Is it Recommended to Exercise after Eating?

When we start exercising we often form other habits as well. It's important to have enough energy for physical effort, but also to consider digestion.
Is it Recommended to Exercise after Eating?

Last update: 15 August, 2018

After lunch – and even dinner – our body uses most of its resources to carry out digestion. That is why we can feel sleepy or listless. Some believe that to exercise after eating, is just what they need to get more energy. However, some important issues must be taken into account.

Why should you not exercise after eating?

You planned to go to the gym or to go running in the park, but you were invited to lunch with your colleagues. Do you think you should burn these calories straight after eating? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

The best thing you can do in this case, is to cancel your training session or postpone it for the next day. Or if lunch has ended early, wait until the last minute to exercise and only exercise lightly.

Why would you have to miss your training time? Well, because after eating, the food remains in the stomach for a couple of hours. When that happens, the body can only focus on one task: digestion. Blood accumulates in the stomach and does not flow as freely through other areas, such as the brain or extremities.

Exercise or eat a hamburger?

Therefore you can not concentrate on work, you may fall asleep at your desk or even find it difficult to get up from your chair. In that period of time, the body can not burn calories through sports.

It’s believed that if after eating we exercise.  Everything we eat ‘will burn away’ and the calories will not add up. What a mistake! This misconception can even be dangerous to our health. We would be cutting out the digestive process, which will lead to nausea, dizziness and even vomiting.

How long do I have to wait to workout after eating?

There is no specific rule since each person needs more or less time to digest their food. However, it’s recommended that we wait about three hours after eating, before we exercise.

But of course, everything also depends on how much we have ingested. It’s not the same to have had a fresh salad with a portion of roasted chicken, as it is to have a double cheeseburger with french fries.

Therefore, it’s advisable to wait between three and four hours for light lunches, and four hours minimum for larger meals. This can prevent stomach pain and at the same time, stop the feelings of heaviness or tiredness that is typical after digestion.

Woman with stomach ache from exercising?

And what happens with breakfast? Those who exercise in the mornings do not know if it’s better to eat something and go for a run or workout on an empty stomach. Neither one is better. The first thing you should do when you get up, is to have breakfast since the body has not received food in several hours.

Choose a full, but not a heavy breakfast, and include fruits, grains, and dairy products. Allow one hour (at least), to pass and then do your exercise routine. By that time, the body will have already received ‘fuel’ and the muscles will have the nutrients to use and can then recover.

Don’t make the typical mistake of not eating anything for hours, and then exercising. The body needs food and nutrients to perform the movements of the routine. Otherwise, you will be weak and you can lower your blood pressure.

Keep in mind that healthy carbohydrates are the best foods to eat before exercising. You can get these from whole grains (pasta and bread), as well as some fruits and vegetables.

We recommend that you reduce the intake of vegetables and fruits that are full of fiber and fructose. They take longer to digest and can cause diarrhea after working out. In turn, fats and proteins aren’t good sources of fuel prior to exercise. Avoid them before training!

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.