Pre-Workout Meal Nutrition Explained

Pre-workout nutrition is a key piece to achieving your health and fitness goals. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle or a little of both, you need to fuel your body properly to power through your workouts.

Think of your body as a car – if you have nothing in the tank, you will not get very far.  The same holds true with your body – with no food (fuel) you may get through your workouts, but not optimally.

The type of food and the amount of food you consume is a very important factor, which will play a major role in your Brazil Butt Lift results or your results from any other exercise program for that matter.

Pre-Workout Timing

Your pre-workout meal should be eaten 1-2 hours prior to your workout. If you eat too close to your workout, your body will be using energy to digest the food you have just eaten instead of excess fat stores, and you also run the risk of upsetting your stomach during your workout.

Macronutrients for your Pre-Workout Nutrition

My Pre-Workout MealWe have three nutrients we want to concentrate on when considering our pre-workout nutrition: protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

Carbohydrates: Carbs provide the body with energy, however, you want to make sure to consume slow-digesting complex carbohydrates in your pre-workout meal. Complex carbs will help reduce muscle glycogen depletion during your workout, which will give you more energy to complete your workout with everything you’ve got. Examples of good complex carbohydrates to have pre-workout are sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, or whole grains.

Protein: We also want to make sure to consume lean protein pre-workout. Protein that comes from lean sources include white fish, turkey, chicken, lean beef, and egg whites. The protein in your pre-workout meal is what will help reduce the amount of muscle tissue breakdown during your workout and lead to lessened amounts of muscle soreness.

Fat: I am a big believer in the benefits of healthy fats, but pre-workout is one time I do not recommend them. Fat is very slow digesting, and if you eat too much prior to training, your workout performance can suffer, as well as your stomach. Try to limit the amount of fat you eat during your pre-workout meal as much as possible.

Calculating Your Meal Size:

Optimally, it would be best to get about 70% of your calories from complex carbohydrates and 30% of your calories should come from protein – fat percentage should be negligible.

The total amount calories you need to eat is not set in stone. If you are eating your pre-workout meal 2 hours before your workout, you can eat more calories, say 300-400 calories. If you are eating a meal 60 minutes prior to your exercise, reduce the amount of total calories to 200-300.

Pre-workout meal size will also depend a lot on you. Some people will find a 500 calories pre-workout meal gives them lots of energy, while another person might feel groggy for several hours after consuming 500 calories so something closer to 200 is more realistic. It really depends on how quickly your body is able to process and digest foods, which greatly varies from person to person. For example, I get indigestion if I eat more than 300 calories an hour and a half before working out and try doing heavy cardio, so I try to aim for 300 calories two hours before working out. This is why I strongly suggest playing around with your pre-workout meal size to find out what works best for you.

7 Pre-Workout Meal/Snack Ideas


Sample Meal 1: 3 oz. chicken breast with half a sweet potato sprinkled with cinnamon

Sample Meal 2: 1/2 c. whole oats with 15-20g whey protein powder

Sample Meal 3:  1-2 hard boiled eggs with 2 slices of whole wheat toast

Sample Meal 4: 2/3 can of tuna mixed with fat-free mayo, tomato, celery, bean sprouts, onions, spinach, or lettuce on a whole wheat pita (salsa is also a nice treat to mix with tuna)

Sample Meal 5: 1 serving chocolate Shakeology mixed with 8 oz almond milk

Sample Meal 6: 1/2 turkey breast on whole wheat wrap with lettuce/spinach, tomato, and spicy mustard

Sample Meal 7: high protein cereal like Kashi Go Lean


A lot of people don’t take pre-workout nutrition as seriously as they should. If you get tired halfway through your workouts or just don’t feel like working out because you don’t have enough energy, take look out your what you’re eating prior to your workouts and see if there is something that could be cause for concern.

As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I am also looking for pre-workout meal ideas for my own diet, so if you have any yummy ideas, please share!


  1. Eva May 6, 2013 Reply
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