Are you training for a Sumo Wrestling Competition?


As strange as it sounds some athletes keep a special diet to have their metabolism low – and to get fat! I’m talking about Rikishis – the official term for sumo wrestlers. The Sumo wrestling is a traditional Japanese contact sport when two almost naked and incredibly fat guys trying to overthrow each other or to push each other off the court. Of course the competitors should be very strong and stable, so they exercise daily; however one of the most important components is keeping the weight extra heavy. The average rikishi weight starts from 400 lbs –and it is considered to be lightweight…

Let’s look at your typical diet/lifestyle plan just in case you decide to become a rikishi:

1. Skip breakfast. You need to keep your metabolism low to avoid losing weight.
2. Definitely overeat at night to store the extra energy as fat.
3. Eat only twice a day and eat a LOT! Get extra big servings of high fat content food.
4. Sleep at least four hours immediately after each meal.
5. Make sure you eat close to 20K calories a day.
6. Exercise on an empty stomach to keep your metabolism even lower.
7. Drink lots and lots of beer. Alcohol increases cortisol levels which creates a layer of fat around the belly. This way your abdominal area will become the “beer belly”!
8. Eat socially as much as you can. Research shows that people who eat socially consume at least thirty percent more calories and eat almost twice more.

Sadly enough this plan closely resembles the lifestyle of an average American. Except that the exercise is often out of question in our overloaded daily routine.

So, next time you decide to skip breakfast or overeat at night- think: do you really want to pursue a rikishi career? As for the most people the named above plan is the sure way to accumulate extra fat extra fast. So watch what and how you are eating; you might just turn into a (really weak) sumo wrestler!

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  • This is a great post. Goes to show you that everything we do, when how and why we eat is just as important as what we eat. This is especially good for people who want to lose or maintain their existing weight but find that their habits are more like a training sumo wrestler!!

  • lars

    Actually the sumos consume much larger quantities of carbohydrates than high fat food. Fat is only around 10% or their daily calories.

    Lots and lots of beer, rice and chankonabe wich is a stew of chicken, soy and some vegetables in a chicken broth. The Rikishis know that carbohydrates —> insulin= fatstorage !

  • Thank you, I stay corrected. The indeed consume more carbohydrates than fat! So next time we look at the big plate of PASTA (!) think about that….

  • Chiyonofuji

    “The average rikishi weight starts from 400 lbs –and it is considered to be lightweight… ” I am sorry but that is not true. Today the average sekitori (sumo wrestler of the top divisions wich are usally the heaviest as they are more experienced and have had more time to get big) is around 325 lbs. The rikishi are heavier nowadays than they used to be after world war II, when the average weight in the top divisions was 250lbs. The lightest in the top division these days is actually weighing around 250 lbs. So, no 400 lbs is not considered a lightweight. Just for you to know the biggest sumo wrestler ever is the Hawaian wrestler Konishiki, with 615 lbs.

    “Sadly enough this plan closely resembles the lifestyle of an average American. Except that the exercise is often out of question in our overloaded daily routine.”
    Studies have compared rikishi to normal subjects of the same weight. They have shown that the japanese wrestler have a much higher percentage of fat-free mass (that is, way more muscles) than the usual overweight person. I don not have a ready link but you should find an abstract if you loo it up on google.

  • Chiyonofuji

    I am sorry, my mistake : Konishiki is samoan.

  • Daniel

    I am considering applying some sumo dietary methods to a muscle building/weight gaining regimen. I am a very skinny man with a naturally hyper-fast metabolism. The greater portion of my large meals will likely be made more of protein however, but with a considerable amount of carbohydrate as well. The main point will be to get my body to actually have some fat on it so I will actually be able to keep the muscle tissue I build.

  • Holly

    Hey there,
    i was just wondering, that if you were a sumo wrestler, what would you eat for BREAKFAST if you were trying to GAIN weight?

  • Bill

    This article is wrong in so many ways. First off, rikishi don’t eat anywhere near 20K calories per day. Probably more like 6K (I know .. I’ve eaten with them – yummy!). Thing is that sumo training is hard but doesn’t involve all that much calorie burn. Football linemen eat about the same amount of calories (been there too as a player) but workouts in training camp are much more strenuous in terms of calorie burn – lots more cardio for longer periods of time. The closest that rikishi come to cardio is “butsukari-geiko” where one guy basically acts a blocking sled and the other guy has to push him across the ring. The key to the weight gain is the sleep after eating and the large meals. As for exercising on an empty stomach, anyone in the military will be familiar with this – you do PT *before* breakfast (been there too). They do this to speed up the metabolism, not to slow it down. The big difference is the amount of food and the sleep.