When should you exercise after eating? It is not surprising that there is debate about this question. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is a great way to make it sustainable, but timing is essential to ensure you maximize your exercise and avoid feeling lethargic.
If you ever feel bloated while working out, you are far from alone. Whether it’s being outside on a bike or choosing to run indoors on one of the best treadmills, it can be frustrating if you’ve motivated yourself for daily exercise, only to find yourself unable to perform at your best. Fortunately, what you eat before a workout (and what you don’t eat) can make a difference.
Here, we’ll look at factors that affect how long you wait to exercise after eating. We’ve consulted experts for their take on what to eat and avoid to boost your workouts and avoid unwanted side effects.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to working out after eating. Although there are guidelines, they vary depending on the type of activity, portion size, and your individual response. It’s worth the experience until you get to the sweet spot. Try writing down pre-workout snacks or meals and how it felt to spot patterns.
Should you exercise after eating?
Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand – you need enough food to fuel your workout. “Studies show that eating carbohydrates before exercise can improve exercise performance and may allow you to exercise for longer or at a higher intensity,” Lina Bell (Opens in a new tab), a registered dietitian dietitian and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Your body breaks down food and transfers nutrients to your muscles, giving you a boost of energy during your workout.
Bell is a cardiovascular dietitian at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, and is an author and public speaker. Bell served eight years as the legislative chair of both Greater Atlanta and the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She graduated from Southern University and A&M College and received her master’s degree from Colorado State University.
But individuals respond to exercise after eating differently. If you are prone to feeling nauseous, eating a large meal before a workout can negatively affect your enjoyment and make you tempted to interrupt your session. It is a balancing act. If you don’t eat enough before an activity, you may suffer from fatigue. But eat too soon, and you run the risk of developing unwanted digestive symptoms.
Experiment to see what works best for you. You are more likely to stick to your exercise plan if you find a way to incorporate it into your routine. according to American Dietetic Association (Opens in a new tab)Exercising after a meal is very individual – in large part due to personal preference.
Timing is everything. Although there is no definitive answer as to how long to wait to exercise after eating, it is generally between 30 minutes and three hours, depending on various factors.
With postprandial exercise, portion size matters. “Although research is limited, if you are eating a small meal or snack, you should generally wait at least 30 minutes before engaging in physical activity,” he says. Lone Ben Asher (Opens in a new tab) Dietitian and Registered Dietitian at Pritikin Longevity Center. “If you exercise in the morning, try eating a small snack like a banana and peanut butter and let it sit for 30 minutes before going outside.”
Ben Asher is a registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Life and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Florida and a Master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition. He is also a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“If you are eating a meal, it may be best to exercise one to three hours after eating to avoid negative effects on your digestive system. If you eat a very large meal, it will take longer to metabolize and digest the food, which can affect blood flow and its performance. “.
Remember to take into account the intensity of the exercise. Research published in the magazine Nutrients (Opens in a new tab) It is suggested that eating before endurance activity (60 minutes +) enhances your performance. “Endurance athletes benefit from eating two to three hours before exercise because it delays the time to fatigue and prevents early fatigue,” Bell explains.
There is little evidence of improved performance when eating pre-workout for a shorter period, according to a 2020 review in feed (Opens in a new tab). But if you find a pre-workout snack that makes you feel like going and keeps you from feeling hungry, it may help you exercise for longer.
The type of activity also affects your ability to tolerate eating beforehand. You can comfortably engage in light exercise such as walking shortly after eating, compared to intense activities such as running, according to a 2013 Polish magazine reconsidering (Opens in a new tab).
What should you eat before exercise?
Not only when you eat, but what or what What you eat affects your performance.
“Your pre-workout meal should consist mostly of carbs and some protein,” Bell says. “These nutrients are digested faster and provide fuel in a shorter period of time.” Eating a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal will give you maximum energy and avoid hunger pangs.
Don’t forget to drink water, too. When you’re dehydrated, your muscles tire easily, making it hard to perform at your best, according to American Dietetic Association (Opens in a new tab). Drinking enough water regulates your body temperature and reduces the chance of overheating during exercise. Aim to drink water throughout the day to keep your hydration levels high. American Council of Exercise (Opens in a new tab) She recommends drinking 17-20 ounces of water two hours before your workout.
On a busy schedule? You may only have a small window to eat before your workout. “If time pressures you, you can still have a meal 45-60 minutes before your workout,” Bell says. The meal should be small and simple to aid digestion and absorption. Think Greek yogurt and fruit or a piece of fruit, such as a banana, orange, or apple.”
If you’re short on time, quick snacks may tempt you to boost energy, whether you prefer one of the best protein bars or an energy drink. But check the labels. According to the American Council on Exercise (Opens in a new tab)These products are often loaded with sugar, which may give you an initial rush but won’t last long.
Certain foods can get in the way of your workout if you eat them too soon.
“Foods that are very high in fat should be avoided,” Bell says. “They are much slower to digest, and can contribute to bloating and gas that affects your performance.”
Think foods prepared in butter or oil, fatty meats, and fried foods. Food that is high in fat takes longer to absorb, and your body has to split its energy between digestion and exercise. This turns exercise into effort.
While high-fiber foods are essential for gut health, give them plenty of room before your workout right away. “It’s best to limit your intake of salads, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and fiber-rich whole grains before exercise,” warns Ben Asher. “Because these foods are slow to digest, they can lead to unwanted digestive issues. This includes reflux, bloating, abdominal discomfort and nausea, which ultimately affects athletic performance.” Reap the benefits of these foods by eating them after your workout instead.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice.
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