I now need to get something down so that I don't tank while working out. What I've been doing is drinking down a protein shake about 1/2 to 1 hour before lifting. This is okay, but I'm afraid that when I really start pushing myself hard, I'm going to puke it all back up. Is there a better strategy or food I can eat that will give me quick energy without filling me up?
A protein/carb drink prior to working out will help you. You might try ingesting a little less and sipping it during your workout.
Also, taking some caffeine will help you. A cup of coffee or a caffeine tablet about a hour before you workout should sustain you energy level.
Also, I read somehwere that it's best to have protein within an hour after lifting, not before. Is this true?
A post workout beverage enhances recovery. However, the research now indicates a preworkout beverage as well as sipping a driink during your workout enhances recovery even more.
So, take something before, during and after your workout to maximize your results.