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Weightlifting: Protein requirements, how do you meet them on a budget?

by (5629)
Updated about 1 hour ago
Created August 17, 2013 at 3:43 PM

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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619 · August 20, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Yup, no way to prove that. I however, could prove my point with a dinner date followed by a long car ride, windows rolled up tight.

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2328 · August 19, 2013 at 7:39 PM

There's no way for me to prove this but I'd be willing to bet the chicken is not what's causing these perceived problems. I think it's more likely you feel some remorse or guilt because you heard there could be potential problems with the chicken and then anything that appears to not be working perfectly, with regards to your health/body, gets blamed on the chicken.

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2328 · August 19, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Unless you're morbidly obese with insulin resistance, I don't understand why anyone would go vlc/zc you just make your metabolism less effective. I'm not advocating obscene amounts of carbs but I think it's pretty well established that there are safe carbs and that your body benefits enormously from them especially if you are doing just about any kind of exercise particularly, in your case, weightlifting.

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2328 · August 19, 2013 at 7:24 PM

That sucks I don't have those problems and I eat a lot of cheap chicken breasts

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394 · August 18, 2013 at 9:14 PM

the 20% bodyfat was an example of how to calculate needs you dolt lol.

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6709 · August 18, 2013 at 7:59 PM

if your 180lbs and an 'athlete worth your salt' you should be no where NEAR 20% body-fat...smh

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6709 · August 18, 2013 at 7:58 PM

600 grams of chicken a day? Thats a little over 1lb of chicken, thats really not a big deal to either eat, cook , or buy and you could do that on food stamps.

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6709 · August 18, 2013 at 7:54 PM

if your vlcing or zcing it and lifting weights then that is the biggest problem in the room not your 100 grams of protein per day. To gain a lb of muscle you really only need a very small amount of extra protein per day. 1lb muscle has only aprox 90 grams of protein in it, the rest is water/glycogen/etc/etc. SO, lets say that you could possibly gain 1lb per week (you cant unless your on steroids), you would still only need an additional 12 grams per day on avg

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619 · August 18, 2013 at 7:35 PM

I think that holds true for the combat athlete, such as the Roman soldier paid in salt. Not as true for endurance athletes. Quite a range of goals and needs in the variety of sport. So I disagree that your statement holds true for every athlete, but for those 'worth their salt' in a certain sense I can agree.

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619 · August 18, 2013 at 7:20 PM

cheap chicken = foul gas Skin problems usually flare up too. Not so with the organic varieties.

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5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:36 AM

I also avoid most if not all grains, so quinoa (even though it's a pseudo grain) is out for me. I also don't drink coffee, so Starbucks has never had a place in my budget ;)

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5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:32 AM

Agreed on most of what you say, although I made a choice long ago to avoid CAFO meats such as cheap chicken, farmed fish and grain fed beef. So unfortunately, if one of my local grocery stores has grassfed beef, it's generally a more expensive cut. If I'm at my good grassfed butcher shop, I tend to buy roasts, chuck, ground beef, livers, hearts, bones and most of all top round.

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5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:29 AM

Most if not all of those cheap chickens are kept in terrible conditions and fed almost exclusively soy or corn.

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5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:28 AM

I do occasionally eat white rice, however I tend to be on the VLC to ZC side of things, as when I overindulge in carbs, I suffer from sinus congestion and nasal drip.

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5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:26 AM

Good stuff here. I won't however be adding creatine, as one of the possible side effects for men is accelerated hair loss. I have a full head of hair at 32, and I plan on keeping it that way for quite some time.

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2328 · August 17, 2013 at 10:13 PM

white rice is dirt cheap and can reduce protein requirements especially on lifting days

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2328 · August 17, 2013 at 6:31 PM

What nasty effects do you see from cheap chicken?

