I know what you’re here for. You’ve read the title.
You want to eat like a bodybuilder on a budget. Well I am going to tell you exactly how to do that.
But, before I do that, first of all, let me ask you a question.
WHY THE F**K SHOULD YOU LISTEN TO ME!?
That’s what I always think when I read these articles online.
Well a little about me….
My name is Adam, but online I am better known under the “Shreddybrek” name, based off my blog and youtube channel.
I am a 25 year old kid from the UK, who is in his 4th year as a competitive bodybuilder.
I began “bodybuilding” when I was a teenager, but I got heavily invested in it when I was 18, and in my first year of University – college for anyone outside of the UK reading this.
I had to budget like hell, and make do without some of the luxuries I now include in my diet.
Microwave 2 minute cook rice? Nope!
Nuts n’ more? Errrrm…. nope!
Drawing from my experiences of bodybuilding as a University Student, I want to share some of my top tips with you. So you can make great gains, on a rock bottom budget.
Bodybuilding On a Budget – My Top Tips
- Prep & Plan Everything
- Find Your Cheap Macro Sources
- Rely on Protein Powder
- Buy Online & Buy In Bulk
Prep & Plan Everything
How Much Do You Need To Eat?
This is where I want to start. Establishing your caloric & macronutrient needs. How do we do this?
Well check out this article here by the twins at Dynamic Duo Training.
Once you know how much you need to eat, it’s time to make yourself a meal plan.
Make YOUR Meal Plan
You can get a cookie cutter meal plan online, but to get the best results you need to either;
- Make one yourself
- Hire a nutritionist/coach to help you do so
We’re doing this on a budget, so I am helping you for free.
When you’re creating your meal plan, keep the following in mind;
- Your Schedule
- Can you eat multiple times a day?
- Do you have a facility to re-heat food?
- Can you carry food around with you?
- Do you have access to water for mixing shakes?
- What foods you like & don’t like
- Your Budget
Your meal plan will be bespoke to you. It’s no good creating a meal plan around eating every 2 hours, especially if you have a job where you don’t get a break for 4 hours.
When drawing up your meal plan, also check the prices of foods as you create the plan; this will make the next step of this bodybuilding budget plan easier (making your shopping list).
We all have a preference of which store we shop at, so as a first port of call, check their website to get a rough idea of the prices for the foods you’re wanting.
I’ll cover some cheap food sources below, but for now, here is an example meal plan of mine.
Meal 1 – 8am
2 scoops of protein powders
Meal 2 – 11am
70g raw rice
200g raw chicken
Meal 3 – 2 pm
Meal 4 – 4.30pm
70g raw rice
200g raw chicken
Meal 5 – 7pm (post workout)
2 scoops of protein powder
Meal 6 – 9.30pm
2 scoops protein powder
30g peanut butter
The above is an example.
It is based around;
- My macro requirements
- My schedule
- Foods I like
- Foods I can afford
When I have this, I know how much of what food I eat daily, so I can total up a week’s worth, which will dictate how much I need to buy.
Make Your Shopping List
So next, I’ll head online to a supermarket website. I am in the UK so I’ll check Asda and Tesco as my first port of call. Both are close to where I live.
I’ll scope out the cheapest prices in each.
Knowing roughly how much I need each week, I’ll buy at least that much. For example, if I was to need 2.4kg of rice per week, but I could only buy either a 1kg, 2kg or 5kg bag, I would go for the 5kg bag. It saves multiple shopping trips and buying in bulk always leads to a cheaper total price, which I will cover later.
Buy creating a shopping list you’re going to;
- Be able to work within your budget and know exactly what your shopping is going to cost you
- You will know how long your shopping will last you and what dates you’ll run out of certain items
- You won’t end up over or under buying
- You won’t buy expensive items on impulse, ramping your shopping cost up
Cheapest Macro Sources
You know your macros and how much protein, carbs & fats you’re going to need in order to make gains.
How you hit those macros is up to you. However if you’re on a budget (which you obviously are as you’re reading this article) this is what I would recommend.
Cheap Protein Sources
- Protein Powder, I’ll go into this in the next section
- Chicken Breast
-DO NOT BUY FROM A SUPERMARKET! I cannot stress this enough. Go to your local butcher and strike a deal. Chicken from Tesco will cost me over £8 per kg. From my local butcher it’s around £4.30 per kg.
- Chicken Thighs
- Ground Turkey Breast
- Whole Eggs
- Cottage Cheese
The same goes for all meats. Don’t buy from a supermarket. Local butchers will always strike you a good deal, especially if you’re buying in bulk.
Cheap Carbohydrate Sources
- Rice Crispies
- Sweet Potato
My go to carb source is rice. It’s dirt cheap. It’s easy to cook, and prep big batches in advance. You can reheat it, and it still tastes good.
Oats and potato are an excellent cheap option to.
Cereal such as cornflakes and rice crispies do cost a little bit more, but they do break up the cycle of just rice, and they won’t break the bank.
