View Full Version : Aikido, liquids, food & health

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09-09-2005, 10:53 PM
Hi all

I've been coming to a realization lately that the way I treat my body before and after aikido training can't go on very long, so here I am asking for advice or reading suggestions on the subject.

Typically, I won't drink very much in the day before training (nothing like ukemi from a nice koshi on a full bladder) and then drink lots and lots (like, up to 2 liters of liquids) in the hour after class. On top of that, I won't eat much for 4 hours before class, but then after class my body is so tired I can't eat much either.

I'm still pretty young, so I figure that's why I don't notice this as a bad thing in everyday practice in moderate Oregon, but I went to Hombu a couple of weeks ago and did the same,and it just didn't work. It was really really hot and humid, and the training was fairly intensive, so I'd be parched by the end of class->immediately drink 2 liters of water/sports drinks. For the next 2 hours, my body would just feel really bad. Like, I wouldn't walk faster than a crawl, would feel heavy & uncomfortable to the point of feeling sick, etc, etc. And I wouldn't be hungry for some 3-4 hours after training, meaning that some days I'd have little more than a single meal. By the end of just 4 days, this was taking a toll. Which leads me to wondering - is there some better way of regulating liquid/food intake than this rather drastic nothing/a lot at once dichotomy? How do you manage your diet during periods when you're training hard? When you feel no hunger despite having not eaten for many hours, do you eat anyway or not? How do you give your body just the right amount of liquid that it needs after training?

These are not, I expect, questions one can answer very briefly, so I'd appreciate both suggestions of literature on the subject and advice from personal experience . Thanks!

09-10-2005, 04:08 AM
I am not a dietitian but my understanding is that when you are doing any kind of physical exercise the blood goes away from your stomach and it stays away for a while after you finish training. I try not to eat too much or even better just wait a couple of hours after training before having any food.

I also know that if you drink too much at once the liquid will go straight through your body and out. It is better to drink small measures of water at a time to keep the body hydrated.

09-10-2005, 05:11 AM
When I'm training a lot, I almost always have some water to sip on nearby. As far as eating, about four or five small/regular-sized meals a day, or a few regular ones with snacks. A fair amount of complex carbs, veggies, fruits, protein, etc; good nutrition is paramount. Timing a small meal about an hour and a half to two hours before class and then sipping water until class has worked well for me. The recent addition of an apple about an hour to forty five minutes before class has worked wonders. And then I usually eat at about an hour to an hour and a half after class.
Maybe the biggest deal is that you are dehydrated throughout the day, and then you shock your body with exercise, which dehydrates you even more, and then saturate yourself. Like Taras mentioned above, small amounts of water throughout the day are good for hydration.
Honestly, maintaining a proper diet is just not feasible sometimes. And I really feel the difference when I'm not doing it, water included. No matter what you figure out, I would say at least get a substantial breakfast, sip water frequently, and try to get some kind of healthy snack a little while before class. Then maybe try the reverse process after class...

Good luck,


09-10-2005, 08:37 AM
Even a small chocolate bar an hour after training would probably do you untill you feel read to eat again.

I wouldn't worry too much about it, everyone has their own habits. If you start getting cramps or dizziness then you need to change how you approach nutrition and training (and even then just minor changes) but if not then just enjoy yourself :)

Michael Meister
09-10-2005, 09:43 AM
Water takes some time to get into your body, the number that comes in my mind, is about 15 minuts. If it is really hot I drink about 1.5 l over a period of nearly 2 hours (which is acually the time I need to get home) after training. Usually I drink a bit before the training, but that depends mostly on the weather.
With food my experience is, that I need to eat something on my way back. So usually I fetch something at the train station, but I wouldn't want to eat something directly after training, half an hour later seems to be ok.

09-11-2005, 10:58 AM
what i do is, i eat normally on aikido days up until about 2 or 3 hours before class. Right before class i eat a snack and maybe a 3rd of a bottle of water. I take water w/me to class in case i get really thirsty. And then after class i usually do the drink a liter of water thing. But i've noticed that if i drink during class , i dont have to do this as bad. And then about an hour after class , if i feel like it i eat a meal

09-13-2005, 04:30 AM
I noticed, particularly before Ukemi practices, that food is not really my best friend.

Dirk Hanss
09-13-2005, 07:30 AM
As schoolboy, I had half a litre of oat flakes with much sugar and cocoa in milk just before going to karate lessons. I never had problems. I only drank after karate practice but that was a lot.

Now getting older ....
No it is just as I am going directly from office to practice I do not eat very much, but I do not care. If there is someone in the office offering some cake or whatever, i still take them directly before leaving for the dojo.

In the recent years, I learnt to drink a lot more during day. In summer up to 1.5 l of fresh water (plus coffee or tea ;) ), after training I very often drink up to another litre of water, if in a bar I take some applejuice / mineral water mix rarely a beer or cider. I often have some cereal bars with me, in case I am really down after classes, and I eat something even if it gets late night, when coming home or when us aikido feellow meet in a restaurant.

The only problem I have, is that I am sweating terribly, not only in summer. But I guess, drinking less to sweat less is not very healthy.

So I still sweat.

