Why does my heart race after eating?

Updated April 17, 2017

A raised heartbeat can occur after eating, especially if the meal was particularly heavy or contained stimulants like caffeine or sugar. There are several reasons for this and your heartbeat should return to normal when your food has been digested. However, if you experience a racing heart after eating, or at other times of the day, it is important to consult your physician for further advice.


A racing heart after eating should be easy to identify. To distinguish between a fast heartbeat and a racing heart, try and measure your pulse. You can do this by placing the first and second fingers of one had over the inside wrist of the opposite hand, about two inches below the palm. Use a stop watch or clock to time the number of beats per minute. If your pulse is slightly raised there is likely no cause for concern; however, if your heart rate registers over 100 beats per minute, seek advice from a doctor.


If your heart rate is 100 beats per minute or over, this is called tachycardia. As the Mayo Clinic explains, someone who experiences tachycardia might be at an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks or disruption to normal heart function. Therefore, if you notice an increased heart rate at rest after eating, it is important to find the cause.


An increased heart rate after eating can be caused by an increase in circulation to aid digestion. Certain foods, such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol can also cause the heart rate to rise, says Dr. Andrew Weil on his medical website, Other possible causes include hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar. According to Life Extension, this occurs when the body produces too much insulin in response to meals.


Dr. Andrew Weil recommends cutting out substances you think might be causing the increase in heart rate. These include alcohol and caffeine. As well as recommending slow, deep breathing to help lower your heart rate if a future episode of tachycardia occurs, he also suggests taking magnesium supplements. Eating smaller portions more regularly throughout the day and ensuring you are getting a healthy diet might also help.


In addition to food, there are a number of other factors that could cause tachycardia. These include a lack of sleep, smoking, damage to the heart tissue and an overactive thyroid, according to the Mayo Clinic. Tachycardia can be a benign condition, but it could also signify an underlying health problem. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor if you experience a racing heart after eating on a regular basis.

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