Eating, especially eating quickly, can be an art. A few weeks ago, Fox aired the "Glutton Bowl" -- an official championship sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating. I didn't think there actually was such an organization until I saw this show and went to their website at The Japanese man who holds the world record for hot dog consumption, Takeru Kobayashi, won the entire Glutton Bowl, defeating a slew of other competitors.

Of course, the Glutton Bowl's various contests did not involve just hot dogs. The "heats" of the event included hamburgers, hot dogs, sushi, Rocky Mountain oysters, and everyone's favorite, mayonnaise. The winner of that heat consumed 8 pounds of straight mayonnaise. Kobayashi won the title of world's greatest eater by consuming more cow brains than any of the other professional eaters in the finals.

How is it that a 130-pound Japanese man was able to eat so much more than people three times his size? The answer is quite simple: it was probably due to his preparation. Of course, his unique dunking and separating technique has a part to play, but Kobayashi is consistently able to consume any food faster than his opponents. Though most people scoff at the idea of competitive eating as a serious sport, some people devote their lives to it. Successful competitive eaters seem to make a decent living this way. In order to be able to win at these events, you have to be smart. You must analyze exactly what it takes to allow your body to consume the most food within a certain time limit.

Forget hunger. No matter how hungry you are, your hunger will be satisfied by eating a lot. Once that happens, your body is satisfied and it will refuse any more food. It's good to go into a hot dog eating contest on an empty stomach, but don't expect an abnormal appetite to carry you through a competition. In addition to this, fasting for an extended period of time will shrink your stomach, which is completely counterproductive for eating contests.

Bigger people eat more, so the majority of those competitive eaters tend to be hefty folks. The key there is not that they digest more quickly, or anything like that. They simply have more stomach capacity than others because of their large size. As people like Takeru Kobayashi prove, however, even smaller people can completely dominate eating competitions with the proper preparation.

Evening the score with bigger folks means you'll have to increase your stomach's capacity. That doesn't mean you should go on a steady diet of 3 packages of hot dogs a day for six months before the Nathan's competition. No sir, in order to stretch your stomach you need a different kind of strict diet. You need to drink water, and eat foods like pineapple and celery until you can't bear to look at the stuff anymore. Then eat some more. These foods have very little substance but will do wonders for your stomach. The more you shovel in, the greater volume your stomach will be used to. This will ensure that when the time comes, your stomach will be up to the task. Good old Tubby O'Blubber will look like a fat fool when he's full and you look like a bottomless pit next to him.

If you've ever seen Kobayashi in action, it's hard to imagine where he puts it all. Though his stomach must be very large, I imagine he also has some sort of genetic condition or unknown technique to keep it all down. He's the best at consuming every food, so it's obviously not just his unique consumption technique that is responsible for his success. It's truly a difficult task to swallow that much food and keep it from coming back up. The majority of successful competitive eaters swallow copious amounts of water along with their dishes. Though this does take up room in your stomach, it will keep your throat and esophagus good and slippery. No matter what you do, you will feel sick if you enter a hot dog eating contest. If you do throw up, you will likely be disqualified. In order to avoid this, hydration is paramount. There's nothing worse than a dry esophagus with a bunch of synthetic meat under it.

Concentration is key. Even if the food being contested is your favorite food in the entire world, it's not going to taste very good as you take in more and more of it. Don't taste your food; just take a few bites to chew and then swallow. Save the slow, savory eating for post-competition celebration. If you slow down, your body will begin to settle and you won't want to eat anymore. If you don't think about it and just swallow, everything will be much, much easier.

There are no secrets to being able to eat quickly. It's just a matter of how well you prepare, and how sick you are willing to feel. While the average person can't consume 50 hot dogs, they can sure as hell impress friends and foes alike with some major league consumption. Happy eating!