If your a bodybuilder that is on the go a lot the last thing you want to worry about is whats for dinner. Meal prep is a big part of your life but every now and then changing things up can be fun. if so tryout one of our quick and easy dinner recipes.
If you train hard day in and day out you need to eat big in order to build muscle. But that grocery bill can get rather expensive. Trust me I know. Standing tall at 6’5” weighing 260 lbs it takes a lot to feed this furnace. When the wallet is tight we have to be savvy at the grocery store. Here are some of my tips that I have learned along the way.
To Build Muscle on a Budget We Need a Plan
The first thing we need to do is put together our plan of action. In order to stay within our means its going to be very important to know what we can spend. To know what we need to consume. And to know how often.
In order to build muscle we have to be in a caloric surplus. If you haven’t read my article on bulking check it out. It explains simply and easily how to calculate your daily macros and establish your needs for the day. Once you have that information then you’re ready to rock and roll.
The simplest way to diet for building muscle is using the flexible dieting method, more commonly known as IIFYM or If It Fits Your Macros. I began to write a multi part series explaining what that is. But to sum it up you take your caloric surplus, factor how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat you need based on simple formulas, and then make sure you hit those targeted numbers each day. It doesn’t mean eat like shit. But it makes dieting much easier. And you can have a social life.
Knowing what to eat and how much is important. And now that you have that figured out. Know when and how often to eat is important as well. Up until now I used to feel like I had to eat 6 meals a day or else. But as of recently and due to my adaptation of flexible dieting. Along with some logical thinking I began to adjust my views on that idea.
I personally believe 4 solid meals a day is a good starting point. Especially if you’re pressed for time. But I also don’t see anything wrong with 3 meals a day. Hitting your macros is your main goal. So find out what is going to work best for you. During the weekdays I tend to have 5 to 6 meals and on weekends usually 4 to 5.
Shopping Smart is the Key to Building Muscle on a Budget
By being a savvy shopper we can stay on our budget and meet our macro-nutrient needs. There are a ton of foods out there that we can buy. But if you’re ok with eating the same things or very little variety you can fill your fridge without spending a ton of cash.
When I first started out lifting with serious regard I was only out of college about 2 or 3 years and wasn’t making a ton of money. That is when I was super budget conscious about what I spent at the store and made sure I got everything I needed. What worked for me at the time was shopping at my local Walmart and getting as much as I could in bulk.
Carbohydrates are going to make up a solid chunk of your macro-nutrient goals. Most carb sources you can buy in bulk and a relatively inexpensive. I would recommend getting:
- Rice (White or Brown)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Top Ramen
As far as protein sources stores like Walmart usually sell them in bulk as well. The easiest sources to get your protein needs cheaply are:
- Canned Tuna
- Ground Turkey
- Ground Beef
Most of our foods will have fats in them. However we want to make sure that we hit our fat mark. Because fats play a big role in muscle building and fat loss, believe it or not. Some great sources of fats are:
- Peanut Butter
- Olive Oil
- Unsalted Butter
- Heavy Cream
Keep an eye out for sales and coupons those really help. Get creative. Check prices and read labels. Nine times out of ten you can get by with very little groceries in your cart. I know of one really wild diet called the Farmers Diet and essentially all you consume are 3 slices of bread, 2 to 3 hard boiled eggs, and a 21 oz glass of milk six times at day. Which would give you about 4496 calories, 236g protein, 434g carbohydrates, 213g fat all for around $10 a day.
Being Educated is the Critical to Building Muscle on a Budget
Knowledge is power. Educating yourself and taking the time out to do research on your nutritional goals will empower you to stay ahead of the curve, build your body, and keep the cash in your pocket. I hope this article will serve as a guiding point for helping your build muscle on a budget.
If you have any tips or suggestions put them in the comment boxes below. I would love to hear what other ideas and tactics you have used in your quest to building muscle!
A popular trend in the fitness and bodybuilding industries is the new wave of flexible dieting commonly known as If It Fits Your Macros or IIFYM.
IIFYM came about as a method of dieting that allows you to eat essentially what you want as long as your hitting your macro-nutrient breakdown. In a world of chicken, rice, and broccoli, this idea seems refreshing.
If It Fits Your Macros, Eat It?
Does this mean we no longer have to consider what foods we put into our bodies? We can just eat to our hearts content as long as we hit our macro-nutrient mark? Well, the answer is no.
Pop-Tarts seem to be the mascot for the flexible dieting crowd. Pictures of delicious and tasty treats show up all over Instagram and social media channels. Guys and gals with six packs show off their physiques and point to their plates stating “WE EAT WHAT WE WANT!”