If you’re on a dirt cheap budget though, stick to just rice and oats.
Cheap Fat Sources
Nuts are cheap, but the cheapest you’re going to find, in my experience, that is an absolute treat and breeze to fit into your diet, peanut butter.
You can pick up a 1kg tub (again – buying in bulk) for under £6 in the UK. Not from the supermarkets though (do you see a trend forming here – shop around!) but online.
Here in the UK I rely on Myprotein for their 1kg tubs of peanut butter. It’s a plain, basic, natural peanut butter that tastes damn good. I’ve been using it since I was a teenager.
Straight off the spoon is my favourite way to eat it, but over your cereal or in porridge is good to!
Nuts are more expensive, so I would personally stick to peanut butter, and it tastes absolutely damn awesome! (Totally no bias towards peanut butter love from me…)
Rely on Protein Powder
I always preach to people “do not rely on supplements” and although protein powder is a diet supplement, it can pretty much be thought of as a food and a protein source.
Whey protein concentrate is by far the cheapest protein source you will ever get hold of. I don’t preach many supplements, and whilst protein powder isn’t essential, if you’re on a budget it is.
It’s for this reason I set up my protein discount codes website. Having been dieting as a bodybuilder (both bulking and cutting) I saw how cheap protein was from all the different sources I would try. I had also seen how much of a rip off some protein supplements are. To avoid anyone being conned or ripped off, I set up my own protein discount code site to help pass savings, deals and advice onto those looking to buy protein supplements.
There are a ton of cowboy supplement companies out there. Ultimately a whey protein concentrate, is nothing more than a whey protein concentrate. You don’t need added glutamines, vitamins, minerals or anything else. You just need a good, reliable and reputable company that will provide you a source of protein that mixes well.
Here in the UK there are about half a dozen “big” online supplement brands. Their product offering is almost identical – and they’re all pretty cheap.
Why pay more for a brand advertised by a pro bodybuilder, or your favourite YouTube IIFYM vlogger, when something like a bulk protein powder is just fine? It makes no sense.
Let me use one of my favourite brands as an example – Myprotein’s impact whey (which I’ve reviewed here by the way)
Basically you can get a 40 gram serving of protein (2 scoops of impact whey) for around £0.33 (or $0.55) far cheaper than meat!
Again, I am in the UK so I am using UK prices, so if you’re outside of the UK this funny symbol here > £ < is our currency! Your eyes aren’t deceiving your dollar sign seeing brains. In the UK we call our money “pounds”.
Myprotein is also based in America, so a simple look on their site or a google conversion from pounds to dollars will give you a better understanding.
A 5kg bag of impact whey costs £46.79. A bulk buy. BUT, buying in bulk makes you a big saving. As buying 5 x 1kg bags would cost £63.45 – screw that! Gimme the 5kg pouch.
These are the RRP prices listed at Myprotein. However using a my protein discount code will net you a minimum saving of 10%. More than likely however, you will save up to 30%, as Myprotein is constantly running offers.
So if you hold out for a 30% discount code or sale, then you can grab 5kg of whey protein concentrate for £32.78.
The non gym goer might scoff at the price of your protein when they see you drinking it. I know I have heard countless time from my parents when I was a teenager “why are you wasting your money on them crappy drinks”. That’s probably because “the casual person” has only ever seen supermarket or high street supplement store prices. They are always expensive in bricks & mortar stores.
Unless there is something in a clearance section, you’d be an idiot to buy in store as opposed to online.
The big online retailers are constantly running sales, deals, and discount codes to let you buy their supplements even cheaper. The supplement industry is super competitive, so when the big companies go at it, because their product offer is so similar, it comes down to a price war. Want the cheapest supplements? Find a brand that is in sale, use a discount code, and buy in bulk.
Protein powder, per serving, is the cheapest source of protein powder you can find.
If you can wangle your protein intake so you have 50% from a protein powder and 50% from other foods (meat, eggs or dairy) you’ll be able to eat cheap and well within your budget, without getting bored of the same meal over and over again.
Buy Online & Buy In Bulk
I have mentioned this in every section of this article to buy in bulk and buy online.
I’ve used Myprotein merely as an example. There are numerous brands out there you can select from. So don’t feel like Myprotein are the best. The actual powder they sell is probably identical to half a dozen other brands you purchase from.
I find that Myprotein is a brand in the UK that is constantly on sale, and more often than not, the cheapest supplier, which is why I use them. That’s why I recommend them.
Do you have to use them? Hell no! Do a bit of research online, find a reputable brand that has good customer service reviews and is cheap.
You can get everything cheaper when you buy in bulk and the majority of things cheaper online.
Go Forward & Make Gains….
So there you have it an action plan to let you body build in an affordable fashion.
You don’t need expensive supplements, or fancy foods to build muscle.
Unfortunately for supplement companies and big retailers – the basics work. However the basics don’t make for a profitable and sexy marketing campaign.
Cut through the BS and stick to the basics for the best gains.
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