Richman was born into a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of the borough. He attended "a Solomon Schechter school through eighth grade and then a Talmud Torah high school", ultimately graduating from Midwood High School. He completed his undergraduate degree in International Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned a master's degree from the Yale School of Drama. While attending Emory University, Richman was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.
His acting career has included guest roles on Guiding Light, All My Children, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, and in 2004 he portrayed God as a butcher on Joan of Arcadia. In addition to appearing in regional theater productions throughout the United States, Richman has also been seen in several national television commercials.
As a self-educated food expert and trained sushi chef, Richman has kept a travel journal that includes every restaurant he has visited since 1995. To maintain his health while indulging for his show on Travel Channel's Man v. Food (which originally aired between 2008 and 2012), Richman would exercise twice a day while on the road. When the schedule permitted, he would not eat the day before a challenge. He also tried to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water or club soda and forgoing coffee and soft drinks. Richman retired from competitive eating in January 2012; thus, Man v. Food Nation was the final season of Man v. Food. During his time as a competitive eater, Richman gained a considerable amount of weight and became depressed. After retiring from competitive eating, he lost 60 pounds (27 kg).
Richman was a paid spokesman for Zantac during Season 3 of Man v. Food.
He is also the author of America the Edible: A Hungry History from Sea to Dining Sea, which was released on November 9, 2010, by Rodale Publishing.
On January 23, 2011, Richman appeared on Food Network's Iron Chef America as a judge for a battle with Gruyère cheese as the theme ingredient.
Richman hosted Travel Channel's The Traveler's Guide to Life, which debuted on January 26, 2011, and Amazing Eats, a spin-off of his popular series Man v. Food and Man v. Food Nation, which premiered on January 11, 2012.
Richman also hosted the TV series Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America which premiered Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 9 p.m. EST. This 11 episode weekly series documented Richman's "nationwide quest to find the best thing since sliced bread 'on' sliced bread." He ultimately declared the roast-pork sandwich from Tommy DiNic's in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market his "Best Sandwich in America."
He hosts the Travel Channel's Adam Richman's Fandemonium. An NBC game show called Food Fighters, with Richman as host, premiered on July 22, 2014.
In June 2014, Richman found himself embroiled in a social media controversy over comments he made about his weight loss, which were accompanied by a hashtag said to be linked to eating disorders. Highlighting the controversial nature of the encounter are allegations that Richman referred to one or more of his followers as "haters" and further advised them to "grab a razor blade & draw a bath" He later apologized, but the Travel Channel postponed Richman's series Man Finds Food.
In 2015, he told The Independent that he eats a vegan diet when training for soccer.
In 2015, he was a judge on the British television series BBQ Champ, hosted by Myleene Klass and broadcast on ITV.
Richman is a fan of the New York Yankees and the Miami Dolphins (especially their Hall of Fame quarterback, Dan Marino.)
On June 8, 2014 Richman represented the "Rest of the World" team in the annual Soccer Aid match against England at Old Trafford, Manchester in a game that combined former professional players and celebrities. Richman was quoted as saying that he lost 30 kilograms (66 lb) for the game, and cried when he was asked to take part.