In a 2023 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, participants, after their dinner, performed 3 minutes of simple exercises (chair squats, calf raises and standing leg raises) every 30 minutes for 4 hours.
And guess what happened? These simple exercises were all it took to reduce their postprandial blood glucose levels by 32% and their insulin response by 26%!
So, if you’ve been having questions such as “Can we do exercise after dinner?”, then the answer is “Yes!”. But you do have to consider a few factors, all of which we’ll get into later in this blog.
If you want the low-down on the best exercises after dinner for weight loss and digestion, how long you should wait after eating to work out, and some great tips for exercising after dinner, read on!
What happens if I exercise after dinner?
There are both pros and cons to exercising after dinner.
Benefits of exercising after dinner
Working out after dinner can be good for you provided you wait for a sufficient amount of time after eating (more on that below).
1. Improves Blood Sugar Regulation
Exercise after dinner can help improve insulin sensitivity, thus keeping your blood sugar levels in check.
2. Helps Lose Weight
Exercise after dinner, such as walking, can help you lose that tummy and stay fit.
3. Enhances Digestion
Both walking and yoga, when done after dinner are great for giving your digestive system a little push and to get rid of symptoms such as bloating.
Cons of exercising after dinner
1. Causes Digestive Symptoms
Exercising immediately after dinner can have quite a few unwanted side effects such as:
2. Reduces Performance
Ever felt wiped out after a heavy meal? This could happen due to 2 reasons:
- Blood flow is diverted to your digestive organs
- Small proteins and hormones are released that cause fatigue.
So, if you try to exercise right after dinner, your performance is going to take a hit.
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How long should you wait to exercise after dinner?
How long you need to wait to exercise after dinner depends on several factors such as:
1. What you eat
Foods that are rich in fat, fiber, and protein take longer to digest meaning you’ll have to wait longer before you can start exercising.
2. How much you eat
The larger the quantity of your meal, the longer it takes to digest and thus the longer the wait period between eating dinner and exercising.
3. Exercise type
The higher the intensity of the exercise, the longer you would have to wait to exercise after dinner. Since high-intensity exercises require a good amount of blood flow to your muscles, exercising too soon after a meal would divert the blood away from your digestive system thus causing gastrointestinal issues.
4. Individual factors
How long you should wait to exercise after dinner also depends on several other factors such as
- Age. The older you are, the slower your digestion will be.
- Gender. Women generally digest food slower than men.
- Pre-existing health conditions. People with digestive disorders such as GERD, IBS, etc. might digest their food slower or faster than others.
Considering that it takes around 2 to 4 hours (on average) for the food to pass from your stomach into your small intestine, here are some guidelines on waiting time between exercise and dinner, based on research from the International Society of Sports Nutrition:
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Type of food to eat if you want to exercise after dinner
For Exercise 30-60 Minutes After Dinner
If you plan on exercising 30-60 minutes after dinner, stick to a light snack to avoid any tummy troubles.
Cardio Exercise After Dinner
Planning for a sweaty cardio exercise after dinner? Then make sure your meal is high-carb, moderate-protein, and low-fat.
Examples of such foods include:
- Hummus with carrot sticks
- Rice cakes with cottage cheese
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Banana with low-fat yogurt
Strength-Training Exercise After Dinner
If you feel like pumping some iron after dinner, then choose foods that are high-protein, moderate-carbs, and low-fat such as:
- Boiled egg with whole-wheat toast
- Cottage cheese and veggie stir-fry
- Grilled chicken wrap (chicken breast wrapped in a whole-wheat roti along with lettuce and a low-fat dressing)
- Greek yogurt with berries and nuts
For Exercise 3-4 Hours After Dinner
If you intend to exercise 3-4 hours after dinner, say, a 60-minute, moderate-intensity workout session, plan for a well-balanced meal that contains
- Complex carbs. Brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, and lentils are all great choices to give you the required energy for your workouts.
- Protein. Lean meats, fish, and dairy are excellent protein sources that can fuel muscle growth and recovery.
- Healthy fats. These are present in nuts, fatty fish, and seeds and help sustain your energy levels for a longer period.
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What Exercises To Do After Dinner
#1 Exercise After Dinner - Walking
No prizes for guessing that walking is one of the best exercises after dinner!
Benefits Of Walking After Meals
1. Lowers Blood Glucose Levels
A study published in Diabetes Care shows that walking after dinner is extremely effective in lowering blood sugar levels for 24 hours. This study also shows that short 15-minute bouts of walking after every meal are an effective way to control postprandial hyperglycemia in older people.
