How long does it take the stomach to digest food?

Digestion is the process by which we can get to our body, the nutrients that contain the food we eat. However, how long does it take the stomach to digest the food we eat? Well, although the process is longer than imagined, in the stomach itself we can establish the approximate times.

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Digestion in the stomach

The digestion is carried out in each portion of our digestive tract, from the mouth and then up in the intestine, although the process of disintegrating ingested food continues. However, most of this important process takes place in the stomach.

In the stomach, both the nerves and the motility and the action of different peptides and enzymes help to break down food and then obtain the nutrients that must pass into the bloodstream.

Thus, this process keeps the stomach full and occupied until once the gastric emptying is allowed for the bolus to pass into the intestine.

The time in which the stomach remains occupied and with food, demand of blood flow to the area, as well as, we will feel for the distension of the same, satiety. It is therefore useful to know how long it takes the stomach to digest food.

Gastric emptying times

As we have said, until the stomach does not complete its work with food, it does not pass it to the next portion of the digestive system, that is, gastric emptying does not occur, which depends not only on the function of the stomach, but also on the stomach. the nutritional composition, the acidity and osmolarity of the food consumed.

Thus, it is thought that the average gastric emptying times for different foods are …

  • Liquid food : less than 2 hours.
  • Foods with a predominance of carbohydrates: less than 2 hours.
  • Foods with a predominance of proteins : between 2 and 4 hours.
  • Food with a predominance of fats : more than 4 hours.

As we can see, fats are the nutrient that most delays the digestive process, while liquid foods or hydrates, pass quickly through the stomach.

However, food does not have the same action when the nutrients are mixed and reach the stomach together, so when the diet is varied and mixed, for example, in the case of a complete meal, the time of gastric emptying is between 4 to 6 hours.

Conclusion, the time that our stomach remains busy after a varied meal is between 4 to 6 hours.

How to apply this data in our favor

Knowing how long it takes the stomach to empty, to digest the food consumed, are valuable data that we can use to our advantage, either to prevent stomach upsets, or to feel lighter if we need to run or perform physical activity after an intake, as well as , if we want to feel full for longer.

For example, if we want to avoid stomach heaviness, especially if we are victims of slow digestion, it is convenient to restrict fats in our meals.

While if we want to make a meal a couple of hours before facing a sports competition, it is convenient that there are no fluids or hydrates, but we should not abuse the fats that will significantly delay the digestive process, which may affect our performance and performance.

Of course, it is also clear that if we eat only liquids, that is, a cup of coffee or another infusion, our stomach will quickly empty and we will feel hungry in a short time, leaving our body without energy to face the day’s activities.

So, if we want to feel full, the best thing is a varied meal, with appropriate amounts of each nutrient.

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