Exercise After Eating [How Long to Wait]

how long to wait to exercise

Light exercise after eating is often a good idea. You can talk for a walk after you eat to help with digestion and feel less tired. But medium to hard exercise is not recommended after eating. 

You need to wait about 30 minutes to 3 hours after you eat to start exercising. Wait time depends on how much you eat, what you eat, and how intense you will exercise. Here are a few examples:  

  • Wait 30 minutes – Something Lite (fruit) 
  • Wait 1 hour – More Lite Foods (fruit, oatmeal, protein shake) 
  • Wait 2 hours – Heavier Foods (fruit, sausages, eggs) 
  • Wait 3 hours – More Heavy Food (fruit, oatmeal, sausages, bacon, eggs, pancakes) 

When I go running in the morning, I eat an orange and banana and have some water. I wait 30 minutes before I run. My stomach is fine during my run. After the run, I’ll eat something with protein. 

How Much You Eat Equals Exercise Wait Time

How Much Food = Wait Time (1)

When you eat, your stomach will start to digest your food. Blood is sent to the stomach to help with digestion. If you eat too much your stomach needs to focus needs time to empty. It could be a couple of hours to process an average meal. 

If you consider how much you ate, you can estimate how much time you will need to wait. 

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water during your exercise. A cup of water can help prevent your stomach from getting nauseous. 

When I was a teenager I was in a race. It was a small triathlon and I had just finished running around a track.  What I didn’t realize is that when you push yourself too hard it can cause your stomach to feel nausea.

I stopped running and felt sick but then someone told me to keep walking and that helped me not throw up. I must have eaten right before running and didn’t realize it would affect me.   

If you can time your eating and exercise right, you won’t have stomach issues, unless you haven’t been drinking any water which can also make you feel sick. 


quarter meal

If you are eating an apple before you walk, you’ll likely be fine and have no issues. 

Your stomach can usually handle smaller amounts of food without upsetting your stomach.

Keep in mind that eating proteins, fats, and fibers can take longer to digest.  

Although, foods like nuts, fruits, or a protein shake in small portions can be helpful for energy while you exercise. Most people will be fine unless they attempt to do an intense exercise right after eating.


half a meal

If you are eating a small meal before you exercise, it important to wait for about an hour. You’ll likely be fine to do most exercises, but monitor yourself and slow down if you do start to get an upset stomach.  

Your stomach may be continuing to work on your food as you exercise, so starting slow can be an effective method to help prevent cramps or nausea.


Full Meal - Wait 2 Hour

If you are eating a full meal before you exercise, you need to wait at least 2 hours. 

This wait time might not apply to everyone, but is a good rule to follow to prevent upset stomachs or cramps. 

If you are eating fat-rich foods, you may want to wait up to 3 hours. Your body can then empty the stomach, so when you exercise your blood can move to the muscles instead of the stomach.

If you’re out of energy when you start to workout, your food may still be digesting.

What You Eat Equals Exercise Wait Time

digestion easy hard

When you eat different foods, your stomach takes different amounts of time to digest different types of foods.

Before going to work out you can eat foods that are easier to digest and exercise a little sooner. Just try to avoid fats and sugars, so your digestion can go smoothly.  


15 foods that are easier to digest are the following:

  • toast
  • eggs
  • cooked vegetables
  • vegetable soup
  • white rice
  • avocado
  • non-fat yogurt
  • bananas
  • applesauce
  • crackers
  • white bread
  • lean meats (small amount)
  • cooked potatoes and sweet potatoes 
  • cooked cereal (oatmeal)
  • walnuts and almonds
Digestion Is Shorter


15 foods that are harder to digest are the following:

  • onions
  • beans
  • raw vegetables
  • fructose, sorbitol, lactose. aspartame
  • corn
  • some dairy
  • fiber
  • wheat bran
  • bell pepper
  • coffee
  • alcohol
  • chili peppers
  • acidic foods (oranges)
  • seeds
  • fried foods and fat
Digestion Is Longer

Workout Intensity Equals Exercise Wait Time

Workout Intensity Wait Time

When I go running in the morning, I’m not running hard. I run at a slow to medium pace and keep at that pace the entire time. This level of intensity doesn’t cause me to have stomach nausea or cramps. 

If I run hard, even on a light breakfast, my stomach does start to feel upset if I just ate something 30 minutes to an hour beforehand. 

It’s important to plan before you exercise, so you can eat the right amount before different levels of exercise. In my experience you need to wait:

  • 30 Minutes for light exercise
  • 1 hour for medium intensity exercise
  • 2 hours for heavy exercise 


You can sustain low-intensity exercise for an hour or more. Your heart may be about 120 beats per minute. Here are some examples:

  • Lite biking on level ground
  • Stretching
  • Light Aerobics (Air boxing, Side Steps, knee lifts)
  • Lite Yoga
  • Wall Sit
  • Plank
Low Intensity workout


You can sustain medium-intensity exercise for a set time period, such as 30 minutes. Your heartbeat may be about 140 beats per minute and you start finding it difficult to talk and exercise at the same time. Here are some examples:

  • Jogging, running, treadmill
  • stair-stepping machine
  • Cycling, biking, 
  • Push-ups
  • Crossfit routine, circuit training
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
Medium Intensity workout (1)


You can sustain high-intensity exercise for shorter time periods, such as 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Your heart beats very quickly at possibly 180 beats per minute and you can’t really talk and exercise at the same time. Here are some examples:

  • Sprinting
  • Pedaling uphill on a bike
  • Non-stop Crossfit routine
  • Fast-paced swimming
  • Heavy cardio workout
  • Jumping rope quickly
High Intensity workout

Once you’ve figured out a routine, stomach problems won’t likely occur anymore, because you will have figured out how much exercise is too much after you’ve eaten. You’ve been able to see how exercising soon after you’ve eaten affects you when you exercise.

If you’re out of your routine or eating a different diet it’s best to wait a bit longer than normal to make sure your stomach is empty before doing any medium to high-intensity workout. 

If your not sure how hard you will be exercising, try to start slowly, allowing your body more time to digest. 

Thanks for visiting Helpshoe.com and have a great time with your next exercise activity. 


I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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