By Tom Lorenzo

So your mom says you have a big appetite. You put all your friends (and the local seniors) to shame at the neighborhood all-you-can-eat buffet. Maybe, just maybe, you might make a go of this whole competitive eating thing, monetize this extraordinary talent of yours.

Well, before you go and prematurely sign up for a competition, there are some important things you should know. These five tips will keep you from embarrassing yourself in front of the true professionals of competitive eating. And they might even put you on the road to becoming the next Joey Chestnut or Takeru Kobayashi. Dig in.

Lose Weight

The biggest guy at the buffet looks like he can put down the most food, but in fact it’s typically the skinnier guys who have an easier time with digestion. Just ask pro eater Pete “Pretty Boy” Davekos who explained to MTV that the “less body fat you have, the less difficulty you will have digesting because fat acts as a blocker.” To sum up: eat more, weigh less. Got it?

competitive eating 1 5 Tips For Aspiring Professional Eaters

John “Stormin Norman” Tiska competes in 17th Annual Wing Bowl (Photo Credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Stretch Your Stomach

Stretching your stomach serves dual purposes. First, expanding it on the inside helps you take in more food. More importantly, though, it is critical to stretch your stomach like you would your leg muscles before a run or your upper-body before a weightlifting session. This can be accomplished by simply doing crunches and performing basic abdominal stretches. You might be thinking, “But I’m only eating food here, it’s not like I’m exercising or anything.” Sure, but you don’t want to be lazy about competitive eating. The effort you put forth in downing a week’s worth of food in one sitting can really take its toll on the body. Be sure to keep your stomach lose; your body will thank you, right after it purges the 12,000 calories you just ingested in under 10 minutes.

Don’t Starve Yourself Before a Competition

You would think that competing on an empty stomach would allow you to consume more food. At least common sense would tell you that. Science, however, disputes this claim, insisting that by starving yourself, you’re essentially shrinking the size of your stomach, allowing less food to be ingested. And, of course, that’s counterproductive to your overall objective. Just ask championship eater Joey Chestnut who has suggested eating in moderation as part of your preparation.

competitive eating 2 5 Tips For Aspiring Professional Eaters

James Deig competes in a hot dog eating contest (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Practice Rhythmic Breathing Through Your Nose

Common sense alert! When you’re shoving food down your throat, you obviously want to breathe through your nose. Aside from oxygen being necessary for life, this tip is important because a lot of people have a hard time getting into a rhythm while breathing through their nose. If you’re one of those people, make sure to practice a technique that keeps a constant flow of air going in and out.

Talk to Your Physician

This is me warning you about the perils of becoming a professional eater. Just like with any sport, injuries can happen. In this particular one, however, you face the risk of certain heart and digestive issues that can ultimately result in the loss of life. Yeah, I know, I just killed your eater’s buzz. Sorry. But you should at least get a check up before you go and eat your way to fame.

See other amazing Feats of Eating.

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Tom Lorenzo is a freelance sports, entertainment and pop culture writer from New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at @TomLorenzo.

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