Are Sumo Wrestlers Healthy? Find Out the Truth!

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Adenike Eketunde
Adenike Eketundehttps://www.wikidoc.org/index.php/Adenike_Eketunde
I am a health enthusiast with a degree in medicine and public health. I have over 5 years of experience working in the clinical and non-clinical setting. I have experience in medical writing and review with published articles on PubMed.

Did you know that Sumo wrestlers have a daily diet of up to 7000 calories? Yes! A typical diet for them is around that range.

Furthermore, their average weight is two to three times more than an average adult. In fact, the average weight for these wrestlers is somewhere between 300 and 400 pounds!

But are Sumo wrestlers healthy? Do this diet and bodyweight make them obese? Well, you should not judge a book, or a body, by its cover.

Even though the weight and the diet can make you feel like they are not living the healthiest lifestyle, there is much to it. And you can learn about it all through by sticking until the end.

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What Does Being Obese Mean?

are sumo wrestlers strong

Before we dive deep into the topic, we would like to ensure that you know the literal meaning of obesity. So, for ordinary people with obesity, the fat would be deep inside the abdomen. Basically, the fatty layer wraps around the liver, pancreas, and other vital organs. The doctor’s term for this is visceral fat.

Unlike other types, visceral fat does not only cover the vital organs but also pollutes the blood with molecules that eventually cause inflammation. For that reason, people with obesity are more likely to suffer severe issues such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.

Another thing that you need to note is that obese people usually lead a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, they are less likely to be active throughout the day. You will not see obese people working out if they are not determined to lose their stubborn belly fat.

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What Does an Average Sumo Wrestler Do?

how strong are sumo wrestlers

So, Japan’s national sport, Sumo wrestling, makes the competitors go head-to-head. In this sport, the main goal is to knock the opponent off their feet. 

When an opponent exits the ring or touches the ground outside the ring with any part of their body, they lose.

Now, this head-to-head wrestling requires a good amount of strength. Also, you should note that there is no weight restriction for this competition. Wrestlers can be 400 pounds plus and still compete. For that reason, high stamina, agility, and strength is the key to winning this game.

Gaining those three factors is not that easy for a person that leads a sedentary lifestyle. Considering that, you can not say that the Sumo wrestlers are not active, regardless of their higher weight and high fat count.

Are Sumo Wrestlers Healthy?

are sumo wrestlers healthy

According to Body Mass Index, the ideal weight range for an average male (5’7″ in height) is from 133 to 163 pounds. But as you know by now, the average weight for the Sumo wrestlers is between 300 and 400 pounds. So, does that mean that they are not healthy?

They Have Low Visceral Fat:

First of all, the Sumo wrestlers have most of the fat under their skin compared to an average adult. Scientists have conducted loads of CT scans on them and found out that they do not have that much visceral fat. Again, visceral fats cause an obese person to face heart issues, type 2 diabetes, and other health complications.

They Have Low Triglycerides:

Secondly, the wrestlers have average triglycerides, a type of fat that remains in the blood. Surprisingly, regardless of the high-fat ratio, these people do not even have a high cholesterol level. And as you might know by now, high cholesterol causes stroke, heart attack and increases the risk of heart diseases.

Considering all of that, scientists believe that Sumo wrestlers are actually healthy. They do not face any severe health complications even though their fat ratio is comparatively higher than usual and have increased overall body weight.

How Do Sumo Wrestlers Manage to Stay Healthy?

So, it is clear that Sumo wrestlers are healthy even though they do not look like they are. But how did they manage to hit the jackpot when it comes to visceral fat? Well, the secret has been hiding in plain sight all along. 

Sumo wrestling is not just a regular exercise. It requires you to use your whole strength, move your body quickly, and push your stamina level to the max. In simpler words, this type of wrestling is pretty demanding. Different studies show that you are less likely to build up visceral fat when performing intense exercises.

Now, what does visceral fat has to do with intense exercises? Adiponectin! It is a hormone that sees a high increase after putting your body through a demanding workout. Adiponectin will guide the fat and glucose molecules out of your bloodstream at its core.

When the two molecules are out of your bloodstream, the chances of visceral fat building up remain exceptionally low. Instead, the fat and glucose molecules will end up underneath your skin.

Lifestyle of Sumo Wrestlers

Sumo Diet and Lifestyle

Curious to know how does a Sumo wrestler spend their day. Well, their day is full of intensive exercise sessions. Usually, the training in Japan Sumo wrestling institutions will start as early as 5 in the morning. And the session can last for up to five hours. And let us not forget that the wrestlers get little to no break.

This solid five hours of exercise is nothing compared to an average exercise routine. And you will not get this type of workout in a typical fitness class. Let us take the butsurkari-geiko exercise, for example. During that workout sessions, the wrestlers will repeatedly push and hit each other until their body collapses to the floor.

Imagine that happening to you! Exhaustion will catch up to you within the first couple of minutes. That specific workout session can last for hours for the Sumo wrestlers.

Furthermore, there is the actual match. Wrestlers will try to shove and push their opponents right out of the ring by using all of the strength their body has. This pushing and forcing are done to make the opponent touch the ground outside the mark. And no, it is not like pushing a barrel full of water.

What Happens to Sumo Wrestlers When they Retire?

As you know by now, Sumo wrestling is a great exercise. It makes the body stay healthy even with a high fat count and weight. But this career does not last forever. With age, the body becomes less capable of making quick moves and going through intensive workout sessions. And when the wrestlers hit that age, they will usually retire.

Well, as soon the exercises stop, the benefits of Sumo wrestling stops as well. Generally, when the wrestlers retire, they will need to cut their calorie intake significantly. But due to the previous diet, many fail to make this sudden change in eating habits. For that reason, Sumo wrestlers are more prone to cardiovascular diseases.

Yes, that explains why many retired Sumo wrestlers are expected to die at an estimated ten years younger than a typical Japanese citizen. So, even though eating a 7000 calories diet might sound a lot appealing, you should not do it if you do not spend most of your time trying to push a 400-pound man out of the ring.

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Who is the Heaviest Sumo Wrestler?

As we have mentioned, Sumo wrestling does not have a weight limit. You can be 200 pounds in weight and find yourself trying to topple a man that is 600 pounds in weight. The heaviest Sumo wrestler ever is Orora Satoshi. The man hit 292 kg, or 645 pounds, before his retirement.

Again, the wrestlers need to follow a strict tradition and eat a strict diet throughout their careers. However, tradition plays the most important role because it dictates the wrestlers’ daily lives, including what they eat and wear.

And due to how strictly the Sumo wrestlers adhere to this tradition, they are seen as celebrities in Japan. Many even earn thousands of dollars per month. But that prestige does not stop with their retirement. 

Usually, the wrestlers receive a title for life after they retire, making them an important person even when they are not wrestling anymore. For that reason, the Sumo training institutes never lost their popularity, and becoming a professional Sumo wrestler is still a dream for many Japanese.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the life expectancy of sumo wrestlers?

Sumo wrestlers have a life expectancy of 60-65 years which is nearly 20 years less than the average Japanese man. 

Are sumo wrestlers strong or just fat?

Don’t get deceived by their fat, as they are usually very very strong. All the sumo wrestlers go through a rigorous training regimen to make them prepared for the sports. 

Why do sumo wrestlers sleep after eating?

They sleep for a couple of hours after lunch because it helps them to make the metabolism slower and gain weight.

Final Words

To wrap things up, when it comes to Sumo wrestlers being healthy, the visceral fat count plays the most crucial role. And as the wrestlers have a low visceral fat ratio, they are deemed fit. In fact, they are healthier than an average adult.

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