HOW SOON AFTER EATING SHOULD I WORKOUT?
This was asked via Twitter. More specifically: How soon after you eat a full meal can you exercise?
There isn’t an exact answer. I must let a large meal digest before I do anything too rigorous, and generally only workout after having a light snack. I also get nauseous if I consume too much liquid beforehand, but I do drink water throughout my workouts.
I tend to agree with this:
Your goal is to have fueled your body with nutritious food that is no longer present in your stomach when you work out. The pre-exercise food prevents hunger during exercise. Carbohydrates are easily digested, but foods high in protein and fat will linger in the stomach for some time, depending how much you ate. Large meals take longer to empty from the stomach, about four to six hours. (Source)
On the flip side, there are some people who choose to workout on an empty stomach for maximal fat burning results. This technique does not work for me. If I don’t eat something, I’m liable to pass out. Here are some words on the subject:
“When you exercise (after fasting), your adrenaline is high and your insulin is low,” said Peter Hespel, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Leuven in Belgium. “That ratio is favorable for your muscles to oxidize (break down) more fatty acids.” Hespel said that people who exercise without having eaten burn more fat than they would if they had grabbed a bite beforehand. (Source)
Though not everybody endorses this:
“I think it’s actually a pretty bad idea,” said Dr. Alexis Chiang Colvin, a sports medicine expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York who has worked with professional football and hockey teams.
“If your blood sugar is low, you could wind up getting dizzy and you might not be able to exercise as well as if you were well-nourished,” she said. Colvin recommended having something small like a banana before training. She also warned the strategy might make people more prone to injury and that eating was important so the body would have enough nutrients to recover from a bout of exercise. (Source)
So there’s no exact answer. There are experts with strong opinions on both sides. I say do what’s best for you. I don’t really eat large meals; they make me sedentary (aka The ‘Itis), but I would reserve a larger meal for after my workout, because that’s when I need it to refuel.