One of Britain’s top competitive eaters insists that despite eating up to 20,000 calories in a single sitting, his diet is balanced and healthy.
Adam Moran, a 31-year-old from Castleford near Leeds, is a professional competitive eater as well as a top blogger - he has almost 20,000 subscribers to his youtube channel, pretty much one for every calorie he ate in under an hour a few months ago.
Once every five days or so, Moran eats an excessively large meal, whether in a competition or for a video.
In the days before and after, however, he eats as if on a fast: “All I’ll eat is a little yogurt, a couple of protein shakes and some fruit in the days following a binge,” Moran told The Independent.
He explains that after eating four or five days’ worth of calories in one sitting, you don’t get hungry the next day. The trouble is, however, that your stomach has been stretched, so the hunger does eventually kick in.
“It’s a discipline though - you know you can’t eat that much every day because if you do, you’ll get fat and probably die,” Moran says.
In fact, Moran - like most competitive eaters - is completely healthy and very fit. He exercises a lot, has regular check-ups with his doctor, and is really into healthy eating: “I like making things like cauliflower rice and vegetable stir-fries with lean meat.”
He admits he has a sweet tooth, but indulges it merely with yoghurt, cereal and fruit.
At 5’10” and just over 11 stone, Moran is fighting fit. In fact, he’s in better shape than he was a few years ago before he started competitive eating.
It was after going on a long, low-calorie diet to get in shape for summer that Moran’s girlfriend suggested he celebrate by trying a Man vs Food challenge at a local diner. It was then that Moran discovered his talent (“not everyone is as genetically gifted”), he did a few more local challenges, decided to start a YouTube channel and it went from there.
Despite his gift, Moran believes anyone can stretch their stomach.
To try and increase his stomach capacity, Moran eats a huge but low-calorie meal once a week. A lot of professionals choose watermelon, but Moran prefers dishes like chicken salad, chilli with vegetables or yoghurt. “I can eat about 10-12 lbs of food like that,” Moran says.
No one takes competitive eating quite as seriously as the US and Japan, however, where it really is considered a sport and the top competitions are broadcast on sports TV channels like ESPN.
When there’s $20,000 at stake, enjoying your food goes out the window - at the biggest eating competition in the world, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn, NYC, on 4 July every year, competitors are allowed to dunk their hot dogs in water to make the buns easier to eat.
And it’s not unheard of for people to bend the rules: “There’s a lot of cheating but it depends on the rules and how things are officiated,” Moran explains, adding that in some competitions you can get away with leaving more debris.
On the day of a challenge, Moran begins his preparation by drinking about four litres of water in a minute, which stretches the stomach without filling you up.
Some eaters, however, take this technique to dangerous extremes: “Not many people know about it but there’s a dark side to the sport,” Moran reveals. “A lot of the old school competitors used to train with just water and they’d drink three gallons at once, maybe four times a day, which can kill you.”
In the UK, however, where prize money is usually about £50 or so, there’s little motivation to push your body so far.
Moran’s technique is to always eat protein before carbs (he is regularly seen deconstructing burgers in his videos because the bread will absorb water in his stomach), eat as quickly as possible in the first ten minutes before his body realises he’s full, and limit chewing.
Of course, man vs food challenges are not uncommon at restaurants nowadays, but they do try and catch competitors out, for example by serving food piping hot and insisting the challenge begins right away.
How did Moran get around this? By pouring a glass of water over his meal. “It’s a bit gross but for the sake of winning an eating challenge, anything goes really,” he laughs.
Incredibly, Moran can now eat about seven pounds of food and go about his day as normal afterwards. But after more extreme challenges? “I might lie down afterwards and it’s crucial to drink loads of water to, um, make sure everything digests properly,” he says.
So after Christmas dinner this year, you know what to do
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