Building Muscle on a Budget

Protein is the building blocks of muscle.  No matter how hard you workout in the gym, if you aren’t getting adequate protein, your hard-fought efforts will be in vain.  The problem is supplementation is typically extraordinarily expensive, steak isn’t exactly cheap, and no one can eat only chicken every day.  Below are 10 tips to add protein to your diet without breaking the bank.

  1. Canned tuna.  Coming in at 40g per gan, tuna is a great source of protein and other valuable nutrients.  Look for tuna packed in water to avoid excess fat.  1 can of tuna per day is perfectly safe for those worried about mercury levels.
  2. Egg whites.  Egg whites can be purchased for cheap at Costco, where a pack of 6 cartons runs you about $7.  With 7 grams of protein per serving, egg whites are a cheap and effective way to add protein to your diet.
  3. Whey protein powder.  Whey protein is typically expensive.  In fact, the stuff is often marked up almost 5,000%.  To get this stuff on the cheap, go to Costco again where a 6 pound bag is only $26.99.  You will not find this stuff cheaper than that, anywhere.
  4. Milk.  Milk is a decent source of protein and extremely cheap per serving.  If you are looking to pack on the muscle mass, aim to consume half a gallon of milk per day.
  5. Chicken breasts.  If you are paying more than $2 per pound, you are shopping at the wrong places.  Once again, Costco has 10 pounds of frozen chicken breast for $19.99.  If you have a Henry’s near you, you can pick up higher quality chicken breasts for $1.99 per pound on Wednesdays.
  6. Cottage cheese.  With 12 grams of protein per serving, cottage cheese is a great source of protein and relatively cheap.  Dairy proteins are best taken before bed because they are slower digesting.
  7. Ground beef.   Forget about the fat content for just a minute.  Buy the 80% ground beef and pack on 25 grams of protein per serving.  The fatty cuts of ground beef are the cheapest as well.  Concerned about the fat?  Check out this free pdf that shows how to cut the fat content of your ground beef in half.
  8. Canned salmon.  Incredibly healthy and full of protein, canned salmon can be purchased for just a couple dollars a can at wholesale food stores.  Stock up and make this a lunch time staple.
  9. Ground turkey. Use the same method described above for ground beef to eliminate extra fat.  The cheaper cuts contain skin which increase fat content, but don’t worry because now you know how to eliminate it.
  10. Buy generic foods, buy in bulk, freeze everything.  Using a store like Costco for your food shopping will cut bills down considerably.  Just be prepared to freeze everything you won’t be eating in the next week or so. 

If you are trying to pack on serious muscle mass (which you should be!) you should be aiming to consume .7-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight; closer to 1 gram if you are a man.  Below is a very quick meal plan to help you add 200 grams of protein into your diet.

Meal 1: 3 egg whites with spinach and turkey breast

Meal 2:  2 servings cottage cheese with banana

Meal 3:  1 can of tuna with bok choy

Meal 4:  2 glasses of milk and handful of almonds

Meal 5:  1 protein shake made with milk

Meal 6: Marinated and grilled chicken breasts with steamed vegetables and brown rice


2 thoughts on “Building Muscle on a Budget”

  1. Interesting, i would add dried beans to the list, supercheap and high in protein and complex carbs.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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