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The timing of your meals in relation to your workout session has long been a topic of much consideration. Different people like to exercise at different times of the day. Some prefer to work out early in the morning, while others prefer a late-night workout after dinner when all their chores are done.
The question often arises, “Can we exercise immediately after dinner?”. In this discussion, we’ll attempt to answer this question so that you can time your exercises much better.
Meals and Exercise
Once you’ve had a meal, the food first enters your stomach and then is slowly passed bit by bit into your small intestine. The key point here is to avoid any strenuous activity when the food has just entered the stomach. Although that is not exactly harmful, it may potentially cause unwanted side effects or slow your workout down. It isn’t entirely necessary to wait for all the food to go into the small intestine, which may take 2 to 4 hours. Waiting for the food to settle into the stomach is enough. Most people can safely work out 30 minutes after a snack, or 1-2 hours after a moderately-sized meal.
Side Effects of Eating and Exercising
When you work out too soon after a meal, you put yourself at risk of some potential side effects. Not everyone may have these effects and it also depends on the type of meal and volume that you consume, and the nature of the exercise.
Immediate exercise after dinner may lead to digestive issues like:
- Stomach cramps
- Acid Reflux
These side effects are more common in high-intensity activities like running, swimming, cycling or heavy weight-lifting. Low-intensity workouts like yoga and walking soon after a meal may not lead to these effects.
When planning to work out after dinner, follow the short guide given below:
- After moderately sized meals: Wait 1-2 hours to work out.
- After snacks: Wait 30 minutes to work out.
Type and Size of Meal
What you’re eating and its volume also have a say in how soon you can start working out. The larger the meal, the longer it will take to digest and hence, you must wait for a longer period before exercising.
Foods rich in protein and fibre take longer to digest. So if you just had a lot of protein or fibre, exercising too soon after a meal may cause side effects. We recommend avoiding too large meals containing protein, fats and fibre before workouts. Move those foods to other meal times, like lunch if you’re planning to work out after dinner.
How Long Should You Wait?
To summarise, working out immediately after meals is not recommended for moderate to high-intensity workouts. It isn’t advisable to skip your meals altogether as well since your body needs the energy for effective exercise. For non-strenuous activities like walking, you may wait for a minimal time after eating. For running, swimming, cycling, and weight-lifting, it’s best to wait 30 minutes after a snack and 1-2 hours after a moderately-sized meal.
For more expert advice related to meals and exercise, download the FITPASS app and find out what to eat after your gym workout. You also get comprehensive fitness guidance with feature-rich tools like workout assistants, nutritionists, a calorie counter, HD instructional videos and expert opinions on post-workout nutrition that your body needs.