain it … it’s adrenaline,” she says. “During a competition, it just completely takes over. I try to pay attention when the emcee calls time or announces where another competitor is in terms of quantity, but other than that, I don’t see or feel anything.”


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