Bigger isn’t Better: What to Eat after Weigh-in
- Updated: April 30, 2017
Carbohydrates and protein are largely misunderstood and misused in sports that require bulk and mass. Processed foods and refined sugars are the carbohydrates any healthy diet should avoid. Carbohydrates, like grains, potatoes and fruit, provide the body with its main source of fuel necessary for energy and muscle repair. Protein, on the other hand, is necessary for building lean muscle it also is not easily digestible. Bulking up with steak and eggs is not the way to go. The aesthetic of the sumo wrestling encourages unhealthily large weights and the same kind of unhealthy eating that football players use to bulk up.
Misinformation about knowledge and dieting can lead wrestlers into unsafe weight-cutting techniques that can eventually lead to eating disorders like bulimia nervosa. Few wrestlers understand how important water is in training and performance. Wrestlers view carbohydrates as fattening whereas they believe that foods high in protein like beef and eggs are nonfattening and lead to muscle bulk. During the wrestling season, the average wrestler is not getting enough nutrients or calories required for their activity level. They also tend to get 15-50% less than the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, C, thiamine, iron, and protein. Not getting enough calories during the season will actually increase the body’s need for more oxygen to function (it negatively affects anaerobic capacity). The typical wrestler’s diet also tends to be higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates than recommended.
Sumo wrestlers eat specifically to gain weight and exercise only to maintain flexibility. They avoid any exercise that reduces weight, bulk or strength. They eat a heavy stew called chanko nabe and sleep immediately after eating. The stew is flavored with monosodium glutamate (MSG) which adds to problems with high blood pressure. Professional sumo wrestlers wait until they retire to heal from their injuries and regain a reasonable weight: “It’s pretty much a rule of the game. When you retire you’re really big, at least 350. A lot of them get down to around 195.” However, it will be difficult to undo over 15 years of bad eating habits, not to mention the weight put on joints and bones during those years of competition.
We recommend eating 5 hours between weigh in and competition eating foods that are high in carbohydrates, non-greasy and readily digested. The difference between a meal that is 75% carbohydrates and a meal that is 50% carbohydrates makes the difference in recovering performance ability after periods of weight loss. High fat foods such as steak and egss and protein bars are not good things to eat before an event.
Author: Melanie Carbine
Melanie Carbine currently writes for several education blogs, vlogs about her travels, and teaches middle school in the DC Metro Area.