When it comes to powering your workouts, food is your fuel. And if you're lifting weights after eating a meal, you might be wondering how long to wait after eating to exercise. Generally speaking, give yourself anywhere from one to three hours to participate in weight training after eating. Since carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of fuel, they should make up the largest percentage of your macronutrients in the foods you eat during this time, followed by protein, then fat.
If you're lifting weights after eating, plan on waiting for one to three hours before heading to the gym.
Lifting Weights After Eating
It's no secret that the fuel you put in your body will help dictate the effectiveness of your workout. If you skip a meal or eat too little, you risk feeling tired and weak. On the other hand, if you gorge yourself on fatty foods and sugar, you'll end up bloated and sleepy.
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So, if you're weight training after eating, make sure to pay attention to the time of day and what you eat. That's because the timing of this meal or snack will dictate when you should head to the gym.
Ideally, you should eat a balanced meal with both carbohydrates and protein, with a small amount of healthy fats two to three hours prior to lifting weights. But if you missed that window, you can still sit down to a decent plate of carbs, protein and fat as long as you consume it at least 60 to 90 minutes before lifting weights.
Short on Time
When you're short on time, but want to fit exercise into your day, it's not uncommon to forget about eating before you hit the weights. If you find yourself with less than 60 minutes to digest your meal and get moving, choose foods that are easy to digest and contain mostly carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein and minimal fat. This will give you an energy boost and help you avoid gastric upset.
Smart choices include a nutrition bar, banana with peanut butter, dry cereal and a small amount of nuts, or smoothie with whey protein, fruit and water. These choices work great if you're only planning on light exercise after eating. Pre-pack some of these snacks to have on hand at work, in your car and gym bag. Experiment with a different combination before each weight training session to see what works best for you.
Morning Weight Training Session
When you have a date with the weights, you need fuel in your tank to get the job done. Ideally, if you're lifting weights after eating first thing in the morning, you will need to get up and chow down about 30 to 60 minutes before exercising.
Knowing what foods to choose before a morning workout takes a bit of trial and error. Depending on when and what you ate the night before, there's a good chance that you will be hungry.
However, if you're going to be weight training after eating, sitting down to a plate of eggs, bacon and toast less than an hour before you head out the door may land you in the bathroom rather than the weight room.
Try eating Greek yogurt with berries or a piece of whole-grain toast with peanut butter. Again, the key is to choose foods that are easy to digest and gives you the energy you need to exercise.
- American Council on Exercise: "Strength Training Pre-Workout Nutrition Guidelines"
- American College of Sports Medicine: "What to Eat Before and After a Workout"
- Advances in Nutrition: "Carbohydrates"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Timing Your Pre- and Post Workout Nutrition"
- American Heart Association: "Food as Fuel Before, During and After Workouts"