How Long Should You Wait To Workout After Eating

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How long should you wait to workout after eating

Have you ever eaten too much before a workout? Unsure how long to wait after your meal?

Read on to find out the answer.

The fact that you have visited this article shows that you are into working out. You probably therefore opt to eat before your workout to top off your energy stores and give yourself the best possible workout.

However, it is highly likely that you do not know how long you should wait to workout after you have eaten. You may have already experienced the side effects of eating close to exercising.

Thankfully, this can usually be avoided by allowing sufficient time for digestion, though this time period varies by the type of exercise.

Read on to explore how long you should wait to exercise after eating.

When To Exercise After Eating

So how long should you wait?

When you consume a meal, food enters your stomach and is slowly processed and released into your small intestine in small amounts.

For food to move from your stomach to your small intestine, it will usually take 2 to 4 hours. Although it can be deemed unnecessary to wait until food is fully digested before exercising, it’s best to give it some time to settle it in your stomach.

For the majority of people, 1 to 2 hours will be sufficient after a moderate sized meal, while waiting around 30 minutes after a snack is fine.

By this point, food has digested enough to avoid stomach upset. However, the higher the intensity of the exercise, the higher the risk of side effects.

So to summarise, it will usually take 2-4 hours to fully digest a meal but waiting 1-2 hours after a moderate sized meal and 30 minutes after a snack should be sufficient before exercising to avoid side effects.

Food Volume And Type

When it comes to eating before exercise, meal size and composition play a significant role.

If you eat a large meal, it will take significantly longer to digest which increases the amount of time you should wait before exercising.

Also, the composition of the meal will affect digestion time.

Meals that feature a higher content of fat, protein and fiber tend to be digested slower than those containing a larger proportion of simple carbs and more processed proteins, such as those found in some protein shakes and supplements.

Foods that are high in protein include beef, pork, chicken and fish.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid eating large meals that are high in fat, protein and fiber just before exercising to avoid any potential negative side effects.

To summarise, meal size and food composition affect the rate of digestion, so it’s best to avoid large meals that are high in fat, protein, and fiber shortly before exercising.

Potential Side Effects

Although the side effects that could result from eating close to a work out are highly individual, the most common are digestive symptoms and performance issues.

Digestive Symptoms

If you are eating too close to your workout, it could cause these digestive discomforts.

  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Reflux
  • Diarrhea
  • Sluggishness

Data highlights how endurance athletes like runners and cyclists are at the highest risk of experiencing these side effects due to the nature of their sport.

Lower intensity sports such as golf, walking and archery are far less likely to trigger digestive symptoms.

As well as this, most of these side effects can be avoided if you allow for time to digest before training.

As previously stated. Wait 1-2 hours after a moderately sized meal and 30 minutes after a snack to avoid any of these symptoms.

Affect On Your Performance

Whilst you are fueling up for an intense training session, it is important to remember that eating too close to your workout will affect your performance.

Athletes and recreational gym-goers will often experience a feeling of sluggishness when exercising right after a meal.
A small study carried out on 10 male basketball players found that several of them experienced nausea, belching and stomach bloating when a carb and protein meal was consumed before training, compared with eating a high content carb meal without protein.

These symptoms will hinder performance when participating in your sport or exercise of choice.

To summarise, it is important to understand that the effects of eating just before a session will dramatically hinder performance. Your workout can bring on symptoms such as reflux, vomiting, diarrhea, sluggishness and vomiting.

Final Thoughts

If you were previously concerned about eating before a workout session, then you should not be anymore.

Although the waiting time can vary depending on what you have eaten, it is important to wait 1-2 hours for moderately sized meals and then 30 minutes for a light snack.

If you follow these instructions correctly, you will avoid any of the symptoms that will have damaging effects on your workout performance.

About The Author

heydayDo author Greg Simon

Hi, I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) Pro Member. MBA, B.Sc.

Author. Surfer. Organic food grower. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far).

heydayDo.com is my wellness blog that’s about encouraging a healthy lifestyle as we age. 

I share my fitness training experience as well as the sports science research I’ve done on the many benefits strength building, exercise, & good eating habits offer us. 

I also write review articles after product testing and evaluating home gym equipment & fitness supplements.

My hope is that you’ll find useful or encouraging information here on my website that will benefit your unique fitness journey.

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