Pre-Workout Foods: What to Eat for Lunch before a Workout

Sep 27, 2021

Did you know that eating certain foods before a workout can help you perform better in the gym and drive better results? Not only that some pre-workout foods can fuel your body, but they can also help you recover faster after a workout.

That’s why paying attention to what you eat before hitting the gym is important. Proper pre-workout nutrition will ensure you get through your workout without feeling lethargic from too little or sluggish from too much.

So, here’s what the ideal pre-workout lunch should consist of and some great ideas to consider.

What Should I Eat for Lunch before a Workout?

Getting the right nutrients before exercise will fuel your body to maximize your efforts. Even though the nutritional requirements vary from person to person, three macronutrients have an important role before a workout.

So, your lunch before a workout should consist of:

  • Carbs – for fuel for short- and high-intensity bouts of exercise
  • Protein – for better athletic performance, muscle growth, increased lean body mass and strength, improved muscle recovery and muscle performance
  • Fat – for fuel for longer and low-to-moderate intensity exercise

Below are a few examples of perfect pre-workout meals as well as some general foods and snacks that will boost your performance at the gym when you’re not able to get a full lunch before you exercise.

6 Pre-Workout Meals

The perfect pre-workout lunch contains all three macronutrients listed above – carbs, protein, and fat. But, timing is also important, so try to eat your lunch two to three hours before you exercise.

Here are our top picks for pre-workout meals:

1. Chicken, Rice, and Steamed Veggies

This classic meal is a great option before your workout. It’s healthy, it’s delicious, and it has proteins, fats, and carbs. The fiber in vegetables will further improve your digestion. You can use potatoes instead of rice, so it’s really up to your preference.

You can use chicken breasts or thighs, but dark meat is better if you want more of the good fat that will help you avoid getting hungry during your exercise. Consume a lunch like this two to three hours before you exercise.

2. Pasta with Marinara and Grass-Fed Beef

Grass-fed beef aids in muscle growth and post-workout recovery. It’s the healthier alternative to grain-fed beef and it’s loaded with protein, iron, and omega-3s.
Pasta, on the other hand, will provide you with the necessary carbs that will fuel your muscles. You can make mushroom marinara to add even more proteins to your pre-workout lunch.

3. Scrambled Eggs, Avocado, and Veggies

Eggs are an amazing source of high-quality protein that increases muscle growth and recovery. There are plenty of different ways to prepare eggs and include them in your diet, and one of them is to make scrambled eggs with vegetables of your choice.

The addition of avocado makes the whole meal even healthier and more suitable for eating before a workout. The reason for that is the high levels of good fats. But, moderation is the key, so remember not to add too much avocado in your pre-workout meal as overdoing it can cause stomach cramps.

4. Whole-Grain Toast, Almond or Peanut Butter, and Banana


Bananas are rich in simple carbs, potassium, and natural sugars. Carbs are necessary for fueling your body, while potassium for preventing muscle cramps. Since sweating can cause potassium loss, adding bananas to your meals before a workout can prevent them from happening.

The whole-grain toast provides complex carbs that are good for blood sugar control, and the almond or peanut butter provides healthy fats.

All these benefits make this food combination a fantastic pre-workout meal.

5. Oatmeal, Blueberries, and Protein Powder

Oatmeal contains complex carbs that your body breaks down slowly. This results in more sustained energy. If you add a scoop of protein powder you will further enhance the nutrition of your meal.

Blueberries or other berries like cherries and raspberries will give an antioxidant boost to your meal. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage and exercise-induced inflammation. Plus, they are super delicious.

6. Stir-Fried Tofu with Rice and Vegetables

This delicious meal is a great pre-workout meal for vegetarians and vegans. Tofu is loaded with phytonutrients which help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation caused by exercise. Also, it’s rich in plant-based proteins so it helps build muscle.
Rice is an incredible grain source of protein while being low in fat. It’s also rich in carbs, so it’s a must ingredient in your pre-workout lunch.

Pre-Workout Foods and Snacks

If you’re not able to eat any of these lunches two to three hours before your workout, consider consuming some of the following foods or snacks:

  • Fruit and Greek yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Dried fruit such as dried berries, figs, apricots, and pineapple
  • Trail mix
  • A slice of whole-grain bread
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Apple wedges with peanut butter
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Protein shake

Try to consume these one hour before your workout.


Eating the right foods and meals before you exercise can help you smash your fitness potential. The ideal pre-workout lunch contains proteins, fats, and carbs. Even if you don’t have time for a whole lunch, try to eat certain foods and snacks that will prepare your body for a workout and maximize your results.

Article Posted In: Workout Lunch

Tags: workout, lunch for work out

Milena Popova

Milena is an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in writing articles on her favorite topics - food and health. In her free time, she loves trying out new recipes, reading, listening to music, and walking in nature.

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