How to Eat Like a Sumo Wrestler

Whole Body Reboot

How to Eat Like a Sumo Wrestler

Sumo wrestling is an ancient Japanese sport; where the heavier you are the better!  They stare each other in the eyes and slap their feet and enormous thighs, trying to break their opponent’s courage.  One of the heaviest sumo wrestlers, or rikishi in Japanese, was Hawaiian born Konisiki.  He weighed 630 at his peak!  So, how do sumo wrestlers get so big? 

 Sumo Wrestlers' Tricks for Getting Big

1.    Don’t eat breakfast.  Sumo wrestlers never eat breakfast.  This is a great way to slow your metabolism way down and will definitely ensure over eating later in the day.

2.    Exercise on an empty stomach.  When you exercise without proper fueling, your metabolism will conserve every ounce of energy you have left to get you through the activity.  So you end up burning far less calories than you would have had you eaten prior to exercising.

3.    Eat only 1-2 meals each day.  Sumo wrestlers get up early, work out and then don’t eat until late in the day.  This way they will be starving and will eat anything they can grab and in enormous amounts.  This ensures a great calorie surplus and maximum weight gain.  When you eat a large amount of calories in one sitting, the body will use up what it can and then fill your extra energy reserves for later.  When your storage gets full, everything left over is stored directly as fat.

4.    Drink beer.  Sumo wrestlers drink large amounts of beer with their meals.   For a sumo wrestler, the bigger the belly the better!

5.   Eat out. Many studies have found that people eating in a restaurant will eat 40% more food and 30% more fat then they would if they were at home. Sumo wrestlers like to distract each other while eating to make sure they don't notice those "getting full" signals. They also always have someone else cook for them so they don't pay attention to fat or ingredients.

6.    Sleep after eating.  When they finish their large meals, the wrestlers will take a long nap.  Going to sleep on a full stomach forces the body to store most of the calories as fat because it doesn’t have the ability to metabolize large amounts of food while sleeping.

Yikes, I bet a lot of these behaviors sound really familiar!  I know they do to me…  Getting up early, skipping breakfast, running to the gym, eating a late (large) lunch and an even later (larger) dinner and then heading to bed…  This is the busy American life style that many people live.  When working as many hours as most do, it is easy to eat like a sumo wrestler!

 What of you don’t want to look like a sumo wrestler?

1.    Eat breakfast like a King or Queen. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day! Breakfast gives your metabolism a daily kick-start plus it helps control your appetite throughout the rest of the day. We recommend a high fiber breakfast that has at least 15g of fiber. This can be attained by eating a high fiber cereal (at east 5g of fiber per serving), topped with 2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal and blueberries. Fiber helps keep you satiated and also regulates blood glucose - so no energy crashes!

2.    Fuel prior to exercising and post exercising. For a pre-workout snack eat 1/2 a banana, a few whole-wheat crackers and 1/2 c of fruit juice (focus on carbohydrates). This will ensure you have a stronger workout and you will actually burn more calories! Then make sure to have a protein and carbohydrate based snack post-workout to refill your energy stores and maintain muscle mass.

3.    Eat throughout the day. Take time to eat a healthy lunch and don't forget those late morning and afternoon snacks! We recommend eating every 3 hours (plus or minus 30 minutes). This will keep the hunger-inducing hormone, Ghrelin, at bay, ensuring you will not over eat and will make good choices.

4.    Limit alcohol. For weight loss, we recommend drinking no more than about 4 servings of alcohol per week. (Reminder: 1 serving of wine is 4 oz or 1/2 c, 1 serving of beer is 12 oz or a pint, and hard alcohol is 1.5 oz.) Alcohol is metabolized like a fat in the body, so think of each drink as eating 2 Fats (plus a Grain and Starch for beers!)

5.    Limit eating in restaurants.  When eating at a restaurant it is much easier to make bad choices and eat too much, plus you cannot control the ingredients.  Restaurants use a shocking amount of fatty products to ensure a yummy tasting meal.  Don’t trust anything labeled “low fat” or “healthy choice” without doing a little investigating!

6.    Don’t eat a huge dinner and then head to bed.  About 70% of your calories should be consumed during the day and only 30% should be eaten in the evening.  For example, if you are following 1700 calories per day, then before your dinner you should consume about 1190 calories evenly spread out throughout the day, and then have about 510 calories for dinner and dessert.

It is easy to fall into bad sumo habits that stay with us for years.  If you have difficulty with the above listed tips, then chose 1 or 2 and work on them.  When you feel confident,  chose another 1 to 2, and work on those.  You don’t have to be perfect all at once, or perfect every moment.  It takes time to break habits, and you can definitely do it!  Be nice to yourself and take baby steps.  Many bad habits that people have were acquired over many years and they wont disappear over night.  Just make small attainable adjustments and before you know it, those bad habits will be in the past (and so will the weight)!

Created by Kate Haisch, BS, Dietetic Intern