How long you should wait between your meal and workout will depend on several factors.

Your genetics and how well you can digest certain foods such as protein will be a large factor. The quantity, or amount of total food you eat, is critical factor. What foods you consume, i.e., protein rich foods, food high in fat, or carbohydrate rich foods can play a part.

Not only that but the intensity of the exercise your are undertaking will be a big factor as well.


Foods heavy in protein and fat are typically harder to digest

There are some people who can eat a lot of protein with no problem, but others will have gas and bloating just looking at a high protein and fat meal. Depending on your particular digestive system, and how you can digest protein and fat.

A good guideline is to wait 2-3 hours after a substantial meal to begin exercise.

If you are eating a large, full meal such as breakfast, lunch or dinner you will need to wait longer after consuming the meal to begin exercise than if you were just eating a small snack. A good guideline after consuming a full meal would be to wait at least 2 hours (and up to 4) before exercising.

If you are eating just a snack, or a very small quantity of food, then waiting at least one hour should be sufficient.

Exercise After Eating_2

If you are consuming a meal with protein and fat (as well as carbohydrates) vs. just carbohydrates like a piece of fruit, you will need to wait longer before you exercise.

Protein and fat take longer to digest completely

These are usually harder on your digestive system. You want to make sure you give your body as much time as possible to digest these foods before diverting the nervous system and blood flow to your muscles. If you don’t, then the possibility of gas and bloating is much higher.

If you are eating a meal with a lot of protein and fat, I would recommend waiting 2 ½- 4 hours before exercising intensely. If you are just consuming a piece of fruit, you should be good to go in 30-45 minutes after eating. In fact this is a great pre-workout meal.

The last variable is the intensity of the exercise

If your workout consists of very high intensity exercise, you should wait longer after you eat. I would suggest 3-4 hours to allow for complete digestion before beginning a high intensity workout.

If your workout consists of more moderate to low intensity exercises, then 1-2 hours would be sufficient.

In summary

If you have a light, carbohydrate snack, you should wait somewhere between 30-60 minutes after eating to begin exercise. If you eat a full meal with protein, fat and carbohydrate, then you should wait 2-4 hours before starting to exercise.

One last note – eating a good meal of carbohydrate, protein and fat is critical to consume within 20-45 minutes after complete your workout to aid in recovery.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions and visit for more tips and exercises.

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