How Long Should you Wait to Workout After Eating? Let`s Find Out

 How Long To Wait After Eating To Workout Bodybuilding

Mai Delacruz

Mai Delacruz
Personal Fitness Trainer & Health Coach

Updated on 12/7/2022

How Long Should You Wait After Eating Before Starting an Exercise Routine? And How Long To Wait After Eating To Workout Bodybuilding? As a bodybuilder, you should pay attention to those two questions.

It is often advised that you consume something before you exercise so that it may replenish your energy reserves.

However, some people may have adverse consequences if they eat too soon before engaging in physical activity.

In most cases, they may avoid them by providing adequate time for digestion. However, the amount of time required for digestion varies depending on the type of activity.

This article discusses how long you should wait after eating before engaging in physical activity.

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When Is The Optimal Time To Work Out After A Meal?

Eating and workout

When you eat, food goes into your stomach, where it is slowly processed and then partially digested before being allowed to enter your small intestine in little amounts.

In most people, food moving from the stomach to the small intestine might take anywhere from two to four hours. It is generally not required to wait until the food is completely digested before engaging in physical activity; nonetheless, it is preferable to allow some time to settle in your stomach before beginning physical activity.

After a meal of average size, most people should wait between 1 and 2 hours before engaging in sexual activity, but staying at least 30 minutes is acceptable.

I should have digested The food sufficiently to prevent stomach distress. The danger of experiencing adverse effects increases in proportion to the intensity of the workout.

Summary

In general, it takes between two and four hours for a meal to be digested; however, delaying exercise for one to two hours after a meal of modest size and for thirty minutes after a snack should be adequate to avoid any adverse side effects.

The Amount And Variety Of Food

Eating and workout

Should put much thought into the size and make-up of meals consumed before physical activity.

The longer it takes to digest a meal, the longer you should wait before engaging in physical activity, and the larger the meal, the longer it will take to digest. In addition, the length of time it takes to digest a meal is impacted by the components of the meal.

Meals that are higher in fat, protein, and fiber have a greater propensity to be digested more slowly than those that contain a more significant proportion of simple carbohydrates and proteins that have undergone a greater degree of processing, such as the proteins that can be found in particular protein shakes and supplements. Foods that are high in protein content include complete animal proteins, such as fish, cattle, hog, and chicken.

Therefore, to minimize any potential unfavorable side effects, it is better to refrain from eating substantial meals rich in fat, protein, and fiber in the minutes following the physical activity.

Summary

Because the quantity of a meal and the content of the food both impact the rate of digestion, it is advisable to avoid eating large meals that are heavy in fat, protein, and fiber in the hours before engaging in physical activity.

Potential Side Effects

Eating and workout

Although the negative consequences that might come from eating too close to an exercise can vary significantly from person to person, the stomach symptoms and performance problems are the ones that crop up most frequently. May result in gastrointestinal signs and symptoms.

Consuming food too close in time to an exercise session might lead to intestinal pain. The following are some of the most prevalent ones: 

  1. Bloating
  2. Nausea
  3. Cramping
  4. Reflux
  5. Vomiting
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Sluggishness

According to the available data, athletes who compete in endurance events, such as runners and cyclists, are at the most significant risk of having these adverse effects because of their activity.

Activities with lower heart and respiratory rates, such as golf, strolling, and archery, are far less likely to cause stomach issues. In addition, one can avoid the majority of these adverse effects altogether by leaving some time for digestion before physical activity.

In most cases, waiting for one to two hours after a meal of average size is sufficient, although it is acceptable to wait at least thirty minutes after a snack.

Could Have An Impact On Your Performance

Eating and workout

While it's vital to refuel before a hard workout, eating too close to when you start working out might be detrimental to your performance. When exercising soon after eating, many people, including athletes and others who go to the gym for enjoyment, report feeling tired and sluggish.

While compared with the effects of consuming a high-carb meal without protein, short research including ten male basketball players revealed that some of them suffered nausea, belching, and stomach bloating when eating a meal that contained both protein and carbohydrates before exercising (4Trusted Source).

