Bodybuilding on a Budget: How I did 3500 Calories in just $5.5 daily?
My early years of Bodybuilding were a real struggle. I was eating lots of food, hardly knew anything about meal planning. Trying to lift as heavy as possible and thinking it will make me big. Both of these mistakes cost me my time and resources. I end up terrible and my newbie gains got wasted.
It took me two years to properly understand that you also need to spend time in the kitchen and not just only in the gym. I have to eat a lot of food but the right food and supplements to complete my daily nutrient intake. Only then can I achieve the body of my dreams.
Not a happy realization though. As, this fact further intimidates me and made bodybuilding even worse for me. Because then, I was required to plan the complete groceries and purchase a lot of food and supplements. I was just passed out of college at that time; I don’t have a hefty monthly budget to spend on bodybuilding. So, had I stopped my bodybuilding there?
How I succeed in doing Bodybuilding on a Budget?
At this time, I took some time out of this hard realization and did some research and planning. After this research, I figured out that bodybuilding on a budget is not an impossible thing. I just was needed to plan smart and I did it. So, let me share with you my exact cheat sheet “How I planned to do my bulking on a budget?”
1. Planning Macronutrient Intake
The first and foremost aspect of bodybuilding is completing your daily macronutrient intake. If you are lean and skinny, you need to determine that you are eating enough. So, it becomes important first you calculate the right numbers. And, it is only after the macronutrient planning that you can plan the weekly or monthly budget for bodybuilding.
For an average male person who is looking to build muscle, 3000-3500 calories a day is good enough number to start with. And, for females, you should aim for at least 2000 calories daily to build muscle. However, if you are keen on understanding the exact numbers for your goal; you can read my detailed article on calorie planning.
In order to build muscle, your daily calories should come from 60% Carbohydrates, 20% Protein, and 20% Fat. This means for a 3000 calorie diet, you need to eat at least 450 grams Carbohydrates, 150 grams Protein, and around 75 grams of Fat.
Now that, you have the numbers, let me then tell you what cheap options of food are available for you to bulk on a budget.
2. Cheap Body Building Foods
No matter you are looking for cheap bodybuilding foods. But you can`t go wrong with the nutrition. The foods I’m going to share are dense in nutrition and are best to keep you in budget. Two years back, when I was planning my diet; my monthly budget for bodybuilding foods was just Rs. 7000 a month and i was consuming about 3000 calories.
To be specific, this is the monthly budget for food only. I also took a few supplements but only the important ones. You will get to know the details of which in this article only. Even with the supplements, the budget hadn`t crossed more than 9000 bucks monthly.
Let me tell you that I belong to the country of India and most importantly, I`m a vegetarian person. All my food preferences were then vegetarian but, I`m including the list of all the possible food options. So, you need not worry about having limited food choices.
Cheap Carbohydrate Bodybuilding Foods
- Sweet Potato: Rs 65 Per 1 Kg
- Potato: Rs 20 Per 1 Kg
- Generic Oats: Rs 150 Per 1 Kg
- White Rice: Rs 350 Per 5 Kg
- Banana: Rs 60 Per Dozen
- Apple: Rs 130 Per 1 Kg (10 Pieces)
- Beans: Rs 100 Per 1 Kg
- Lentils: Rs 75 Per 1 Kg
- Whole Wheat Bread: Rs 30 Per 500 Gm (12 Slices)
- Wheat Pasta: Rs 120 Per 500 Gm
Cheap Protein Bodybuilding Foods
- Boneless Chicken: Rs 360 Per Kg
- Canned Tuna Fish: Rs 150 Per 500 Gm
- Eggs: Rs 150 per Tray (30 Pieces)
- Cottage Cheese: Rs 220 Per Kg
- Full Cream Milk: Rs 24 Per 500 Ml
- Soya Chunks: Rs 100 Per 1 Kg
- Quinoa: Rs 250 Per 1 Kg
- Curd: Rs 20 Per 200 Gram
Cheap Fat Bodybuilding Foods
- Natural Peanut Butter: Rs 500 per 1 Kg
- Olive Oil: Rs 700 per 1 Litre
- Coconut Oil: Rs 650 per 1 Litre
- Flax Seeds: Rs 100 per 1 Kg
- Chia Seeds: Rs 150 per 250 Gm
- Walnuts: Rs 150 per 100 Gm
- Almonds: Rs 60 Per 100 Gm
3. Poor Man Bodybuilding Supplements
As you now know that I`m a vegetarian person; there are few key nutrition elements that can`t be completed from a vegetarian bodybuilding diet. The only disadvantage is that most vegetarian bodybuilding foods lack the complete amino profile.
