Would you or have you ever entered an eating contest?

TIME

Tomorrow will likely mark competitive eater Joey Chestnut’s eighth straight year winning the Nathan’s Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Chestnut is now 30 years old and weighs 230 pounds—not an especially large man. In fact, many serious competitive eaters appear to be relatively thin and healthy.

So how do they eat that many hot dogs and stay healthy? And is it safe?

Not much research has been done about competitive eating. But several doctors from the University of Pennsylvania did an experiment for a National Geographic special, the results of which were published in the Journal of Roentgenology. They wanted to find out what happened to competitive eaters’ stomachs, so they compared two men: one champion eater and one non-competitive-eating man—the control—who simply had a “healthy appetite.”

The men were asked to consume as many hot dogs as they could in 12 minutes. The researchers noted…

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