Hey everyone, long time no see! Thought I'd come back around and see how much of the old gang is still here, and see what the new crew has to say:
So I've heard recommendations of .7-.8grams of protein per pound of bodyweight is ideal for gaining muscle mass, and I usually shoot for 1gram per pound just to be on the safe side. Plus I usually overdo it, as with anything in my life.
Lately I've been on a very restrictive budget, and have been embarassingly under my 107-130grams of protein per day. I don't want to be wasting time in the gym, and I don't want my numbers suffering either, so it's vital that I maintain my strength. As a weightlifter, I'm sure you can relate!
The question is, how do you manage to meet your body's protein requirements, cleanly, on a budget?
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The key is to get strategic. Forget prepackaged "fitness" foods like bars and shakes and incorporate proteins other than the usual meats such as eggs, avocados and any canned fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines etc). Shop in bulk (costco, walmart etc) where you can and become BFFs with your freezer. You can buy pretty much a whole grassfed cow at a decent price in most areas and freeze it to use as needed -- so you can check that out.
When shopping don't be picky - get whatever protein is on sale that week. Ground meats, whole chickens, cheap cuts of steak, salmon collars/heads, liver and offals (dirt cheap!) can all be stretched to make stirfrys, soups or other main dishes. I'll often shop at the grocery store first thing in the morning because the meat guy goes around putting 50% off stickers on anything that was packaged more than 2 days ago. You can save a lot!
Also consider borrowing from somewhere else in your budget (aka do you really need that Starbucks coffee or those pre cut veggies) if you can!
I've also heard of people using (gasp!) quinoa when they're actively lifting heavy which is pretty cheap. I don't eat it myself but I've seen others on here mention it, so maybe it could work for you.
I am poor grad student that lifts--to meet my protein requirements post-workout, I take a good whey protein supplement--Yes, it sucks to spend a lot of money at first on it, but if you actually factor the amount of servings, it comes out to 50 cents per serving--that's cheap. It will also last you a month or more. Look out for online deals for your favorite supplements. Vitamin shoppe online usually has deals on grassfed whey (if that's what you want) rather frequently.
For your other meals--watch the weekly grocery store flyers that come out on Wed (accessible online or you probably get them in your mail box) for buy one get one free specials--then buy in bulk. Again, you will be dropping "a lot" of money at first, but you will be stocked up for quite a while. If you are comfortable in the kitchen, buy whole chickens or fatty cuts of meat: they are cheaper and super tasty.
It takes some planning and savvy shopping, but you can do it.
I also recommend taking creatine to help with recovery and muscle-building. I personally find it makes a difference.
I'm a firm believer in quality over quantity when it comes to protein, even though I'm on a tight budget.
I rarely eat .6g per lb. bodyweight but have no trouble recovering from almost daily heavy lifting. Grassfed raw whey seems to make me gain weight so easily, I often skip it for a month at a time. I don't notice this with cheaper more common protein powders.
I notice too much nasty effects from cheap chicken to justify the huge price savings, and opt for lean antibiotic/hormone free grain fed beef.
I also believe in eating plenty of live, fresh, hearty vegetables and fruits for more amino's. That's what your body uses the protein for anyway.
I would say that pretty much every athlete I know worth their salt consumes around 1.0 - 1.5g of protein per pound of LEAN body mass.
So if you are 180lbs and you are 20% bodyfat around 144g protein is the minimum you should be ingesting.
Also I would look into some standard supplements like Tryptophan and ZMA for nightime optimisation of sleep and thus recovery and test production and the managing of cortisol levels.
A good multivitamin and whey isolate are pretty helpful too. I like optimum nutrition but for my next batch I am thinking of ordering some 100% natural whey isolate.