How Long Should I Wait To Exercise After Eating?

How Long Should I Wait To Exercise After Eating?

Staff Writer
6 minute read

How Long Should I Wait To Exercise After Eating?

A good workout requires you to be sufficiently energized. The last thing you need is for your pre-workout meal to make you feel sluggish or give you an upset stomach. Is it reasonable to work out right after a meal?  If you want to exercise after eating, you’d wonder, “how long should I wait to exercise after eating?”

When it comes to success, timing is everything. First, you'll need to wait until a certain period has passed before beginning your exercise routine.

In this post, we are going to talk about the following concerns:

  • Is it harmful to work out right after a meal?

  • How long should I wait after eating before exercising?

  • What is the best pre-workout meal or snack?

  • What foods to avoid before a workout?

Let's dive in.

Is It Harmful To Work Out Right After A Meal?

When performed soon after a large meal, exercise can cause the following health consequences.

  • Stomach pain

  • Cramping

  • Reflux

  • Bloating

On top of that, it will hinder your performance in the gym. Some people are okay with it, so it's not a universal problem. Even so, it is wise to take the precautionary approach.

It is in your body's best interest to be allowed some time for undisturbed gastric emptying as well as the absorption of nutrients and water.

Results from a study show that endurance athletes frequently struggle with digestive issues that prevent them from reaching peak performance.

It's common to experience stomach pain if you work out soon after eating. You can get something light and wait for your stomach to lighten up until it's okay to start exercising if you know you typically lose steam in the middle of a workout.

Indeed, you should eat something before heading to the gym. Make sure you plan your meals for a day at the gym and know how much and when you should eat.

To ensure you have enough energy for your workout, eat a light sandwich, energy bar, or meal replacement before you start.

But before you grab a bite to eat, consider whether you really need it. Eating before exercise is optional as long as you have adequately been up for the day.

How Long Should I Wait After Eating Before Exercising?

Here are some recommendations based on those numbers and research from the International Society of Sports Nutrition:

  • Only work out for at least three to four hours after a big meal.

  • Wait at least 1 to 2 hours after a light meal before getting in some exercise.

  • Wait half an hour to an hour after eating a light snack before going for a run.

This is some general advice, so keep that in mind. Therefore, pay attention to your body's cues about when to exercise.

What Is the Best Pre-Workout Meal Or Snack?

The larger the meal you consume, the longer it will take for your body to digest, which means you should wait longer before engaging in physical activity.

Additionally, the time it takes to digest a meal is influenced by the components that make up the meal.

What you eat before a workout is determined by how much time you have until your training begins and how intense your workout will be. However, good eating habits before, during, and after exercise can boost your workout's efficacy and facilitate faster recovery.

A balanced meal should be consumed three to four hours before a moderately intense, one-hour workout. It usually consists of a variety of the following:

Complex carbohydrates

Energy-rich complex carbohydrates can be found in whole grains, beans, and vegetables. However, they might be better a few hours before a workout because of the time it takes to digest.


Muscles need protein to repair and grow. Protein can be found in various foods, including lean meats, fish, dairy, beans, and more.

Good fats

There is a need for healthy fats in the diet, and foods like nuts, seeds, and fish provide them. They are best consumed several hours before exercise because, like complex carbohydrates, they take longer to digest.

What Foods To Avoid Before A Workout?

Pre-workout snacks should be chosen with digestion time in mind; high-fiber, high-protein, high-fat foods take longer to break down. If you want to keep your energy levels stable, limiting sugary foods is a good idea.

Also, knowing how your digestive system responds to certain foods can help you tailor your pre-workout meal plan. The symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn can worsen by consuming certain foods and drinks while exercising. The following are some of them:

  • Citrus fruits

  • Hot sauces

  • Oily and fatty foods

  • Chocolate

  • Alcohol

Avoiding these foods before working out may alleviate gas and bloating symptoms:

  • Sugar alcohols (in sugar-free baked goods, candy, and energy bars).

  • Greens like cabbage, broccoli, and asparagus

  • Legumes and beans

  • Cereals such as wheat and rice

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Milk and other dairy products

It may take some experimentation to figure out what foods to avoid eating before you work out. Monitor how you respond in the gym after eating different foods. You shouldn't work out after eating something that has upset your stomach.

A Light Exercise After Eating

If you do vigorous activity shortly after eating, you risk pushing your stomach beyond its capacity to withstand the session.

Here are some mild workouts you may try out whenever you find yourself eager to get your body moving or when you simply cannot wait to start your fitness routine.

  • In just 15 minutes, yoga can assist your digestion, boost your energy levels, and prepare your body for the day ahead.

  • Seated spinal twist

  • Walking

  • High lunge variation


Before beginning your workout, eat what you need to at the appropriate times. The larger the meal, the longer you should wait to exercise.

Remember why it's essential to give your stomach time to digest all those delicious dishes you ate, whether you're trying to stay healthy, lose, gain, or maintain weight.

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