How Do Professional Eaters Chow Down So Much Food?

Kirstin Fawcett
iStock / iStock

It’s one thing to indulge too much at Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s quite another to participate in a competitive eating contest. While it takes many of us lots of effort (and let’s face it, decadence) to finish our pumpkin pie course on Turkey Day, pro eaters can consume massive volumes of food—way more than the typical hungry human—seemingly on demand. This raises the question: How do they achieve this impressive, albeit slightly nauseating feat?

According to a new video by Seeker, some of it boils down to science: For one thing, competitive eaters "train" by eating huge amounts, which stretches out their stomachs and allows them to accommodate even bigger meals. They may have a less-sensitive enteric nervous system, which governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract. Special digestive bacteria, which share a two-way communication channel with the brain to suppress gut function, may also play a role. 

Learn more about the science of competitive eating—and its many health-related downsides—by watching the video below.