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394 · August 17, 2013 at 4:32 PM

I have to say I disagree, unless he can cope with ungodly amounts of chicken breast, he can not get all that protein while staying at a a lower fat and carb content. Those eggs come with fat, that salmon and steak does too. Trying to hit a certain macronutrent profile specific to weightlifting or bodybuilding can't be done with 100% whole foods unless you are rich and can stomach 600g of chicken breast every day. there is nothing wrong with an unflavored 100% whey shake with water. In three shakes I can replace 600g chicken. It is also the most bio available protein source.

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2303 · August 17, 2013 at 4:21 PM

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.

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6709 · August 18, 2013 at 7:58 PM

600 grams of chicken a day? Thats a little over 1lb of chicken, thats really not a big deal to either eat, cook , or buy and you could do that on food stamps.

Medium avatar
5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:36 AM

I also avoid most if not all grains, so quinoa (even though it's a pseudo grain) is out for me. I also don't drink coffee, so Starbucks has never had a place in my budget ;)

Medium avatar
5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:32 AM

Agreed on most of what you say, although I made a choice long ago to avoid CAFO meats such as cheap chicken, farmed fish and grain fed beef. So unfortunately, if one of my local grocery stores has grassfed beef, it's generally a more expensive cut. If I'm at my good grassfed butcher shop, I tend to buy roasts, chuck, ground beef, livers, hearts, bones and most of all top round.

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394 · August 17, 2013 at 4:32 PM

I have to say I disagree, unless he can cope with ungodly amounts of chicken breast, he can not get all that protein while staying at a a lower fat and carb content. Those eggs come with fat, that salmon and steak does too. Trying to hit a certain macronutrent profile specific to weightlifting or bodybuilding can't be done with 100% whole foods unless you are rich and can stomach 600g of chicken breast every day. there is nothing wrong with an unflavored 100% whey shake with water. In three shakes I can replace 600g chicken. It is also the most bio available protein source.

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414 · August 17, 2013 at 8:53 PM

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.

Medium avatar
5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:26 AM

Good stuff here. I won't however be adding creatine, as one of the possible side effects for men is accelerated hair loss. I have a full head of hair at 32, and I plan on keeping it that way for quite some time.

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619 · August 17, 2013 at 4:12 PM

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.

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619 · August 20, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Yup, no way to prove that. I however, could prove my point with a dinner date followed by a long car ride, windows rolled up tight.

Medium avatar
2328 · August 19, 2013 at 7:39 PM

There's no way for me to prove this but I'd be willing to bet the chicken is not what's causing these perceived problems. I think it's more likely you feel some remorse or guilt because you heard there could be potential problems with the chicken and then anything that appears to not be working perfectly, with regards to your health/body, gets blamed on the chicken.

Medium avatar
2328 · August 19, 2013 at 7:24 PM

That sucks I don't have those problems and I eat a lot of cheap chicken breasts

62fafa8cb15af7c562fa8c270f7b6174
619 · August 18, 2013 at 7:20 PM

cheap chicken = foul gas Skin problems usually flare up too. Not so with the organic varieties.

Medium avatar
5629 · August 18, 2013 at 2:29 AM

Most if not all of those cheap chickens are kept in terrible conditions and fed almost exclusively soy or corn.

Medium avatar
2328 · August 17, 2013 at 6:31 PM

What nasty effects do you see from cheap chicken?

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394 · August 17, 2013 at 4:27 PM

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.

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394 · August 18, 2013 at 9:14 PM

the 20% bodyfat was an example of how to calculate needs you dolt lol.

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6709 · August 18, 2013 at 7:59 PM

if your 180lbs and an 'athlete worth your salt' you should be no where NEAR 20% body-fat...smh

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619 · August 18, 2013 at 7:35 PM

I think that holds true for the combat athlete, such as the Roman soldier paid in salt. Not as true for endurance athletes. Quite a range of goals and needs in the variety of sport. So I disagree that your statement holds true for every athlete, but for those 'worth their salt' in a certain sense I can agree.

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