How Bodybuilders Bulk Up on a Tight Budget

Let’s face it, if you’re trying to gain muscle mass by weightlifting, you need to eat protein to ‘bulk up.’  But protein powders, health bars, creatine, and ‘Fit’ shakes are not good for your budget – all of these can run up hundreds of dollars per month. 


I’m like the rest of you, trying to maximize muscle, but don’t have the cash budget to be throwing money away on expensive unnatural supplements.  This guide will help you get bigger muscles without burning a hole in your pocket or budget.


Top Tip:


The number one thing to help your budget is to stop buying supplements. Yes, the almighty protein powder – be it soy, whey, or other type of protein, the powdered form is an expensive budget buster!  


History of Budget Busting Protein Powder

Did you know that whey protein is a by-product of making cheese at the dairy, and manufacturers used to throw it away by the ton?  That is, until some clever marketing developer discovered they could sell it to the muscle-building consumer.  Not to say protein powder isn’t healthy or useful (if you have the cash, it is a great way to bulk up), but it shows how inflated the price really is.


One serving may have 25 grams of protein, but with only 10-30 servings per container, it is a waste of money and will drain your budget.


How to Bulk Up on a Budget

So, without the budget to buy supplements, how do you bulk up?  Nature is the answer!  There are a lot of cheap ways to get protein that you probably already know. Some top foods are listed below.

Top Budget-Friendly Bulking Foods

– Chicken
– Tuna
– Milk
– Cottage Cheese
– Yogurt
– Beans
– Low Fat Cheese
– Salmon
– Pollock
– Cod
– Tilapia
– Shrimp
– Beef
– Pork
The list goes on and on.  I found the most budget friendly protein sources are chicken (a dollar per pound for thigh meat at most grocery stores), milk, and canned beans.


Protein on a Budget – the Science


Now for a little science.  The average body can only add one pound of muscle per week at peak levels.  This means you may be able to add half a pound of muscle per week if you’re really working hard, but more likely you can gain a quarter pound per week.  This would be about 13 pounds of muscle per year.
Unlike fat, gaining a pound of muscle is only about 2500 calories.  In a year, that equals 8,125 grams of protein per year or 22 grams of protein extra per day.  You can get 22 grams of protein in a few slices of chicken or a cup of beans.   
One pound of chicken has 112 grams of protein.  As a rule of thumb, for every pound you weigh, you should eat that many grams of protein per day.  If you are 150 pounds, you should eat 150 grams of protein, which is a little over a pound of chicken.  Imagine how much it would cost to ingest only powdered protein! That would surely drain your budget in no time.


The extra 22 grams I talked about in the last paragraph is if you already know how much protein you are taking and want to gain muscle beyond that.  If you don’t, stick to the one gram per pound rule.  So, chicken is a great protein to get on a budget.


Cost Of Protein: Budget Saving Choices


Budget Option #1: Chicken.


Let’s compare chicken to protein powder.  A container of powder will set you back a budget-busting $15.  Each serving has 25 or so grams of protein, and there are 15 or so servings per container.  That’s about 25 grams of protein for every dollar.  Whereas, if you buy chicken, even at $2 a pound, you’ll still be saving over twice as much money!  It tastes much better as well.  Chicken is your best budget choice.

Budget Option #2: Eggs.


An egg has 6 grams of protein.  A dozen sets you back $2 if you buy the expensive ones. That’s $1 for 36 grams – still better than powder. 

Budget Option #3: Power Bars.


A power bar is a dollar or two.  Not bad for a meal replacement.  But most bars have only 8-10 grams of protein.  A gallon of milk on the other hand has about 130 grams of protein for about $2.50.  That is about 52 grams per dollar.
Once you start adding up the costs, you’ll realize how much protein powder truly destroys your budget.  Milk protein is the same as powdered whey, but the powdered version empties out your budget.


The Best Budget Protein Source: Eggs!


Studies show that egg protein is the best kind of protein, due to the number of amino acids present.  Our body digests eggs easily and can use nearly all of the nutrients.  Plus, at a budget friendly $1.99 per dozen, they are a great way to go!

So, if you are looking to bulk up without destroying your budget, stick with chicken, milk, eggs, and fish instead of powders or bars. 

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