Here’s Why Timing Your Exercise After Meals Matters


Often it is recommended to eat your meals before performing exercises for topping off the energy stores. Yet, some people get to experience side effects while eating too close to working out. It can be avoided if you allow sufficient time for digestion, this period can vary depending upon the type and intensity of your experience. 

If you’ve diabetes, and you always struggle with keeping your blood sugar under control. One thing that is certainly going to help you in considering the timing of the workouts after your meals. Doing workout after your meals leaves positive effects on the blood sugar. Controlling sugar levels in your blood can avoid long-term complications such as kidney problems, eye disease, cerebrovascular disease, nerve problems like strokes & cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks, heart failure & high blood pressure. Let’s explore with this article why timing your exercise after meals matters. Before we get into that make sure you get yourself premium quality workout clothes, it doesn’t only help with motivation but gets the most of your training sessions. 

When to exercise after taking meal

Knowing what and when can make a big difference for your workouts. Yes, we are talking about the difference between a good workout & great workout. Certainly we would want our workouts to fall in the “great” category, it will help with fueling up & recovery.

The time that is required for avoiding digestive side effects mainly depends upon the individual & the sport they are participating in. As you eat the meal, food enters the stomach & gets processed slowly then released into the small intestine in way lesser quantities. It requires 2 to 4 hours for the to get transferred completely from stomach to small intestine. It’s unnecessary to wait till the food you have consumed gets fully digested before you start performing exercise. So the best thing is giving the stomach time for totally settling in. For the majority of the people, an hour or two is enough after a moderate-quantity meal, at least 30-minutes after some snack. Proper digestion of food is enough for avoiding any kind of stomach issues. With the increase of intensity the factors risk and side effects also increase. For high-endurance sports such as running or swimming, you will be required to store more energy longer before you start working out.

Your glucose levels peak within 90-minutes of your meal. People who have type 2 diabetes must keep their sugar levels at 160 mg/dl after an hour or two of your meal. Exercising reduces your blood glucose concentrations, after 30-minutes the meal. 

Why is pre-workout Fueling so Important?

Food isn’t your enemy no matter what your workout goal is. It’s the prime source of your energy & it’s highly important that you ensure energy for the workout. Some research supports that by performing exercises in the fasted state, it demands smart consumption, for enhancing your performance. 

Working out on an empty stomach will make your digestive system tear the muscular tissue, which isn’t your goal if you are training for getting strong, fast and losing weight. Your personal trainer or your coach can help in regulating these goals & let you decide in an appropriate manner how you should fuel them. The quantity of your meal varies from activity to activity, and your personal preference. But, to benefit from your exercise sessions you must eat. 

People have different choices when it comes to eating before exercising. A thumb rule is that the closer you get to your exercise time, the simpler your choices should be for keeping your body healthy and utilizing energy efficiently.

How it can affect your performance

Fueling yourself for the intense workout session is important, but eating too close before the training session would harm the performance. It is critical to give your best. Most of the athletes & recreational gym-goers usually experience sluggishness when they workout right after having the meal. Consuming a heavy meal right before working out might cause GI discomfort — such as bloating & cramping — will affect your optimal performance because of the competing demands that you have put on your muscles & digestive system.

Best Pre-Workout Snacks

The best bet should be eating a balanced meal for one hour to 90 minutes before you start working out. Ideal meal is shooting for 30 grams of high fiber carbs, three to fours ounces of lean protein, five to ten grams of healthy fats & a serving or two of non starchy veggies (you can have a cup of raw veggies or a half cup of cooked veggies).  Balanced snack is eating a turkey sandwich along with whole wheat bread, a quarter of an avocado, tomato, lettuce & a cup of sugar snap peas. 

If you are running low on time or first thing in the morning, you should be adjusting the approach & grabbing the snack which combines protein along with healthy carbs. Ideally 15-30 mins before you start exercising. This carbs and protein combo enables you to keep the blood sugar stable for a little longer. Another combination is having a hard-boiled egg along with a cup of berries, a single cup of cottage cheese & a half ½ cup of pineapple, with one two tablespoons of peanut butter & an apple.

Depending upon how long & intense the workout session is, your blood sugar will decrease while you are doing it. Keeping a snack with you would be a healthy option. It should be off 15-20 grams of carbs. 

Take Away

In the end it is totally up to you how you feel about the foods that affect your performance. For optimizing the energy stores, experts generally recommend eating before exercising. Generally it is recommended to consume your meal before 2–4 hours for fully digesting your meal, you should wait upto an hour or two after a moderate-sized meal & 30 minutes after the snack for avoiding any type of side effects. Most people experience negative side effects when they eat too close before working out.

Author Bio

Ann Edwards is the fully qualified personal trainer from Elite sports. She has been helping people in the field of bodybuilding and fitness from more than a decade. Her career in nutrition and physical therapy has made her a fine addition for our team. 

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