These symptoms might negatively impact your performance in any activity or exercise you engage in.

Summary

When people exercise soon after eating, they could be more susceptible to a variety of unwanted side effects. These include bloating, nausea, cramps, reflux, vomiting, diarrhea, sluggishness, and maybe even performance issues.

How Much Longer Are You Supposed To Wait?

Eating and workout

The amount of time necessary to avoid adverse digestive effects differs depending on the individual and the sport.

Although there is a lack of information about the precise length of time that should be waited, the following are some broad recommendations:

  • If you want to keep your energy levels up while participating in endurance activities, like running, cycling, or cross-country skiing that lasts more than an hour, you may need to eat while you exercise.
  • In this situation, it is better to stick to quickly digestible carbohydrates like energy chews or gels to avoid any adverse effects on the digestive system.
  • You can discover that you can generally exercise not long after eating, or on the other hand, you might need to wait many hours to prevent experiencing adverse side effects.
  • As a result, you must engage in trial and error to establish the optimal digesting interval before your workout.

Summary

The amount of time that must pass before individual exercises depends on the sport they participate in. As a result, you might need some trial and error to determine your optimal digestion time, ranging from half an hour to three hours in most cases.

The bare essentials

Eating and workout

It is typically suggested that you consume some food before engaging in physical activity to make the most of your available energy resources.

Some people could suffer from unfavorable side effects if they eat too close to their workout. It is recommended that individuals wait between one and two hours after eating a meal before engaging in physical activity and wait at least thirty minutes after eating a snack before engaging in physical activity.

Those who participate in endurance sports may choose to wait longer and may be required to consume carbohydrates that are metabolized quickly during sessions that last more than an hour.

Last but not least, avoiding large meals that are heavy in fat, protein, and fiber is another way to assist in lowering the likelihood of experiencing undesirable adverse effects. The quality of your diet and the amount of physical activity you get are two of the most significant contributors to your overall health. In addition to this, the two elements interact with one another. Your workouts will be more effective, and your body will recover and adapt faster if you eat well.

On the other hand, a topic frequently arises as to whether or not one should eat before or after exercise.

It might be a significant consideration if you work out first thing in the morning.

Here is all you need to know about eating before or after you engage in physical activity. Different responses may be elicited by exercise performed when fasting vs. after eating.

Eating and workout

Research has demonstrated that your body's reactions to exercise might vary depending on whether or not you eat before you exercise. Your body's ability to use fat as a fuel source will improve if you exercise while fasting. Carbohydrates and fat stored in your body are the principal fuel sources for your body.

Triglycerides are the form in which fat is kept in fat tissue, whereas glycogen is the form in which carbohydrates are stored in the muscles and liver of the body. Blood sugar is another method by which one can consume carbohydrates. When you eat before you exercise, your blood sugar levels rise before and throughout your workout, according to several studies. It makes sense, given that most of the pre-workout meals examined in this research consisted of carbohydrates, which the body utilized as a source of energy while working out. When you exercise on an empty stomach, a more significant portion of your body's energy requirements is satisfied by the breakdown of stored body fat. Fat burning was greater during fasted exercise, but glucose and insulin levels were found to be greater during non-fasted exercise. The study had 273 people.

This inherent capacity of your body to function with or without a recent meal is due in part to the body's ability to make a tradeoff between the metabolism of fat and carbohydrates. Fasting before exercise might not result in a more significant reduction in overall body fat. It is tempting to imagine that because your body burns more fat for energy when it is fasting, this would lead to more fat loss with time. However, this is not the case.

Eating and workout

One research compared the responses of those who exercised while fasting to those who ate before exercising. The results showed that people who exercised while fasted had different answers.

The capacity of the muscles to burn fat during exercise and the ability of the body to maintain its blood sugar levels were enhanced with fasting exercise, as opposed to the body's power to maintain its blood sugar levels with fed activity. Because of this, many researchers believe that how your body reacts to exercise while fasting will result in more favorable alterations to body fat than exercising after eating.

