How Long Should You Wait to Run After Eating?

How Long Should You Wait to Run After Eating

There are many runners out there who are always asking this same question – how long should you wait to run after eating? This is a very valid question as most of us are working and there is limited time to squeeze in all the things that we want to do. This is especially true for workouts or running where time is precious.

As a general rule of thumb, how long should you wait to run after eating will depend on the portion of food you ate and also your own digestive system. Wait for at least an hour after a small snack, two to three hours after a small meal and three to four hours after a large meal (more than 600 calories).

The main reason why we need to wait to run after eating is so that our body can properly digest the food and absorb the nutrients from our meals. Digestion is a huge process which requires our body to ‘work’ using massive energy. During this process, more blood flow is being directed to our stomach and internal organs which explain why we are always feeling sleepy after a heavy meal because there is less blood to the brain. Therefore, if we choose to run too soon after our meals, there are not enough blood in our muscles to optimize the benefits of the run.

A very common issue that runners face running after a meal is that they simply do not feel comfortable at all. This is because our body is not suited to do both digestion and exercise at the same time. People who do not heed this advice often find themselves suffering from stomach cramps, stomach aches or other intestinal problems. Doing this in the long run(no pun intended) may harm your body more than you know.

For runners who like to run in the morning, it could have been more than ten hours since your last meal. Exercising on an empty stomach is a big no-no as well because your body may lack the nutrients to sustain throughout a more intense workout. In this case, most experts also agree that you should fuel your body with small snacks at least one hour before your morning run. A simple protein smoothie or Greek yogurt will suffice in the morning.

Although the above may apply to everyday runners like you and I. There are endurance athletes who are trained to eat and run at the same time. This is because these athletes compete in marathon distance and must ingest some nutrition during the race itself. Despite so, you will never see these athletes eating heavy meals while running as well.

All in all, how long should you wait to run after eating? For all except morning runners, it is best to run at least three to four hours after eating, especially if you are going for a long distance or more intense run.

Cheers and Start Running Today


23 Comment

  1. Hi Will, I always run in the early morning because it fits in best with my lifestyle, but I never eat anything before run in the morning as I don’t feel like it.

    I usually just have a half a glass of water and that’s all and I’m ready to go for my run, I run for about 7 km’s, three days a week and this suits me fine.

    I certainly don’t feel like eating anything before my jog and I’ve never had any ill effects and I get through my workouts alright as I feel like my evening meal the night before gives me enough energy for my run the following morning.

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Adrian

      Wow, that is good to hear, I believe everyone’s body functions differently. Sometimes, I also go for my morning runs with just a glass of water.

  2. Shane says: Reply

    Thanks for the advice, hadn’t really thought about the why’s before, but it all makes good sense, I am probably a bit naughty as I always go for a morning run before eating


    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Shane

      Hahaha, yes that makes 2 of us.

  3. So I read this post and it got me thinking about this 5K we have in our town…it’s called the Krispy Kreme run (not sure if they do them in different cities). You basically run 2.5K, then you have to eat a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (they are basically sugar spun air) and then you immediately run the remaining 2.5K. I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess what happens…:)

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Teresa

      Wow, imagine all the sugar rush that you get from the dozen donuts! I did some research on it, it looks a charity run for a good case, cheers!

  4. Hi Will,

    I love your quote “sore legs are temporary, quitting is permanent”! I do get sore legs after my 10km run, I’m really not a runner but I always have to participate in runs – I just don’t know why. I find it helpful to drink a glass of cold water right before I run in the morning or late afternoon. The heat just kills me, really makes me feel like I’m burning up! Great info here – thanks!

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Jen

      10 km is very good, I can’t even hit that distance as of now, I am working hard on it! I don’t drink cold water, but I do find that a glass of water helps me greatly before my morning runs.

  5. Eddie says: Reply

    Hi Will,
    Some good advice here. Although I have stopped running due to a disability It used to be a great hobby of mine. I used to run at least five times a week. The other two days I felt lethargic and de energised.
    I didn’t pay a lot of attention to diet and advice back in the day because there wasn’t a lot of it about. Everything seems to be a bit more technical nowadays. My motto was always eat wise and exercise,
    That said if I had access to this sort of information when I was younger I would have taken it on board as I wanted to be the best and fittest I could be back then.
    My two daughters run regularly and are always asking about the best methods and nutrition etc… I will be passing your site details on to them.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Eddie

      Thank you for visiting my site, I appreciate it a lot. Thank you for sharing with my readers the advice you had on diet etc. Hope you are feeling better and keeping healthy with some form of exercise. See you back here soon again!

  6. Billie says: Reply

    I am not a runner, but found the information very useful. It does make a lot of sense as to why we get sleepy after eating. I had never given it a lot of thought. My husband is always he got “fat and nappy” after meals. Yeah, great to know why now! I loved your quote as well! Very nice site and great info!

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Billie

      Thank you for the lovely feedback. You should try and become a runner if you do not do other forms of exercises. It is easy to pick up! I am a beginner runner as well that started only a couple of months back.

  7. While I’m not into running, I do train martial arts. It’s always a struggle getting the best time to eat before training. I’ve tried training on a full stomach and almost vomited there and then. And if I train when I’m starving, I could have fainted if I were to go all out. Getting the meal at the right time is vita.

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Kenny

      Yah, I totally feel you buddy. Training on a full/empty stomach sucks, it is very important to get the timing right to enjoy an effective workout.

  8. Chiqui says: Reply

    I’m not a very morning person (lol) so I usually run in the late afternoons before having dinner, but this is also useful to know as I’ve actually wondered about this before! I’ve never tried running after eating just because I was scared I would be doing it wrong, so it’s good to know the approximate amount of time now. I’ll try switching up my schedule when I have a busy day and keep this in mind, so I can run more consistently. Thanks for the helpful info!

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Chiqui

      High Five! I am also not a morning person, but I am working hard to wake up early for morning runs. You should try morning runs as well because it really perks you up for the rest of the day!

  9. Andrea says: Reply

    Great post Will! And some very useful information here.
    Some people say that running on an empty stomach and/or when you’re hungry actually makes for more effective and faster weight loss. What are your thoughts about that?

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Andrea

      A lot of people actually runs on an empty stomach and they swear by it. My advice is it is fine to run 3km without food, any distance longer than that and you should eat something beforehand as your body cannot function properly with that level of workout.

  10. Nicole says: Reply

    I never knew you had to wait so long after eating to run! I usually only wait around an hour after a meal before I go exercise. It’s never bothered me before, but then again I’m not eating big calorie rich meals before too. Do you have any recommendations for good snacks to eat before a work out if people (me!) find it hard to not eat for 3-4 hours?

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Nicole

      Keep it light with like a banana and peanut butter or some yogurt with granola. Otherwise, you can try a small banana and milk with a small amount of oats.

  11. Jed says: Reply

    Hey Will, although I am not a runner but the information you provided is definitely useful. My son is always in rush to go to play outside after finishing his supper. Thank you for letting us know about the time to wait after eating and the reason to wait. It all makes sense. Thanks for your great post

    1. Will says: Reply

      Hi Jed

      Yes, any form of exercise right after eating is not good for your body. Please tell your son to be patient, take time and properly digest his food before runs or workout. Thank you for dropping by!

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