Working Out On A Full Stomach? (Don’t!)

Let’s just say you were really taking dirty bulking seriously and you just ate so much you’re full. Should you be working out on a full stomach?

Well, the answer is no. First of all, you have a really high risk of throwing up. Secondly, you’re going to have a massive restriction of energy. Digestion takes up nearly 10% of your whole body’s energy. Furthermore, your body is going to release sleep hormones once that digestion is finished, so you’re going to crash at the gym.

But those aren’t the only reasons. Let’s cover them in-depth. And really cover why you should never be working out on a full stomach.

Naim Benjelloun from Pexels, working out on a full stomach isn't exactly the best thing to do...
Naim Benjelloun from Pexels, working out on a full stomach isn’t exactly the best thing to do…

Don’t Be Working Out On A Full Stomach, You’ll Puke

This should be the most expected one of everything on this list.

Don’t be working out on a full stomach, you’ll puke!

Especially if it’s a leg day, you’re done for. Try doing the 20 rep squat program or smolov squat program on a full stomach and see how far you get exactly. (Hint: after rep 5 you’re going to be running towards a trash can).

This is a big problem, obviously. Some people are able to keep working out after puking, but for most people, it’s impossible and will just ruin your workout.

And let’s not even cover how you’ll be nauseated the entire time.

You’ll Have No Energy From Your Body Digesting Food

Fun fact, digesting food takes about 10% of your body’s energy.

Does that seem like a low number to you? Hopefully not. But to put it in perspective, that means that if you’re squatting 250 lbs, you should be expecting to only squat 225 lbs instead.

Okay, sure, the math doesn’t always work out like that. But the point is, hitting your max personal record just won’t be an option with that missing energy.

Furthermore, you’ll be groggy throughout the entire gym set. That means you might fail more reps, lift less intensely, and just lift less overall. This is all a recipe for your muscles to not grow as well as you’d like them to.

You Might Even Pass Out!

When your energy and blood is being rerouted to your stomach to help digest food, that means less blood and energy for the rest of your body.

And when your brain doesn’t have a ton of blood, it likes to do this little thing where you pass out or go unconscious.

And let’s not even discuss what happens if you try to hit a new squat max or something. When you’re trying to use as much energy as possible with a large chunk of your blood trying to digest food, you might pass out with 300 lbs on your back.

Let’s just say you’ll fold like a lawn chair and you probably won’t be too happy if you don’t have a spotter or safety pins. (Seriously though, stop squatting without a spotter or safety pins, why risk dying to look cool?)

Acid Reflux Will Be Tough

How many times have you been down there repping out heavy squats breathing like your life depended on it?

At that moment, if anything breaks your concentration or breathing pattern, the results will be catastrophic. You’ll probably fail the lift.

The last thing you want while sitting in the hole of the squat is to feel the acid reflux hit. You have to stop everything you’re doing, tense up, feel the pain, and try not to throw up (even though you know you won’t).

Even worse is that if you have bad acid reflux (you’ll know who you are) it will just shut down your entire workout.

And even if you don’t have bad acid reflux, that constant acid reflux will be there to annoy you and break your concentration in the gym.

Personally for me when that acid reflux hits, it just sucks. I try to drink water to control it, but alas, it does nothing.

An Ab Workout On A Full Stomach? Not happening.

Yeah let me tell you, doing an ab workout on a full stomach just doesn’t work.

First of all, when you eat, you get what is called a ‘distended stomach’. Your stomach naturally grows to handle all the food you just put in it.

Furthermore, as the blood flows to your digestive areas to fuel the massive energy expenditure digestion is, everything around it swells up.

So what’s going to happen isn’t really pretty.

Your stomach is all flared out, there’s a ton of blood rushing to this area, doing an ab workout on a full stomach just isn’t the move.

First of all, you run the risk of throwing up or…worse…

But even if you don’t, you’ll feel incredibly lethargic and in some cases, it might even hurt to do the ab workouts.

For instance, let’s say you’re like 100% full to the brim and you try to do an ab workout. You might actually experience legitimate pain from doing it, and it will HURT.


I HATE cramping.

I used to run for 60 minutes everyday, and cramps were the bane of my exsistance.

Literally, as soon as I’d wake up, I’d drink some water and go out on a 60-minute straight run. That’s where I was messing up, I had no idea that water caused cramps. Albeit, I was drinking A LOT of water, but, I digress.

Regardless, nobody likes a cramp, and at times it makes it near impossible to even finish your workout or anything you’d want to do.

Sure, some can say that it’s doable. But what’s even the point? The amount of discomfort itself is enough to dissuade me from working out on a full stomach.

You’ll Get Incredibly Tired

When you eat and you get relaxed, your body enters a rest and digest state.

So let’s say you eat a big meal, you relax and watch TV for a little bit, this isn’t ideal for you heading to the gym soon.

Let’s say you weren’t going to the gym soon, that’d be perfect. In the rest and digest phase, your body regrows muscle, detoxifies the body, and builds the immune system.

But with it, it induces tons of sleep hormones and wants you to conserve energy while it does this.

This is NOT what you want to happen before you try and smash out a new bench PR at the gym. That’s basically how you fall asleep while benching, and that’s not that fun.

So What Should I Do?

Having a very small snack before the workout like a Chobani Flip or banana works well. I typically eat those 30-45 minutes before my workout so the digestion will be all done by then.

But in the event you ate a ton of food, just wait 1-2 hours before going to the gym. It’ll make your workout about 100x better, and you won’t end up throwing up everywhere or hurting yourself.

But if the gym closes soon? Sometimes it’s best to just take a rest day. Give your body some extra time to rebuild the muscle and hit the gym even harder tomorrow!

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