However, while some data suggest that exercising while fasting may have some benefits, there is not enough evidence to conclude that this type of exercise leads to higher weight or fat reduction.

Although there has only been a small amount of study done on the topic, two studies have shown no difference in the amount of fat lost between women who exercise while fasting and those who exercise after eating.

Summary

Eating and workout

Whether or not you consume something before you exercise affects how your body reacts to the workout. Fasting before exercise prompts your body to draw more energy from fat stores. On the other hand, there is no indication from the studies that this leads to a higher reduction in total body fat.

It's possible that skipping meals before exercises of a shorter duration won't hurt your performance.

People who want to perform at their best frequently question whether or not exercising while fasting will negatively impact their performance.

Researchers have investigated this subject in a few different ways. One review looked at 23 trials to determine whether or not eating before working out increased performance.

The vast majority of studies concluded that there was no significant difference in performance between individuals who had food before engaging in short-term aerobic activity and those who did not.

Other research that looked at high-intensity interval training (HIIT) also concluded that there was no significant difference in performance between fasted and fed exercise.

Even though there isn't much information available about weight training, some studies suggest that the results you get from working out, whether you've eaten or not, are likely to be very similar.

 The body's energy reserves are to blame for these studies failing to find any significant benefits associated with eating before shorter bouts of exercise.

Eating and workout

About 2,000 calories are stored as glycogen in your body, but many more are stored as fat. Even if you haven't eaten in several hours, you can still work out because you have so much energy stored.

Several studies have demonstrated a performance improvement when individuals ingest meals or supplements rich in carbohydrates before physical activity.

Can improve Some people's performance by eating before engaging in moderate-intensity exercise for a short period. However, the optimal meal will most likely differ from person to person.

Summary

Most studies do not demonstrate a clear advantage from eating before performing short-duration aerobic activity or intermittent exercise such as HIIT. On the other hand, some research has shown that eating before physical activity improves performance.

Eating and workout

It's possible that eating before doing long-distance exercise can improve your performance.

A comprehensive review of exercise sessions lasting longer than one hour revealed that 54 percent of studies indicated improved performance when participants ate before working out.

Most of the studies that found a benefit from pre-exercise feeding supplied participants with a meal mainly constituted of carbohydrates. Consuming carbohydrates broken down more slowly or eating at least a few hours before an endurance activity may be beneficial.

According to the findings of other studies, endurance athletes can benefit from eating a meal heavy in carbohydrates three to four hours before exercising.

In the case of activities that last for a more extended period, there may also be advantages to eating carbohydrates one hour before beginning the training.

In general, the evidence supporting the advantages of eating before the longer-duration activity is greater than the evidence supporting the benefits of eating before shorter-duration exercise. However, the research found that eating before the movement had no beneficial effects.

Summary

Eating and workout

Even though some contradictory findings have been reported, consuming food before engaging in prolonged physical activity is likely beneficial. It is standard advice to finish a meal at least three hours before beginning an exercise routine; however, there may be benefits to eating earlier rather than later before starting an exercise routine.

You should eat something afterward if you didn't eat anything before your workout.

Although the significance of eating before a workout may change depending on the circumstances, the vast majority of researchers believe it is advantageous to have food after working out.

According to research, certain foods, notably protein and carbohydrates, can assist your body in recovering after exercise and adapting to its new state.

Suppose you worked out while fasting; it is imperative to eat after your workout. If you eat a meal a few hours before exercise, the nutrients you consume may be available in your blood in high amounts before and after your workout. It is especially true if your training is intense. In this particular circumstance, these nutrients may assist in the healing process. For instance, it may incorporate amino acids into the construction of proteins, and carbohydrates can help your bodies restock glycogen stores.

Eating and workout

If, on the other hand, you decide to exercise while fasting, your body will fuel your workout by drawing from its internal energy resources. In addition to this, there are extremely few nutrients accessible for healing.

