Post-Meal Workout: Living in society, we are seriously busy, and often overloaded with many things. And in the endless whirlpool of events, problems and plans, we try to free up time for yoga and other positive practices. Therefore, the question often arises: how to combine physical activity and food intake? How long after a meal can you exercise?
I’ll make a reservation right away: there are no clear criteria here, since it all depends on what time of day you ate, what dishes were on your menu and in what quantity, as well as on your individual dosha constitution. Why do all these factors need attention?
- Times of Day. The digestive system works at different times with different intensities, so the rate of digestion of the same foods will differ in the morning, lunchtime and evening.
- Food. Its variety, quantity and method of preparation directly affect the speed of digestion and assimilation. It is also necessary to take into account such a concomitant factor as the speed of food absorption: even if soft fruits enter the stomach in the form of unchewed pieces, the digestion process in this case will be delayed.
- Dosha constitution. It is one of the key factors affecting digestion. A person with kapha dosha has a slow metabolism, therefore, digestion will go slower. Vata people digest food faster, but this directly depends on what they ate. And for the fiery pitta dosha, it is not difficult to digest food if they do not wash down their lunch with ice water.
Last Updated: October 3, 2022 (A few hours ago…)
Next, let’s consider what to rely on when answering the question: how long after a meal can you exercise?
Is it possible to practice immediately after eating
You can’t do it after eating. Why?
- First, in the nearest Down Dog, food will rush back. For many people, exercising on a full stomach can cause reflux, hiccups, or nausea.
- Secondly, the body after eating is tuned to the priority task – to digest food. For this, the blood flow in the stomach area increases, the energy activity in this area increases. That is why we feel heaviness and drowsiness after eating, which literally do not let us take action. And during practice, the energy should be directed to performing asanas, and not to digesting food.
- Thirdly, on an empty stomach it is more convenient to perform certain postures, for example, twisting, especially closed ones (Ardha Matsyendrasana). This applies to both backbends (Dhanurasana, Ushtrasana) and inverted asanas (Sarvangasana, Shirshasana). On an empty stomach, it is easier to achieve static retention of asanas and balance asanas.
- Fourthly, a lot depends on what kind of yogic practice you are going to do: asanas, pranayama, various kriyas (agnisara-kriya, nauli), whether you will perform bandhas, sit motionless in meditation or chant mantras. The intensity of the practice is of great importance: whether you are looking for a strength program or gentle relaxation.
How long after eating can you practice
Even if you have eaten one banana or apple, you need to wait at least twenty minutes for the stomach to cope with the task. After a light snack of fruit or a glass of juice, you can safely walk, sit in Vajrasana or lie down in Shavasana. By the way, in yoga there are asanas that improve digestion: Pavana muktasana, Jathara paravartanasana, Urdhva mukha svanasana, closed and open twists.
As mentioned above, the basic rule is to listen to your body and take into account the peculiarities of the individual constitution. When can I exercise after meals? If you want to do a concentration practice that involves a sitting position, you can start after a light lunch. Unless, of course, you are not sleepy. After an hour, you can perform simple pranayama without delay and intense inhalation and exhalation.
For pranayama with delays, you need to wait at least two hours. If you want to do asanas that involve bending, twisting, or putting pressure on your stomach, you will need at least three hours after eating. To practice kriyas that involve abdominal manipulation, you need to wait five to six hours after eating. Two hours after a light meal (fruits, berries, vegetables, lettuce).
Three to four hours after complex oily legumes or cereals with vegetables. When preparing food, remember to add spices to enhance agni – the digestive fire. Ayurveda recommends using cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, black pepper, asafoetida. With spices, food is absorbed better and tastes good. In addition, you will be able to avoid the gas formation that can occur when eating legumes.
How much food is digested (table)
Below is a sample table to help you navigate your food choices before practicing yoga. In each case, the indicators will depend on the factors that were listed above: on the amount, on the strength of digestion, and so on.
|Fruit juice, vegetable juice, vegetable broth||15-20 minutes|
|Orange, grapes, grapefruit||30 minutes.|
|Raw vegetables, vegetable salads without oil||30-40 minutes|
|Apples, pears, peaches, cherries||40 minutes|
|Boiled vegetables||40 minutes|
|Cabbage, corn||45 minutes|
|Turnips, radishes, carrots||45 minutes|
What you can eat before exercise
Try not to overload your stomach before you practice. Since the choice of products is purely personal in nature, you need to think over the menu in advance, taking into account the peculiarities of digestion, your preferences and the properties of the products themselves.
Simple carbs with little protein, fat, or fiber will keep you strong and energetic. This can be a banana or apple with nuts or peanut butter, whole wheat bread with avocado, or hummus with carrots. Smoothies made from fruits and berries will give energy and leave a feeling of lightness in the stomach.
If you are very hungry, look for foods that help in the production of the saturation hormone leptin, which regulates energy metabolism:
- apples (high pectin content prolongs the effect of the satiety hormone);
- flaxseed (omega-3 fats are slowly absorbed);
- avocado (fiber and monounsaturated fats take a long time to digest);
- legumes (leptin levels are increased by trypsin inhibitors);
- granular curd: casein protein is slowly absorbed.
This list includes hard cheese, natural thick yogurt, oatmeal, and water, which fills the stomach for a short while.
Before exercising, avoid foods that are slow to digest and may cause stomach upset or excessive gas production:
- spicy food with a lot of pepper
- fatty food
- fried foods such as fries
- sour foods, including oranges, tomatoes, and grapefruit
- artificial sweeteners, sugar, syrups
What to eat after class
A balanced, nutritious meal that includes carbohydrates, proteins and fats will help energize your body and keep your mind clear. This can be very important, especially if the workout took place after work, was intense, and you feel exhausted.
Eat a 3: 1 ratio of carbs to protein to help restore muscle tissue and restore energy levels.
Try these easy food combinations:
- Greek yogurt with fruits, nuts and muesli
- quinoa with vegetables, tofu, or legumes
- blueberry banana mint and greek yogurt smoothie
If the workout took place in the evening, you can limit yourself to a banana and an apple. This will prevent you from overloading your digestive tract or waking up hungry in the middle of the night.
When is it better to drink water
Now there are different opinions about the use of water, which sometimes contradict each other or even go beyond common sense. According to Ayurveda, thirst refers to a natural need, the suppression of which can lead to imbalance of doshas and subsequent diseases.
Therefore, it is most reasonable to adhere to the general rules:
- after waking up, drink 100-200 ml of water (this will start life processes, help emptying the intestines)
- drink when you are thirsty
- don’t drink more than you want, even if reputable authors insist on three liters of water a day
- do not drink cold water with food (this can suppress agni and slow down the digestion process)
- after training, drink water after 30-40 minutes (however, if you are thirsty when leaving the gym, listen to your body and have a drink)
As a rule, your body will tell you what it needs. It remains only to learn to hear it. The practice of yoga is precisely aimed at learning to find a balance between mind and body, to find inner peace and stability. If you follow this logic, it turns out that mindful and healthy eating is one of the components of yoga.
Even if you still take take-out food, chew on the go, or dine in front of the computer while an action movie is firing, don’t despair! First, take a look at your lunch: what does it consist of? Does it all fit together? How long will it take to digest? Such close observation will be the starting point of awareness, which will further help you to look at food in a completely different way and, without a doubt, will change your life.