Randy's Challenge Advice

I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself. - Oscar Wilde


This section is LOADED with tips, secrets, and advice for Man vs Food challenges and competitive eating contests!! Congratulations on taking your first giant steps to becoming a better competitive eater!! ;) Most people are aware that food challenges and contests exist, but they have no idea how much work it takes to actually be good at them!! You cannot just wake up one day and say, "I think I am going to do a food challenge." If you do, I guarantee that you won't win!! If you do, then it was not much of a challenge. This entire section contains a very extensive and broad amount of valuable information regarding all aspects of food challenges & contests, from preparation all the way to a successful victory. There is a section specifically about increasing your stomach capacity so that you can be ready for the big challenge/contest. There is a section with great tips for successfully completing an eating challenge, and another section about winning eating contests!! I even have provided a section to help you strategize for your eating event based on the type of food that you will be eating. Finally, I even have sections to help restaurants wanting to start/improve a food challenge, and/or wanting to host an eating contest!! There is just so much information!! I have learned a lot about eating challenges and contests since I started over 252 food challenge wins ago in 2010. Now I really want to help YOU!!

Types Of Eating Events

There are three different types of eating events that you may be participating in. You can do a food challenge, an eating contest, or a food challenge/contest. Let's define & differentiate between the 3:

► First, let's answer the question, "What is a food challenge?" A food challenge is where you receive a specific prize for the completion of a specific meal (food and/or drink), following the specific rules & guidelines of the restaurant or food vendor that is offering the food challenge. Food challenges are what you see on the TV show Man v Food. There is a large variety of food challenges, such as large burritos, pizzas, ice cream sundaes, cheeseburgers, and sandwiches. There are also challenges where you are required to finish extra spicy foods. Typically, there is a certain amount of time allowed to finish the meal. Every now and then, you may find a challenge that does not have a time limit. If you complete the meal within the time limit and follow all the rules, you win & get a prize!! Smaller challenges may award you with just a certificate or cool t-shirt. Most challenges award you with the delicious meal for free. Some challenges even offer additional prizes, plus the meal and t-shirt for free. Examples of prizes are gift certificates to the restaurant and CASH!! The great thing about food challenges is that it all depends on you!! Nobody else is involved. If you follow all of the tips throughout this section, you will be able to win your 1st challenge & discover the thrill & pride that comes from a hard-earned victory!!

► What is an eating contest? An eating contest is where 2 or more individuals/teams compete to see who can eat/drink the largest quantity of a particular food in a particular amount of time. The 4th Of July Nathans Hot Dog Contest on ESPN is an example of an eating contest. Some of the best competitive eaters from all over the nation get together to see how many hot dogs they can inhale in 10 minutes. They can be held at restaurants, or often times they are held at fairs, festivals, and other events. Usually, the restaurants & events that do have eating contests only have them once or twice a year, so you have to keep your eye out for them. Try checking out the website that I use called eatfeats.com which has a great comprehensive list of all the challenges & contests that are available for you to participate. The contests are filtered by the states & cities that they are located in. Typical eating contest foods include pizza, chicken wings, hot dogs, and burgers. I am hoping & praying that one day I will be in a gooey butter cake eating contest!! Prizes can vary greatly depending on the length & toughness of the contest, but it mostly depends on who is sponsoring the contest. All events and restaurants have unique budgets. Contests can be very fun for spectators to watch, and the sport is growing in popularity everyday throughout the world, but they are even more fun to participate in!!

► The third type is a food challenge/contest. This is a combination of both a food challenge and an eating contest. Its where 2 or more individuals/teams compete to see who can finish a food challenge first. These are popular too, and a great way to promote a food challenge. There are two variations of a food challenge/contest. In some cases, there is only one winner, and that is whomever finishes their meal first. There are other ones though where there can be multiple winners. Every person that finishes their food challenge while following the specified rules is declared a winner and receives a specified prize. The ultimate winner though is the person that finishes their meal first. He or she usually receives an additional prize!! Again, prizes depend on the sponsor. This is my favorite type of event because there can be more winners, and MORE FUN!!

