How Long Should I Wait To Exercise After Eating?

You will often hear that it is a good idea to eat before you exercise as it is a good way to top off your energy stores before you start to work out.

However, you will just as many people say that you should avoid eating before exercise since there are some side effects you can experience if you eat too soon before you start.

How Long Should I Wait To Exercise After Eating?

The main reason this happens is because there has not been enough time to start digestion. 

However, this can change depending on the type of exercise that you are doing, and what you have been eating.

If you are confused with all the mixed advice which is out there, keep reading to get our explanation so you can understand how long you should wait to exercise after you have eaten!

When To Exercise After Eating?

When you are eating a meal, the food will be entering your stomach and then it will slowly start to be processed. It will then be released into your small intensity in small amounts at a time. 

It is going to take most people somewhere between 2 and 4 hours to be able to completely move the food from your stomach into your small intestine.

However, it will not always be necessary to wait for your food to be fully digested until you start exercising, however, you should let it settle properly in your stomach. 

So, for most people, you will only want to wait about an hour to 2 hours after you have had a normal sized meal to exercise. However, if you have only had a snack, then you should be able to exercise only after a 30 minute wait.

After the aforementioned wait, your food will have digested to the point that your stomach will not be upset if you start to exercise. 

However, the main caveat to this is that the intensity of the exercise will impact how likely you are to experience side effects.

So while it can take anywhere between 2 and 4 hours to fully digest your meal, you do not need to wait this long to exercise, instead just wait between 1 and 2 hours after a full sized meal to exercise so you can avoid any nasty effects.

Type Of Food And Volume

When discussing what you have eaten before you exercise, it is important to consider not just the size of the meal, but also what it is composed of.

This is because the larger the meal which you are eating, the longer it is going to take to digest. 

And the longer it is going to take to digest, the longer you will need to wait before you start to exercise. On top of this, the contents of the meal will impact the digestion time of the meal as well.

If your meal is high in fat, fiber, or protein, then this will need a longer time to digest. 

This is compared to meals which contain simple carbohydrates and processed proteins, which can be digested a lot quicker, and this is why you find these nutrients being used more commonly in supplements or protein shakes. 

A meal that is high in protein is something which will usually contain animal proteins, these are usually found in fish, pork, chicken, and beef.

Because of this, we recommend that you avoid eating larger meals which have a higher protein, fat, or fiber content a short time before you exercise to avoid having any negative effects. 

How Long Should I Wait To Exercise After Eating? (1)

Side Effects

So, now you know what you should avoid, and how long you should wait, what are the potential side effects you could run into by exercising too soon after you eat. 

Of course the specific side effects you might suffer can vary from person to person, you are most likely to face performance issues when exercising, as well as digestive symptoms as well. 

Some of the most common digestive issues which people face while exercising too soon after eating include; feeling bloated, experiencing nausea, feeling cramped, reflux, feeling like you want to vomit, or actually vomiting, diarrhea, as well as an intense feeling of sluggishness.

There is data that shows that the type of athletes that are most likely to experience these symptoms are cyclists, and runners because of the endurance nature of the activities. 

However, activities which are much less intense, like walking, archery, and golf are much less likely to experience something similar to this.

The main way to avoid getting these side effects is to do what we previously mentioned and give yourself a couple of hours to digest after you have eaten. 

So, as we mentioned, earring to close your workout can be harmful and will affect your performance, so when you are fueling up, you want to ensure that you are not eating too close to the time you need to perform.

You will find that even recreational gym goers, and athletes will still experience sluggishness after they have eaten a meal. To avoid the painful symptoms, make sure that you let your food digest before exercising.

How Long To Wait For Different Exercise?

As we mentioned before, the amount of time you need to wait to exercise after eating will drastically change depending on what kind of exercise you are doing and how much you have eaten.

For example, you do not really need to wait at all if you just want to walk, but for a more intense workout like CrossFit, mountain biking, or swimming, you will want to wait anywhere between an hour and a half and 3 hours to feel alright.


Hopefully this guide has given you all the information you need on how long to wait to exercise after you have eaten.

As you can see, you only need to wait an hour or two before you can exercise, but if you try it too soon there is a good chance that you could experience some pain and a variety of different harmful symptoms. 

Laura Simmons
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