How long should I wait to exercise after eating?

exercise after eating

Most often you may get suggestions to eat after you complete your exercise. To exercise after eating, there should be minimal waiting so that your body gets time to digest the food and prepare itself for the next task. However, there can be chances of experiencing side effects when eating too close to exercising. These things usually need to be avoided. You should give a minimal number of hours to your body to digest the food though this period varies according to the type of exercise you choose. If you or anyone you know is going through aggressive bodily changes, you can consider talking to the experts of KIMS Hospital Secunderabad.

The preferability to waiting to exercise after eating

When you eat food, it takes time to process and release itself into your small intestine in small amounts. In general, the food in your body takes 2-4 hours to move from your stomach to your small intestine. Although some people have developed a scientific reason that it is usually unnecessary to wait after eating before exercising, waiting helps the food to settle down quickly. This is because the food you eat generally takes 5 hours to completely digest. Also, waiting for at least 1-2 hours is sufficient after having a moderate-sized meal, while you wait for another 30 minutes after having your snack.

At this point, the food you eat needs time to avoid stomach upset. Also, waiting increases the intensity of the stomach to perform without having any side effects or risk factors.

It generally takes 2-5 hours for a meal to digest fully. You can wait at least 1-2 hours after having a small-sized meal and at least 30 minutes after having your snack. This is sufficient to avoid side effects.

Should you consider the food volume and type?

When it is about choosing the meal for eating especially before exercising, the meal type and composition play a significant role. The larger the meal you have before exercising, the larger the time you should wait. In addition, the composition of the meal affects the digestion time. Meals higher in fat, protein, and fiber tend to digest more slowly than those which simply contain carbs and processed protein such as protein shakes and supplements. High protein food like chicken, pork, fish, etc. takes more time to digest. It is best to either avoid these foods before exercising or not to exercise after eating such meals. The composition of food affects the rate of digestion. So it is better to avoid meals that are high in fat, especially before you exercise. 

What are the potential side effects of having meals before exercising?

The side effects depend on how closely you perform your exercise after having your meal. However, the potential risk factors or side effects associated with eating are digestive problems and performance issues.

Digestive symptoms

Eating too close to working on your body can cause digestive discomfort. The most common issue include:

  • bloating
  • nausea
  • cramping
  • reflux
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • sluggishness

Similarly, athletes and high endurance personalities including cyclists and runners are at high risk of experiencing these side effects due to the nature of their sports and the demand of the body to get involved. Lower intensity sports such as golf, archery, and slow walking require no limitations with food. They can be performed even if you are full on your stomach. But, you should consider the side effects and try to make things favorable for your body. Usually, waiting for 1-2 hours before having your exercise is fine.


To exercise after eating, you should wait to fuel up yourself with the energy so that you can perform easily while working out with your body. Athletes and recreational gym-goers often feel a sensation of sluggishness when exercising after a meal. It can cause bloating, nausea, belching, and stomach issues. Also, these symptoms can hinder your performance in your sports and the choice of exercise.

Some people start feeling side effects shortly after eating with the hearing of the name exercise. This is because the body also needs time to prepare itself for the workout. Otherwise exercising immediately after eating can cause you vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, sluggishness, and potentially hinder your performance.

How long should you wait?

The amount of time you should wait before having your exercise after your meal depends on person to person and the composition of the meal you take. There are certain endurance sports such as running, cycling, and cross-country skiing, which all last an hour and require eating while you perform them intending to store energy. In that case, it is better to look for fast-digesting carbs like energy gels and chews, that may also help you avoid digestive problems. If you experience that you can comfortably perform your workout shortly after eating, try to take at least one hour break to avoid side effects. Also, you can experiment if you want to know the ideal time of your digestion period.

Why should you worry about waiting to have exercise after your meal?

To exercise after eating, you should wait to produce energy in your body. It is completely fine to exercise after eating but you should not start immediately after eating. It is seen that exercising after having a meal causes reflux, hiccups, nausea, and vomiting. But some people prefer to have big meals and experience no issue at all to perform their workout afterward.

  • Scientifically you should wait before having your workout after eating. The best time to workout is before having your meal. A post-exercise meal helps to recover faster and minimize muscle damage. Also, exercising without eating helps to burn more fat. However, if you choose to exercise after having your meal, you should try after waiting for an hour or two. This allows the stomach to empty.
  • If you choose to have some rest after eating your meal, the food simply settles down in your body. The best thing you can try is to remain active and perform little work before going for a workout after having a meal or else you should try waiting for an hour or two. Also, the food you eat should be like the size of your fist not the amount of football.
  • These are the necessary points that you should consider before exercising. Otherwise, it can hamper your performance and may create a sluggish lifestyle for you. Exercising is good, but you may require to take care of your diet, the waiting time, and the right amount of food or exercise. This makes the body perfect with perfect shape.


To have the energy store, it is recommended to eat something before you perform your exercises. It is likely to experience side effects when eating too close to a workout. For most people waiting for at least 1-2 hours after having a meal is sufficient. The practicing endurance sports may likely wait for long hours to incorporate their digestive card during a workout. Also, you should avoid meals that are high in the contamination of fat, fiber, and protein. It may hurt your body, your body and may cause certain bodily changes that may not be useful for long-run.

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