Since your blood sugar levels start spiking between 1 to 1.5 hours after your meals, it is ideal to start walking as soon as possible after dinner.
2. Improves Digestion
Feeling bloated and gassy after a heavy meal? Go on a quick evening stroll!
Walking stimulates your stomach and intestine and helps food pass through your digestive system a lot faster, making it an excellent exercise after dinner for digestion.
3. Helps In Weight Loss
Science shows that walking right after dinner is a great way to shed those extra pounds. That isn’t surprising considering walking burns quite a few calories. For instance, a 155 lb person can burn around 270 calories while walking at a pace of 5.6 kmph!
So, if you’ve been looking for the best exercise after dinner to reduce your tummy or the best after-dinner exercise for weight loss, now you know what it is!
4. Can Help You Sleep Better
Finding it hard to get your zzzz’s at night? Walking after dinner is a great way to unwind and sleep better at night.
#2 Exercise After Dinner - Yoga
Another awesome post-dinner fitness activity? Yoga!
Benefits Of Doing Yoga After Dinner
1. Enhanced Digestion
Yoga is a surefire way to speed up the digestion process as it promotes relaxation and stretches your abdominal area.
Poses including twists and forward bends can aid in the movement of food through the digestive system and also reduce bloating.
2. Lowers Stress
Feeling stressed after a long day at work? A few yoga poses are all it takes to keep the stress and tension at bay.
3. Better Sleep
All that deep breathing you do when you practice yoga triggers your parasympathetic nervous system a.k.a. the “rest and digest" response. This in turn gets your body into a Zen state making it easier to drift off into a more restful sleep at night.
Best Yoga Poses To Do After Dinner
1. Balasana (Child Pose)
Great for: Stretching your hips and back, boosting digestion, and lowering stress.
2. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)
Great for: Easing digestion, reducing stress, and encouraging better sleep.
3. Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose)
Great for: Supplying fresh blood flow to the central nervous system, relieving headaches, and promoting deep sleep.
4. Supta Badha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Great for: Lowering your blood pressure, providing relief from insomnia and heartburn, and relaxing your abdominal muscles.
5. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bent Pose)
Great for: Stretching the back muscles, speeding up digestion, and getting rid of bloating and constipation.
6. Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Great for: Relieving stiffness in your shoulders and neck, stretching your spine and stomach muscles, and improving digestion.
Tips For Doing Yoga After Dinner
- Don’t hit the yoga mat immediately after dinner. Wait for around 30 minutes after eating.
- Avoid yoga poses that involve inversions and deep twists and ones that put excess pressure on your abdomen. Stick to gentle yoga poses after dinner such as the ones listed above.
#3 Exercise After Dinner – Strength Training
One of the best post-dinner fitness activities you can do is some light strength training. All you need is a light pair of dumbbells or a set of resistance bands.
Benefits Of Strength Training Exercises After Dinner
1. Aids Digestion
Light strength training exercises can help enhance digestion by improving blood flow to the digestive organs which in turn improves nutrient absorption.
2. Muscle Maintenance
Light strength training after dinner can help maintain muscle mass and strength.
3. Boosts Metabolism
Lifting light weights can slightly elevate your metabolism making it a great after-dinner exercise for weight loss.
4. Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Lifting weights can improve insulin sensitivity, thus helping your body manage blood sugar levels more effectively after a meal.
5. Can Keep Your Triglycerides In Check
In a 2013 study, participants walked 2 km and then did light resistance exercises such as squats, shoulder presses, push-ups, bicep curls, etc., after their meal. It was seen that their triglyceride concentrations were reduced by 72%.
Best Strength Training Exercises To Do After Dinner
Great for: Boosting your flexibility, mobility, and balance, and improving knee stability.
Great for: Activating your glutes and hamstrings, improving your balance, coordination, and stability.
3. Bicep Curls
Great for: Strengthening your biceps and improving your arm functionality
4. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Great for: Improving your upper body strength, especially in your shoulders, upper back, triceps, and chest.
5. Tricep Extensions
Great for: Strengthening your triceps and enhancing your upper body function.
Tips For Doing Strength Training Exercises After Dinner
- Wait for an hour or so after dinner before you pick up those weights to avoid discomfort.
- Stick to light weights. Lifting too heavy after dinner can jack up your heart rate and body temperature, thus messing up your bedtime.
There you have it – the scoop on exercising after dinner. We hope you now understand that you can exercise after dinner provided you choose the right type of exercise and wait for the required time after eating.
Remember to listen to your body and only do those exercises that you can comfortably do after eating a meal.
Happy exercising and bon appétit!