How Matt Stonie Trains For Competitive Eating Contests

Matt Stonie, who stands just 5 feet 8 inches tall and weights only 130 pounds, is nonetheless one of the world's top competitive eaters. One of the undoubted highlights of his career was his 2015 upset victory when he bested perennial champ Joey Chestnut at the Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest, choking down an unimaginable 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes (via CNN). While that wasn't exactly a world record, he does hold more than a dozen records for foods ranging from pork roll sandwiches to pumpkin pie and has even scarfed down an entire Happy Meal in just 15.22 seconds.

Stonie gets incensed, however, when anyone suggests that he's just a hungry guy living the dream. On his website he explains: "The truth is, to win all those challenges, you have to train hard and know what you're eating... We are professionals, we aren't just average Joes who have big appetites. We've calculated our techniques and approaches to these contests, we've trained our bodies and worked for what we've accomplished."

Matt Stonie usually sticks to a healthy diet

On an ordinary day, Matt Stonie really doesn't eat much more — in fact, maybe a bit less — than the average guy his age and size. He told GQ, "On a normal day, I eat 2,000 to 2,500 calories." What those calories consist of isn't anything all that exciting, either. A different GQ profile details his everyday diet: He starts off each day with a 100-calorie protein shake, a cup of coffee, and some multivitamins. Three hours later he has his second breakfast (shades of Bilbo Baggins!), which consists of another protein shake and some carrots. At lunchtime he has... guess what? A protein shake. Also some apples. Three hours after that, Stonie makes time for second lunch (thus one-upping the Hobbits), with, yes, a protein shake and a handful of almonds. For dinner, he really lives it up with — a protein shake (his fifth of the day), plus a few slices of bread. Finally, before bed he has some casein protein (amazingly not in the form of a shake) and more almonds.

This is how Matt Stonie prepares his stomach for competition

A week or two before he takes on a food challenge, Stonie will start eating that particular food. He told Toronto Life that he always tries to mimic the food he'll be eating in a contest so he can get used to its flavor and texture. He also laughs off the idea of avoiding the competition food so he doesn't get sick of it ahead of time. According to Stonie, he's not eating these foods to enjoy them, he's eating to compete. Getting his body used to a particular food is "about tolerance and knowing what to expect."

Before entering the 2016 Nathan's Famous 2016 Hot Dog Eating Contest (which he did not win), Matt shared with ESPN his training regime: At 8 a.m. he would have his typical tasty breakfast of a protein shake, coffee, and vitamins; then at 10 a.m. he'd drink small amounts of water and a sports beverage. At 11:59 a.m. he'd chug an energy drink, and then at 12 noon he'd cram down 60 hot dogs. At 1 p.m. he would rest and digest (aka food coma).

On the day of the contest, Stonie doesn't go in on an empty stomach, either. Instead, as he told Thrillist, he starts off with "a gallon of liquids, Powerade, that crap — it wakes [my stomach] up. Then I drink some coffee with it, so I can pee it out before contest. I drink Ensure or Boost for liquid nutrition."

Matt Stonie gives the rest of his body a workout, too

Matt Stonie manages to keep his weight from ballooning by the fact that he only consumes insane amounts of calories in the run-up to and on the day of an eating contest, but he also takes additional steps to ensure that he stays in shape. Competitive eating is Stonie's full time job, and like any athlete whose body is his meal ticket (quite literally, in his case), he makes time in his busy schedule for regular exercise. He told The Daily Mail: "When I'm seriously training, I go to the gym about five times a week and have to skip meals with friends and family to stick to my schedule and keep my weight down. While his regime may vary, he tends to alternate between doing cardio and lifting weights.

So yes, it's not just luck or an amazing metabolism that allow Matt Stonie to stay in shape while periodically consuming up to 15 percent of his body weight in food (which is not something ordinary humans were designed to do). As he says, "It's all about a strict diet and training regime to keep the weight off." Stonie admits that eating for a living is actually "hard work," and yet, it's a job he won't be giving up anytime soon.