Many people wonder if they should exercise before or after eating. In an ideal world, one would wait a little while after eating before exercising and the amount of time would differ based on one’s digestive speed, the food eaten and the type of exercise. In general, it’s good to wait at least two hours for the food to pass through the top part of the small intestine, so you don’t disrupt the fluids that are getting secreted by the stomach, liver and pancreas to effectively process the food. It’s way more ideal if you wait until the food has made it all the way into the large intestine.
When you eat, your body takes blood, fluids and energy from the rest of the body to be able to process what has been ingested and move it through the digestive tract. Many people notice they get tired after eating, and one reason this happens is because the digestive tract is simply stealing the resources from the rest of the body. Therefore, if a person tried to exercise right after eating, the parts of the body being utilized may not perform optimally because the energy is going elsewhere. Similarly, the food that was eaten may not get digested as well as it could because now another part of the body is trying to steal the blood, fluids and energy back too soon. Exercising too close to eating can actually result in digestive issues.
Exercise can either be a form of building up or breaking down a body, so one’s reason for exercising matters. If one is trying to lighten up the body, then exercising first thing in the morning before eating is best, though this can be challenging for people with strong hunger. When trying to build up a body, one should exercise after eating because nutrition-infused blood will build the body more than blood that has already gone into fasting mode (sugar- or fat-burning mode). If one is exercising as part of a scheduled sport or class, then it can become tricky to plan out eating times.
How do I make sure my food digests well?
1) When you eat: Paying attention to when one is hungry is actually one of the most important factors in proper digestion. One must feel the physical signs of hunger in the belly for food to be processed well – not because you think it’s time to eat or because you have a break in your schedule. If one eats without any hunger present, then the food will not be digested well, and poor digestion and assimilation is actually one of the main causes of many diseases. On the other hand, too much burning hunger can wreck the lining of the gut, so that needs to be tended to, and sometimes just a drink of room temp water can quench the fire of a hungry tummy.
2) What you eat: Another factor in digestion is how difficult the food is to break down. Raw, heavy, cold, cloudy or dense food takes more energy to process, as do certain foods that aren’t suitable for your particular body. Your body will produce the metabolic power for the kinds of foods its unique constitution needs. For example, some people cannot tolerate dairy or nuts, and it’s because the body is not producing the type of metabolic power to process these. Oftentimes the body is not producing this power because it doesn’t need or want these things to operate most effectively with its current life demands. This will be completely different for someone else’s body.
3) Evaluate how the last meals went: If you have digested well, then your tongue will appear moist and clean – not with any sort of coating on it. Your belly will be comfortable. You will not have any sense of heaviness, bloating or lethargy after eating, nor would you have any heartburn or pain. You will be hungry at the next mealtime.
You can also learn a lot when you go to the bathroom. Did everything digest?
It’s important to think about the timing of exercise. It’s not enough to simply check the box because you exercised.
It’s not what you do, but it’s how you do it that matters…