When exercising, the blood flow is diverted away from the digestive tract, functional medicine physician Leah Johansen, M.D., tells mbg. This is known as splanchnic blood flow, and is the reason people should avoid exercising with a large volume of food in the stomach.
Overall, the amount of time you should wait between eating and working out will vary based on what you ate, how much you ate, and what type of workout you plan to do. However, there are a few general guidelines to follow:
“Meals should be consumed one to four hours prior to your workout, while snacks can be incorporated anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour before exercising,” registered dietitian Maggie Michalczyk, R.D., tells mbg.
“Hydration also plays a critical role in keeping your body fueled for workouts,” she adds. “Shoot for 20 ounces of water one to four hours before, and 5 to 10-oz of water in the hour leading up to your session.”
Certain endurance exercises (or those that last longer than 60 minutes) may actually require fuel during the workout. If that’s the case, Michalczyk says to add about 30 to 60 grams of easily digestible carbohydrates every 15 to 20 minutes. This will help sustain energy levels during a long-distance run or bike ride, she explains.
Keep in mind: people with diabetes have delayed gastric emptying, Johansen says, so they may need to wait even longer before exercising.
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