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How long does it takes to digest foods?

The speed at which food moves through the digestive tract depends on many factors.

When you're tucking into one of your favorite foods — perhaps a steaming bowl of ramen or spectacularly cheesy slice of pizza — you're probably not thinking about the journey each morsel is about to take through yoing on many factors.

Of course, what started out as a delectable meal will eventually end up at the bottom of a toilet bowl. But how long does it take to digest food, exactly?

The answer to this question is more complicated than you might think. Different types of foods are broken down and absorbed by the body at different rates, meaning some parts of the meal may be entering the large intestine when other parts are still in the stomach. It's also common for healthy people to digest food at slightly different rates, according to Colorado State University.

Scientists have conducted studies assessing "gut transit time," or how long it takes a substance to move through the whole digestive tract, using ingestible capsules that can be tracked throughout their journey. These studies suggest that it can take anywhere from 0.4 to 15.3 hours for food to leave the stomach, and from 3.3 to 7 hours for it to pass through the entire small intestine. The leftover, indigestible parts of food then enter the large intestine, where they may remain for approximately 15.9 to 28.9 hours, according to a review published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine in 2023.



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