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Building a Better Body: Nutrition on a Budget

The argument that eating healthy is expensive has stopped many people from venturing into the lifestyle change, but how expensive is it really? The truth is in the end that is just another excuse people use to delay what people perceive as a “difficult action”. Most people view healthy food as being void of taste, but that simply is not always the case. Eating healthy can not only make you feel better and have more energy, but it can also taste great too.

The biggest disadvantage Americans have is our easy access to fast food; I can get a cheeseburger for 99 cents, while a salad is 4.99. Which is why many families practically eat big to get big muscles Building a Better Body: Nutrition on a Budgetraise their kids on fast food, and as the kids turn into young adults it is even harder for them to change. But fast food isn’t hopeless, my personal favorite choice is KFC’s grilled chicken which tastes great and a lot better for you then a 99 cents cheeseburger.

Nonetheless the best way to ensure quality food intake is to be well prepared at the grocery store by constantly checking for major sales ( usually around big sports games, holidays like memorial day and the upcoming fathers day) to stock up on healthy condiments and dressings. However, for a steady supply of lean protein you are going to have to look for the weekly butcher sales. At my local grocery store, they always have at least one meat (seafood, beef, or chicken) on sale every week and the randomness of it also adds variety to my diet.

Nevertheless, if you are clueless on what exactly to buy, I also threw together a quick list of good food choices below.

  • Turkey( Leaner than Beef)
  • Red Meat
  • Whole Eggs( Or egg Whites)
  • Chicken Breasts( Without the skin preferably)
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Milk
  • Whey Protein Powder( For Shakes and used in recipes like banana pudding)
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown Rice
  • Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas or Pita Bread
  • Quinoa ” The King of Grains”
  • Whole Grain Cereals
  • Almonds
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Low Fat Yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Avocados
  • Spinach( Didn’t you see Popeyes forearms?)
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Salsa
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Condiments-(BBQ sauce, hot sauce, honey mustard, fat free salad dressings, ect)
  • Green Tea
  • Olive Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil

A rather daunting list don’t you think? With all those choices, I am sure you can find many great flavor combinations you really enjoy, and move you a step closer to your fitness goals and not a step backwards. Variety is the spice of life and the key to eating healthier, for that reason I encourage you to try things you have never tried, Green Tea? Not only is Green Tea a strong antioxidant, but it is also a natural diuretic (Expels Excess Water Weight), prevents cancer and increases blood circulation. Which all-together makes Green Tea a great substitute for your morning coffee.

3793925386 06e6a00184 m Building a Better Body: Nutrition on a BudgetRed Beef although under a lot of criticism lately is chalked full of Creatine, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Carnosine and more. But don’t count out turkey when cutting saturated fat, at close to zero grams of saturated fat( which is why its dry)t it can be a much leaner alternative to mix things up with. Then you have certain seafood’s like Salmon, which is packed with high quality proteins and omega- 3 fatty acids. Moreover, do not forget the cheapest fish of them all, tuna.

Then you have the “cure all” powerhouse that is olive oil, which has been linked with everything from lowering risks of heart disease, diabetes, reducing inflammation, increasing recovery. On the other hand you have low fat cottage cheese, which can be mixed in and incorporated with other meals while packing 25+ protein a cup.

And finally you have the underrated foods most of us keep in our households, but don’t take advantage of, such as milk, eggs and peanut butter. Old school bodybuilders used to drink up to a galloon of milk a day , Chuck Sipes a legendary natural bodybuilder told everyone he trained to drink at least a liter a day. Eggs considered by many to be the perfect protein are often overlooked as well, or traded for egg whites which is something greats like Arnold speak out against. In addition, you have peanut butter which is a perfect snack paired with carrots, broccoli or can be made into a meal.

From a purely price point of view, the cheapest sources of protein are canned tuna, whole eggs and frozen chicken breasts. This could be your base with my previous recommendations used occasionally to add variety. Luckily quality carbs can be obtained from many cheap food sources so no big deal there, and healthy fats what you do not get from meats you can get with olive oils, milk, ect.

Good cookbooks are also invaluable for eating healthy as it keeps your food interesting and tasteful, a good one I use everyday is Dave Ruel’s Anabolic Cooking, which can be found here.

Remember muscle is built in the kitchen, and you need to not only train hard, but stay on top of your nutrition as well for best results. Which method of dieting you use is up to you, there are many options out there from IIFYM( If It Fits Your Macros ) to the Paleo Diet or plain old carb cycling with eating healthy whole foods like Arnold, and other old school legends did it.


Brad Kelly writes a weekly article every Monday.  He  is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist, and Corrective Exercise Specialist out of Panama City, Florida. Driven by a passion to help others he not only trains locals, but also performs online personal training and writes fitness articles to reach as many fellow fitness enthusiasts as possible.

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