Is Eating a Sport? Is Eating a Sport?

Is Eating a Sport?

Guides & Advice

Photos Droits réservés

Words Horace

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Alternative question: Could the dining table ultimately be just another sports field?

We discussed this with sports coach John Martins: nutritional concerns are inseparable from sports practice. But is that enough to bring these two physical activities closer together? Obviously, food serves as fuel for athletes, while sports often (open) the appetite. However, one question arises: is eating a sport?

When We Eat, We Expend Energy

At first glance, spending hours at the table savoring various dishes may seem too calm an activity to really be considered a sport, in the classic sense of the word. Yet, eating can help burn calories - isn't that one of the founding principles of sports?

Eating spicy food is also a simple way to lose calories without straining your muscles. How? It's relatively simple: when you bite into a chili pepper, the sensation of heat is actually calories burning. Fans of Mexican cuisine could therefore be likened to table athletes. The same goes, more generally, for proteins: eating them consumes energy, especially during digestion, on average 25% more than other macronutrients.

Cooking can also be a remarkably physical activity. You can lose many calories, an average of 112, by chopping, peeling, and sautéing ingredients in olive oil for a successful meal. The dexterity and technique this requires is obviously another important point, which could just as easily liken cooking to the most noble sports as to art.

Eating Faster Than Your Shadow

Competition, another essential aspect of sport, also exists in terms of food. Every July 4th, on American Independence Day, a fast food chain, Nathan’s Famous, for example, organizes a highly followed and competitive hot dog eating contest. A tradition dating back to 1916, this competition is prestigious - like Wimbledon or the Masters in golf.

Like all sports, food competitions have a hero, made of the same stuff as Carl Lewis, Roger Federer, or Mark Spitz: the Japanese man, Takeru Kobayashi. Despite his 5'8" height and 128 pounds, this almost featherweight guy can ingest 337 chicken wings in 30 minutes, and 97 burgers in 6 minutes - a world record.

A true hero of this sport, as of the time these lines are written, he has only been beaten by a bear, for the purposes of a TV show. What other legendary athlete can say the same

As Media-savvy as Soccer

The over-documentation of food, like that of sports, is also a scourge on social media, and in this, they can be compared: the number of dish photos on Instagram is uncountable, as are those of sports outfits. However, in both cases, it seems unjustified to use your phone during the activity: at the table, it’s rude; around a stadium, it’s simply foolish.

Beware of Injury

Excessive sport can lead to injury. The same goes for food: Marco Ferreri made a brilliant film about it with Marcello Mastroianni and Philippe Noiret, La Grande Bouffe. Four men, tired of a monotonous life, decide to lock themselves in a villa to eat until death ensues - their suffering, amplified by the extreme dimension of their enterprise, can easily be likened to that of a man who, around a simple table with his friends, ends up indulging too much. For example, Michel Piccoli dies of a simple indigestion, the culinary equivalent of a knee sprain.

Who's the Best?

More simply, there is a natural competition, among all men, to see who eats the most. In the same way, there are rules, codes, a fair-play, almost. A bit like in football, when an injured player causes a free kick, there are many rules governing table manners. Enough, therefore, to assimilate meals to a codified sport such as cricket? No, of course, even if it's just as crucial to pay attention to your attire for both activities.

Thus, it seems easy to bring these two practices closer together - especially since they sometimes mix, like during boar hunting. If eating is not a sport in itself, it's a physical activity that, a bit like football, is much more enjoyable to practice in a group.

But then, what about drinking? Isn't it, too, an endurance sport?

After eating

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