How Long Should You Wait to Run After Eating?

Thursday March 17, 2022 at 1:29 pm

Running is an excellent exercise for your heart and the body, and it is tremendously worth the trouble of developing a daily habit of it. The benefits of running for the human body have been known for ages, and it is a habit that pays rich dividends. There is something archetypical about it – as if you are returning to ways of pre-civilized humans where running saved lives.

However, running and eating don’t always mix so well. There is no two-word answer to the question, and even physicians and dieticians are divided on the matter. However, some general precautions can help you. These precautions include:

1. You must wait for at least two hours before running after a fat-heavy meal.

The kind of meal plays a vital role in determining the answer to ‘how long should you wait to run after eating?’.

If you just had a meal full of complex carbohydrates or fats, it is advisable to wait for at least two hours before going on a run. That is because your body may want to consume those fats and thus try to hurry your digestive system up to avail them. Since your digestive system is forced to work under such stress, it may act up, and you may face problems related to a sour stomach.

2. You must wait for at least one hour if your meal was light, mostly comprised of proteins and simple carbohydrates.

The amount of the time required to digest simple carbohydrates and proteins taken in small amounts is far less, and you need to wait only an hour before going on a run in this case.

3. It is best to do your experiments to answer this question.

There is no simple answer to the question ‘how long should you wait to run after eating?’. It differs from person to person. While the above guidelines hold true generally, your body may have different needs. To run is to develop a kind of closer relationship with your body. You have to understand your body well to do it well and regularly. Most athletes tend to know their own bodies very well. If you can’t figure it out otherwise, it is wise to experiment with different time gaps and foods.

4. You can train your body to perform better.

You may have seen some athletes eat or drink food while running, and that is just how they have trained their bodies – to process the food while being on the run. You, too, can train your body over time, and however, this is not something one would advise new runners.

5. Shorter runs are okay.

It’s okay to go on short runs of a few minutes, even just after a meal, if your body is used to handling longer runs.

6. Running on an empty stomach is not advised.

It may seem easier to run on an empty stomach than wait a couple of hours after a meal. However, running on an empty belly can also lead to stomach issues. Like

7. Your medical history affects the answer.

If you have a health condition, it can affect the answer to ‘how long should you wait to run after eating?’. It is highly advised to consult your physician to guide you in this matter.

Wrapping up

Once you develop a habit, your body will start feeling equally at home in motion, just as it is now in a state of rest. Then it might handle food better while running.


The question ‘how long should you wait to run after eating?’ is often coupled with a few other questions that are addressed here:

Q1: What to eat before going on a run?

A1: It pretty much depends on your health goals. Are you trying to lose weight or gain body strength? In the first case, you want to avoid too many calories and carbohydrates, and you may want to go for food rich in proteins and fiber.

If you are trying to build muscles, you want to bulk up on proteins; however, it is better to do that after the exercise. Before going on a run, stick with a meal on light carbohydrates as that is the best option.

Q2: How long a run is good for me?

A2: There is no ‘one size fits all kind of answer to this question. Several factors have to be considered – your goals, the intensity with which you are running, your present health, the kind of meal you last took, how long ago it was, etc.

If you want to lose weight, you want to prolong your run in terms of time by running at a low speed you can maintain for a long time, say one hour, and that is because once your body has discovered that it has been running for a while, it will shift to burning fats. Please note that a low-intensity run shouldn’t mean that you are jogging, and it should be fast enough to increase your heartbeat to get you the required cardiovascular exercise.

If you want to build stamina, you want to run as fast as you can and as long as you can. That is how your body will build stamina.

In either of the cases, you must understand your body’s limits and how much you can push against those limits without overstressing yourself.

Q3: What should I eat after the run?

A3: Nothing immediately after. Let your body relax. After taking a shower, you can eat some protein-rich food if you are trying to lose weight, and it is doubly advised for those trying to build stamina or muscles.

Q4: Should I buy energy drinks?

A4: If your energy drinks only have simple carbohydrates and no artificial sweeteners, then they may help you stay hydrated and run longer. However, even as such, they will add calories to your diet, and you must decide whether the trade-off is worth it.

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