How Long Should I Wait to Workout After a Meal?

Should You Exercise After Eating?

Remember hearing this as a kid at the pool?

Did you just eat? Well, no swimming for 30 minutes!

Okay, Mom… but does that really matter when it comes to exercise? Want to know how long after eating to run or workout? More importantly, can it affect the effectiveness of your workout?

When it comes to fat-busting workouts we want our body to be running at full capacity. If exercising after a large meal can disrupt this then it’s something to consider. What’s more, is that exercising too soon after eating can cause stomach cramps or even diarrhea. Yeah, we don’t want in the middle of performing our 3rd set of squats… So should you exercise after eating? How long should you wait to workout after a meal?

Why Exercising Immediately After a Large Meal Is Bad

After a large meal (at least 600 calories; especially ones that are protein dense), our bodies send a large percentage of our blood towards the digestive system to help in the digestive process.

This diversion of blood (and energy) to our stomachs is one of the main causes of that sluggish feeling we get after a large meal!

So, first of all, we don’t want to exercise when we are sluggish because we won’t get an optimal workout!

Secondly, the diversion of blood (and energy) to the digestive system takes away from where we want the blood during our workouts; our muscles.

To achieve a really good workout we want the targeted muscles to be full of blood and get the muscle tightening “pump” that makes you feel bigger than Lou Ferrigno as The Incredible Hulk.

Exercising on a full stomach will have your muscles and your digestive system competing for blood, they both won’t run nearly as efficiently! As sports medicine physician Dr. Phoenyx Austin said,

“So basically, our body is not designed to do both digestion and exercise at the same time. That’s why people can get things like stomach cramps and stomach aches when trying to run/exercise on a full stomach.”

How Long Should I Wait to Exercise After Eating?

So how much time do we need to wait before any intense workout?

If you are planning on doing light exercise you should wait AT LEAST 60 minutes after a large meal.

Ideally, if you are doing an intense exercise it might be wiser to wait 2-3 hours after a large carb and protein dense meal before you exercise.

Also, the greater the intensity of the exercise you are planning on doing the longer you should wait. Back to Dr. Phoenyx Austin, “Furthermore, if your exercise routine requires a lot of intensity,”

You may even want to wait up to 2 hours after eating a large meal.

That being said, don’t exercise on an empty stomach.

A carb and protein rich snack (less than 200 calories) 30-60 minutes before your workout can help ramp up your blood sugar and give you an energy boost to really kill your workout.

You don’t want to go into the gym without being properly energized. In many cases, if you are taking a pre-workout supplement, you want to wait 20-30 minutes for it to effectively absorb into your system.

Likewise, you don’t want to go into the gym feeling sluggish which could occur after a quick fat-heavy snack before a workout! This is because fat can take longer to digest and can result in an upset stomach during an intense workout.


How long do you need to wait to workout after a meal?

  • After a large meal (more than 600 calories), you should wait at least 2 hours to allow your digestive processes to finish.
  • After a carb and protein rich snack (less than 200 calories) 30-60 minutes before your workout.

This will allow your muscles to have all the blood they need to give you a great workout and therefore make it as effective as possible!

It’s amazing how nutrition can affect your workout almost 2 hours later… or your 3rd set of squats right away…

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