Putting on new muscle mass can be a unique challenge and can impact many areas of your lifestyle, training, and nutrition.
When you want to gain muscle, you need to make sure that you have these three areas on lockdown. Your training has to be intense and well thought out, your lifestyle has to accommodate your goal of gaining muscle by ensuring that you are recovering properly, and your nutrition has to provide the necessary energy for maintaining training intensity and the nutrients needed to facilitate new muscle growth.
For most of us, training intensely is anticipated and is something we enjoy taking time out of our day to accomplish. Eating enough to gain muscle can be awesome at first because you have a little more leeway with your food choices and the occasional dessert won’t hinder your progress towards your goal of gaining mass. But, there is a downside to a muscle-building diet. The grocery bill.
Eating to build muscle can take a huge chunk out of your bank account each week with the cost of the extra food, especially if you try to eat organic, higher-quality foods. Here are four ways to help reduce the strain on your wallet and get the most bang for your buck.
1. Forget About Variety
Remember that the goal of your nutrition is to support your training, not to provide you with a fresh culinary adventure every single night. Cooking new fancy dishes with a variety of unique ingredients is awesome if you have the means and the energy to prepare and cook different meals all the time. However, this variety often adds to your weekly grocery bill.
Another reason you don’t see a lot of variety in bodybuilding diets is that the variety makes it difficult to adjust your calorie intake and track your macros. Try keeping your earlier meals during the day relatively similar for the entire week. You know the drill, eggs and oats for breakfast, chicken and rice for lunch and dinner, a protein shake here and an apple and almonds there, and you have a pretty solid nutrition plan that won’t derail your bank account!
When dinner time hits and you’re craving some variety and maybe a dessert, and if you have the time to cook and prepare something different, go for it. Like I said you do have a bit of leeway when you are trying to add muscle to your frame.
A great way to add variety to all your meals is to vary the fibrous, leafy vegetables that you eat with your meals like bell peppers, zucchini, cucumber, spinach, chard, kale, and so on. These are all cheap and nutrient-rich foods when in season and add great color and variety to your plate for a fractional cost. If you are that strapped for cash or don’t really care about added variety, it’s chicken and rice again for dinner!
2. Buy in Bulk
If you have the freezer and cabinet space, buying in bulk is a great way to save money when you are on a muscle-building diet. If you find that boneless/skinless chicken breast is on sale at the supermarket and have the ability to store it in your freezer, scoop it up and reap the savings. The same goes for foods that have a naturally longer shelf life like beans, rice, lentils, quinoa, pasta, nuts/nut butters, and seeds.
Another great way to buy in bulk is to shop at a membership bulk retailer like Costco or Sam’s Club where you can pay for a yearly membership that allows for you to shop and save on bulk items that would cost top dollar in a regular supermarket. Put that extra cabinet and freezer space to good use by stocking up and buying in bulk so you can keep your bank account from suffering needlessly.
3. Go Straight to the Source
Hit up your local farmers' market! You can eliminate extra costs of your groceries by avoiding grocery stores altogether and buying straight from the farmer. There are many benefits to shopping at your local farmers' market besides cutting costs. When you shop at your local farmers' market you are getting food that is fresh and nutrient-dense and your money is going towards the local community and not some giant international food corporation.
If you have a farmers market in your area you will literally pay pennies on the dollar for produce that is fresh and local and oftentimes organic compared to the supermarket. You can also buy fresh eggs, quality beef, and pork from ranchers at wholesale prices. Take advantage of the farmers' market if you have one near you. Your wallet and your health will benefit immensely.
Supplements will never take the place of real, quality food….ever. But, that does not mean that they do not have a place in a muscle-building diet. Sources of protein are often the most costly items on your grocery bill.
Getting one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight from food sources can make you feel like you have to sell a kidney on the black market. Luckily there are plenty of supplemental protein sources out there that can make getting in your protein a manageable goal without having to resort to the black market.
Protein supplementation is where you can find the biggest savings while you are on a muscle-building diet. Find a good protein powder that digests easily, mixes well, and tastes good. If a milk-based protein messes with your stomach, try switching to a plant-based protein or find one that has enzymes in it to help with digestion.
What are some of the ways that you save money while eating to gain muscle? Let me know in the comments section below!