How Long Should You Wait To Workout After Eating?

Your water bottle is filled, your AirPods are charged, and your shoelaces are tight. That's right, you're ready to work out. Suddenly, before you head out the door, you feel hungry and tired. Your stomach is rumbling and you aren't sure whether to eat or not. You could eat a snack right now, but that might affect your workout. You could wait, but then you might not work out at all that day.

Knowing when to work out after eating is tricky. While you want to have energy for the exercises, you also don't want to feel full during them. Working out too soon after eating, especially if it was a large meal, can make you feel sluggish and bloated, according to Mayo Clinic. However, not all workouts are created equal. When you decide to get your sweat on depends entirely on the type of exercises you will be performing and the type of food you eat beforehand.

It all depends

The portion size of your food is key. This will determine how long you should wait to work out. In general, you should wait 3 to 4 hours to exercise after eating a large meal, such as a burrito bowl. For small meals or snacks, such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, wait 1 to 3 hours to exercise, according to Mayo Clinic.

Of course, what you eat also matters. If you're going for a longer run (4+ miles), you will want to eat foods with healthy carbohydrates that quickly give you energy and digest easily, such as oatmeal and a banana, according to Health. While protein and fats are important, they digest too slowly, according to Lauren Cadillac, a registered dietitian speaking with PopSugar. "Remember, fat and fiber are going to digest slowly, which is great to help keep us feeling full and satiated throughout the day, but right before a big workout, it's not what we're going for," she says.

It's best to eat a balanced meal of protein, fats, and carbs a few hours before a workout, but sometimes that isn't possible. If you have to work out within an hour, eat foods that will digest easily, such as Greek yogurt, fruit, or a granola bar, according to Healthline.