What to Eat Before a Workout

Coach Amy, ACE, CNA, NESTA

Amy Mouw is a certified lifestyle and weight management coach, nutrition consultant and is certified as a personal trainer by the American Council on Exercise and the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association. She’s also a life coach and has more than 10 years of experience in the health and wellness industry. As a wife and mom of four kiddos ages 1-17, Amy specializes in helping moms regain their confidence so they can be the best version of themselves while better serving their families.

Do you pregame before your workouts?

An excellent pre-workout routine is a vital component to be able to kick some serious booty in the gym. I lay my gym clothes laid out. Then, I pick the best sneakers for the job. And I make sure I can listen to my favorite workout jams.

No matter your pre-workout routine, your body must have fuel. Maybe you forget to eat beforehand. Or perhaps you don’t know what the best pre-workout food options are. Regardless of the reason, working out on an empty stomach is a mistake. Failing to fuel your body correctly prevents you from giving the best performance. 

Additionally, failing to fuel and supplement your body correctly before a workout hinders your post-workout recovery.

Why Are Pre-Workout Meals Important?

When starting my own personal fitness transformation, I would rarely eat before a workout. Instead, I convinced myself that having a belly full of food would be counterproductive or would slow me down.

I didn’t understand that good nutrition and proper fueling before my workouts would help my body. Maintaining a high level of nutrients in your body makes it perform better. It makes you perform better during exercise and helps your body recover faster.  

What’s more, working out on an empty stomach regularly can actually cause muscle loss.

And those are just the performance benefits. If you’re after a sexy, toned look, then knowing what to eat before a workout is also essential. Know what to eat will help you fire up your pre-workout ritual.

What to Eat Before a WorkoutPre-workout meal

Pre-workout routines should include a well-balanced meal or snack–and depending on goals–proper supplementation.

When planning a pre-workout meal, a balance of macronutrients is important. Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Each one of these macros can provide different benefits, however.

When choosing what foods to eat before a workout you will want to stick to a combination of protein and carbohydrates. Like carbohydrates, fats serve the body as an essential source of energy, but they digest more slowly than carbohydrates.

This means that the energy you get from consuming a high-fat, pre-workout meal typically won’t be useful for your workout. Instead, it can be stored as fat on the body. Below I’ll help break down the benefits of combining proteins and carbohydrates pre-workout, timing when to eat, and how to put it all together.


If your goal is trying to stay lean while building muscle, lead the way with lean protein!

Did you know that in order to build muscle, you have to tear it first? Resistance training actually causes small tears in our muscle tissue, but don’t fret – this is where adequate protein intake comes to the rescue. Protein supplies amino acids to the body, which is essential to the building, maintenance, and repair of muscle fibers.

One of the most important amino acids, Leucine, is critical in starting a process called protein synthesis. This process helps your muscles rebuild and get stronger. Can you say #gains??

Check out the list below for some awesome lean protein options to add into your pre-workout meal:

  • Lean ground beef or turkey (93/7 or leaner)
  • Chicken or turkey breast
  • Whitefish such as cod, tuna, or tilapia
  • Legumes such as chickpeas or black beans
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Greek yogurt
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Protein powder such as LadyBossⓇ Lean


Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and are an essential addition to your pre-workout meal.

Whether you’re planning a calorie-torching HIIT session or resistance training, eating the right amount of carbs before your workout will help ensure that your energy doesn’t fizzle out when you need it most. There are two types of carbohydrates: complex and simple carbs.

When choosing your pre-workout meal, it’s important to note that each type of carbohydrate will have a different impact on your performance.

The main difference between simple and complex carbohydrates is that simple carbohydrates are digest quickly. And, simple carbs release energy fast and convert to fat fast too. 

On the other hand, your body digests complex carbohydrates slowly giving it sustained energy for longer periods of time. 

Complex carbs are typically foods that are higher in fiber and starch and rich in nutrients. Some examples include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oats
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa

Simple carbs are typically higher in sugar and contain very little nutritional value, think white bread, pastries, chocolate, and milk. Fruits are the exception to the rule, as they contain natural sugars and are high in vitamins and minerals. Simple carbs from fruit such as a banana or apple will provide a quick burst of energy and are the best simple carbohydrate to eat pre-workout.

What to eat before workout


While choosing whole food options is always the best way to help your body prepare for a workout and aid in recovery after, the use of supplementation can–you guessed it–supplement your results. The LadyBossⓇ Transformation System contains everything you need to help you pregame your workouts and speed up recovery after. 

  • LadyBossⓇ Lean: If you are typically working out on an empty stomach because you don’t want something heavy before exercising, LadyBossⓇ Lean shake mix is the perfect solution. It’s an awesome source of protein that is also packed with ALL of your daily nutrients that will help fill you up without bogging you down.
  • LadyBoss ⓇFuel: This pre-workout is specially formulated for women and gives you clean energy for your workouts without the jitters.
  • A post-workout drink, LadyBossⓇ Recover contains amino and electrolyte blends designed to help increase endurance, reduce occasional muscle soreness, enhance muscle recovery, and support lean muscle tissue
  • LadyBossⓇ Burn: This premium fat loss support blend gives you that extra edge to help you crush your weight loss goals.
  • A non-habit forming sleep optimization formula that helps you get the rest you need, LadyBossⓇ Rest supports your health and weight loss goals.

Is Timing Everything?

As the old saying goes, timing is everything. But not everything is always black and white.

There are, however, some general guidelines to follow when planning your pre-workout meal. The ideal time to eat is 30 minutes to 3 hours before your workout. If you’ve eaten a larger meal combination of both protein and carbs, you will want to wait 2-3 hours before exercising to allow the meal to properly digest.

If you prefer a smaller meal, focus on a simple carbohydrate, as mentioned above, 30-60 minutes prior to your workout. Everyone is different, and you may need to experiment with different combinations and timeframes to see what works best for you.

If you’re someone who typically likes working out on an empty stomach, this may be a difficult adjustment, but the performance benefits and workout recovery will be so worth it!

The Power of H20

Hydration is key to overall health.

Being properly hydrated has been shown to help boost metabolism aiding in greater fat loss, helps aid in digestion, and can help improve joint and muscle health. While a big, cold bottle of water can feel heaven-sent during an intense workout, it’s important to stay hydrated all day long.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the color of your urine is the best way to determine your hydration level. Straw or pale lemonade colored urine indicates optimal hydration, but if your urine is dark-colored similar to apple juice it’s time to fill up that water bottle and get sipping ASAP!

Just like nutrient timing, there is no one size fits all solutions when it comes to daily water intake, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for half of your body weight in ounces and not to exceed a gallon per day.

How Long Should You Wait to Workout After Eating?

Your post-workout meal is just as important as your pre-workout meal.

While eating before your workout provides you with the energy needed to slay your workouts, your post-workout meal is essential for setting up the recovery process and regulating blood sugars.

If you’ve had a particularly intense workout, aim to refuel with a balance of protein and carbs right away to help restore the energy exerted during your workout.

If you are unable to eat a full meal right away, a LadyBossⓇ Lean shake is the perfect balance of protein, vitamins, and minerals to keep you fueled until you’re able to eat a well-balanced meal a couple of hours later. 

Each Body Is Unique

In conclusion, it’s important to keep in mind that these pre and post-workout recommendations are guidelines, since each body is different and will have individual needs and preferences. You are encouraged to play around with different meal combinations and nutrient timing to see what works best for your particular needs.

If you find you need more direction when it comes to structuring your meals around your workouts, get a coach! Bottom line, it’s important to keep your body hydrated and fueled both before and after workouts.


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