How Long After Eating Can I Exercise?

Most people who do exercise regularly are aware of the importance of diet to achieve the best results. What you consume and even when you consume can have an effect on your performance when exercising. Therefore, those who are serious about their exercise regime are usually also serious about their diet. It is said that eating before your exercise is important to ensure that you have enough energy to compensate for strenuous physical activity, but you may be wondering when you can exercise after eating. Continue reading to find out.

How Long After Eating Can I Exercise?

You need to consider the size of the meal you eat to determine how long you should wait before exercising. If you have eaten a large meal (over 600 calories) rich in protein and carbohydrates, it would be wise to wait at least an hour before exercising. The intensity of your workout will also affect the period of time in which you should wait. If your planned exercise routine is highly intense, it may be wise to wait around two to three hours before exercising after eating a large meal.

You should also consider the fact that exercising on an empty stomach is never a good idea. It is suggested that you consume a small snack of less than 200 calories around thirty minutes before exercising. This will ensure that you are sufficiently energized for your planned workout and will benefit the results of your exercise.

One must also remember that a meal or snack rich in fat will take longer to digest than a protein and carbohydrate rich meal, which can cause you to feel lethargic, sluggish or even to upset your stomach whilst exercising.

What Should I Eat Before Exercise?

You may not only ask "how long after eating can I exercise", but also wonder what kind of food is appropriate to eat before working out. Here are some suggestions about what to eat before doing exercise.

1. Eat a Combination of Carbohydrate, Proteins and Fats

It is suggested that you consume balanced meals with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Healthy carbohydrate sources include quinoa, oats buckwheat and sweet potatoes. Healthy protein sources include fish, chicken breast, lean beef, tofu, dairy products, egg whites and beans. Fat sources include cooking oils (such as olive oil), nuts and avocado. Eating a balance of these three food groups will help to ensure an overall balance of the energy within your body.

2. Avoid Energy Bars or Supplements

It can be easy to consume energy bars before a workout as you think this may provide you with all the energy you need to exercise. The fact is that many of these bars that are supposedly manufacture to provide you with the energy you need are usually high in bad calories, sugars (or sugar alcohols) and fats that can have a detrimental effect on your workout.

3. Don’t Overeat Protein and Fiber

Whilst both protein and fiber have numerous beneficial effects on the body, consuming too much can have negative effects on your workout, especially if you are doing aerobic exercises such as running, swimming, rowing, biking and dancing. Protein, when eaten in high amounts, can cause gastric distress if you exercise soon afterwards. The amount of protein to consume before workouts should be limited, especially when you're still wondering "how long after eating can I exercise". Eating too much fiber rich foods can cause stomach cramps while exercising and slow down your workout.

More Tips on Eating and Exercise

1. Eat a Healthy Breakfast Before Exercise

If you plan to exercise in the morning, it is important that you get up early and have a hearty breakfast before you work out. This will ensure that your energy levels are high enough to supplement your workout. Examples of a healthy breakfast include: bananas, whole-grain cereals/bread, fruit juice and/or yogurt.

2. Pay Attention to the Size of Your Meals

The size of the meal you consume affects the results of your workout. Eating large meals and exercising too soon can cause you to feel lethargic, so ensure that you do not consume too much before doing exercise.

3. Eat Small Snacks Before and During Exercise

Eating small snacks, such as bananas, whole-grain bagels, yogurt or fruit smoothies, before and during exercise, can be a great way to replenish your energy levels. You need to remember, however, that everyone is different and you may experience negative effects from consuming snacks just before or during exercise.

4. Don’t Forget to Eat After Exercise

Those wishing to ascertain an answer to the question "how long after eating can I exercise" may also be curious about eating after exercise. Eating after you exercise not only replenishes your energy levels, but also aids muscle repair, growth and recovery.

5. Drink Adequate Fluids

Along with eating the right foods at the right times, you also need to drink adequate water throughout your workout to prevent dehydration. It is commonly recommended that you drink about two liters of water per day but the number can vary, depending on your weight, the room temperature and the intensity of your workout.

6. Keep a Diet Journal

As many people will experience different effects from foods they consume before exercise, it is wise to take notes about the type of food that works. Keeping a diet journal to record exactly what you ate and whether there are any adverse consequences will help you to adjust your diet and improve the results of your workout. 

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