Running soon after eating a meal does not only cause an upset stomach, but it will also affect your performance. Right after a meal, a person may feel sluggish, and this will affect your motivation to exercise as well as your performance.
How long to wait to run after eating depends on how much you have eaten as well as the type of food you consumed. Also, it depends on how big you are and how fast or slow your digestive system works.
How Long Should You Wait
Right after a meal, you should postpone any vigorous activity to allow your food to digest. The number of hours required for digestion varies from person to person, the type of food eaten and the amount of food.
A large meal requires more time to digest than a small one. Also, meals that are hard to digest take time to be processed in the digestive system.
A meal that contains roughly 600 calories, for instance, is considered a large meal. Let’s speculate that such a meal contains a balance of protein from meat, vegetables, carbohydrates and dessert. For this, you need to wait around 3-4 hours before you can engage in vigorous activities such as running.
Why The Need To Wait
Digestion is a complex process requiring a lot of energy. However efficient the body is at executing its various tasks with the least amount of energy possible, digestion still requires a large amount of energy.
To allow digestion to take place fully, the body directs a significant amount of blood towards the digestive system and the internal organs required for digestion.
Pancreas and the Liver, for instance, react to the high amounts of sugar in the blood following a meal and releases the vital substances required to keep the body in a healthy state. This process primarily requires a significant flow of the blood to and from these organs.
Because of the increased blood flow to the digestive system and other organs, less blood flows to the muscles. Some experts believe that this is the cause of the sluggish feeling you experience after a meal.
The decreased blood flow to the muscles also means that your muscles will not be in its top condition to perform thus exercising soon after a meal is largely impractical. What’s worse is that when you don’t wait after a meal and continue with running, you’ll also disrupt the digestive process.
Also, a full stomach will feel uncomfortable during and after a vigorous exercise. A disrupted digestive process coupled with a full stomach will result in cramps, aches, and distress of the gastrointestinal system.
You need to remember that although the food you ingest is mechanically broken down during the chewing process, they still have mass. Collectively, they carry a significant weight at a single place in your digestive system at a time. Running will move and jostle this mass causing GI system distress.
Timing Your Exercise Well
One of the best things you can do for you not to wait that long (or feel the burden of waiting) is to schedule your exercise 3-4 hours after a meal. Say, for instance; you eat at 12 noon to 1 p.m., then it would be wise to run around 4-5 p.m.
During a summer (or if you’re in a country near the equator), running during these hours will prove beneficial because you’ll receive just a decent amount of sunlight for you to benefit from it without risking skin cancer.
Another method is to run before meal time. For instance, you can run before breakfast. That way, blood circulation is at its peak. The muscles are also depleted of energy.
After a meal, not only will the muscles be replenished with energy, they will also be supplied with other nutrients necessary for growth and repair processes.
Getting Yourself Well-Hydrated
Water also commands a significant mass if taken in considerable amount and will slightly make your running uncomfortable at certain conditions. For instance, downing a liter of water will feel heavy in the stomach and will cause an ache if you run right after.
However, since the fluid is processed more quickly (and differently) inside the digestive system, you don’t have to wait that long. A couple of minutes will do. This, however, will benefit you. Keeping yourself well-hydrated before an exercise is a smart move.
The mere thought of waiting for hours after a meal is, in itself, a cause of discomfort. The trick here is not to mind that it takes long. You can do that by not waiting—that is, by scheduling your exercise 3-4 hours after your usual schedule of a meal.
You can make use of the time in between for other activities. This will remove the distress from the thought of waiting.
Digestion is a crucial process for health. To benefit from a healthy digestion and a regular exercise, you don’t need to sacrifice either.