In many cases this may be true. But for the most part it is not. We still need to consume nutrient rich foods and we still need to meet our macro-nutrients as well as consuming enough … but not too much fiber.
What flexible dieting or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) allows for is the freedom to enjoy foods without the physiological breakdowns.
Mind Games—If It Fits Your Macros
Along side many of those pop-tart and ice cream pics are photos of cheat meals and binge meals commonly associated with “clean eating”. When a dieter goes long stretches of consuming only chicken, rice, broccoli, salad, etc. they come to a point when enough is enough and enjoy tasty foods is a must.
Much like individuals whom don’t consume alcohol and then binge drink on the weekends, fitties tend to binge eat when they fee they have earned it.
Hardcore dieting can play mind games on an individual. Feeling bad after having something they once enjoy, now they must pay the price by either “burning it off” or making a sacrifice somewhere in their diet.
Flexible dieting or IIFYM helps alleviate those hunger pangs.
If It Fits Your Macros versus Clean Eating
Is IIFYM better than Clean Eating? It depends how clean eating is defined. And as of yet there really isn’t any clear definition on what clean eating is or what a clean food is as opposed to a dirty food.
We commonly think clean foods to be foods that are natural and unprocessed, which in most regards is true. However in this day and age how can we be really sure. Yes there are better options or cleaner options like olive oil as opposed to hydrogenated oils.
Our bodies see foods for what they are … a breakdown of nutrients. So in reality we could eat a Big Mac for example and still benefit in some degree. Although I wouldn’t want to because most fast food is pumped full of sodium. However that doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy one every once and a while if we want to.
Truthfully neither concept is better than the other. I mean who wants to eat only chicken and rice all the time? On the other end we can’t go around eating pop-tarts all day thinking were going to get shredded. Using both concepts together can work to our advantage. In part 2 of the series I will go into further detail.
In the meantime it is essential that we understand our caloric intake and macro-nutrient breakdown, and if you’ve been involved in the fitness game this isn’t something new.
Below is a great video by BioLayne talking about IIFYM and Clean Eating.
BioLayne Video Log 12 – Clean Eating vs IIFYM (If it fits your macros)
Stay tuned for part 2.
One of the most challenging aspects of bodybuilding or weight training, in my opinion, would be the bulking phase. When bulking the idea is to put on as much lean mass as possible. Which in essence would seem rather easy. Just eat clean but eat a lot more. The problem with that is we also run the risk of gaining more fat cells.
Gaining muscle and minimizing fat in the process can be done by first figuring out your daily caloric intake for maintenance and then creating a surplus that will adjust as the body changes. When bulking our plans have to be fluid and adaptive. Knowing our maintenance calories can allow us to determine an amount that will help to increase our size and strength while utilizing any stored fat as energy.
A great tool for determining these numbers is Calorie Calculator – Daily Caloric Needs also if you haven’t read the article Learn to Calculate Your BMR and Asses Your Daily Caloric Intake take a look. I go in depth more about the daily caloric intake and the differences for a surplus or a deficit.
Once we have determined our maintenance caloric intake we can move forward from there … literally.
A suggested caloric surplus is usually around 200-300 calories. Having too little of a surplus will cause us to bulk at a slower rate. However on the opposite end having too much of a surplus puts us at risk of gaining more fat faster. It is not realistic to think that one can gain muscle without gaining fat. Depending on your choice you can bulk cleanly by watching the foods you eat and your calorie intake or your can bulk haphazardly aka dirty by just eating tons of food.
Anything that is worthwhile usually takes time, so my best suggestion is bulk as cleanly as possible, eat good whole foods, this way when it comes down to cutting your not driving yourself nuts trying to drop pounds and pounds of fat. Not to mention being in relatively great shape all year long is a plus for any bodybuilder.
If It Fits Your Macros . . .
Now that we have an idea of what our calories look like we can go ahead and adjust our macros to fit. It has been suggested that we consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Consuming more in moderation will not be a bad thing, most likely the body will use the excess as energy. With that being said don’t go overboard, because remember anything in excess can get stored as fats.
The remaining macros we need to consider are fat and carbs. Fats can be increased to about 1/2 a gram per pound of bodyweight. Where as carbs should fill up the rest of our macro scale.
Putting all of this to play is simple. Lets assume we are a 215 lb male. And we need to ingest 3200 calories a day. With our simple rule of thumb based on our body weight our protein and fat macros would be 215 g (based on body weight) and 108 g (based on body weight) after simple calculations we are left with approximately 342 g for carbs.
