In today’s article we will go deeper into the exercise after eating, as well as giving some advice so that it doesn’t affect you when you do your training.
I’m sure that when you’ve been to the gym or done any exercise or physical activity right after eating, you’ve felt discomfort, lack of strength and you haven’t even been able to finish your workout as you would have liked.
This is because we must respect a time after each meal due to digestion.
What is digestion and how can it affect exercise?
To put it in context, we will clarify that digestion is the process by which the food and beverages we consume are broken down into nutrients for the body to absorb and use as a source of energy, to form structures, repair cells, in general, for all functions of the human body.
When this process is active, a large amount of blood accumulates in the organs that are involved in it. That is when it can produce an interaction with physical exercise.
Any physical exercise will increase the blood supply to our muscles, and if the body is also digesting, there is a very high demand for blood for both to function properly.
The problem is not only that it can reduce your performance, but that it can lead to more serious problems.
In extreme situations, the body has a mechanism so that vital functions are not compromised, and if the blood requirement is too great due to physical activity and digestion, lipotimia (loss of consciousness) can even occur.
This can increase the danger if activities are performed in the aquatic environment (due to increased circulation in the skin to balance body temperature).
In addition to this, what is known as reactive hypoglycaemia or hypoglycaemic rebound may occur.
After eating, when digestion takes place, the body has high amounts of insulin to be able to absorb glucose from the digested food.
If we start exercising at that precise moment, the muscles will increase their consumption of blood glucose, which can cause a sudden drop in the blood sugar level, which can lead to fainting.
How long should we wait?
Once we have been informed of what digestion is and its influence on physical exercise, we know that we must plan the schedule of meals in order to avoid the problems involved in exercising right after eating.
Normally, the standard recommendation is to wait two hours to exercise.
However, this will depend on the food we eat just before our workout. If we have a large meal, the waiting time can increase to four hours.
It is important to carry out these recommendations so as not to put the organism at risk, above all we must respect the times if the training we do is of high intensity.
Which exercise after eating is better?
We must bear in mind that it is preferable to wait for any physical activity and thus avoid the aforementioned problems or stomach discomfort, such as nausea, gas or diarrhea.
But if, due to our schedule, it is impossible for us to wait so long and we must carry out physical exercise right after eating, it is preferable to carry out low-intensity exercises or with prolonged breaks.
Avoid high intensity prolonged exercises that can increase the risk of suffering these problems.
Another factor to take into account is to adapt our diet to the training we are going to do. We must prioritize the intake of carbohydrates of a low glycemic index and avoid the consumption of foods high in fibers (which can cause the appearance of uncomfortable stomach gases) and fructose.
Consumption of carbohydrates during exercise
One of the most useful strategies to avoid problems such as reactive hypoglycaemia and other inconveniences related to digestion is the consumption of carbohydrates during exercise.
It is scientifically proven that the consumption of carbohydrates, especially in the form of beverages, can help us to maintain performance especially in medium or long duration exercises.
Another strategy is to consume this type of drink five minutes before exercising.
This is due to the fact that, when taking it, the level of glucose in the blood would rise, and at the beginning of the exercise that glucose would be used by the body for exercise, thus avoiding the use of emergency mechanisms for obtaining energy (protein degradation).