What Happens If You Exercise After Eating?


What Happens If You Exercise After Eating?

Since ages, your elders must be telling you the benefits of exercising with one cautionary advice: first exercise, then, eat. Have you ever thought, what could be the reasons behind this theory? If not, then, here's something that might interest you.

Effects of Exercise After Eating

Everything has its own perks and disadvantages. However, exercise after eating wraps up with a lot of disadvantages to your body. Let's know what they are!

1. Stomach Discomfort

When you tend to exercise after eating, it brings a poor effect on your stomach which may lead to indigestion, cramps or bloating.

Stomach discomfort usually happens when your muscles compete with your internal organs for blood. For instance, after eating, your organs need blood for digestion. However, if you exercise after eating, your quadriceps will also require blood for strength.

And, because the energy demands of the quadriceps are greater, the internal organs of the body lose out. As a result, up to 80 percent of the blood flow is directed to the legs leaving the stomach with fewer resources to digest the food and water. Therefore, resulting in cramps, indigestion, or bloating.

2. Adverse Effect on Heart

This effect directly points to the size of meal you are consuming before exercising. If you intake a heavy meal like breakfast or dinner, and then, decide to work-out, it will definitely put a lot of exertion on your heart.

It is because a heavy meal requires much longer time to digest than small meals at different times. If you start exercising right away after consuming food, the muscles will retract all the blood flow. This could lead to the absence of proper blood circulation and may put a lot of pressure on the heart.

3. Imbalanced Blood Circulation

When your body is in an inactive position, only 15-20 percent of the circulating blood affects the skeletal muscles. However, when you are exercise, this percentage amplifies to about 80 percent which means your heart is working harder than normal.

Thus, to sustain this change, the body dilates and narrows the blood vessels. As a result, the blood flow to certain organs including heart, brain, etc., gets limited leading to low blood circulation.

Besides, it is not usual for blood circulation to decrease after you are done exercising. It is advisable to consult a doctor if you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or weak after a workout.

3. Leaves the Body Lethargic

It is basic to feel lazy and sleepy after a meal. Most people even expect their bodies to take a time-out after eating.

However, food should not make you feel sluggish. In fact, it should boost up your energy level. Therefore, the type of food you eat before exercising plays a significant role in how your body reacts when it absorbs the food.

If you consume food that has no nutritional value, you will be most likely to feel lazy. Besides, the exercises will seem like a giant load of work, leaving you grumpy and grouchy. To avoid that, consume a combination of carbs and protein with a dash of calories before work-out.

4. Exerting Work-Out Sessions

When you work-out, the high exerting exercises require extra blood for muscle strength. Thus, the blood vessels constrict, limiting the amount of blood to the internal organs.

As a result, exercising after eating makes your skeletal muscles fight for blood flow leading to difficulty in performing exercises. To combat this, consumption of enough fats prior work-out is advised as fats provide fuel to the body.

5. Prevents Body from Absorbing Nutrients

A human body absorbs two types of nutrients: micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). Macronutrients provide direct energy sources to the body, whereas micronutrients indirectly contribute to the energy by serving as catalysts.

Unless these two are efficiently absorbed, they are of no benefit to the body. Therefore, when the digestive system takes time to process the food, it absorbs the essential nutrients a body requires.

However, if you exercise soon after consuming a meal, the time taken to process the nutrients, decreases. As a result, it prevents the body from getting the requisite amount of nutrients.


On the other hand, exercising before eating has proven to be advantageous for the body in many ways. Some of the advantages are listed below.

Exercise After Eating

1. Muscle Gain

When you exercise before your meal, your body triggers your hormones that help to burn fat and aid in building up of the muscles.

Besides, after exercising, your body loses glycogen (the energy store of the muscles and liver). To replenish glycogen your body needs an intake of carbohydrates. Therefore, consuming a rich diet after work-out helps in gaining muscle much faster.

2. Boosts Insulin Sensitivity

Your body releases insulin when you eat to help absorb the nutrients from the food. The insulin then takes the sugars out of the blood and directs them to the muscles, liver, and other cells to be used as energy later.

However, when you eat too much before exercising it makes your body more resistant to insulin's effects. This poor insulin sensitivity increases the risk of heart disease and makes it harder to lose fat.

Therefore, eating less before work-out helps remedy the problem. It results in the body discharging insulin less frequently which makes it easier to lose fat and improves blood flow to muscles.

3. Maintains Blood Pressure

As discussed earlier, exercise after eating can make you lethargic and can adversely affect your blood circulation. Besides, poor blood circulation can result in stomach discomfort.

However, exercising before eating helps in maintaining the blood pressure, regulating the blood flow level and preventing high blood pressure.

Consuming tits-bits of snacks before work-out is no big deal. In fact, they can be the energy boosters for the body. However, large meals before exercise can affect your whole body adversely. Therefore, it is important to time your meals accordingly. If you've just had food, try avoiding work-out for 2-3 hours. It will give your body the time to process the food and help you gain strength.


Contributor Bio - The blog is presented by Sharda Hospital. Sharda Hospital is one of the largest super specialty hospitals in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).  (Facebook Twitter)

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