How Long After Eating Can You Work Out? 7 Interesting Things To Know

When it comes to pre-workout eating, meal size and composition play an important role. The more food you eat, the longer it takes to digest, increasing the amount of time you have to wait before exercising. In addition, the composition of food affects the digestion time. How long after eating can you work out?

There have been some common queries of people focussing on fitness and health concerns.

1. How Long Should I Wait To Work Out After I Ate

You may suffer some unnecessary side effects if you start working out immediately after eating meals. The timing of the workout depends on your food intake.

The more carbs you eat will delay your workout timings whereas, snacking on a granola bar or protein bar will be helpful as a pre-workout meal to energize your body.

How long after eating can you work out
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Heavy meals containing high-fat foods can hamper your workout performance and make your body sluggish.

You’ll have to wait for a couple of hours to work out after consuming more carbohydrates. However, simple carbohydrates and lean protein take less time to digest fully and you can work out within an hour after having them.

1.1. For Vigorous Exercising

  • You should wait for a couple of hours after eating small meals and more than three hours after eating a heavy meal.
  • Wait for half an hour if you’ve drank beverages and for an hour if you’ve snacked upon a small snack.

1.2. For Low-Intensity Exercising

  • You should wait for more than a couple of hours after eating a heavy meal and for an hour if you’ve consumed a light meal.
  • Wait for half an hour if you’ve eaten snacks.

2. Some Pre-Workout Foods You Should Eat Before Your Exercise Time

  • Whole grain toast with nut butter
  • Oatmeal
  • Lean protein like chicken, eggs, fish, beef, and tofu
  • A small snack like a granola bar or protein bar
  • Pieces of fruit
  • Bananas with peanut butter
  • Low fibre snacks

3. Factors That Affect How Long Should You Wait To Exercise After Eating

3.1. Time Of Exercise

When we wake up early morning we have low blood sugar levels and working out empty stomach can deplete our energy stores quickly. Your body relies on the nutritious breakfast you usually have before vigorous exercises.

3.2. Kinds Of Exercises

Strength training, weight lifting, and getting trained by a personal trainer require more energy stores and we should consume some carbs to fuel our bodies. However, a small meal is perfect for light workouts.

3.3. How Long It’s Been Since You’ve Eaten

You should consider your overall diet before you start your workouts. Larger meals make us wait longer before exercising. However, if you haven’t eaten for a considerable amount of time then you should eat some snacks filled with protein and low fibre to give your muscles energy for exercising.

3.4. What And How Much You Ate

A larger proportion of heavy meals takes more hours to get fully digested and you should wait for enough time before exercising. A large meal gives us enough energy to work out after hours. We should wait for the food to pass through the small intestine before heavy workouts. Simple carbohydrates and lean proteins should be your choice if you want to begin your workout faster.

3.5. Your Digestive System

Some people can easily work out on a full stomach and some can on an empty one but you should focus on what makes your system comfortable and decide accordingly about the timings and kinds of workouts. Your working muscles need a lot of energy for exercising and sometimes a full stomach can be the cause of nausea or digestion problems.

4. Can You Workout 30 Minutes After Eating

This depends on various factors as we have discussed earlier. However, you can only exercise 30 minutes after eating if you have:

  • Had snacks or beverages
  • A supporting digestive system
  • No feelings of sluggishness
  • No digestion problems or nausea

5. Side Effects Of Not Waiting For Enough Time

5.1. May Affect Your Performance

Exercising after a large meal makes us feel tiresome and sluggish and can cause muscle cramps1, stomach bloating, and nausea2. However, working out empty stomach won’t give our muscle tissue energy. Big meals get digested slower, may take a considerable amount of time, and delay your workout routine.

You should avoid exercise after eating a diet full of carbs and proteins and save yourself from uncomfortable stomach problems. Though you can readily snack upon a small meal and wait for half an hour or an hour and start your usual workout routine, this will replenish your muscles by giving them enough energy.

5.2. May Cause Unnecessary Digestive Problems

Eating a larger meal before a workout makes us feel satiated and pretty lazy to follow a proper workout routine. Therefore, we should avoid heavy food items before a workout and avoid unnecessary digestive problems like:

  1. Nausea
  2. Bloating
  3. Reflux
  4. Belching
  5. Vomiting
  6. Sluggishness
  7. Diarrhoea
  8. Cramping
  9. Stomach pain

Always choose a small snack before following your workout routine; otherwise, wait for hours before exercising after heavy food consumption.

6. Pros Of Eating A Pre-workout Meal

  • You’ve enough energy for heavy workout routines
  • A registered dietitian advises grabbing a pre-workout3 meal to solve low-blood sugar 4problems
  • Proper meals fuel our muscles before exercise

7. Foods You Should Avoid Before Exercise

  • High-fat foods like avocado, nuts, yoghurt, burgers, and pizzas
  • High-protein foods like eggs, milk, and Greek yoghurt
  • High-fiber foods like bok choy, brussels sprouts, and broccoli
  • Spicy foods like various fries, pav bhaji, and parathas
john hoang 5lI99Q3rEQg unsplash
Photo by John Hoang on Unsplash

You should eat the proper nutrients and exercise regularly to stay fit and healthy. Exercising on an empty stomach can be fatal and you should wait for an adequate amount of time before exercising after eating a high-protein and carb meal.

You can easily start your workout routine after grabbing a small meal or a few bites of snacks to replenish the energy stored in your body.

8. So, How Long After Eating Can You Work Out?

The answer to this necessary question varies from person to person and how their digestive system cooperates while following a workout routine.

Therefore, don’t pressurize your body for a workout after meals, take due rest before starting your workout session and give your muscles enough fuel before workouts which most people don’t follow through with.

Read more from us here.

9. FAQs

Q1. Can You Workout 1 Hour After Eating?

For most people, 1-2 hours after a medium-sized meal is sufficient, while waiting at least 30 minutes after breakfast is recommended. At that point, the food is digested enough to avoid stomach upset. That said, as the intensity of exercise increases, so does the risk of side effects.

Q2. Can I Wait 3 Hours to Eat After Workout?

To help your muscles recover and replace their glycogen stores, eat a meal containing both carbohydrates and protein within two hours of your exercise session if possible. If your meal is more than two hours away, consider breakfast. Good post-workout food choices include yoghurt and fruit.

Q3. What Is the Best Time to Workout?

Afternoon or early evening is slightly more beneficial for metabolic health and performance.

  1. Miller, Kevin C., et al. “An evidence-based review of the pathophysiology, treatment, and prevention of Exercise-Associated muscle cramps.” Journal of athletic training 57.1 (2022): 5-15. ↩︎
  2. Heckroth, Matthew, et al. “Nausea and vomiting in 2021: a comprehensive update.” Journal of clinical gastroenterology 55.4 (2021): 279-299. ↩︎
  3. Kaczka, Piotr, et al. “Effects of pre-workout multi-ingredient supplement on anaerobic performance: randomized double-blind crossover study.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17.21 (2020): 8262. ↩︎
  4. Abitbol, Leah, and Mark R. Palmert. “When low blood sugars cause high anxiety: Fear of hypoglycemia among parents of youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus.” Canadian Journal of Diabetes 45.5 (2021): 403-410. ↩︎

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