How long does Food Stay in the Stomach?

On the first night, you had some chicken and vegetable salad. It was a satisfyingly light dinner; it was just enough. You woke up the next day with your tummy feeling empty. You wonder if your dinner was actually too light. On the second night, you decided to pig-out. You went to a buffet palace and definitely ate all the food that you can reach. You had roasted chicken, pizza, and pasta. You also had a taste of their freshest seafood; it was scrumptious. Of course, you also ate a piece from all the kinds of dessert that they have. Now tonight was one of those moments when you feel that you’ve eaten too much like you won’t get hungry again for the rest of the week.

You wake up the next day unexpectedly feeling like all the food you ate has left your stomach empty. Now you wonder why the amount of food does not seem to make any difference; you still get hungry after a few hours. It seems like it would take the same time for any food to make your stomach feel clear, drained, unfilled. How long does food stay in the stomach anyway?

A person’s stomach can expand to accommodate the food that we take in. It has a capacity or a limit of 1.5 litres. The stomach is a mechanical as well as chemical food processor that is very much needed by our body. It has sheets of muscle encircling about it. These sheets of muscle are responsible for churning the food you ate. As it churns and twists the food, the stomach’s lining secretes gastric juices that aid in the digestion of the food. The churning and secretion happening within your stomach will continue on until the food you ate resembles something like a thick soup; something which we call chyme. But how long does the food stay inside your stomach?

The length of stay of food inside the stomach differs from one person and food type to another. Starchy foods or those rich in carbohydrates and sugar can stay inside the stomach for up to 2 hours. Protein-rich food takes longer to digest; staying for at least 3 hours inside. And there are those that take such a short trip inside the stomach; as short as 30 minutes. Roughly, food stays in the stomach for about 2 to 4 hours. And basically, the length of stay depends on the consistency of food; not exactly the amount of food.

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