I saw a post a couple weeks ago that was posted by Chris Powell of Extreme Weight loss. He was discussing the aspect of sumo dieting and how our everyday lifestyles are actually very similar to that of a sumo wrestler. At first I was a little caught off guard but then decided to do some research and I was pretty blown away by what I found.
The Japanese full-contact sport of sumo wrestling is believed to date back as far as 250 B.C. As a professional sport in Japan it began in 1684. In this sport the size and mass of the athlete play huge roles, as the goal is to knock your opponent down or move them against their will outside the ring or “dohyo” as it is called. Therefore often times the larger athlete tends to have an advantage over a smaller athlete.
With that said the Japanese have essentially mastered the art of growing and putting mass onto a human being. Before I started researching the daily habits and nutrition of sumo wrestlers I thought that these athletes eat large amounts of foods all day long. However what I found is quite the opposite. Typically a Japanese sumo wrestler or “rikishis” as they are refer to in Japan, may only eat 2 meals a day. For the most part wrestlers spend their mornings performing chores and engaging in practice sessions that can last for hours. This stresses the body resulting in raising cortisol and other stress related hormones. It isn’t until around 11am or 12 that wrestlers are fed their first meal which mainly consists of chankonabe. This stew is a traditional dish that dates back to the 19th century and consists of high protein, high starch, and a lot of calories. In addition to chankonable wrestlers also consume a variety of other high caloric foods. The next thing they do is take a nap, allowing the body to absorb and store all of these calories. In the afternoon wrestlers will wake and perform this routine again where they eat their final meal around 6 pm.
After researching this and hearing Chris Powell’s explanation, the similarities between these wrestlers and the general populations daily habits is a bit scary. For example you may fall into these habits or you might know someone else who does this every day.
Wake up don’t eat breakfast, instead grab a cup of coffee or other stimulant to get you going. You don’t eat throughout the morning but you may have 1 or 3 more cups of coffee or energy drinks. It isn’t until you finally take your lunch break where you eat. After lunch you sit down at your desk and don’t move but need to drink 1-3 more cups of coffee or energy drinks to make it through the afternoon. When you finally go home you eat dinner or graze around the kitchen until you finally go to bed and repeat it all over again the next day.
Now you may not be performing chores or conducting wrestling practice, but all the stimulants you’re ingesting causes the same increase in cortisol and other stress related hormones. Then when you finally eat your body is in such a stressed and under fed state that it stores everything and doesn’t allow your body to actually burn it as fuel. This continues into the afternoon and night to where weeks, months or years go by and we wonder how we ended up in the state we’re in.
If this sounds at all familiar or you can relate to this, do yourself a favor and STOP “Sumo Dieting.” There is a reason why the Japanese have done this for centuries. Proper nutrition and food should be positive relationship. Fueling your body is meant to supply it with the nutrients and fuel it needs not only to serve throughout the day, but to also help you achieve whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. Everyone is different when it comes to nutrition but if you’re falling into the “Sumo Diet” category you’re probably not on the path to optimal health.