For years he was one of the best in a very questionable “sport”: For 20 years, the Japanese Takeru Kobayashi has been celebrating new records again and again when it comes to eating as much as possible in the shortest possible time. Whether hot dogs, chicken wings or ramen: Kobayashi ate – faster than most. Thousands of fans were there as he ate huge amounts. But now the 46-year-old has announced that he will end his career as a competitive eater. He’s literally not hungry anymore.

What sounds like a joke has a serious background: Kobayashi suffers from health problems due to the huge portions he devoured over the years. One of them: he has lost his sense of hunger. His wife explained that he had once not eaten anything for three days without feeling hungry.

Kobayashi revealed his problems and plan to retire in the Netflix documentary “Hack Your Health: The Secrets of Your Gut.” In it he explained: “When you eat too much, you lose the ability to smell the food and you ignore signals from your body, such as feeling full.”

Doctors examined the 46-year-old thoroughly and were initially surprised that the huge amounts that Kobayashi repeatedly consumed apparently had no physical effects. His intestinal bacteria, for example, showed no abnormalities. Only brain scans made it clear why Kobayashi had lost his sense of hunger: When he saw food, all areas of his brain associated with food, sustenance, nausea and satiety were active.

Neuropsychologist Annie Gupta explained to him in the documentary: “Your brain still thinks that you are in a competition, in a state where you eat highly processed foods. A state in which all areas have to work together for you to compete Don’t be disgusted by food.”

For over 20 years, Kobayashi turned eating competitions into a sport. He set world records, such as devouring 58 sausages in ten minutes. Just like eight kilograms of cow brains in 15 minutes and nine kilograms of rice in 30 minutes. His best number in the famous “Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest” is 63 hot dogs in ten minutes.

Viewers repeatedly wondered how he managed to be slim and toned despite the huge portions. The Japanese did a lot of exercise and followed a strict diet plan. Not because of appearance, but because belly fat would constrict his stomach and allow smaller portions.

During his active time, the Japanese athlete became known for having developed his own way of gulping down food. He would repeatedly jump up and shake himself to force the food down his esophagus and thus be able to eat more and faster.

The 46-year-old initially reacted to the diagnosis with shock: “I was afraid that my brain was no longer healthy.” The doctors advised him to do what he had neglected for decades: listen to his own body. Perceiving and allowing smells, tastes and also feelings such as disgust.

“I want to live a healthy and long life, so I decided to stop eating competitions,” Kobayashi explained. “For the last 20 years I have worked in this field. I am a little afraid of this decision, but I want to repair my brain and my gut.”

Quellen: South China Morning Post,Netflix