Eating, Exercise and Sleeping

About 6 weeks ago I started doing regular cardio exercise after dinner. (I know that a lot of people exercise before work but that just wouldn’t work for me.) We normally eat at 6 pm, and I usually hit the treadmill at 7 pm for at least two hours of fairly strenuous exercise. Since I have never worked out regularly before I have a few basic questions:

  1. I normally wait about 30 mins after eating a big meal before hitting the treadmill, but is it really necessary to wait? I think they debunked the “wait 30 mins after eating before going swimming” myth, but perhaps you are more likely to cramp up if you exercise immediately after eating, as opposed to waiting a while. What do the experts recommend?

  2. Let’s say you decide to get up from the table and walk straight over to the treadmill. Does your body process the food in your stomach any differently than if you had waited a few hours before exercising? In other words, if you’re exercising to lose weight does it make a difference if you exercise on a full or empty stomach?

  3. I sometime have a hard time falling to sleep if I exercise right before I go to bed. Is that normal? Could some chemical in my body, as a result of exercising, be keeping me awake? I would think I would be tired after exercising hard and that would make it easier for me to fall asleep, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Blood rushes to your digestive tract to - (surprise) - digest food. If you exercise right after you eat, then there is insufficient blood for either process, resulting in indigestion and lightheadedness.

Number three is adrenaline.

And you should wait and least 3 hours after a meal before strenuous exercise.

It is totally normal to have trouble sleeping if you exercise too close to bedtime.

I find if I “strenuously” exercise too close to eating I get nauseous.

No it’s not. Most people have trouble exercising after a big meal. This CAN cause problems and give you heart burn and such. But remember, just because it CAN cause you issues, doesn’t mean it MUST cause issues.

Just do what you want and if you find you’re having stomach distress, then adjust your wait time. It’s totally an individual thing, whether orn ot it will bother you. Just listen to your body.

Yes your body does process it differently, but not in such a way that you’d notice. In studies I’ve participated in, the amount of fat you burn is greater if you wait before you eat, but it’s MINUTE amounts. It wouldn’t even amount to a pound a week. Exercising is not a good way to lose weight. You really can’t lose more than 5 or, if you’re really lucky, 10 pounds through exercise alone. You simply cannot burn enough calories. For example, an hour of high intensity areobics burns about 300 calories. A candy bar is about 250 calories. You can see how it’s not much help.

I also have this issue. When I have a nice strenuous workout, I get reved up and have more issues falling asleep. But this doens’t happen to everyone. Some people drop right off after exercising.

Once again you will have to listen to your body and adjust it.

Here’s some quick rules to shoot for with cardio. You need to be shooting for a target of 65% to 85% of your theoretical maximum heart rate.

To find this, subtract your age from 220 (this is in theory as fast as a human heart can beat and still maintain blood flow, any faster and you’re in trouble). Then take 65% and 85% of that figure. You should be exercising to keep your pulse in that range.

For example

I am 45.

220 - 45 = 175

85% of 175 = 149
65% of 175 = 114

That means I should be exercising to keep my pulse in the range of 114 to 149. You need to do at least an hour per day. Five days per week.

You probably can’t do this right off. Don’t worry try your best and keep at it, it can take a year to get up to this rate if you’re not in good shape.

As for your original question, good work starting a program just keep at it and know that it’s BOREDOM that is going to be your biggest obstical to keeping at it. So change your routines often, use different machines, use music, books on tape, or whatever to keep interested.

Everyone is a little different so don’t worry about when to eat or when to sleep. Listen to your body, it’ll tell you what to do.

Thanks for the advice Markxxx.

For the past 6 weeks I have be watching DVDs while I am on my treadmill and that gets me through the sessions. As long has I have a movie to watch I am fine (thank goodness for Netflix!).

Because I am older than you, my target heart rate is somewhat lower, from 107 to 140, and I have no problem keeping it in that range for 1-2 hours at a stretch. The key for me was to setup a DVD player, having a cold water bottle, and having a fan that blows air in my face while I am working out. I tend to overheat after about 45 minutes and without the fan I will quickly fatigue.

So far I haven’t had any issues with lightheadedness or stomach aches so whatever I am doing must be working. According to my treadmill I am buring 800-1000 calories a session… and I’m not pushing myself as hard as I could be, so it feels like I am in a good zone. I find that resting every other day helps to keep my legs and feet from getting too sore.

I have also adjusted my diet by cutting a lot of the fat and empty calories I used to take in on a daily basis. I’m a real snacker and that can certainly work against me. I am losing about a pound a week, which was my goal. I’m hoping to build some habits that will last me a lifetime… only time will tell.

Here’s another idea, eat the “big” meal in the morning and eat a “light” meal in the evening on evenings when you exercise.


Workout first, then eat.

Oh, and add Hydration to the working out, eating, sleeping list.

And drink water during and after you exercise. There is probably enough water in the food you ate prior to exercise, so you don’t “have” to drink water prior to exercising to ensure proper hydration.

And stretching too, take a break every 45 minutes or so and stretch a bit, especially calves and hammies.

A related question for Marxx: What if you exceed the theoretical 85% of maximum heart rate for some portion of the exercising? Are you damaging yourself?

I like your exercise plan, Dolphinboy. I can see myself just walking on the treadmill watching tv in the evenings instead of sitting on the couch like a lump. When people talk about exercise routines, they always like to make it complicated with talk about target heart rates and getting into the aerobic zone and all that jazz, but the fact remains that doing anything is better than sitting on the couch like a lump.

You might try a warm bath or shower after exercising and before going to bed to counteract the energizing effects of the exercise (warm, not hot - hot will get you energized again).

Not to call you out specifically - but I see this a lot and I really disagree. First - my typical workout takes about 30 minutes and burns (based on multiple different calculators) just over 500 calories. Here’s just one example. Now - of course, it varies based on the type of workout you do. Obviously - peoples definition of strenuous varies - but I have a basic workout where I set a speed on the treadmill and run for distance. Based on this - calculating calories is very straightforward. And in my experience - burning an extra 500 calories in a 30-minute workout is definitely noticeable (assuming I don’t just replace them all by eating more). Now - if by workout, people mean just a stroll on the treadmill for an hour or 2, then sure. But if you’re running at 7.5 or 8 mph, then your typically burning about 130 calories per mile - and those definitely add up.