How long does it take to pass food?

In this brief study, we will answer the question, “how long does it take to pass food?” and will also address the process of digestion. Moreover, we will talk about the effect of food composition on digestion.

How long does it take to pass food?

Individuals digest at different rates, and this is true for both men and women. Approximately six to eight hours after eating, food passes via your stomach and small intestine to reach your small intestine. This is followed by food entering into the large intestine (colon) for additional digestion, water absorption, and, ultimately, excretion of any remaining undigested food. Approximately 36 hours occur between when food is consumed and when it is eliminated from the body. The time span from the time food is consumed and the time it exits the body in the form of feces varies from two to five days, depending on an individual’s metabolism.

50% of stomach contents emptied2.5 to 3 hours
Total emptying of the stomach4 to 5 hours
50% emptying of the small intestine2.5 to 3 hours
Transit through the colon30 to 40 hours

Be aware that these are just rough estimations of typical transit durations, and that there is considerable variation between people, and even within the same individual, at various times and after different meals.

Process of Digestion

As soon as food reaches your stomach, the following events occur:

  • The upper part of your stomach relaxes to make room for the food you’ve just consumed. The reason your stomach may feel bloated after eating is because of this.
  •  Regular churning and grinding movements, as well as stomach acid and enzymes, help to break down food in your stomach (chemical digestion).
  • The pyloric sphincter is a muscular valve that allows tiny quantities of food to pass from the stomach into the small intestine gradually and efficiently.
  • After leaving the stomach, food passes through the intestines in the following ways:
  • A mixture of extra digestive fluids and food is formed in the small intestine. This is where the majority of nutrient absorption takes place. Food may stay in your small intestine for two to six hours after it has been consumed.
  • The large intestine (colon) is responsible for the absorption of water and the transformation of waste from digestion into feces. It takes about 36 hours for food waste items to pass through your big intestine.
  • It may take food anything from two to five days to go through the whole GI system.

Is it possible that certain meals pass through your stomach more slowly than others?

The composition of your food may have a significant impact on how quickly it passes through your stomach.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important food-related variables that may have an impact on how quickly your stomach empties.


Liquids pass through your stomach rapidly in most circumstances. Using the above example, after 10 minutes, you will only have approximately half a glass of water remaining in your stomach.

A longer transit time through your stomach is caused by the need to break down solid meals more thoroughly and to make them more liquid. It typically takes between 20 and 30 minutes for solid meals to begin to pass through the stomach.

The number of calories consumed

No matter how consistent the meal or drink is, meals and beverages with a lower calorie content tend to pass through your stomach more quickly. Foods and beverages with a higher caloric content will take longer to prepare.

A higher calorie beverage, such as a glass of fruit juice or a milkshake, takes longer to exit the stomach, although water does so quickly.

It is a good source of nutrients

Carbohydrate and protein-rich meals and drinks are more readily digested in the stomach and exit the stomach more quickly as a result of their ease of digestion. Meals that are rich in fat and fiber, on the other hand, take longer to break down. As a consequence, high-fat or high-fiber meals may help you feel satisfied for a longer time.


The amount of food you consume may have an impact on how quickly it exits your stomach. This seems to be true for both liquids and solids, at least in theory. It’s important to note that large meals often require a length of time before stomach emptying may commence. However, after the lag phase has gone, bigger meals are consumed more quickly than smaller meals.


In this brief study, we answered the question, “how long does it take to pass food?” and also addressed the process of digestion. Moreover, we talked about the effect of food composition on digestion.


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