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Are Your Pre Workout Meals Worked Out?

by Lumen Editorial & Reviewed by: Mia Dige, Metabolic Coach · April 18, 2023 · 4 minute read
preworkout meals

Pre Workout Meals o you know if you're fueled up before your workout?

Have you ever wondered why some days you are excited about working out while other days, you feel lethargic and hardly have the energy to do anything? Maybe you're training and need that extra push of endurance.  

The thing is, it's not just a lack of motivation, but it's your body's way of telling you it needs a boost of energy to get you going. And what you need is the fuel of proper nutrients.

Having the proper nutrition before exercising has a significant impact on your body’s metabolism, energy levels, and overall workout performance. As a result, you will feel revitalized and be able to maximize your workout and build a healthier and more flexible metabolism.

Knowing your current metabolic rate will help inform decisions around your workout schedule and workouts. To understand whether you are fueling up right for your metabolism, take this 30-second quiz.

pre workout foodmetabolism quiz for health

In this article, our Lumen metabolic coaches cover the importance and impact of pre-workout nutrition on your metabolism and introduce essential tips for optimal nutrition before you exercise.

Introduction to Pre Workout Meals

Pre-workout meals are food and nutrients your body requires to provide the energy and fuel it needs to power through your workout. Whether planning a strength training session or a high-intensity interval training session, your body needs the right amount of energy to properly use before and after your workout. A recent study (1) suggests that consuming the right pre-nutrition significantly improves physical performance and endurance. Once you start implementing small daily habits, like measuring your metabolism before a workout and eating the appropriate amount of food before your workout routine, you'll get better results.

"If you’re like me, you always want to know what’s the best fuel for a workout, and that’s where Lumen can help."
Niko Algieri, Personal Trainer

The Impact Behind Pre Workout Meals

Pre-workout meals are beneficial to your health as well as your physical activity. Whether you focus on athletic performance or have a workout routine, the right nutrients are essential for faster recovery and better overall performance. Also, pre-workout meals optimize metabolism, enhancing performance and reducing fat oxidation (2).

“I’ve been using Lumen for fitness goals to see how my body adapts to different things. I’ve trained better by dialing in my nutrition and how much carbs I needed to fuel that effort.”
Angus Logan, UK

There are many other health benefits to pre-workout meals that include:

  • Improved Endurance: Consuming a nutritious snack or meal before exercising can help you to stay energized for a longer period, particularly when working out at a high intensity.
  • Improved Muscle Recovery and Muscle Building: Since muscles are broken down during a workout, you must consume enough protein and carbohydrates to repair the tissue. This way, you avoid muscle damage, and it can heal and build properly.
  • Increased Metabolic Rate: Eating before a workout increases your metabolic rate, which helps burn more calories during your workout and extends throughout the day.
  • Helping Regulate Blood Sugar Levels: Consuming slow-absorption carbohydrates provides a steady source of energy that helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Can Improve Mental Focus: You can improve your mental focus by being alert, improving your memory, and concentrating on your workout.

Since macronutrients are primarily made up of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, they are crucial for creating and storing the energy necessary for physical activity.

To achieve the best results regarding workouts and metabolism, you need to integrate macronutrients with easily digestible, nutrient-dense foods that provide the right balance.

best pre workout meal

The Best Foods for Pre-Workout Meals

Now that you understand pre-workout meals and their importance - let’s discuss some of the best foods to consume before your workout.

Our Lumen experts recommend you incorporate macros along with other nutrient-rich foods. Still, it's best to eat a carb-rich snack that is easily digestible, such as fruits - like a banana, greek yogurt with berries, oatmeal with low-fat milk, or an apple and peanut butter you can use the simple carbohydrates which provide energy before your workout. You'll notice there is a combination of protein and carbs. Carbs are the fuel for your workout, protein will help rebuild and repair your muscles.

"For those medium to high intensity workouts, your body will be converting glycogen into glucose for fuel. So before a workout is a great time to fuel up and eat a healthy carb, like a banana, for energy."
Mia Dige, Metabolic Coach & Personal Trainer

If you cannot make a full meal before your workout, blend your favorite veggies and fruits and add a protein like yogurt, milk, nuts, or nut butter. Remember that your nutrition needs are going to be different depending on your body type, weight, and dietary needs, but it's best to experiment at the beginning to see what works for you. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. 

Timing Your Pre-Workout Meal or Snack

Timing your meals and snacks will vary depending on the workout you're planning to do. The last thing you want to do is overeat and feel full and uncomfortable before starting your workout. You must give your body enough time to digest and absorb your food before working out.

