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  • Post category:Diet
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The world of sumo wrestling is fascinating, not just for its ancient traditions and intense matches but also for the unique dietary regimen that the wrestlers follow. The sumo wrestler diet is a carefully crafted system designed to build both mass and strength, essential for success in the ring. This article aims to unveil the intricacies of the sumo wrestler diet, offering insights into how these athletes achieve their distinctive physiques.

The Importance of Diet in Sumo Wrestling

When it comes to sumo wrestling, diet is not just about fueling the body; it’s about building a physique capable of withstanding the rigors of this demanding sport. Here’s how diet plays a pivotal role:

Contribution to Strength and Mass

The sumo wrestler diet is engineered to help athletes gain significant mass without compromising their strength. This balance is crucial for performance in sumo matches, where both weight and power are determining factors.

Balance Between Weight Gain and Agility

While the aim is to gain weight, it’s equally important to maintain agility and speed. The diet is formulated to achieve this delicate balance, ensuring that wrestlers can move quickly despite their size.

Cultural Significance

The sumo wrestler diet is deeply rooted in tradition, featuring staple dishes like Chanko-nabe that have been passed down through generations. This diet is not just about nourishment; it’s a part of the sumo culture.

Macronutrients and Caloric Intake

Understanding the macronutrients and caloric intake is key to grasping the effectiveness of the sumo wrestler diet.


Protein is a cornerstone of the diet, essential for muscle repair and growth. Common sources include fish, chicken, and occasionally, red meat.


Carbohydrates provide the energy needed for intense training sessions and matches. Rice is a staple, often consumed in large quantities to meet the high caloric demands.

Fats: Good Fats vs Bad Fats

Healthy fats like those found in fish and certain oils are included to support hormone production and overall health. The aim is to avoid unhealthy fats that could lead to long-term health issues.

Caloric Surplus

A caloric surplus is maintained to facilitate weight gain. This involves consuming more calories than are burned through training and daily activities, a fundamental principle of the sumo wrestler diet.

By understanding the importance of diet in sumo wrestling and the role of macronutrients and caloric intake, you’ll gain a comprehensive view of how these athletes achieve their unique physiques.

Typical Meals in a Sumo Wrestler Diet

The sumo wrestler diet is renowned for its unique meals that are both high in calories and rich in nutrients. Let’s explore some of the staple dishes that make up this diet.

Chanko-nabe: The Staple Dish

Chanko-nabe is more than just a dish; it’s a tradition in the world of sumo wrestling. This hearty, protein-packed stew is a staple in the diet of sumo wrestlers, designed to provide all the essential nutrients needed for muscle growth and quick recovery.

Here’s how to make your own Chanko-nabe at home.


  • Protein: Chicken thighs (300g), tofu (200g), and fish fillets (200g)
  • Vegetables: Napa cabbage (1/2 head), carrots (2), mushrooms (200g), and green onions (4)
  • Broth: Chicken or vegetable stock (1.5 liters), sake (1/4 cup), soy sauce (1/4 cup), and mirin (2 tablespoons)
  • Additional: Udon or ramen noodles (200g), rice cakes (optional)


  1. Preparation:
    • Cut the chicken, fish, and tofu into bite-sized pieces.
    • Slice the vegetables into manageable sizes.
  2. Broth Base:
    • In a large pot, combine the chicken or vegetable stock, sake, soy sauce, and mirin.
    • Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
  3. Cook Protein:
    • Add the chicken pieces to the boiling broth and let them cook for about 10 minutes.
    • Add the fish and tofu, cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Add Vegetables:
    • Incorporate the sliced vegetables into the pot.
    • Let them simmer until they become tender, which usually takes around 10-15 minutes.
  5. Noodles and Final Touches:
    • If you’re using noodles, add them to the pot and cook according to package instructions.
    • Optionally, you can add rice cakes for additional texture.
  6. Garnish and Serve:
    • Chop the green onions and sprinkle them on top as a garnish.
    • Serve hot, ideally in large bowls to mimic the sumo tradition.

Nutritional Breakdown:

  • High in protein for muscle repair
  • Rich in vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals
  • Balanced macronutrients to meet caloric needs

Rice and Other Carbohydrates

Rice is often served alongside Chanko-nabe to provide the necessary carbohydrates for energy. Other carb sources like noodles and bread may also be included.

Protein Sources: Fish, Chicken, and More

Apart from Chanko-nabe, additional protein sources like grilled fish and chicken are often consumed to meet the high protein requirements.

Snacks and Side Dishes

Snacks like rice cakes and fruits are consumed between meals. Side dishes may include pickled vegetables and salads.

Meal Timing and Frequency

The timing and frequency of meals in the sumo wrestler diet are designed to maximize weight gain while supporting intense training sessions.

The Concept of Intermittent Fasting in Sumo Culture

Sumo wrestlers often skip breakfast and eat their first meal after morning training. This form of intermittent fasting helps to increase hunger, allowing them to consume more calories in subsequent meals.

Number of Meals Per Day

Typically, sumo wrestlers eat two large meals a day, with snacks in between. These meals are calorie-dense to support their high energy expenditure.

Pre- and Post-Training Meals

The first meal is usually consumed after morning training, while the second meal is eaten in the evening. Both meals are designed to provide the nutrients needed for recovery and growth.

Supplements and Hydration

While the focus is primarily on whole foods, supplements and proper hydration also play a role in the sumo wrestler diet.

Commonly Used Supplements

Protein shakes and vitamin supplements are sometimes used to ensure that all nutritional needs are met, especially during intense training periods.

Importance of Hydration

Hydration is crucial, particularly because sumo wrestling involves strenuous physical activity. Water is the preferred beverage, although sports drinks may be consumed for quick electrolyte replenishment.

By understanding the typical meals, meal timing, and the role of supplements and hydration in the sumo wrestler diet, you’ll gain a well-rounded view of how these athletes maintain their unique physiques and high performance levels. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the health implications of this diet and how it complements the rigorous training routines of sumo wrestling.

Health Implications

While the sumo wrestler diet is effective for gaining mass and strength, it’s essential to consider its health implications.

The Good and the Bad: Health Benefits and Risks

The diet is rich in protein and essential nutrients, offering some health benefits like muscle growth and improved immune function. However, the high caloric intake and specific eating patterns can pose risks, such as elevated cholesterol levels and potential weight-related health issues.

How Sumo Wrestlers Manage Potential Health Issues

Regular medical check-ups and monitoring are part of a sumo wrestler’s routine to manage these risks. Adjustments to the diet are made as needed to mitigate potential health problems.

Training and Diet: The Symbiotic Relationship

The sumo wrestler diet doesn’t exist in isolation; it’s closely tied to the athletes’ rigorous training routines.

How Training Routines Complement the Diet

The intense physical training that sumo wrestlers undergo helps them utilize the high caloric intake effectively. This ensures that the weight gained contributes to muscle mass and strength, rather than just body fat.

The Role of Rest and Recovery

Rest is as crucial as diet and training. Adequate sleep and rest days are essential for muscle recovery and growth, making them integral components of a sumo wrestler’s lifestyle.


The sumo wrestler diet is a fascinating blend of tradition, science, and necessity, designed to help athletes achieve the unique physique required for success in this ancient sport. From the staple dish of Chanko-nabe to the intricacies of meal timing and supplements, this diet is a well-crafted system for building mass and strength. While it comes with its set of health implications, proper management and regular monitoring ensure that athletes can maintain their performance levels without compromising their well-being.