If you’re serious about bodybuilding, then you’ll be striving to ensure that you’re always getting enough protein in your diet.
But meeting your dietary goals is not only a time constraint, it’s also a financial dedication.
Let’s face it, most of the traditional protein sources aren’t cheap, so what can you do about it?
Well, you should start by thinking creatively when it comes to your planning your food intake.
If you’re upping your protein intake to build or maintain muscle, but trying to keep your spend to a minimum, then this breakdown is for you.
Let’s get started on the most affordable protein sources.
Meat is an obvious source of protein, but some of the more refined cuts can be quite expensive to buy. Canned meat is a far more affordable option, so long as you’re able to identify which products offer the best nutritional value.
Canned tuna is probably your best bet when building muscle, as a single, five ounce can can hold between 30 and 40 grams of protein. This is relatively high in relation to other tinned meats, while its high levels of Vitamin D also help to regulate calcium levels and contribute directly to physical growth.
There’s also a healthy amount of Omega-3 fatty acids in a single can of tuna, with between 0.3 and 0.5 grams included depending on your choice of product.
A word of warning; however, as canned tuna also contains mercury, which can be damaging to your health. You therefore need to eat this in moderation, with a recommended allowance of up to 16.4 ounces of light tuna allowed per week.
Loaded with huge amounts of high quality protein, whole eggs represent an affordable and effective way of building muscle in the human body.
A single egg contains up to 6 grams of protein, which equates to 11% of your recommended daily allowance. Eating the combination of yolk and egg white offers a host of additional benefits too, with amino and glutamic acids capable of helping your muscles to rest and recover after even the most strenuous workout. The egg is largely unique in that it contains all nine amino acids, including those that cannot be synthesised in the human body and must be consumed through diet alone.
Interestingly, the yolks contain half of the egg’s protein along with vitamins A, D and E, while the whites are rich sources of selenium and B12, which is exceptionally difficult to find in food products outside of meat.
You should also look out for brands of eggs that also include omega-3 acids, as this provides an additional health benefit that’s hard to ignore.
We now come to what is arguably the most cost-effective source of protein available, namely Whey. If you’ve never heard of this, this is essentially a waste by-product of cheese and curd manufacturing, which contains approximately 20% of the protein found in cow’s milk.
It is therefore used commercially to create protein concentrate, which delivers a carefully cultivated amino acid profile directly to the body. It’s often consumed heavily by fitness enthusiasts and body builders, so it is fully proven as an effective way of increasing muscle mass, boosting strength and aiding recovery.
Whey can also be digested quickly and easily, making it ideal as a post-workout source of nutrition or a way of releasing energy into the body over a short space of time.
A single scoop of concentrated whey powder includes an impressive 24 grams of protein per 30 gram serving on average. Not only this, but you can buy a 2.2kg bag with up to 74 servings for just £60, helping you to access an effective source of protein while also achieving genuine value for money.
Just remember that Whey typically contains lactose, which is a natural sugar found in dairy products. If you’re lactose intolerant, your digestive system will not be able to metabolize this and you may well suffer an allergic reaction.
Now, we all know that beans can have an unsettling (and occasionally hilarious) impact on the human digestive system, but these innocuous ingredients are also incredible sources of protein.
Not all beans are created equal, of course, as there are various different types of available across numerous different cuisines. Depending on your choice, you can access between 15 and 30 grams of protein per cup, so it’s crucial that you seek out the options that boast the most nutritional value.
Yellow soybeans contain an estimated 28.6 grams per serving, with Navy beans also high in protein with a total of 15.8 grams in each cup.
In terms of cost, black beans probably offer the best value for money. These affordable and widely accessible beans contain 15.2 grams of protein per serving, while they’re widely across various cuisines including Mexican and Chinese.
In case you were wondering, beans are also outstanding sources of B vitamins and fibre, making them capable of sustaining good digestive health when they’re consumed regularly. Over time, eating beans can help to decrease the risk of incurring various illnesses in later life, including heart disease, diabetes and various forms of cancer.
Next up is our underdog selection, as few would consider consuming peanut butter as part of a healthy diet or muscle building regime.
Not only does peanut butter include approximately 25 grams of protein in every 100 gram serving, but it also boasts a a number of additional health benefits that should of interest to those who want to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
Peanut butter is a rich source of potassium, which is capable of counteracting high blood pressure and minimising the risk of heart disease. It also contains relatively high levels of fibre in each serving, and this contributes to superior digestive health when it’s consumed on a regular basis.
It’s also interesting to note that peanut butter contains magnesium, which helps to fortify your muscles and bones. So, by eating peanut butter, you can improve your physical health and make it easier to build muscle in the future.
Ground beef may be one of the most surprising and diverse ingredients on our list, as well as being one of the most affordable meat products available to consumers.
Like peanut butter, ground beef has around 25 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of this ingredient. It’s also loaded with antioxidants like zinc, which along with B6 and alpha lipoic acid help to regulate your blood sugar levels.
If you invest in the slightly more expensive option of lean ground beef, a single, three ounce serving can deliver 24 grams of protein. This portion would only equate to 164 calories and 4.5 grams of fat too, making it a healthy protein that should form part of any balanced diet.
If you’re on a really tight budget and can only afford standard ground beef, you can still access similar health benefits. You’ll need to rinse the fat before preparing a meal, as this can reduce the content by as much as 50%.
On a similar note, ground turkey also serves a rich source of protein. Once again, the cheaper cuts of ground turkey are likely to contain skin, which increases the fat content noticeably. So, you’ll need to rinse the fat as you would with ground beef, in order to strike the ideal balance between protein and overall nutritional value.
In total, ground turkey contains 25 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, while a four-ounce, grilled ground burger will deliver around 48% of your daily allowance.
Additionally, ground turkey also includes a healthy amount of niacin, which is a B-complex vitamin that promotes healthy blood circulation. This also regulates your cholesterol levels and can enhance the performance of your metabolism over time.
You’ll also find that ground turkey is a rich source of B6, which contributes to healthy nerve function and can safeguard against heart disease when consumed regularly.
This ingredient can be sourced at exceptionally cheap prices, while it’s lean and protein-rich nature makes it ideal for muscle building.
The last word
As you can see, attempting to get fit or build muscle can be achieved with a relatively simple (and cost-effective) diet plan. Simply by identifying low cost foods and ingredients that contain a high concentration of protein per serving, you can develop a healthy eating plan that sits well within your budget!
Most importantly, you can learn at an early stage that cheap food can still be rich in protein and other nutrients, meaning that there’s never a need to compromise on the quality of your diet due to a lack of funds.