7 Cheap Foods to Build Muscle on a Budget in College

By Patrick Banks

Posted 2 years agoHEALTH

Some of the most impactful fads of the current generation is the youth’s involvement to improving their own lifestyle, which includes their nutrition and fitness. A wide variety of exercises, diets and supplements became viral, to the point that some students would go through the lengths of spending money just to follow the trend and to get the body they have been working hard to get.

In fact, the fitness industry is continuously booming, with many health and fitness programs and services being offered by a variety of companies. With about 20% of American adults engaging in dieting and physical fitness activities, a lot of people are definitely willing to spend to meet their health and fitness goals.

And as part of meeting their health and fitness goals, many young adults nowadays would willingly spend money on bulking up with some carbs and proteins, with some bodybuilders willingly paying nutritionists and fitness coaches to help them create the perfect meal plan and choose the right sort of food to eat, no matter the cost.

But did you know that there are many other cheaper, simpler sources of nutrition that anyone, especially college students with limited finances, can go for? If you are looking into bulking up and building up some muscles, here are seven affordable food that you can add to your diet.

Natural Peanut Butter

If you are looking for an affordable and versatile source of protein and fiber, then peanut butter is a must-have on your pantry. When eaten in moderation, a bodybuilder will be able to acquire a number of health benefits from this tasty spread.

With each 2 tablespoon serving of the good ol’ PB, you can get at least 8 grams of protein and around 2 grams of dietary fiber. Aside from protein and fiber, this serving size of peanut butter can provide you with 500 milligrams of iron, 24 micromilligrams of folate, 188 calories, 3 grams of sugars and saturated fats, and 6 grams of unsaturated fats.

Aside from getting a lot of nutrients from natural peanut butter, it’s also very easy to incorporate to any sort of meal you prefer. Whether you prefer drinking peanut butter protein shakes, or eating a sandwich with PB spread, PB and banana waffles, or a bowl of PB-flavored oatmeal, you’ll get plenty of your much-needed nutrients to fuel your bodybuilding activities.

Similarly, vegetal milks from oats or almonds are very healthy for our body and contain the carbohydrates and protein helpful for building muscle to increase your strength, as well as micronutrients that help support muscle function. Delicious and no animal suffering involved in your bodybuilding, contrary to most of the advice over the internet!


One of the go-to veggies for bodybuilders is asparagus. This vegetable is popular among the bodybuilding community, because of its bloat-fighting benefit. Being a natural diuretic, many bodybuilders turn to this vegetable, especially when preparing for competitions. This vegetable is also high in vitamins B, K, and C, as well as minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium. It is also rich in antioxidants and is a great source of prebiotics which is definitely a must-have for healthy digestion.


If you wanna try spicing up your asparagus servings, aside from boiling it, you can also try to marinade and grill it or roast it and toss it in your veggie salad. It can also be added to sushi, omelet, curry or pizza. This low-calorie vegetable is definitely a must-have item in your fridge and will be a great staple for your bulk-up meals.


Potatoes are among the best sources of carbohydrates — a much-needed macronutrient for every bodybuilder. They provide bodybuilders with energy and nutrients. Potatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. If you plan on introducing potatoes to your diet, you have to take into consideration the time as to when you will eat them.

Keep in mind that this is helpful for your daily dose of carbs, which you will need for your bodybuilding activities. You may incorporate potatoes into your morning meals, up until your early evening meals. Some bodybuilders also prepare meals with a mix of both sweet potatoes and white potatoes. But bear in mind that everything should be in moderation. If you are eating too much potatoes and not trying other carb-rich food sources, you may miss out on other carb types that could also supply you with additional nutrition. So it’s still ideal to mix up your carb sources daily.

Cottage Cheese

When it comes to strengthening bones and building body muscles, cottage cheese and all its glory remains to be a must-have for bodybuilders of all ages. A cup of cottage cheese can supply you with 27 grams of slow-digesting casein protein. The amino acid content of casein can give you a steady flow of muscle-building fuel. In fact, many bodybuilders eat cottage cheese as an evening snack or before going to bed, since the cheese’s nutrients is great for aiding your muscles’ growth and recovery while you doze away.

Aside from the casein protein, cottage cheese can also provide you with vitamin B12 or riboflavin, which is great for metabolism and in helping your body convert carbs and fats into energy. Cottage cheese is also a great source of calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for keeping the bones healthy and strong. It’s very easy to incorporate cottage cheese in your meals. It’s a good ingredient to salads, soups, pastas and baked goods.


A mistake that some bodybuilders might make is disregarding the importance of a balanced diet. Indeed, bodybuilders need lots of carbs and protein to fuel their daily bodybuilding grind, but it is still essential to get a sufficient dose of nutrients from other sources, including vegetables. And lettuces are one of the best vegetables to include in your daily diet.

By maintaining a diet that is rich in both carbs and fiber, bodybuilders will be able to improve their body’s protein absorption, suppress their appetite, increases the rate of their metabolism and cleans their digestive system. At the same time, lettuce is also among the many green leafy vegetables that help slow down the release of other nutrients absorbed by the body.

Aside from being rich in fiber, lettuces also possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, helps lower your cholesterol levels, and contains lots of antioxidants. With so many amazing benefits rolled up in one green leafy veggie, there is no doubt that this is definitely a great addition to your daily diet.


Bagels are one of the easiest breakfast items to have and prepare, especially for people on the go. This convenient breakfast item is loaded with lots of carbs, ranging from 50 to 60 grams for a 3.7 ounce bagel, depending on the dressing and flavoring. This calorie-dense food is also low in fat and fiber, and is a great meal staple for bodybuilders who are loading on carbs.

Whether you prefer to munch on a tuna bagel sandwich, a peanut butter bagel, or just the plain bagel, this calorie-packed food is the perfect meal to start your day, since it will be a good source of energy for your workout sessions. And since it is more dense than bread, bagels can also be an ideal part of your after-workout meal, as long as you pair it with something that is rich in protein (may be chicken or tuna spread),.

Whole Wheat Bread

Another great source of carb for bodybuilders are whole wheat bread. It might not provide you with plenty of nutrients, but it is a great staple to any meal, and is versatile too, as you can practically prep any kind of sandwich you might prefer to have using it. Around 6 to 11 servings a day would be enough to supply bodybuilders with around 2000 to 2800 calories.

Another reason why 100% whole wheat breads are ideal is because they contain more naturally occurring fiber and B vitamins, as compared to refined, white bread. Aside from the whole wheat variety, you can also look for other multigrain types of bread as well as breads that are made of rye, bran, or pumpernickel.

No matter what sort of food or meals you have decided to incorporate into your bodybuilding, it is still ideal to keep in mind the importance of maintaining a balanced diet. You might be working on bulking up and packing on loads of carbohydrates and protein, but it is still essential to incorporate other nutritious food into your bodybuilding meal plan.

Many personal trainers and fitness coaches may provide you more information on how to eat and build your muscles better, but if you are looking for the most affordable means of bulking up and looking ripped, then start small and try incorporating these affordable foods to help you achieve your bodybuilding goal.

About the author Patrick Banks

Patrick is a Berlin-based dating advisor, motivational speaker, a huge fitness and vegan diet enthusiast and the main editor at Wingman Magazine, specialised in men's health. His ultimate goal is to share with men around the world his passion for self-development and to help them to become the greatest version of themselves. He believes a healthy body and successful social interactions are two main keys to happiness.

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