It’s ironic that the national sport of Japan—who’s inhabitants are some of the skinniest and most gentle in the world—involves two overweight men trying to shove each other out of a ring.
The truth is that it’s not just flab that makes a sumo wrestler’s girth; there’s a whole lot of muscle underneath it all.
The ideal weight for a sumo wrestler is anything from 400 to 600 pounds. This means that it takes not only strength and flexibility to be a sumo—it also takes the right diet. Eating is an essential part of their training.
A typical sumo wrestler eats a daily diet of 20,000 calories, which is pretty astounding when you consider that the recommended daily intake for a healthy, active male is 2,500. They eat 10 times what a normal male eats and all of it’s done in two massive 10,000-calorie meals. The sumo’s diet is an expression of my favorite Japanese cultural trait—never doing things halfway.
Here is a typical sumo wrestler daily eating schedule:
A sumo wrestler’s day starts at four or five o’clock in the morning with training and exercise. Surprisingly, breakfast is not served. Skipping breakfast and working out instead slows down the wrestler’s metabolism, so they usually don’t eat until around 11am. It also gets them hungry enough for that 10,000-calorie lunch.
Pasta, Veggies, Bread, Cookies
"tangy BBQ," fresh-baked roll, a garden salad and a fresh-baked cookie
The Italian ration pack contains a breakfast shot of 40% alcohol cordiale, a powdered cappuccino, lots of biscotti, and a disposable camping stove for heating parts of the meal, including a pasta and bean soup, canned turkey and a rice salad. Dessert is a power sport bar, canned fruit salad or a muesli chocolate bar.
The British pack is dotted with familiar brands from Kenco coffee and Typhoo tea to a mini bottle of Tabasco. The main courses include the British favourite, chicken tikka masala, and a vegetarian pasta. There’s also pork and beans for breakfast, and lots of sweets and snacks from trail mix to an apple “fruit pocket” that looks like it might not be out of place in a school lunchbox. Plus packets of Polos and, of course, plenty of teabags.
Vada Pav, India
vada pav starts with balls of spiced mashed potato dipped in a chickpea flour batter and deep-fried until golden. Next, thinly sliced green chili peppers are battered and tossed into the roiling oil. Meanwhile, soft chewy rolls are smeared with various chutneys like tamarind, mint-coriander or peanut-garlic. The roll is stuffed with one or two potato fritters, a clutch of golden chili strips and the whole beautiful mess is squished together
Chicken Rice, Singapore
The dish is nothing more than poached chicken served over rice. The chicken is poached on a low simmer in a gingery broth until perfectly cooked, still moist and juicy. The same broth is also used to simmer the jasmine rice, after it’s been sautéed in ginger and garlic. Slices of chicken are served over rice with a side of broth, sliced cucumber and hot sauce
Meal: Traditional Arabic Mezze, smoked tomato soup, bread from basket, Grilled fish briyani, Thai style chicken with sautéed vegetables, chocolate soufflé with mint sauce and Godiva chocolates
Ramen with pork and egg
This was so good, I wanted to cry!!
Eaten in Osaka
Cơm tấm – Warm broken rice often served with a slab of grilled pork chop marinated in sugar and fish sauce, a slice of steamed pork loaf topped with egg yolks, and a mixture of pork skin and thinly shredded pork
Phở – Noodle soup served with various cuts of beef and onions. Often eaten with basil, mint, lime, and bean sprouts