How long does it take to digest ramen noodles?

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You may have heard someone claim that it takes a long time for the body to digest ramen noodles. But is it true, and how long does it ACTUALLY take?

It’s debatable how long it takes to digest ramen noodles, as it depends on your body and whether the noodles are homemade or instant. Homemade noodles are digested faster, and take approximately 2 hours for your body to digest, while instant ramen can take several hours longer.

As you can see, it isn’t true that it takes many weeks to digest instant noodles, which some myths may have had you believe. So let’s look more closely at why that is.

How long does it take to digest ramen noodles?

But it may take a couple of hours longer than what would be considered “normal” for how fast your body can digest, for example, homemade ramen noodles.

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Digesting homemade vs. instant ramen noodles

Homemade ramen is digested faster because it contains fewer preservatives, making it easier for the body to digest.

Because instant ramen is full of preservatives they remain much longer in your stomach to be broken down.

The length of the digestive process will affect nutrient absorption and how healthy (or unhealthy) the noodles are, but I’ll get into that in just a moment.

Instant noodles contain TBHQ (tertiary-butylhydroquinone), propylene glycol, vegetable oil, BPA, and corn syrup. All these ingredients make it harder for the body to digest the noodles quickly.

It isn’t the ramen noodles that take longer to digest, but the process used to make noodles. Homemade noodles are digested much faster for this reason.

Studies found that while fresh noodles were already broken down into a smaller mass after 2 hours, instant ramen remained larger due to the body’s effort to break through the preservatives.

Also read: Can I eat ramen noodle soup while pregnant?

The digestive process

Studies have shown how the body breaks down ramen noodles, and most found that homemade ramen noodles and noodles with fewer preservatives were digested reasonably fast.

This goes against the common misconception that all noodles digest slowly, as 2 hours is considered more or less normal.

However, instant noodles with preservatives, go through the digestive tract much slower.

It was observed that the stomach had to work much harder, using a process that appeared to move the noodles around in the stomach multiple times. This causes more stomach issues.

Instant noodles force the body to work harder to digest because it needs to break through the preservatives before it can start proper digestion.

Types of noodles

Another thing that affects the digestive process is the type of noodles you’re eating, and I’m not just talking about homemade ramen and instant noodles.

Ramen and other Japanese noodles can be made of wheat flour, buckwheat, wheat, and konjac yam; some take longer than others to break down.

Nutritional value of ramen

Perhaps you’re wondering if it’s still okay to eat your favorite ramen noodles several days a week. Well, it can be! The Japanese certainly eat a lot of ramen.

Ramen noodles aren’t necessarily bad for you or are harmful, but they also aren’t very nutritious.

If you’re a big fan of ramen noodles, then it’s recommended that you mix in some protein and vegetables to make it a complete meal.

Cons of eating instant ramen

The main problem with instant noodles is that it’s more difficult for the body to process, which leaves them lying around in the stomach for a longer period.

The struggle could lead to digestive issues like indigestion, constipation, and bloating.

Another problem is that when food stays in your stomach longer, it harms your nutritional intake.

Even if homemade and instant noodles contain more or less the same ingredients, your body will still benefit more from those with fewer preservatives and a shorter digestive time.

It takes less time to digest ramen than you think

It’s hard to set an exact time for how long it takes to digest ramen noodles, as it depends on several factors.

If the ramen is homemade, you can almost count on the time being around 2 hours, based on the lack of preservatives.

Instant noodles, however, are less predictable. It depends on what they’re made of, how full of preservatives they are, and whether you have any sensitivities or allergies.

What you can count on is that it’ll take around 2 hours to digest noodles, but not days or weeks, as you may have been previously led to believe.

Here’s another ramen hoax revealed: Are ramen noodles made of plastic and can they give you cancer?

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.