How Long Does Food Stay in Your Stomach

How Long Does Food Stay in your Stomach?

The average human being takes about 2 hours to eat a meal. If you are eating a big dinner, then you will have eaten enough food for at least 4 or 5 days. If you are not eating much, then it would take longer time before you could even think about having another meal.

You may wonder why do humans need such long period of time to eat their meals?

Humans don’t have digestive system like animals. Animals have digestive systems which allow them to consume food very quickly. They can digest food in less than half of the time that humans require.

Humans are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animal products (meat). Although there are many types of foods available, humans prefer meat over any other type of diet. Meat contains protein, vitamins, minerals and fats. Some studies show that meat consumption lowers risk of cancer and heart disease.

Eating meat helps protect against obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes.

Meat contains essential amino acids which are necessary for growth, development and repair of body tissues. Animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids needed for human metabolism. These essential amino acids are called “essential” because they cannot be manufactured by the human body and therefore must be obtained from the diet. Meat also contain cholesterol which is an essential component for maintaining healthy cell membranes and producing hormones.

We humans cannot eat just any kind of meat, because our bodies have no way to digest them. We can only digest meat that has already been chewed up or ground up in some way. If you have ever tried to eat a steak with the skin on it, then you know that it takes a long time to chew through. This is because skin and bones are not soft and gooey like fruits and vegetables.

How Long Does Food Stay in Your Stomach?

Food enters your mouth and is broken down by the saliva in your mouth. It then travels down the esophagus into the stomach through a muscular action called peristalsis. The stomach has strong acid and enzymes which break the food down so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Once the food is broken down, it enters the small intestine where most of the nutrients are absorbed into the blood stream. The leftover food is passed into the large intestine (or colon) where water is absorbed and then it is passed out as feces.

How Long Does It Take For Food to Be Digested and Pooped Out?

The time it takes for food to be digested and passed out as poop is different for different types of food.

Fruits and Veggies: It takes between 6 to 12 hours for the food to move through your digestive system.

Protein and fat: It takes between 30 minutes to 6 hours for the food to be broken down and moved through your digestive system.

Carbohydrates: It takes between 2 to 3 days for them to be broken down and moved through your digestive system.

Seeds and Nuts: The process of digestion is slowed down because the shell or skin of these foods are difficult for the body to break down.

How Long Does Food Take to Pass Through Your System?

The food that you eat takes about 12 to 24 hours before it passes through your entire digestive tract.

The small intestine and large intestine are both about 6 to 7 feet long. It takes time for the food to pass through them because they are winding and coiled around each other.

The large intestine is where water is absorbed from the feces. The colon does this by absorbing the water in the feces back into the body.

How Long Does it Take for Poop to Come Out?

The whole process of digestion takes about 12 to 24 hours, but the waste is stored in your rectum for a much shorter period of time.

When you are ready to poop, the nerves in your rectum tell your brain that it is time. The urge to go may come at an inconvenient time, but after several hours the poop is ready to be released.

When the muscles in the rectum relax, the poop is pushed out of the body along with feces. The poop is stored in your rectum for a much shorter period of time than the food in your small intestine.

What Else Affects How Long it Takes Food to Pass Through Your System?

How long it takes food to pass through your system can also be affected by certain medicines, sickness, age, and certain foods.

Medicines that can slow down the digestive process include:


Phenytoin (Dilantin)

Major tranquilizers

Antipsychotic drugs


Foods that can slow down the digestive process include:

High fat foods

Ice Cream

Other sugary foods that contain carbohydrates, like fruit

Seeds and nuts

Hard and crunchy foods that take more time to digest

Aging often causes a slower than normal digestive process. This is because the muscles and organs do not work as well as they did in your youth.

Pooping more than once a day can also be an indication that your digestive system is not working at its best. This could be caused by certain medical conditions or just getting older.

Conditions that can Cause You to Poop More Than Once a Day:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Celiac Disease

Gallbladder problems

Liver disease



Talking to a doctor is the best way to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical condition causing you to poop more than usual.

What if You Hold in Your Poop?

You know you have to go, but for whatever reason, you decide to hold it in. Maybe you are at work and don’t want to walk all the way to the restroom. Maybe you are at a baseball game and don’t want to leave your spot to go to the bathroom. Whatever the reason, holding in your poop can cause a lot of damage.

A seemingly harmless act can have major consequences if you hold your poop for too long.

Many people think that a bowel blockage is the worst thing that can happen if you don’t poop when you should, but this is not true. A bowel blockage is actually a fairly common and treatable condition that can be easily fixed by a doctor if caught in time.

A more serious condition that can develop from constipation is a fissure. A fissure is a torn section of the tissue that makes up your rectum. Fissures are very painful and can cause bleeding and infection of the tissue.

Rectal prolapse is one of the most severe conditions that can develop if you hold in your poop too often. Rectal prolapse occurs when the lining of the rectum slides outside the body. This is a true medical emergency that should be seen by a doctor right away.

How Can You Prevent These Conditions?

The best way to prevent all of these conditions from occurring is to not hold in your poop. Going when you have to go is much safer than holding it in.

Holding it in can cause your poop to become hard and dry. When this hard stool then passes through the rectum and eventually through the delicate tissue of the ano-rectal region, this can cause torn tissue and bleeding. This bleeding can turn into a full blown fissure if you don’t treat it right away with stool softeners and hydration.

Even if you don’t have any tearing of the tissue, if you are holding in your poop regularly, you are still much more likely to get a fissure or prolapse at some point. This is because when you hold in your poop, the soft mushy stool that should be passing through your rectum becomes dehydrated and compacted over time. When this hard stool finally is passed, it can tear the tissue.

Sources & references used in this article:

The passage of different food-stuffs from the stomach and through the small intestine by WB Cannon – … Journal of Physiology-Legacy Content, 1904 –

The movements of the stomach studied by means of the Rontgen rays by WB Cannon – … Journal of Physiology-Legacy Content, 1898 –

Abdominal chemo‐and mechanosensitivity in ruminants and its role in the control of food intake by JM Forbes, JP Barrio – Experimental Physiology: Translation …, 1992 – Wiley Online Library