Most Protein sources in Vegetarian Diet are incomplete proteins. In order to better understand what is a complete protein. You can read this dedicated section of my article ‘How much Protein you should eat daily?’
So let me now share with you the list of my three supplements. These are three supplements that I always recommend and took for my bodybuilding goals. Buying supplements can put some load on your wallet but then these are important ones. And with some buying tips, you can plan to stay in budget.
Creatine is an important supplement that improves your strength and muscle gains. It helps your body to fuel your muscles during heavy lifting movements. So, Creatine is a must supplement if you are looking to improve your performance during anaerobic activities like strength training.
- Whey Protein:
The Whey Protein is the most popular supplement among the fitness industry and everyone loves Whey Protein. Taking whey protein, you can target your muscle recovery in a much better way. Furthermore, the whey protein contains the complete spectrum of amino acids essential for the growth and recovery of damaged muscle cells. (Read: The Whey Protein Buying Guide)
A quick note on the whey protein and its use as a post-workout recovery shake. Most people use it because they view it as an immediate recovery tool after the workout. Let me tell you, whey protein doesn`t work like that. And, taking it immediately after a workout will not serve additional benefits. (Do read my detailed take on this bro science)
Leucine is the key element in starting protein synthesis in the body. In simple terms, it is leucine which is the most important amino acid that helps you build muscle. There are very few foods that we eat, contains leucine. And even the food that contains this amino acid is not able to meet your daily recommended need.
|Creatine||300 Grams||60 Servings||Rs 700||Rs 12 per Serving|
|Whey Protein||2.25 KG||73 Servings||Rs 4000||Rs 55 Per Serving|
|Leucine||100 Grams||40 Servings||Rs 700||Rs 17.50 Per Serving|
The above three supplements are a must for everyone who is pursuing bodybuilding. And if you have just begun your bodybuilding routine, the above three supplements are more than enough. Don`t spend a single penny on other unnecessary supplements. Furthermore, if you are a newbie; don`t miss out reading this ultimate guide on ‘How to maximize your Newbie Gains by 5X?’
Bodybuilding Meal Planning on Budget
Now, you have got the list of cheap bodybuilding foods. It is time to start with a budget bodybuilding meal plan.
Bodybuilding Meal Plan on Budget (3000 Calories)
With the above meal plan, you are spending about 285 rupees on food and 85 rupees on supplements daily. Your monthly bodybuilding budget will then come out as Rs. 8550 for the food and Rs 2550 for the supplements. And if you calculate this cost in US Dollars, it is just $122 for food and $36 for supplements for a complete month.
Vegetarian Bodybuilding Meal Plan on Budget (3500 Calories)
If you are a vegetarian, you can follow the above bodybuilding meal plan. With this meal plan, you can easily plan to consume 3500 calories in a cheap budget of 390 rupees on a daily basis. And if you see, you are spending Rs 250 a day on food and another 139 rupees on supplements. And, if you convert it into US Dollars, it will come about $5.5 daily or about $165 monthly.
Budget Bodybuilding Meal Planning Hacks
With the above diet plan, you can easily create a budget-friendly bodybuilding diet for you according to your calorie intake. But still if budget is bothering you somewhat, you can use the below-mentioned hacks to stay in budget.
- Every day, there are a lot of sales going on here and there. Research a bit and buy those groceries in bulk that have a large shelf life.
- It is always better to go for generic brands instead of internationally reputed big names.
- Try to avoid pre-packaged foods that need no washing and slicing. These food packages generally cost higher.
- Not only buying but preparing the food in bulk will also save you money on utilities and other resources.
- When you are out to buy protein foods like chicken and meat, prefer to go with cheap cuts of them.
The Bottom Line
So that is it for this article, you have sorted your bodybuilding on a budget. If you have any comments and questions on the above budget meal plans, feel free to ask me in the comment section.