Getting your daily protein in shouldn’t be expensive, nor should it hinder your overall muscle growth. Bodybuilders get stuck in their ways and get stuck on the “plain chicken breast, white rice and broccoli”-train and never venture out. Don’t get me wrong, boneless skinless chicken breast is a fantastic choice but it gets old and boring after a while. Just like your training, you should switch up your diet as well to keep things fresh.
But if you’re bulking on a budget, one of the things top of mind is finding the least expensive meat for muscle growth. Protein sources come in many forms, and it doesn’t always have to rack up a high bill.
For the rest of us, it’s time to try something new. Start your year off right with these cheap protein sources for optimal muscle growth.
Kidney beans 100g, 127 calories, 8.7g protein, 22g carbohydrates, 0.5g fats
Ubiquitous in Latin cuisines, beans are a staple food in many countries. Beans cover many varieties including black, kidney, chickpeas, lima, soybeans and navy beans.
Apart from protein, beans also contain sources of zinc and magnesium (which is what ZMA is, check out the benefits).
Fiber is a huge reason to include beans in your diet (this means you can add it to your chicken and rice,
If you have too little fiber in your diet, the nutrients in food may not be as well absorbed since the food isn’t sitting in your intestines for very long.
Canned beans are by the far the most popular way to consume beans. A can of kidney beans (540ml, 19fl oz) typically runs for under $1. Dry beans can be purchased for even less.
Peas 100g, 81 calories, 5g protein, 14g carbohydrates, 0.5g fats
Peas aren’t something you normally think of as a valid protein source but think again. Vegetarians and vegans use powdered pea protein in place of whey protein. Just like beans, peas are an easy protein addition to any meal.
Again, if you’re trying to lose weight, the added volume of food by adding peas to your meals will make you feel full. What this can mean later down the road is less snacking and binge eating.
Vegetables that have lots of volume can help you fill up, especially if you’re cutting weight. Vegetables like carrots, broccoli and cauliflower has very low in nutrients but “bulk up” food, allowing you to eat more by eating less.
To keep you on track, invest in meal prep containers. It’s something I use all the time so I can properly hit my daily macros and avoid overeating. Think about it: you spend a large portion of your time just preparing and cooking the food.
Eliminate time wasted, make larger portions, and pack those portions away. Check these meal prep containers out on Amazon, I personally use these
Most of the time, frozen peas are cheaper and more easily accessible than fresh. Generally, a
One large egg, 75 calories, 6g protein, 0.5g carbohydrates, 4.8g fats
What better way to dominate an entire species than to eat it’s flesh, as well as the offspring it lays (poultry meat and eggs).
Ignore the bad press about cholesterol. eggs are a nutrient dense food that contains many vitamins, such as vitamin B6, B12, D, as well as choline.
Dietary cholesterol is not linked to blood cholesterol. In fact, the more dietary cholesterol you ingest, the less your body produces. Cholesterol is used for many metabolic processes, things that you need to survive. Beans and whole grains actually have been shown to lower cholesterol in adults.
You should get your vitamin D levels checked as well, especially if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Vitamin D is used for many life functions and if you don’t get outside enough, you could suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
Choline is a water-soluble nutrient that is found in many foods, that humans require for several bodily uses. Choline helps with cognitive and metabolism functions.
Differentiating from beans and peas, you can eat eggs without much modification. Scrambled, hard-boiled, in soup, or on a burger, eggs are everywhere and delicious. Great macro-nutrient profile and low in calories, you should eat eggs plain and simple.
Depending on your location, a dozen eggs (12) can run you anywhere between $1-3. If you can, buy in larger quantities (48 vs 12) since eggs have such a long shelf life.
Past Thanksgiving, turkey gets overlooked. Per 100g of lean ground turkey, it contains 150 calories, 18g of protein and 8g of fat. Macro-wise, lean ground turkey is about on par with lean ground beef but ground turkey about half the cost. Obviously this depends on your local grocer prices, but ground turkey is a very inexpensive meat for muscle growth.
Ground turkey can be used just like ground beef too, making it an easy replacement. One of my favourite meals to make when ground turkey is on sale is turkey chili. It tastes just the same and is a much lower calorie version.
At the end of the day, you have to choose protein foods that you will eat. Sure salmon is a great source of omega 3s and protein, but if you’re not going to eat it then what’s the point? The most sustainable diet is the one you stick to.
Protein powders are an excellent way to get concentrated protein in, but they can be expensive if that’s your only source of protein.
A lot of people think “protein = meat” but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Vegan protein powders are made from the power of peas (weird, I know). But try not to get into the habit of eating foods just for the protein. An example would be peanut butter. Yes peanut butter has protein per serving, but the fat content is way higher (16g fat and 7g protein).
Beans are still supreme in filling you up for cheap too. I can’t stress how versatile beans are for meals. Nothing is worse than eating the same crap over and over again, so try something new!