Generally speaking, you’ll want to have a mixed meal that includes a protein and a carb 2-3 hours before your workout. This will help your energy levels, preserve muscle mass and also help with recovery. Most of us don’t need to get fancy with what we eat, just focus on food quality and what makes you feel best before, during and after training.
How much you eat and exactly how long you eat before your workout will depend on each individual, as well as what type of training you’ll be doing. If it’s a few hours before your training, you may just have a regular meal (lean protein, carbs, veggies and a fat). For example, if you eat lunch at 2pm and train at 5pm, you may not need anything between lunch and your training session. If you eat an hour before your workout then you may opt for a smaller meal, or a protein shake if you are pressed for time (and you know this won’t bother your stomach). In addition, some people who train early in the morning may feel best on an empty stomach and then plan to enjoy a healthy breakfast afterwards. Others may opt to eat a small meal before early morning training.
If you are new to exercise or new to exercising at a certain time, then it may take some trial and error to see what works best for you. Pay attention to how you feel during and after your workouts, adjust as needed and keep it simple with real food.