If you're eating with the right macro ratios 24/7, chances are whatever you would naturally eat before the gym will suffice. However, if you're like most of us, your lunch is probably a little too carb heavy. Carbs are important to fuel you through the workout, but you can't consume them at the expense of protein.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to get about as much protein for this meal as you would from a shake, but drinking 3 or 4 shakes a day is no fun. Change up how you get it. Add some extra lean-protein to your meal and shoot for 20 grams.
Additionally, make sure those carbs are complex. No Wonder Bread. There's a time and place for simple carbs, but your meal should be rich in whole grains like quinoa. Plus, better grains tend to add a little bit of protein to the mix. If you're someone who struggles to hit that 20-gram mark, swapping pasta for quinoa, or even just changing the bread, can make all the difference.
Lastly, timing for this meal is important. If you work a 9 to 5 job, you eat lunch at 12, but don't hit the gym until 6. That's no good. Your pre workout meal needs to be eaten around 2 hours before, or else you'll have burned through too much of your stores. And no, overeating at noon won't help.
The biggest obstacle here is that most jobs won't let you take a second lunch break. If eating at your desk isn't an option, look into a suitable meal replacement shake. Some of these might be a little two low on carbs, so choose wisely. While we wouldn't recommend replacing a REAL meal with a shake, a 200 calorie shake with balanced macros is a great option for cramming in an extra one.