In this specific scenario, it is of the utmost significance that you consume something within a reasonable amount of time after finishing your workout.

One piece of research investigated whether or not consuming a meal that had both protein and carbohydrates after exercising while fasting led to more considerable increases in the creation of proteins in the body compared to the situation in which ingesting no nutrients.

Consuming food after exercise decreased the quantity of protein that broke down, but there was no difference in the amount of new protein that the body generated.

How Soon After The Workout Should I Eat?

While eating after exercise is essential, some studies have suggested that eating as soon as you finish your workout might not be necessary.

For instance, one research project investigated how much glycogen and glucose reserves were replenished in muscle after two hours of cycling. In one of the trials, the participants began eating as soon as they had finished exercising, but in the second experiment, they waited two hours before starting to eat.

There were no differences in the recovery of the muscle's carbohydrate stores eight or 24 hours after exercise, indicating that delaying eating for two hours was not detrimental to performance.

Eating and workout

The necessity of ingesting protein shortly after exercise has been the subject of several studies, and those studies have produced contradictory findings. Some researchers have found that drinking protein after exercise benefits muscular growth. However, other studies have found that waiting several hours has no negative consequences on muscle growth. In light of the evidence that is currently available, a reasonable recommendation would be to consume food as soon as it is feasible after physical activity.

Again, if you opt to exercise without eating beforehand, it is probable that eating as soon as possible after your workout is even more crucial.

Summary

It is essential to consume nutrition before and after physical activity. If you don't eat before you exercise, you should aim to eat as soon as possible afterward. Consuming protein can assist in the repair of muscle tissue as well as other tissues, while eating carbohydrates can assist in the restoration of glycogen reserves.

The individual's inclination needs to be the primary criterion for selection.

Studies have shed light on the consequences of eating or fasting before exercise, but ultimately, it may come down to an individual's desire as the essential element.

Eating and workout

Consuming food before engaging in physical activity may be of utmost significance for some individuals and populations, such as elite athletes and those who engage in prolonged physical activity. However, most active people may make significant gains whether they exercise while fasting or fed. Therefore, the essential factor in your selection should be how you feel about the timing of meals concerning workouts.

When people eat too soon before they exercise, it can make them feel sluggish and even sick to their stomachs. Others feel weak and exhausted before beginning their workout if they have not eaten anything beforehand. If you work out first thing in the morning, the amount of time that passes between the moment you wake up and the time that you start your workout might influence your decision.

If you get up and immediately go for a run or to the gym, you might not give your digestive system enough time to finish processing the meal you ate before you start exercising. The meal you consume before you exercise should be smaller in proportion to the time that elapses between eating and your workout. During the activity, this may make avoiding sensations of fullness and discomfort easier.

In the hours leading up to exercise, it is critical to ensure that your diet includes beneficial elements such as lean protein and carbohydrates from foods rich in nutrients. On the other hand, it is entirely up to you to decide whether you want to drink them before or after exercise, or even both times.

Eating and workout

Summary

Consuming food before or after physical activity should be determined solely by personal preference. It is possible that eating before intense exercise is more crucial for those who exercise for more extended periods or at a higher level. However, the majority of people will still benefit from training regardless.

The Crux Of The Matter

The question of whether or not to eat anything before going out is typical, particularly for people who work out first thing in the morning, shortly after waking up. Even though exercising without eating first might improve your body's capacity to use fat as fuel, this does not always mean that you will see a higher decrease in overall body fat. Regarding performance, there is not much evidence to support the relevance of eating before doing activities of short duration. It's possible that eating before workouts of a longer length will provide additional benefits.

Consuming food before engaging in physical activity may also be of utmost significance for elite athletes who do not wish to jeopardize their performance. Even if you don't have to eat before working out, consuming nutrition is still crucial in the hours leading up to and following your workout.

Therefore, if you don't eat before you exercise, you should make an effort to eat as soon as possible after you've finished your workout. When deciding whether to eat before working out, the most critical consideration should be the individual's desire.

Frequently Asked Questions