Here are some guidelines our Lumen experts recommend:

  • For light-intensity workouts, you can consume your snack about 30 minutes before working out is better. This will allow your body to fully digest it properly, and you can prevent bloating and discomfort during your exercise.
  • Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 4 hours pre-workout, depending on how your body tolerates food. Use bio feedback to experiment and see the best time frame for your body.
  • If you're a competitive athlete, familiarize yourself with Lumen measurements on your training days, not during game days. This will give you enough time to understand your body, so that you do not feel uncomfortable or bloated during your exercise.These times are only recommendations.

Olivia, a nutritional therapy practitioner, and a Lumen user, shared her experience on pre-workout fueling. "I've been using it [Lumen] before working out to see if I need to have a little snack before working out. I blew a 3, so I was ready to work out without any extra fuel. She added, "It's been telling me if I'm burning fat or carbs and if I need to fuel up before a workout with some carbs." 
eating before gym

Remember that your digestive and metabolism pattern is different, and you will need to experiment, measure, and pay attention to what works best for you. It's also good practice that you monitor how you are feeling during your workout. If you feel bloated and uncomfortable, take note of this feeling and adjust snacks and mealtimes. Balancing your digestion, energy levels, and metabolism, is important to get the best results.

Pre-Workout Nutrition for Specific Goals

Your pre-workout nutrition will vary depending on what your fitness goals are. If you are working toward weight loss, you should be focused on a caloric deficit and we’d recommend eating a lower-caloric snack high in carbs and low in calories. You want to ensure that you are breaking down muscle in your workout, but you need the right fuel to sustain and burn fast. It would also be advantageous to add more leafy green vegetables high in fiber to keep you full longer.

optimum nutrition pre workout

If you are looking to gain muscle, we recommend intaking more calories by snacking on foods with more protein and carbohydrates. This combination provides the energy your body demands to support muscle growth and muscle recovery. Snacks like nuts, seeds, yogurt, or whole-grain bread do the trick.

If your goal is endurance training, your nutritional needs will be different. Our Lumen experts suggest you consume a large pre-workout meal high in carbohydrates and low in fats to ensure your body has the right amount of glycogen for a prolonged workout. Carbohydrates are known to break down and take longer to digest. Hence you want your body to start with a full tank to keep you energized.

"Consuming healthy macros is important, but don't forget to stay hydrated before a workout. Dehydration can impede physical and mental performance!"
Mia Dige, Metabolic Coach & Personal Trainer


Your pre-workout nutrition will ultimately dictate how effectively your body operates before and after your workout. Pre-workout nutrition significantly impacts your energy levels and your body’s metabolism, which you need during physical activity. To get the desired results, you need to incorporate the right nutrients, such as macros like protein, fats, and carbohydrates, to maintain optimal metabolism.

You’ll need to track what food sources and combinations are best for your body and fitness goals. Also, take into consideration the times you are eating before your workout. You want to avoid feeling unconformable or sluggish during exercise. It's important to get the energy and fuel your body needs to power your workouts.

By understanding the science behind pre-workout nutrition and incorporating these tips, you’ll achieve your health and fitness goals in no time. Though it may take some patience, trial, and error, learn to take on the right mindset and create a lifestyle to become a healthier and happier you.


  1. Industry Presented Blog: What to Eat Before and After a Workout. American College of Sports Medicine. Accessed 5/24/2021.
  2. Kotopoulea-Nikolaidi M, Watkins E, Giannopoulou I. Effects of High Carbohydrate vs. High Protein Pre-exercise Feedings on Psychophysiological Responses to High Intensity Interval Exercise in Overweight Perimenopausal Women. Frontiers in Nutrition Effects of High Carbohydrate vs. High Protein Pre-exercise Feedings on Psychophysiological Responses to High Intensity Interval Exercise in Overweight Perimenopausal Women - PMC. 2018;5:141.
  3. Ormsbee MJ, Bach CW, Baur DA. Pre-exercise nutrition: the role of macronutrients, modified starches and supplements on metabolism and endurance performance. Nutrients. 2014 Apr 29;6(5):1782-808. doi: 10.3390/nu6051782. PMID: 24787031; PMCID: PMC4042570.
  4. Rothschild JA, Kilding AE, Plews AJ. What Should I Eat before Exercise? Pre-Exercise Nutrition and the Response to Endurance Exercise: Current Prospective and Future Directions. Nutrients. 2020;(11):3473.
  5. Tokmakidis SP, Karamanol IA. Effects of carbohydrate ingestion 15 min before exercise on endurance running capacity. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2008;33(3):441-9
lumen metabolic health coach

Lumen Editorial & Reviewed by: Mia Dige, Metabolic Coach

Mia is a Women’s Health Specialist and a Personal Trainer. She has a genuine passion for supporting and empowering people on their journeys to better health and happiness. Mia is currently a Metabolic Coach and Events Host at Lumen, regularly hosting talks with field experts on a variety of health topics. Mia has a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology with Evolutionary Psychology & a Master’s degree in International Health.