Once you have established a starting point be sure to keep an eye as to what is going on. If after some time your not gaining weight then your maintenance intake was off and you need to adjust accordingly. If your gaining to much weight to fast, again you need to adjust accordingly. Eventually you may hit a plateau and that will also be another time to adjust your intake as well.
To sum it up, figure out your maintenance level of calories, establish your surplus, base your essential macros off your bodyweight, make sure you stay in a surplus and don’t go nuts.
Gain Weight – Macros Made Simple
A great video that explains everything I just wrote about is Gain Weight – Macros Made Simple by Brandon Campbell of Campbell Fitness .
Lying on your back, thoughts rushing through your head. Faster than light each spark of emotion triggers a reaction inside of you. It’s this very moment that you question yourself and the only thing you can say is why. What have I done. How did I get here?
Never paying much mind to what others have said in the past. Hindsight 20/20.
It’s too late now. What’s done is done. Your best guess is to just move on from here. Without having a choice. Making better decisions and setting goals for yourself is all you have left. Your only hope. Scary as it may seem, frightened shitless. Knowing, this is what I have to do.
Miss A Good Thing When It’s Gone
Each day at any given time, on any channel there is a fitness related advertisement. Seems like someone somewhere is coming up with the next hot trend. Even though its all around us, most people just tend to ignore the message.
Your health is the most important thing you have. Next to your loved ones. Without good health how can you enjoy all the many splendors that life has to offer. There are more and more stories about someone fighting for their life in the hospital because they were obese. Their heart was pumping so hard to carry the extra weight.
It’s not uncommon to see more obese children these days. Which is frustrating to say the least. I cannot fathom why someone would lack so much regard for their body.
I guess when something is taken away from us then and only then do we learn to appreciate it for what it was and what it is. Hearing stories of friends lying in the hospital having just been diagnosed with diabetes because of their choices and now fighting for their life makes me shake my head.
Be The Best You
There is a world of self-help books, tapes, cds, programs, websites, and more. There is an entire industry devoted to the betterment of one’s being. Let me ask you something. If you were a web developer and you needed to learn a specific code to finish a task wouldn’t you research it?
Well then, if you’re having trouble with your life or your weight why wouldn’t you research a solution?
Sloth, A Deadly Sin
PEOPLE ARE NOT WILLING TO PUT IN THE WORK THAT IS NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE WHAT IT IS THEY WANT!
As straight as it gets. And you and I both know its so true. Every week, day in and day out. Millions of people line up to buy lottery tickets, dreaming they would win. But not a single one of them is putting in any effort to realize their full potential and just get the money that they dream about themselves.
It goes hand in hand with physical fitness. First off I find that once again people dream of a better body and wish they were in better shape but never freakin take action towards it. And if things don’t happen right away, thats it, they give up.
I enjoy reading self help books. A great book that inspired me was Three Feet From Gold. The book talks about quitting at the very near sight of failure just moments away from achievement. I love it. It relates immensely with fitness.
Be Like Nike and Just Do It
Things cannot be any simpler. Just do it. Whatever it is. Its really that simple. In this case you’re concerned about your health. You know you’re not living right and eating shit. Then fix that. Don’t say you’re going to do it. Really do it.
Making a change to your body means making a change to your lifestyle. You have to commit. Just like an athlete trains for an event. Or a musician trains for a concert. Practice makes perfect. Build good habits and repeat them.
Have some regard for your body. Be concerned about what goes in it. Not obsessed. Eat a balanced diet consisting of meats, whole foods, fruits, and of course veggies. Avoid processed foods at all costs. Really. Get your own food and cook it at home.
No More Excuses
That’s it my friend. There’s no more room for excuses. So let’s get to it. Grab your Converse All-Stars, a pair of sweats, some tunes, Barbell Academy’s Building Strength guide and off to the gym you go! Build the basic fundamentals of strength which will take you on a journey to a new you.
L’Chaim! To Health! To Happiness!
Woah-doggie. Your exhausted from a killer weekend workout and now you need some food to fuel your muscles.
Muscle Meals Monster Meatloaf
Everyone loves mom’s meatloaf. Think back to when you were a kid how delightful a big slab of meat and mashed potatoes lay there waiting for your attack. Mmm, mmm, mmm. I loved meatloaf night. Now that I’m older and more concerned about my figure doesn’t mean I don’t like to eat good. Try this Monster Meatloaf out. It’s sure to please.
Let’s Get Started
Here we go. Get in the kitchen and lets get cooking. Prepare your area gather your ingredients and crank up the oven. Blasts some of your favorite tunes and ride out to the vibes. It’s all about enjoying yourself. To make this Monster Meatloaf were gonna need a few things.
