Best Pre-Workout Meal Based On Timing

blog-icon By Posted on November 28, 2016

Unless you are made of a different material than rest of us humans you already know that getting the right type of meal and nutrients before you hit the gym can have a significant effect on your performance. Being able to go through your workout with intensity, while being able to handle the volume will eventually lead to better results.

But, what to eat and when to eat it is a topic for a lot of articles and debate. But here at Fitness Deal News, we try to keep it simple.  In this article, we will give you practical and easy to apply tips on which foods are the best to eat before a workout and how to maximize your performance in the gym afterward.

How to choose a meal or snack before a workout?

Before we jump into the actual meals, first and foremost, you should take into account the time you have leading to your workout. There are a few simple rules you should follow. the more time you have before your workout, the more food you’ll need to eat and in addition, the type of food will need to be such that will ‘absorb’ in your body in a way that will make sure it’s available for you during your workout.

To keep it simple, we’ve set 3 meal timing windows to fit your meal before you hit the gym

  • 30-60 minutes
  • 1-2 hours
  • 2-3 hours

So let’s dive right into the different options you should consider depending on which timing window you fall into.

30-60 minutes before the lift

30-60 minutes before the lift

Having merely 30-60 minutes before your workout means that you should consume something that is simple and can be quickly and easily digested in your body and convert to available energy. Carbohydrates are the main energy source of our body and are actually the only source that can consume and be available in a short period of time. Therefore we ought to focus on carb intake if we want to have more energy during the workout. Yet not all carbohydrates are created equal, and actually, this is one of the only cases where going towards a ‘simple carb’ source of food is recommended. You want something that will be converted to energy immediately because you know you are going to use it. Also, because you don’t have a lot of time, you want to take something that will not make you feel ‘heavy’, So, we want something that hard hitting and light. Here are the best snack suggestions for this period of time:

An apple with a banana Smoothie (or just take it as is..)

  • 150-200gr. Apple
  • 100-150gr. Banana
  • Milk

Bread with honey

  • sliced bread (brown, whole grain)
  • of honey on the top of each slice
  • Can be mixed with unsweetened juice

Protein bar with an energy drink

  • A protein bar (most protein bars will have at least 20g and sometimes more grams of carbohydrates)
  • Energy drink loaded with carbs (Gatorade for example)

Quark (Cottage Cheese) with Fruit

  • of quark/cottage cheese
  • 150-200gr. of fresh fruit (apple, strawberries etc)

To summarize – think small, condensed and satisfying.


1-2 hours before the lift

Depending on the type of ingredients in your meal, having 1-2 hours before hitting the gym is marginally enough time for your body to digest the food you’ve taken in. So you are going to have more options here. Those are the best meal suggestions for this timeframe:


Oats with low-fat yogurt

  • Oats
  • 150-200gr. Low-fat yoghurt
  • 25 gr. Honey

Chicken wrap

  • Chicken (Fillet, Breast)
  • Whole grain wrap
  • Vegetables (Asparagus, cucumber, tomatoes etc)

Protein pancakes

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 banana (100-120gr)
  • Protein powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Oats

Protein shake, Banana, and honey

  • One protein shake (1 scoop of protein)
  • One banana (100-120gr.)
  • 20-30gr. Honey

As you can see, not only did the ingredients change, but also the quantities went up. This is needed to make sure that by the time you get to the actual workout, you are still energized and strong during the exercise. In this case as in the first, be careful to not binge and overeat. Consuming more calories than you need will only lead to unwanted setbacks and negative effects.

2-3 hours before the lift

Two or three hours is more than enough for our body to digest the macro & micronutrients we’ve taken in. On the downside, you have lots of time before your workout so you want to make sure you eat food that takes its time to digest and will provide you with the energy when you need it. Our main suggestions for this specific window:

Chicken with rice

  • of chicken fillet/breast
  • of rice
  • Unsweetened juice

Rice and eggs

  • 5 egg whites
  • 3 egg yolks
  • of rice
  • of vegetables (peas, asperges, cucumber, carrots)

Tuna, bread, and carrots

  • One can of tuna
  • 100-120gr. of whole grain bread
  • One/Two carrots

Oatmeal and protein powder

  • 120-150gr. of oatmeal
  • 25-35gr. of protein
  • 150-200gr. of low-fat yogurt
  • of honey


As we mentioned at the top of the article, this time frame demands higher caloric intake. You must provide the needed calories to your body if you want it to be able to handle the stress you’re going to put it under in the next 2-3 hours. Pay attention to the ingredients of each food and drink a lot of water during the time leading to the workout to help with digestion.


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