The sumo wrestler’s diet

To talk of sumo, Japan’s oldest and most traditional sport of wrestling, automatically invokes the impressively-sized wrestlers known as rikishi. Famous for their imposing stature and extraordinary strength, these essential characteristics are needed to excel in this discipline. But have you ever wondered what they eat to obtain and maintain such a physique? Let’s take a look at the sumo diet.

dieta de un luchador de sumo
Photo: AS

The rikishi’s diet has played a fundamental role in the evolution of the sport. It has been perfected over centuries, with chanko nabe (sumo stew) being the favored dish. This hearty and nutritious hot pot is composed of a wide variety of ingredients – chicken, pork, beef, tofu, seafood, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, mushrooms, carrots, and onions, among others. They are cooked in a broth and typically seasoned with soy sauce, mirin (a sweet rice wine), sake, and other seasonings. Chanko nabe provides the calories and nutrition that allows wrestlers to gain weight and build enough muscle to endure intense workouts.

chanko nabe dieta luchador sumo

The choice of food is not the only relevant factor, but also the way it is consumed. Generally, rikishi skip breakfast in order to eat larger amounts of food later in the day where they are also in the habit of taking naps afterwards. They avoid low-calorie foods, which allows them to increase their total intake. In addition, they eat two meals a day in enormous quantities, consuming between 8,000 and 20,000 calories a day, up to 10 times more than what is recommended for the average adult. The heaviest rikishi can exceed 200 kg (440 lbs.). 

dieta de un luchador de sumo
Photo: El Confidencial

The nutrition of sumo wrestlers is an art in itself that has developed over the centuries in Japanese culture. Wrestlers have a great respect for their bodies and for the ability to transform them, as possessing greater weight and size is to have an advantage in this sport.

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