What is the typical sumo wrestler diet?

Sumo wrestlers need to maintain an extremely large body size in order to compete in their sport. This requires following a highly specialized diet that allows them to pack on the pounds while also maintaining the strength and health they need to perform. Here is an in-depth look at what a typical sumo wrestler eats on a daily basis.

Why do sumo wrestlers need to be so big?

Sumo wrestling originated in Japan as a ritual sport performed at shrines and festivals. Two wrestlers face off in a ring, or “dohyo,” attempting to force their opponent out of the ring or to touch the ground with any part of their body besides the soles of their feet. Matches can be over in seconds, or stretch on for minutes in an intense battle of force and strategy.

The primary tactics in sumo involve using strength and weight to push, lift or even throw the opponent out of the ring. As such, having an extremely large body is a major advantage. There are no weight limits or weight classes in professional sumo. The heaviest wrestlers often have a competitive edge against their smaller peers.

Most sumo wrestlers weigh between 300-500 lbs, with very little of that in fat. They aim to develop huge amounts of muscle mass while also accumulating excess body fat around the midsection and upper body. This creates a low center of gravity that’s difficult to topple.

Basic elements of the sumo diet

The primary goal of the sumo diet is to gain a massive amount of weight through strategic calorie intake. While nutrition advice has improved over the years, the basic eating plan includes:

  • Consuming giant portions with every meal
  • Eating two large meals per day along with a protein-rich drink in between meals
  • Drinking up to a gallon of fluid per day, often beer, to facilitate weight gain
  • Eating abundant carbohydrates along with meat, fish, eggs and dairy
  • Skipping breakfast but eating immediately upon waking from an afternoon nap

This eating schedule allows sumo wrestlers to consume between 5,000-10,000 calories per day, depending on their level of daily training and whether they need to gain, lose or maintain weight.

Meal strategies and dietary staples

While individual dietary preferences vary, most sumo wrestlers rely on the following meal strategies and food staples:


Chankonabe is a nutritious stew that forms the cornerstone of the sumo diet. It contains broth, meat or fish, tofu, vegetables, and noodles or rice. Recipes vary based on individual preferences and dietary needs. Chankonabe provides a dense source of protein, carbs and nutrients.

Multiple servings

Sumo wrestlers may consume up to six or more servings per meal. Bowls of chankonabe may be replenished several times. Large servings of rice, noodles, fish and meat dishes are also washed down with quarts of beer or other beverages.


All forms of beef play a major role in the sumo diet. Favorite dishes include yakiniku (Korean-style grilled beef), gyudon (simmered beef over rice), shabu shabu (thin slices cooked tableside in broth) and steak.


Pork dishes like tonkatsu (breaded, fried pork) katsudon (fried pork cutlet over rice) are sumo staples. Offal meats like liver and belly are also commonly consumed.


Chicken is another essential source of protein in the sumo diet. It can be grilled, fried, added to soups and stews or consumed as part of Japanese curry rice dishes.


As sumo originated in Japan, wrestlers eat plenty of fish. Grilled, fried, dried and stewed fish are included in chankonabe and served as main dishes. Salmon, tuna, mackerel and eel are favorites.


Eggs are an easy way to infuse the sumo diet with protein, amino acids and healthy fats. Wrestlers may eat up to 6-12 eggs per day boiled, scrambled, fried or in dishes like omelets or egg over rice.


Milk, yogurt, cheese and butter provide key calories and nutrients. They help facilitate weight gain and keep bones and muscles strong in wrestlers pushing 500 lbs.


As another staple Japanese protein source, tofu is included in chankonabe, stir fried dishes, soups and stews. The soft silken variety is often preferred for its high calorie content.


Though they’re lesser parts of the sumo diet, vegetables do provide important vitamins, minerals and fiber. Common choices are onions, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, cucumbers and squash.


Fruits are not a huge component of the traditional sumo diet, but wrestlers will often enjoy melons, pears, grapes and citrus fruits between meals and practices.


Beverages provide liquid calories and fullness between meals. They also aid in muscle recovery after intense training sessions.


Beer is downed in large quantities every evening to facilitate weight gain. While traditional, excessive beer consumption has fallen out of favor due to potential negative health effects.

Non-alcoholic drinks

Wrestlers also drink copious amounts of water, green tea, oolong tea, barley tea,Sports drinks and soft drinks. Non-alcoholic beer has also grown in popularity.

Protein drinks

Liquid protein supplements help wrestlers get in their daily protein needs. Drinks like protein powders blended with milk or yogurt, or premade beverages are common.

Improving the sumo wrestler diet

In recent decades, nutrition within professional sumo has gradually improved. There’s now more emphasis on including healthier foods and beverages. Common changes include:

  • Eating more lean protein sources like chicken, fish and whey protein
  • Consuming larger amounts of vegetables, fruits and whole grains
  • Reducing processed carbohydrates like white rice, bread and pasta
  • Limiting salt, soy sauce, fatty meats and fried foods
  • Drinking more water and reducing intake of sugary beverages and alcohol
  • Taking nutritional supplements to correct deficiencies

These shifts help today’s sumo wrestlers get in better overall nutrition to gain size and strength without sacrificing health. Careful dietary planning allows them to pack on muscle instead of just fat.

A sample daily sumo meal plan

Here is an example of what a sumo wrestler may eat in a day:


Skipped, or just a protein drink upon waking

Morning snack

Protein drink with milk, yogurt, banana and whey protein


  • Large bowl of chankonabe with chicken, fish, vegetables and noodles
  • 2-3 servings brown rice
  • Green salad
  • 2 bottles of water

Afternoon snack

  • Protein drink
  • Fruit smoothie with protein powder


  • Multiple servings of fish like grilled salmon
  • Steamed rice
  • Vegetables like cooked spinach, mushrooms, onions
  • Miso soup
  • 2-3 bottles of barley tea

After dinner

  • More chankonabe if still hungry
  • Fruit like watermelon
  • 1-2 quarts of beer or other beverages

Nutrition totals for the sample diet:

Macro Grams
Protein 400-500g
Carbs 800-1000g
Fat Around 200g
Calories 8000-10,000


The traditional sumo wrestler diet focuses on consuming giant portions with abundant protein, carbs and overall calories. Modern approaches emphasize getting in healthier foods and nutrients to support the wrestler’s enormous size and strength. Careful dietary planning allows sumo wrestlers to pack on mostly muscle instead of fat as they grow to 300, 400 or even 500+ pounds.

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