This Is How Long You Should Wait to Exercise After Eating

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Food is meant to give your body energy, including fuel for a workout. Depending on how much and what you eat, you could sabotage your fitness routine. So just how long should you wait to workout after a meal?



How long should you wait to exercise after eating? This is when to eat before exercise according to fitness experts.


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How long should you wait to exercise after eating? This is when to eat before exercise according to fitness experts.

Previous reported by Men’s Health, eating too soon before a workout could give you stomach problems, while eating too far in advance will leave you feeling too unfueled to finish your workout strong. Just how much you need to eat before a workout varies from person to person and changes with your nutrition goals.

Dezi Abeyta, R.D.N., a Men’s Health advisor, and author of the Lose Your Gut Guide, also told Men’s Health that what you eat before a workout is a huge factor. He recommends simple carbohydrates and quick-acting sugars before a workout to give you energy right before a workout without weighing you down, like fruit, white breads and cereals, bagels, and honey. Save the heavier carbs for after your workout.

As far as strength-oriented workouts, Abeyta doesn’t mind you being flexible, since you aren’t bouncing up and down like you would in a HIIT or cardio session. His rule of thumb, keep processed foods to a minimum.

Don’t forget the water either. Too much or too little can leave feeling sluggish and weighed down before a workout.

Previously reported by Men’s Health, too little water and electrolytes is a recipe for muscle contraction (your heart included), leading to poor performance and recovery, and dehydration.

That said, here’s just how long you should wait to eat after eating for optimal exercise.

After a small meal or snack: Right after

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“If you ate a small meal or snack, you can exercise immediately thereafter,” says Brian St. Pierre, a Men’s Health nutrition advisor, of course unless it makes you feel ill. That is completely dependent on your body’s personal preferences.

In this case, stick to Abeyta’s recommend of a simple carb snack or meal, like fruit or nutrition bar.

After a normal to large meal: Wait 2-3 hours

“If you’re eating a carb-rich meal for energy, I’d wait 2-3 hours afterwards,” says Abby Langer, R.D., author of Good Food, Bad Diet. “Otherwise, you’re free to work out anytime after a meal, depending on your tolerance for it.”

St. Pierre also recommends the same, unless working out on a full stomach doesn’t bother you. Feel free to rev up with protein and carbohydrates to your comfort level, especially if you plan on lifting.

Before high intensity exercise: Proceed with caution

If you’re ready to log in an intense sweat, you may want to hold off on a larger meal.

“High intensity exercise in particular often requires a longer wait period so the food has a chance to begin moving out of the stomach and into the small intestines before activity begins,” says St. Pierre.

“A small meal 0 to 60 minutes before, or a normal to large meal 2-3 hours is a good rule of thumb,” he adds. At the end of the day, pay attention to what your body needs and experiment to find what fuels you best, he suggests.

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