Special sumo fat

14 Oct

Non sumos. (Annie Leibovitz)

Have you ever noticed that sumo wrestlers don’t look exactly like regular fat people?

We recently learned that the kind of fat sumo wrestlers put on is different from the kind of fat us regular folks may put on.  While our fat (giving the classic pear or apple shape) puts us at risk of heart disease and stroke, the kind of fat a sumo wrestler has doesn’t.  The difference is that they are able to train so that they can put on as much fat as possible but in such a way that the fat doesn’t deposit around their organs like it would for us.  Sumo wrestlers actually have rippling jacked bods, but you just can’t tell because just atop their amazing muscles and just under their skin is all that fat.

Sumos do this by tricking their body into thinking they are starving.  Wha-at?  According to the very academic violent hero powerlifting dot com, as sumos sleep, their body uses up all their body’s energy stores (same as us).  But as soon as they get up they skip breakfast and train all morning.  By the time they get to eat in the afternoon, their body is in starvation mode and stores as much energy as it can as subcutaneous fat.  I read that they also eat in big social groups because people tend to eat more when they are socializing at the same time.  I can attest to that last point.  Sometimes I’ll be studying with Frond and he’ll ask me if I’m hungry.  I’ll say no, but then if he replies that he’s actually feeling a bit hungry, I’ll start to feel hungry too.

Fine specimens (Robb Kendrick)

I remember in Biochem that after about 12 hours of not eating your glycogen stores are used up.  I think glycogen is what people in violentpowerlifting.com are talking about when they say “energy stores”.  Once glycogen is used up your body starts to use up muscle then fat stores.   When you eat a massive amount, like what the sumos do, your body first uses the glucose from the food that is absorbed and floating in your blood.  But if there’s more glucose floating around than that your body can use at that moment, you start to store it as glycogen and then fat.  So this is what happens to anyone who eats more than their body is using.  For people who don’t exercise, the fat can deposit around their organs such that someone who looks thin but doesn’t exercise might actually have a lot of fat deeper inside but not the subcutaneous type of fat that sumos are aiming for.  This type of fat, the type that surrounds your organs, is the type of fat that causes all the obesity-related problems.  Since sumos are exercising so much, they don’t accumulate the fat around their organs, but since they consume crazy high amounts of calories all at once, they are still storing fat, but without the obesity-related problems.  That is, sumos don’t have a higher risk for heart disease, nor diabetes, or stroke.  Even the fattest ones!

This is the second time sumo wrestling has come up this week.  What can I say, I loves me some sumos.

Photo1: Annie Leibovitz for vanityfair.com

Photo2: Robb Kendrick for National Geographic





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