The Selection Process

Before you begin learning how to prepare and what to do to be successful during a food challenge and/or eating contest, I want to stress one thing. Like many things in life, you need to start SLOW and build yourself up gradually. If you get a big ego and overconfident, you may start by doing a food challenge or contest that is bigger & harder than you can handle. You will lose and then you will get very discouraged, and then you may even quit altogether. You can go back to joining all the people that say, "OMG why would anybody do that kind of stuff?!?!" That same principle works for a diet & exercise program too. If you cut your calories drastically and workout harder than you ever have in the last 5 years, you will quickly get burnt out in a few days and go back to eating candy and fried foods, gaining more weight that you were originally. Before we move on to other sections, I want to help you with the selection process:

► The first thing to do is to honestly analyze the size of the challenge that you want to eat/drink. How big is it and what is the total weight? If this is your first food challenge, I highly recommend starting small by doing a challenge around 3.5lbs (There really aren't any challenges smaller than that). Challenges smaller than 3.5lbs are usually just cheap money-making schemes by a restaurant, and the price of the meal (never free if you win) is usually jacked-up high because they know a lot of people will win!! An example of one of those is the Big Ass Brewhouse Burger Challenge in Indianapolis, Indiana. You need to figure out your capabilities before you go higher. The one downside to this is that most 3.5lb challenges are not free. They usually cost around $15-$20, and you get a free t-shirt for winning. This is good though, because if you can't finish a 3.5lb challenge, how are you going to finish a 5lb challenge which roughly costs between $25 & $35 if you fail, depending on the restaurant. For a good 3.5lb challenge, I recommend challenges like The Big Dawg Challenge in downtown Greensburg, Indiana at Dawg Haus Diner, or the Randy's Reubenator Challenge (named after me!!) at Governor Stumpy's in the Waldo Area of Kansas City, Missouri.

► If you are selecting your first eating contest, first you have to see what is available! If you do not know of any coming up at your favorite restaurants or bars, like I said earlier, check out eatfeats.com. Check out your city/state to see what is coming up. Typically there are a lot more available when the weather is nice in the summer, and then there are a good amount in the fall & spring. The winter is a pretty slow time for competitive eating. Next, you have to pick the contest that sounds most appealing to you. The biggest factor is the foods you will be eating. If you hate the taste of hot dogs, why would you choose a hot dog contest for your first one?

The only reasons that you should do that is because either you don't think there will be much competition, or the prizes are really good. From that last sentence, hopefully you derived that two of the other big factors are the prizes available and how good your competition will be. Prizes are usually listed with the contest. If not, usually that is because the contest host is either waiting to hear back from other sponsors, or because the prizes are very small and not worth doing the contest, and they don't want to discourage people from signing up. When the prize list just says, "Great prizes available," that's usually not a good sign. Another factor in your decision is how much the contest costs to enter, along with where that money goes.

Most contests are free to enter because food is typically donated by a sponsor. Some contests do charge an entrance fee though which is typically inexpensive. That fee usually goes toward prizes, cost of food, or hopefully towards a great cause such as a charity organization. A lot of eating contests are setup as charity events so that they can attract more interest. You must take all of these factors into account when deciding which contest that you want to do. If the competition is going to be tough, and you know that you are just a beginner, at least make sure that you love the food or really like the organization benefitting from the contest. You don't have to win to have fun!! Just enjoy the atmosphere & competition!!

It's Time To Learn More!!

If you read & follow the advice throughout these sections, you will be a lot more prepared and confident for when you take on your first/next food challenge!! If after reading EVERYTHING, & you still have questions, please make sure to contact me and I will do my best to help. Please click on the section that you want to read about first. After that, you can find links in the main menu to the left:
Training Stomach Capacity
Tips For Food Challenges
Tips For Eating Contests
Strategies Per Food Type
Advice For Restaurants (Challenges)
Advice For Restaurants (Contests)
Recovering From Food Challenges


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