The whole point of a pre-workout meal is to give your body some readily accessible energy to push you through a grueling weight training session.
There are a few things this meal must have prior to lifting.
Lean Protein Source
First, you should have an easily digestible lean protein. One example of this is whey protein powder.
One example of what isn't an easily digestible protein is a fatty cut of meat like steak. Definitely don't have that before a workout.
You don't need a significant amount of protein. Keep the amount on the lower to moderate end so you don't get bloating issues in the middle of your workout.
Typically for most guys, 30-35 grams of whey protein will suffice.
Easily Processed Carbohydrates
Second, have an easily digesting carb ready.
Stay away from sugar, but get something that will digest quickly so that glucose is released into your blood stream by the time you're in the gym lifting weights.
A good example of an easily digestible carb source is cream of rice. For most people, it processes quickly and causes no digestion issues.
If you prefer another carb source, pick one that is clean and digests well.
The amount depends on whether you're cutting or bulking, and how much demand the body part you're training will require.
Choose the carb amount based on your needs, but don't have an excessive amount because that will cause discomfort during training.
The purpose of carbs in a pre-workout meal is to provide enough energy for your body to burn through when lifting heavy weights.
Small Serving Of Fats
Finally, have a small serving of fats. A good choice here would be a tablespoon of natural peanut butter.
The purpose of having a small serving of fats is to prolong the digestion of carbs and protein.
Fats are very dense, so they digest at a slow rate.
By mixing a carbohydrate and protein meal with some fats, you effectively slow the release of glucose into the blood stream during your workout, which allows your blood sugar to be stable throughout your lifting session and provides a steady flow of energy to your muscles.
Typically, what I like to do pre-workout is have half a cup of cream of rice along with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter and 1-1.5 scoops of whey protein.
The Importance Of The Rate Of Digestion With Your Food Choices
One thing that should be noted is the importance of the digestion rate of the food you are eating.
If you choose foods that digest slowly or take a long time to process, you won't be able to effectively time your glucose release into the blood stream with your workout, thus equating to less energy in the gym.
In addition, if you choose a food source that doesn't agree with your digestive system you may end up working out bloated and feeling like crap which is an extremely unpleasant experience.
Pick only foods you can process easily and that don't cause any gastrointestinal distress.