What You Can Learn about Fat Loss and Gain from Sumo Wrestlers


Ok I actually wanted to make a quick post on a comment made recently that said basically “Isn’t Intermittent Fasting how Sumo wrestlers get huge belly fat?”. In a sense there are some common variables, but also there are many that are not. Actually by looking at the sumo wrestler we can see how NOT to do an IF (or ANY eating plan) routine, be seeing how they do things on purpose to gain fat.

So what is a Sumo wrestler’s goals? To get as big, strong and fat as possible (because there is no weight class and a larger wrestler has an advantage of course). Let’s look at what they do:

  • They skip breakfast
  • They workout fasted
  • They workout for hours (2-4)
  • They eat 1-2 large meals during the day
  • They eat mostly higher carb with some meat (little to no fat)
  • They eat a TON of calories
  • They drink Beer with food
  • They go right to sleep after each meal (for 3-4 hours during the day or overnight after last meal)

So this is how a Sumo wrestler gains weight. Now I can see where the “skipping breakfast” and “working out fasted” might make someone say quickly “Isn’t that what IF is?”. Actually it has been said that long ago they used to eat large breakfasts but could not sustain the workouts. So they found out that by skipping breakfast and working out for hours, not only made them able to sustain workout intensity but also allowed them to eat more food later with a larger appetite. But you have to look at all the other variables involved such as:

  • Gaining weight is still about the calories…and Sumo wrestlers eat way more than you or me as in anywhere from 6000-20,000 cal a day. (hence why they have to go to sleep after because of the amount of food they eat)
  • They eat a lot of carbs and very little fat. This creates huge insulin responses and as we know, large insulin is a great way to store fat….especially if you are eating a ton of quick digested carbohydrates and then going to do nothing for a while….they have no place to go but fat stores.
  • They drink alcohol/beer (some alot), which in turn raises cortisol to help them store the body fat in their belly (hormonal response to where fat gets stored).
  • They workout for hours and hours fasted and then eat large large amounts of food due to the appetite they have built up.

So really, what are the lessons we can take to an IF plan if your goal is fat loss and you are not a Sumo wrestler in training? (these should seem familiar, but it’s key to keep stressing the important basics to remember):

  • Eating only 1 large meal is not a good idea, several smaller meals should be the goal
  • Eating large meals heavy in carbs will only store more fat (high insulin response)
  • Eating large meals light in fat will only keep insulin higher (fat storing hormone)
  • Total calories still count…eat too much and you won’t lose fat (and may gain more)
  • Doing hours of exercise fasted is going to raise cortisol and burn muscle. Keep workouts under 45-60 min and use shorter more intense methods (weight lifting, sprints, intervals, etc….just keep it all under 45-60min as time will always depend on the intensity you are going at)
  • Skipping breakfast is not why they get fat, they get fat on excess calories and large amounts of carbs to promote insulin spikes.
  • Alcohol in moderation, as too much will just raise cortisol and cause fat gain.
  • Sleep is important in building muscles (as they do have strong muscles…..and if you want to argue that fact go wrestle one and then tell me they are weak!)

So there we have it. While I think the commentator was trying to debunk IF with his sumo wrestler comment(s), I do think it’s a good idea to understand how people DO gain weight. Understanding how to gain fat is probably one of the best ways on learning how to lose fat…..as now you know what NOT to do. So eat smaller meals (spread your calories out, keep the daily intake lower), stick to lower carbs per meal (control insulin response) and get your sleep (get the muscle building and fat burning hormones optimal)….and if something isn’t working, go back to the basics and see what needs to be changed it up.

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