- 1lb Lean Ground Meat (your choice)
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Slices Bread Cubed
- Handful Italian Bread Crumbs
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1 Red Onion
- Garlic Powder
Mix everything in a bowl. Make sure to really get in there and use your hands. Those are your best cooking utensils.
Once your meatloaf is mixed and seasoned grease a pan, baking, dish, or bread pan with PAM.
Place the meatloaf in or on your pan, shape accordingly.
Place the pan into a preheated oven at about 375 degrees.
That’s it. Let the meatloaf cook for about 45 minutes and check.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
Monster Meatloaf is a great way to reward yourself after a grueling workout. I made this for some friends of mine and they loved it. A nice side dish of Basmati rice and an Avocado salsa really set the meal off. Feel free to experiment with flavors and sides that you may like.
“Arrrgghhhhh” the sound you yell after your last rep. “KABOOOOMM” The dumbbells slamming against the floor. Your exhausted. Just hit a new max, pushed yourself way beyond the point of no return. You drank your pre-workout drink and your sweating, “WOOOOOO”.
Just a typical wednesday morning.
Yo Bro Your Lifts Are Sick, How Many Reps Do You Do?
When you look in the mirror you probably think your a real macho tomato. People checking you out. Copying your style and doing your exercies. Right, right. YEA BOY!!!! You know you do. I bet you pick stuff up and put them back down with ease.
It’s all good, I’m not hating. Thats how I feel about myself.
But heres the facts jack. Just cause your lifting big and making waves in the kiddy pool don’t mean your rocking the boat. Let’s cut the b.s. and get down to the nitty gritty.
I Like To Make The Muscles, Look At My Muscles
Ok, Charlie Horse. I got news for you. First of all your legs, don’t match your upper body but, thats a whole different topic I’m not even going to touch here. What I’m trying to say is something ain’t right. Why do you keep training all the time and nothing ever changes. The weight never goes up. And you never build muscle. But you wiggle around the weight room like Yo, Bro.
I’ll tell you why, your acting like a sissy girl.
My Girlfriend Lifts Harder Than You Plus She Eats Like A Boss!
Wipe the tear from your cheek before someone sees it. It’s ok. I know you just watered up. Truth hurts. The first step is admitting. We can get over this together. But, honestly my chick pushes weight like a pro, why are you still putzing around?
So What Does All This Have To Do With Apples and Oranges?
Lift big, eat big and boom you will magically just pop up like the Michelin Man. Yea right. You might pop up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Of course, you need to lift big. And yes you need to eat big. But that doesn’t mean go in the gym, load up the bar, throw the weight around like a hooker giving a sloppy you know what, go home and cram crap in your mouth expecting your muscles to just say “WOOHOO This is fun, lets grow baby!”.
No, no, no!
Lets consider some key points.
- Lifting big doesn’t mean picking up as much weight as you can without any regard for form. What lifting big means is utilize heavy compound lifts (you know things like below parallel squats or bent over parallel rows) that involve large groups of muscles. It also means keep true to the form and push yourself to as far as you can go before breaking the form.
- Eating big doesn’t mean shoving every potato, tomato, cookie, cracker, fry, fruit, burger, steak, and what ever else in your mouth. It means get enough nutrition for your body and for your sport in order to replenish the muscles with good nutrients. What I’m saying is understand what the hell a macro is. Figure out your macros. Then put together a plan that gives you enough, in this case a plan that would create a surplus, and eat GOOD HEALTHY FOODS.
From One Bro to Another
Remember in order to grow you need to create a caloric surplus. In order to utilize that caloric surplus you gotta expend the energy to replenish. My training is made up mostly of heavy compound lifts 3 to 4 times a week. My goal is to build the utmost strength and muscle I can. For a while I struggled with any improvement in my physique. My strength also didn’t change. I took the time to research what made sense and applied my knowledge to find what works best for me.
I have found throughout time and effort that my body responds well to heavy compound lifts and a high level of intensity. I also found that my body responds well to large amounts of food spread out through the day. Usually 5 to 6 meals. Obviously in my efforts to gain more size and strength I will need to keep reevaluating my plan and changing it to keep up with growth.
Here are some tips that helped me. Hopefully they help you.
- Eat a meal at minimum of 1 hour before lifting that includes protein and carbs.
- Become friends with BCAA’s, Creatine, as well as Glutamine.
- 15 – 30 minutes immediately after working out consume protein and simple carbs.
- 1 hour later eat another solid meal.
- Eat every 3 hours.
- Research, research, research, and experiment.
By learning as much as we can from as many people as possible we can develop our own strategies for success while on our fitness and personal journey.
Stay hungry my friends and TRAIN HARD!!!