Healthy Diet & Nutrition

Unintended Arithmetic of Dieting

What many people don’t realize is that they employ the eating strategies of Sumo Wrestlers and expect to lose weight. Instead, the law of unintended arithmetic kicks in. Rather than losing weight, their so-called “diet” actually causes weight gain, creating a rounded shape more similar to a Sumo Wrestler than the desired hourglass or V-shape. Stay with me and you may never “diet” again.

In Japanese, the word Sumo means “striking one another”. Sumo wrestling is a competitive, martial art sport in Japan. It requires full body contact, where the wrestler has to force his opponent out of a circular rink or make the opponent touch the ground with any body part, except for the soles of the feet. This sport is regulated by the Japan Sumo Association and has become quite popular in Europe, the U.S., and many other parts of the world. When you think of Sumo Wrestlers, you imagine huge people, weighing in excess of 300 pounds. That is because all Sumo Wrestlers have the same goal, which is to gain weight. The eating strategies they employ help Sumo Wrestlers become heavier and meet their goal weight.

Give it some thought. Most people wake up early; skip breakfast and sometimes even lunch; go to the gym; work all day; binge eat at dinner; and go to sleep. That cycle is true for many people today. In a fast-paced society with long work hours, it becomes easy to adopt the Sumo Wrestler diet without even thinking about it. Below are seven easy-to-follow tips that can help prevent you from looking like a Sumo Wrestler.

  1. Eat Breakfast 

Sumo Wrestlers never eat breakfast. This helps maximize their weight gain. Your body has been fasting all night long, so skipping breakfast puts the body in starvation mode. That results in the body slowing down its metabolism for the whole day, which creates a larger appetite for dinner. In order to prevent your body from going into starvation mode, start your day by eating breakfast, as it is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast will revive your metabolism from its fasting state, which took place when you were sleeping, and help curb your appetite throughout the day. Studies have shown people who eat breakfast tend to be skinner than people who skip breakfast.   

  1. Do Not Exercise on an Empty Stomach 

If you fail to fuel your body, prior to working out, your body will go into starvation mode and decrease your metabolic rate. Additionally, your body will start using protein for energy, which will be counterproductive to your exercising goals. Always have a pre-workout snack, like a banana, yogurt, or a grain bar. Focus on carbohydrates because they are the quickest form of energy and that is what your body will use during the workout. After your workout, make sure to have a post-workout snack that has protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. That will refuel your body and prevent muscle breakdown.

Sumo wrestler

Sumo Wrestlers intentionally avoid eating while they train so their bodies go into starvation mode, which accelerates their goal of gaining weight.


  1. Eat Every Three Hours

Eating every three hours keeps your metabolism working all day. It helps maintain proper blood sugar control, which prevents fat storage and keeps your hunger hormones in check, which ensures better portion control and no over-eating. Sumo Wrestlers avoid breakfast and other snacks, and only eat one to two meals a day. Usually, Sumo Wrestlers binge eat at night to ensure a great caloric surplus, which increases insulin release and fat storage, for maximum weight gain.

  1. Limit Your Consumption of Alcohol

Sumo Wrestlers drink a large amount of beer with their meals. Alcohol contains 7 Kcal per gram consumed and is metabolized in the same way as fat. If not monitored, the calories from alcohol can add up quickly and lead to weight gain. You should have no more than three to five servings of alcohol per week. For optimal weight loss, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether.

  1. Limit Eating at Restaurants

Restaurants provide us with large menus and numerous choices, which can lead to poor decisions and overeating. Plus, you cannot control the ingredients that make up your meals. Most restaurants use a shocking amount of fatty products to create delicious food. Cooking at home helps you maintain control over the ingredients in your food and also allows you to maintain portion control. And you can always cook a little extra to pack for lunch the following day.

  1. Do Not Eat a Large Dinner and Go Straight to Bed

A lot of people binge eat at night, watch TV, then go to sleep. That practice provides no way to maintain proper glycemic control or to burn off the thousands of calories consumed at dinner. It also builds bad sleep hygiene practices, which will prevent proper weight loss. Eating and going to sleep is exactly how Sumo Wrestlers achieve weight gain. They will binge eat for three to four hours per night and go straight to bed; that practice releases large amounts of insulin, which prevents fat breakdown and aids in fat storage throughout the night.

As you consider these tips, please keep in mind that losing weight is a process. Just make small, attainable adjustments and before you know it, your bad eating habits will be in the past.

Dr. Eddie Fatakhov is a board-certified physician, nutritionist and best-selling author of “The Doctors’ Clinic-30 Program.”  

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