Bodybuilding requires a high food intake to maintain the energy levels required for muscular growth, and let’s face it – food is not always cheap. Supplements seem to be the focus of all upcoming fitness enthusiasts who just want to get big fast. Sadly, there is no miracle pill that can do this for you, and supplements just cost way too much anyways.

So, if you are wanting to gain lean muscle focus on your diet first, then your fitness training second. Muscle enhancers may help you with some slight gains, but they go away without proper nutrient intake.

You probably heard the saying, “Dieting is 70% of your program, and training is only 30%.” Well…it is true. Sorry to break the news to you, but this had to be retouched again to make sure the concept sticks. Just take a minute to consider what happens when you lift heavy weights, but blow off eating healthy calories throughout the day. Your muscles will run out of energy fast and feel sore to the bone, which is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Then the muscles gained may actually leave your body since they have no nutrients to maintain themselves.

However, with a proper nutrition program you need not worry about any of this. DOMS is unpreventable, but the length of its duration could greatly decrease. You could even take a two week break from weight lifting and not notice any significant changes, but only if you have been eating the right foods that your body needs to survive and grow. This concept applies to those that are not full of water weight also known as “water muscle” for those training.

So here are the five foods that you can benefit from and save money as well!

  1. Eggs

    This type of food is great for any bodybuilder looking to stay on a budget. Realistically, eating a lot of chicken and fish gets very expensive considering the amount you need for upkeep. Eggs are packed with nutrients that are healthy and clean for you to eat. They contain plenty of protein to support muscular growth, and essential omega fatty acids to keep your body healthy and running smoothly. Eggs also contain a high amount of micronutrients such as B vitamins, potassium, and iron.

    Eating the entire egg is the best way to benefit from all the nutrients they contain. The yolk contains high amounts of cholesterol, yes, but if eaten properly there is no serious health risks, and you actually benefit from the cholesterol instead. However, you should not surpass 3 whole eggs a day as a bodybuilder, and if you want more eggs consider 3 whole eggs and 2 egg whites for your breakfast.

  2. Oatmeal

    Oatmeal is another perfect cheap food for a bodybuilder. These oats are good for carbohydrate intake, which is a necessity to maintain energy levels. Carbs are broken down as glucose to be used by your metabolism to increase your energy production, and oatmeal also contains small amounts of protein as well. Great to consume during breakfast, or 2-3 hours before lifting to help fight muscle fatigue longer.

  3. Potatoes

    These are another type of carbohydrate that you can purchase in big bags for really good prices. Potatoes are the perfect mid-meal filler that keep your body satisfied for long durations, plus they also contain protein as well. However, keep in mind that the these two carbs being discussed do not contain high amounts of protein, and should not be purchased solely to maintain that type of nutrient intake. Consider eating sweet potatoes instead to get plenty of beneficial nutrients that you cannot find in regular potatoes.

  4. Peanut Butter

    Peanut butter contains plenty of all the macronutrients that you need to consume which are carbs, proteins, and unsaturated fats – otherwise known as dietary fats. Your body needs to consume fat in order to have it as another source of energy, plus it is good for all your strong organs in the body. You receive plenty of dietary fats from all the peanuts crushed to make the smooth texture, but you want organic brands that do not contain hydrogenated oils. This oil causes heart disease and is not one of the fats you should be consuming. You know the peanut butter is authentic whenever you see plenty of oil at the top. Unhealthy peanut butter is perfectly whipped and easy on the eyes.

  5. Canned Tuna

    Tuna is great to help keep your protein levels where they should be, and canned tuna just makes it cheaper and easier to consume. You could easily sprinkle some seasoning on the tuna and then just eat it from the can for a quick snack, or make other types of foods such as tuna sandwiches. However, do not excessively eat more than two cans a day since they do contain mercury, which of course is not good for you.

Eat Smart and Grow

Eat plenty of healthy foods to reach your overall goals, and keep in mind that you want 5-6 smaller meals a day opposed to 3 large meals a day. This allows your body the chance to fully digest and use the nutrients being consumed. Eating 3 large meals enables fatty cells to form, which causes unwanted weight gain due to the extra nutrients your body does not use. Drink plenty of water as well throughout the whole day, and try to refrain from drinking your daily calories unless it is a protein shake or the likes.

Brian Pankau

Brian Pankau is a health and fitness writer that has contributed to notable websites such as Ask the Trainer and Livestrong, and is a certified fitness trainer and sports nutrition specialist. As a former Marine Corps infantryman, Brian learned from an early start in his career to always give 100% effort in everything that he is tasked with.

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