The Best Pre-Workout Meals for Muscle Gain Feature

The Best Pre-Workout Meals for Muscle Gain

There is a lot of focus nowadays on pre-workout supplementation. In fact, a billion-dollar industry has been built around the topic. While it’s true that fueling your body with the right nutrients to perform is essential before heading to the gym, taking a pre-workout is not necessarily the most important factor.

The whole food meal that you consume in the hours before you head off to your workout could be more important. In this article, we provide you with our ten best pre-workout meals for muscle gain.

Our Favorite Muscle Gain Pre Workout:

Egg omelet with wholemeal toast

Our favorite pre-workout meal for muscle gain is the one that I personally have been using for a number of years. I train at 10 am, so I will have this meal at about 7:45. That provides me with a good two hours for the nutrients to digest and start working within my body.

I love this particular pre-workout meal for muscle gain because it provides me with between 20 and 30 grams of the most bioavailable protein source on the planet, that being egg protein. The addition of the wholemeal toast provides me with the carbohydrates that my body needs to convert to glycogen which is the main energy source for my workout. 

The Best Pre Workout Meals within 2 Hours of Training:

1. Egg omelet with wholemeal toast

Egg Omelet With Wholemeal Toast

This egg omelet includes 3- 4 whole eggs, sliced cheese, tomato, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. The whole-wheat toast is sprayed with avocado. I like to use flaxseed oil in the pan when cooking the omelet. This type of oil is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is great for overall health and muscle repair post-workout. 

2. Rolled oats with walnuts and banana

Rolled Oats With Walnuts And Banana

My second favorite pre-workout meal is the traditional breakfast rolled oats. They provide an excellent, clean source of carbs to fuel you for the coming workout. Be careful however to purchase plain, unflavored rolled oats that do not contain sugar or other additives.

I take my bowl of rolled oats with a handful of chopped-up walnuts, a sprinkling of cinnamon, and another sprinkling of whey protein powder. This ensures that I get between 20 and 30 grams of protein along with my 50 grams of carbs per meal. Because I am lactose intolerant, I will also use almond milk. Finally, I add a chopped banana to the bowl. 

3. Grilled chicken with sweet potato and broccoli

Grilled Chicken With Sweet Potato And Broccoli

Lean chicken meat is one of your best sources of protein prior to your workout. If you’ve got time to cook your food in the oven, then this meal will provide you worth a great mix of the carbs and protein that you need to fuel your coming workout. Use a 6-8 ounce serving of skinless chicken, baked in the oven along with a large sweet potato, and about a handful of broccoli. Broccoli is a great source of both carbs and protein, along with fiber. 

4. Whole wheat sandwich with fruit

Whole Wheat Sandwich With Fruit

if you are working out in the afternoon, your pre-workout meal will be around lunchtime. Having a large whole wheat sandwich that is filled with a lean protein and some carbs will do the job nicely. The protein source that you add between the pieces of bread could be anything from tuna, to ham, turkey, or chicken meat. Add in some cheese slices along with lettuce, tomato, beetroot, and cucumber.  

Follow your sandwich up with a piece of fruit such as a banana, apple, or orange. 

 5. Subway Foot Long

Subway Foot Long

There are times when you are going to be out and about a couple of hours before your workout. That’s when you’ve got to decide on the best choices for your pre-workout meal. We definitely recommend heading to your nearest Subway restaurant.

A footlong Subway on whole wheat bread with any type of chicken and all the fillings will provide you with close to the ideal macronutrient ratio that you need to fuel yourself for a great workout two hours down the track. My personal favorite is BBQ Chicken! 

The Best Pre Workout Meals Within 1 Hour Of Training:

The closer you get to your workout, the simpler your meal must become. That’s because your body needs time to digest the food and you don’t want it to be doing so when you are training. The following five simple meal options are for when you do not have the circumstances to get in a meal two hours before your training. 

6. Greek yogurt and fruit

Greek Yogurt And Fruit

Yogurt provides a good source of protein, along with probiotics. Sticking with a plain Greek yogurt will ensure that you avoid the sugars, additives, and artificial flavorings that are contained in other yogurts. Combine your yogurt with a banana to get the carbs that you need. 

Also Read:   The Best Pre-Workouts for Crossfit

7. Protein shake

Protein Shake

Your pre-workout protein shake should contain around a 50/50 blend of protein and carbohydrates, giving you about 30 grams of each. The protein should be whey isolate and the carbs should be in the form of fast-digesting simple maltose or dextrose. You can throw in a banana for extra cab content. 

8. Fruit and nuts

Fruit And Nuts

If you are within a half-hour of heading to the gym, grabbing a decent handful of walnuts, almonds or cashews will provide you with the protein content that you need to put you into an anabolic state during your workout. With your other hand grab an ever-faithful banana and you’ll have the fast-acting carbs to complement that protein. This meal will be digested and absorbed quickly so as not to interfere with your training. 

9. Protein Bar

Protein Bar

Another option if you have less than 30 minutes before the workout begins, is to eat a protein bar. However, you want the protein bar to also contain a decent amount of carbs in order to fuel your glycogen stores. Look for a bar that provides you with around 25 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbohydrates. 

10. Apple with peanut butter

Apple With Peanut Butter

This is another option if your time schedule is tight. The combination of an apple and peanut butter will provide you with a mix of carbs and protein that you need when you walk onto the gym floor.

An apple is a nutritional powerhouse that will provide the carbs to resupply your glycogen stores during training. Cut up the apple into slices and smear each slice with a decent coating of peanut butter to supply the protein you need. You may be surprised at how tasty this mixture is. 


What should the macronutrient ratio of my pre-workout meal be? 

You want your pre-workout meal to provide you with plenty of carbohydrates for glycogen. This is the body’s main form of energy for performing high intensity, short-duration exercises like weight training. Taking in fast-digesting carbs to be converted to glycogen will also improve carbohydrate oxidation during the exercise.  

You should also have a good amount of lean protein to provide your muscles with the amino acids that it needs to perform. A number of studies have shown that taking around 20 grams of quality protein before a workout will increase protein synthesis in the muscle cell. Taking protein before the workout will also increase muscular strength and create a greater anabolic environment. 

Your macro ratio for your pre-workout meal should be around 50% carbs 40% protein and 10% fat. 

How long before the workout should I have my pre-workout meal? 

Ideally, you should have your pre workout meal two hours before you head to the gym. This will provide enough time for the nutrients to be absorbed and go to work within your system. It will also avoid stomach discomfort or bloating that may result if you have your meal too close to the workout.  

What if I can’t have a meal 2 hours before my workout? 

Sometimes it isn’t practical to eat your pre-workout meal 2 hours before training. This will certainly be the case you exercised first thing in the morning. The general rule to follow is the closer you are to your workout, the simpler the meal should be.

If you are within 30 minutes of training, simply eat a banana with a handful of nuts. This will provide you with close to the ideal ratio of carbohydrates and protein and will be easy for the body to absorb. 


Having a quality pre-workout meal a couple of hours before you head off to the gym is one of the most important factors in getting in a great workout. In this article, we’ve provided you with ten very effective, yet simple pre-workout meals that will provide you with just the right amount of carbs and protein to supply your body with the energy and power that it needs.  

We suggest that you cycle through these pre-workout meals over a period of a few weeks. Analyze how much energy, drinks, and vitality you have in the workout after each meal. Use that information to help you narrow down to your two or three favorite pre-workout meals. Then stick with these as your go-to pre-workout meals going forward. 

This article was last updated on December 13, 2022 .

Written by
Steve Theunissen

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