How long do you have to wait to exercise after eating?
Food is fuel for the body, especially when it comes to having enough energy to train. That is why it is usually advised to eat something before going to the gym. However, you may have problems if you exercise right after eating.
Eating right before training may cause stomach problems. And eating too soon can leave you feeling sluggish and unproductive during your workout. Besides, depending on your body and your goals, the amount you should eat may vary. Clearly there is a lot to consider.
Finding the balance between the two and snacking just right can make the difference between an average workout and a great one. So how long do you have to wait after eating to train?
What should you eat before training?
Exactly what you choose for your pre-workout meal is as important a factor in a good workout as when you eat, says Dezi Abeyta, Men’s Health Consultant, and author of the “Lose Your Gut” guide. A simple carbohydrate and some fast-acting sugars will probably give you the energy you’re looking for before the gym, without weighing you down (Is it beneficial to eat before training or is it better to train fasted?). This is especially true if you are about to get into the cardio section. Think fruit, white bread, cereal, bagels, or honey.. Heavier carbs, like rice and pasta, are best saved for post-workout.
However, Abeyta is fine with some flexibility before a strength-oriented workout. With cardio, a lot of bouncing can take a bit of extra energy and can cause some stomach issues if you eat incorrectly. With strength training, it’s okay to have some protein or fat before training. The only thing you should avoid, according to Abeyta, are processed foods.
Don’t forget the water either. Too much or too little can make you feel sluggish and heavy before training. Too little water and electrolytes is a recipe for muscle contraction (including the heart), leading to poor performance, delayed recovery, and dehydration.
When should you eat before exercising?
With that said, here’s how long you should wait to eat after eating for optimal exercise. And the answer is: it depends.
After a small meal or snack: Right after
“If you had a small meal or snack, you can exercise right after”says Brian St. Pierre, nutrition consultant for Men’s Health, unless of course it makes you feel sick. That completely depends on your personal body preferences.
In this case, follow Abeyta’s recommendation to have a snack or a simple carbohydrate-based meal, such as fruit or a nutrition bar.
After a normal or large meal, wait 2-3 hours.
“If you’re eating a high-carbohydrate meal for energy, I would wait 2-3 hours afterward,” says Abby Langer, author of “Good Food, Bad Diet.” “Otherwise, you’re free to exercise anytime after a meal, depending on your tolerance for the meal.”
Pierre also recommends the same, unless training on a full stomach doesn’t bother you. Feel free to increase your protein and carbohydrate intake to your liking, especially if you plan to lift weights.
Before high-intensity exercise: With caution
If you’re ready to break a sweat, you may want to hold off on a larger meal. “High-intensity exercise, in particular, often requires a longer waiting period for food to have a chance to start moving out of the stomach and into the small intestine before activity begins,” says St. Pierre. .
“A small meal an hour or so beforehand, or a normal or large meal 2 to 3 hours in advance 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, she suggests.
During prolonged resistance exercise: Possibly during
If you’re training for a marathon, triathlon, or any other type of long-duration endurance race, you may need a little more fuel during training., depending on the distance of your exercise that day. Longer distances will require some form of additional fuel, usually in the form of carbohydrates. It can be a sports drink or a gel with electrolytes and carbohydrates, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Consult a running or triathlon trainer to find out exactly how much to consume during your long-distance training.