How Long Should You Wait After Eating To Run?

You should know how long you should wait to run after eating because the combination of motion and exercise happening to the body can lead to gastrointestinal issues that result in nausea, stomach-ache, and vomiting.

How Long Should You Wait After Eating to Run?

Issues with cramping and digestion are too common effects that come with running too soon after eating.

This is because the body puts a lot of energy into digesting food which is why a lot of us feel tired after a good meal. 

This energy is used to direct the majority of the blood flow to the stomach and the surrounding internal organs so that it can put more work into breaking down food and absorbing the nutrients.

However, having all of this blood directed to the stomach, means that there is less going to the large muscle groups which are being engaged during exercises such as running such as the legs and arms. 

Going for a run while your body is busy with digesting will make it redirect the blood to the muscle groups and will put less attention into the stomach and digestive system.

This is where the issue comes in because the body was not built to put up with this split in functions and will lead to a lot of pain and discomfort as the organs and muscles battle for energy and blood supply.

Different Wait Times For Different Reasons

Depending on where you look for your information regarding this subject, you are likely going to be told that you should wait anywhere between two and four hours.

You can forget this though because, in reality, there is no specific number of hours that you should wait before running after eating.

This is due to the fact that each body will react differently and the type of run that you are going on plays a big part in how long you should wait, but we will go into this in more detail. 

If the run you are wanting to go in is after work or early in the morning, you should take more care of what you eat beforehand.

You might only have to wait an hour before you run if you have eaten a small meal or snack that consists of simple carbs with little protein and fat such as an English muffin or banana as these carbs are easier for the body to digest. 

In this circumstance where you are wanting to fit in a run early in the morning before your other duties get in the way, you can have a smoothie made primarily with carbs.

To prevent things from sloshing around a lot in your stomach as you run, you should avoid a lot of dairy or acidic food products. 

In some instances, having something that will provide your muscle with instant energy and quick work to digest,

then you can possibly only wait for just 15 to 30 minutes as long as the food was low in fiber as well as protein and fat but high in carbs. 

Eating complex foods before going for a run is not a good idea because your body will need more time and energy to break them down and digest which is what makes them great for balancing your blood sugar levels but not ideal for a pre-run snack. 

Having foods such as this within an hour to an hour and a half before running can result in stomach pain, cramping, as well as diarrhea in more extreme cases which is the last thing you want especially when running a marathon. 

Sometimes before a run that is not very far or challenging, it may not warrant having a pre-run meal or snack because your body does not need to be performing at its peak and therefore is not needing as much fuel.

How Long Should You Wait After Eating to Run?

Easier runs like this can come under ones that are at a steady, gentle pace for about three miles in the late morning having had a balanced, light breakfast three or four hours ago.

With this timescale, you are able to skip the pre-run snack and have lunch when you get back instead. 

However, if you are wanting to have a more intense run around the late afternoon time, you should fuel your body with enough protein, fat, and carbs so that your body has the capability to perform well and keep going. 

In this situation, you should wait longer for a few hours before you leave for the run so that your body has the time to digest it fully and can put that energy into your muscles. 

After The Run

Now that you have had a run and have waited the appropriate time after eating to do so, you are probably wondering what you should do after you get in, what should you eat, and how long should you wait to eat it?

It is important to eat something every time you come back from a run so that you can replenish the glycogen and electrolytes that you lost on the run, this will make your muscles recover much faster and stronger. 

With this in mind, you should wait too long before you eat to get all the goodness into your system with 30 to 60 minutes after your run is the best window. 

The meal you have after your run should be a 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio with good choices being a bagel with peanut butter or eggs on top, a protein shake with fruit, cereal, and milk, and avocado on toast. 

If it was a particularly intense run, or it has been a while since you have eaten, you can have a more established meal such as chicken, salmon, beef, tofu, or whole wheat pasta.

You should also make an effort to add vegetables to these meals as they are full of beneficial vitamins and minerals that help your body without making you feel too full.  


As annoying as it may be, we cannot give you a definitive answer of how long you should wait to run after eating,

but by using the guidelines above and the knowledge of your own body, you will crack the code in no time. 

Just remember that if you are itching to get out of the door and onto the pavement, then you should

have a small meal or snack that consists of simple carbs more than anything as this is easiest for your body to break down.

Megan Rinzel
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