Sumo is a sport that consists of two opponents trying to topple the other over the quickest. Whichever is able to achieve this goal is declared the winner.
It is an interesting sport, and requires the athletes to bulk up as much as possible so that it is harder for the opponent to tackle them to the mat.
Sumo requires immense strength and size, so anyone who wants to succeed in the business will need to bulk up as much as possible. Sumo wrestlers, known as rikishi, make this their number one goal to become the best that they can be.
But what do they eat to achieve their size? Let’s take a look at what sumo wrestlers eat.
How Many Calories?
A typical sumo wrestler will eat around 20,000 calories in a single day, which can sound rather daunting to anyone except sumo wrestlers.
The average person should be eating between 2,000 to 2,500 calories a day, so for sumo wrestlers to have a diet consisting of 10 times that amount is pretty astonishing.
That is not the only wondrous thing about the sumo diet, though. You might think that sumo wrestlers eat their 20,000 calories over the course of lots of smaller meals throughout the day, but you’d be wrong. Instead, they consume them in just two 10,000 calorie meals.
Let’s take a look at the average sumo wrestler’s typical day of eating.
An Average Day Of A Sumo Wrestler
Breakfast – What Breakfast?
Sumo wrestlers will wake up and start their day between 4 or 5 am each morning, and they will jump straight into training.
They will start exercising without even eating breakfast, and they will work out right through the hours that breakfast would usually be served.
The reason for this is because skipping breakfast will slow down your metabolism, and working out instead will even further slow this down. The wait between waking up and lunch will also help them get hungry enough for their first 10,000 calorie meal.
First Meal – Bulk Loading
The first meal of the day for sumo wrestlers is called chankonabe (ちゃんこ鍋), which is a type of stew. It is pronounced like ‘chunk nabe’, and is full of vegetables, fish, tofu, and meat.
Nabe (鍋) is a Japanese stew served all over the country, but chankonabe is a much larger version of this stew. It also includes lots of extras to provide extra calories for the sumo wrestler.
As well as this large lunch, they will also have between five and 10 bowls of rice to finish off the meal. For their drink, they will have an endless supply of beer as this provides them with lots of empty calories without making them too full.
Some will have as many as six pints of beer during this meal alone.
Time For A Siesta
Once they have finished eating their lunch, the majority of sumo wrestlers will then take a nap (see also ‘Are There Female Sumo Wrestlers?‘). All of that food must make them tired! They will sleep for as long as four hours after their lunchtime meal.
This nap will also work to slow down their metabolism so that they don’t burn off too many of the calories they’ve just eaten during training. This means that more of their food will contribute to their size.
Final Meal – Dinner And Bed
Once the wrestler has woken up from their four hour nap, it will almost be time for dinner. This is their second 10,000 calorie meal of the day and they eat a variety of different high calorie foods as well as drinking lots more beer.
After they have finished eating this many calories, they will get ready for bed and call it a night. Throughout the night, the protein and calories from the day will get to work improving or maintaining their size, ready for a fight.
Learning More About Chankonabe
The main meal that sumo wrestlers consume is chankonabe, and this is the first 10,000 calorie meal that they’ll consume. While it is extremely hearty, that doesn’t mean that it’s unhealthy.
In fact, it is full of vegetables, tofu, fish, and meat such as pork, chicken, or beef.
Chankonabe is served in restaurants all throughout Japan, and can be ordered in a variety of different flavors such as salt, kimchi, soy sauce, and others.
Restaurants will often offer a meal with less than 10,000 calories in it, but it will still be a lot of food – so make sure you’re hungry enough!
There is a town called Ryogoku in Tokyo, which has been given the nickname of ‘sumo town’. This is because they tailor a lot of their foods and other stores to sumo wrestlers. Here, you’ll find plenty of restaurants that tailor to sumo wrestlers in their meal sizes.
If you’re looking for a real 10,000 calorie bowl of chankonabe, here is the place to be! They also offer lots of other 10,000 calorie dishes such as curry and noodles.
Sumo town is the perfect place to be if you want to try the sumo wrestler diet or living like a rikishi for the day!
And there we have it – a breakdown of what the average sumo wrestler eats (see also, ‘What Does A Sumo Wrestler Wear?‘). With a requirement of 20,000 calories a day, they can just about eat whatever they want! However, their diets are broken up into two 10,000 calorie meals.
One of the meals is traditionally a hearty bowl of chankonabe, which is a traditional Japanese dish made up of plenty of meat, fish, tofu, and vegetables. Along with this will be served five or six bowls of rice, with plenty of beer to wash it all down.
The second meal will be another massive bowl of whatever they fancy, as long as it equates to 10,000 calories. Between these meals, you’ll either find sumo wrestlers training or sleeping (see also ‘How Strong Are Sumo Wrestlers?‘).