Regards Dirk

09-13-2005, 07:47 AM
I have to agree with others regarding staying hydrated throughout the day. Regular water intake has been very beneficial for me, especially since I often do general fitness at the gym at lunchtime and then do martial training in the evenings.

I also have to agree with Mr. Sullivan on eating the apple an hour to two hours before exercise. Especially if you exercise in the afternoon/early evening before dinner. I've started eating my apple, rather than with lunch, I save it until 3:30 or 4pm, then get on the mat and train at 5:30 or 6pm -- it's made a huge difference in my energy level (and helps to carry me over to dinner afterwards)!

As for eating afterwards -- my basic take is that if you're eating smallish regular meals throughout the day (balanced nutrition, etc.), then it's best to eat about an hour after exercise, when your metabolism is going to make the most out of what you intake (make sure there's some protein in there).

Just my input, FWIW.

Camille Lore
09-13-2005, 09:29 AM
Here's what I do to feel on top during class:
Eat a good lunch- usually a 6" subway sub on whole wheat (complex carbs) bread, with almost all the veggies on it.
Then, during the day I drink TWO 32 ounce gatorades.
This works well for me. Our classes get pretty demanding and I run out of steam if I don't follow this.

Nick P.
09-13-2005, 10:45 AM
In the First Aid for Outdoor Leaders course I took a few years ago, I was shocked to learn that the average human requires about 1.5 litres of water per day just to stay hydrated; nevermind heat (or cold) or exercise. Also, the body can't really absorb more than about a litre/hour.

Janet Rosen
09-13-2005, 11:53 AM
What I've picked up from athletic trainers is, complex carbs for the meal before working out, to sustain an even blood sugar, and protein for the meal after working out, to rebuild muscle.
When I have evening class, I try to have a decent protein-and-vegie lunch at least 3 hours before class, and an hour to an hour and a half before, just a little bit of homemade trail mix (organic low sugar, hi fiber cereals with some plain nuts, some salted nuts, and some dried fruit). When I get home, a very small light supper.
I agree that drinking fluids should be done throughout the day. Note that the 1.5 liters is --if you go back to the original study-- liquid needed for metabolism, NOT "drinking water"--it includes water content in food, soups, yogurt, etc. The amount needed WILL go higher if you are active, have a fever, etc, and attention should be paid to having some of it plain water and some of it liquid with potassium and sodium in it. (fruit and veg juices typically high in potassium)

09-13-2005, 07:08 PM
I agree with most posts here.

My routine for early evening classes:
I eat regular meals throughout the day and have one last snack 2 hours before class. If I have anything after the 2 hours, I find I still feel 'heavy'. If I eat earlier, then I don't have the energy I need.

Along with this last snack I have a good drink.

After training I down about 800ml - 1 litre of liquid while driving home. The drive takes about 30 minutes, and I find I drink as much as necessary in this time. On hot or intense training days I arrive home with an empty drink bottle. On cold or slower days I may only drink 500 mls. The important thing is to have the liquid available just in case.

I eat very lightly after training then go to bed.

09-13-2005, 11:47 PM
Monday/Wednesday I train at 4:30 pm. (Schedule permitting) I eat breakfast and a small lunch at normal times. Then I have some fruit before class. Then I come straight home eat dinner, usually takes me about 20 minutes to get home. Hungry or not I eat. Wednesdays are the worst. I come home from class eat, then load up all the PA gear and band equipment to go play. Unload, play for 3 to 4 hours, load and unload again. Then I eat and go straight to bed.

Tues/Thurs class is at 8:30 pm. I eat breakfast and lunch at normal times. I eat a lite supper about 5:30 or 6. And sandwich or something when I get home from class.

Sat class is at 7:30 am. I get up, grab a cereal bar and a banana, hit the shower and go to class. It's lite enough that I don't feel it all through class. Coffee and a muffin right after class.

I have a liter bottle that I carry with me all the time. I usually refill my bottle 2 - 5 times a day depending on my activity level. That doesn't count the drinking fountain at the dojo or the glasses of water at the bar when we are playing (which are usually quite abundant). I very rarely (once or twice a month) have a soda. I don't consume alcohol.

I'm in Lincoln, NE. Average humidity level during the summer months, I would guess, is probably 65 - 75%. Usual temps in the dojo are between 85 and 105. I've talked with some of the members that have trained in other locations and they say it's easier going elsewhere, especially during the summer, because you can breathe without having to drink your air. So I'm familiar with the environmental conditions you speak of.

Usually if I go to class with a slight urge to urinate I can go all class w/out any problems. Quite often I finish class and no longer need to go.

I normally drink about 1/2 liter right after every class. I have felt what you described before and eating helped every time. If you can't eat right away, which has happened to me, take 5 minutes and sit. Breathe deeply from your center for the full 5 minutes. It'll help.

09-14-2005, 03:07 AM
Toms, these articles may be of a little help since you don't seem to eat much after training:


If your energy expenditure is anywhere near that of an endurance athlete, then ingesting carbs and/or protein after working out, even if you don't feel like it, may be a prudent course of action. I googled the links above, so if anybody has more current information, please feel free to post it.