As much as we wish we had the endorsement deals and cash of a guy like Phil Heath, most of us simply don’t have the bankroll to spend lavishly on foods and supplement. That means we need to choose our food sources carefully to maximize nutrition while minimizing cost. In order to help you guys out, we’ve put together a list of our favorite protein sources that don’t break the bank. Check out our top picks below!
1 – Eggs
Don’t be one of those guys who throws out the egg yolks. While egg whites are a great protein source, the egg yolk itself is loaded with healthy fats and cholesterol which is good for your testosterone levels. A dozen eggs won’t cost you much more than a few bucks and they are very flexible in terms of available recipes. Unless you absolutely can’t stand the taste or smell of eggs they should absolutely be part of your diet.
2 – Ground Beef
For a while a lot of bodybuilding outlets were recommending that you only consume lean protein sources. However, people are starting to realize just how beneficial fattier cuts of meat can be. Ground beef, for example, is high in iron and saturated fat while containing 0 carbs. That means you will get a nice boost to your testosterone levels which will translate to faster gains and more strength.
3 – Tuna
This one is a bodybuilding staple. Cheap and convenient, tuna has been a go-to protein source for bodybuilders forever. One of the reasons for it’s popularity is the fact that it contains virtually no carbs or fat. In other words, 100% of the calories are coming from protein. The only thing we would caution you on is not having too much tuna every week as it can be high in mercury. Opt for light tuna rather than white tuna as it has lower mercury levels.
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4 – Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a great source of slow-digesting casein protein. That means it will keep you feeling full and your muscles will get a constant flow of nutrients. Another benefit of cottage cheese is that it is relatively cheap and flexible. You can have it with peanut butter, eat it straight up or mix in some chia seeds. The options are limitless with this bodybuilding staple food.
5 – Whey Protein
Whey protein is the most popular bodybuilding supplement out there. Countless bodybuilders rely on whey protein to feed their muscles after a workout, or for a convenient snack any time during the day. The reason whey protein is so helpful is that it is the fastest absorbing protein out there. In other words, whey protein will get to your muscles faster than any other protein source. Since your muscles are basically screaming for nutrients after a workout whey protein is a great option. Take a shaker cup with you to the gym so you have something ready for you after your workout.
6 – Casein Protein
If cottage cheese isn’t your thing, try having casein protein powder. Just like whey protein it’s very convenient and inexpensive. Since it’s very slow absorbing it’s a option for before bedtime. Remember that when you sleep you are essentially fasting for 8 hours. That means your body needs something slow absorbing that will supply a steady dose of nutrients. Casein protein powder mixes well with all different kinds of ingredients – a quick search online will reveal all kinds of great recipes you can try.
7 – Steak
If you are an aspiring bodybuilder but you don’t like steak we have one piece of advice for you: you need to start liking steak! There’s a reason so many bodybuilders consume these regularly – they are loaded with quality protein, iron and saturated fat. That means more muscle, faster metabolism and improved strength. Try to load up on these when they are on sale at your local grocery store and throw some into the freezer.
8 – Testosterone Booster
Alright so technically this isn’t a protein source but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. We mentioned earlier that a lot of protein sources contain saturated fat which boost testosterone levels. If you are going through all this trouble to get your testosterone production up why not get something that is packed with all sorts of ingredients that boost testosterone all in a convenient supplement form?
Testosterone boosters come in many shapes and sizes and some are better than others. A quality supplement will contain natural ingredients that are backed with scientific research. If you are contemplating a supplement that won’t tell you what’s in it – don’t bother. It usually means it’s loaded with low quality nutrients or worse – dangerous additives and preservatives that actually do nothing. If you don’t know which product to choose don’t worry. We’ve prepared a guide to the best ingredients and our top product picks. Click here to check out our dedicated testosterone booster page to learn more.
9 – Chicken Breast
Pretty much the go-to lean protein source. The only challenge with chicken breast is making it taste good. We won’t get into that during this article, however there are tons of good recipes out there to help you out. The great thing about chicken breast is that it has very little fat or carbs. Just make sure you get the boneless kind and cook it properly. Eating undercooked chicken can leave you feeling very sick.
10 – Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has become increasingly mainstream in recent years. In fact, it’s become so popular that people are starting to forget about cottage cheese. We aren’t saying that greek yogurt is necessarily better however many people do prefer the taste.
When it comes to Greek yogurt the thing you really have to be careful of is the products that contain added sugar. While it might be a great protein source, if a serving contains 20g of sugar you will be doing just as much bad as good. Stick with plain, no sugar-added varieties and you will be fine.