June 19, 2024

When you are a college student and think of doing something expensive, you think of leaving it. Reason? Tight budget. Right? One such expensive goal is bodybuilding. Instead of leaving behind what you want, why not find a better way out? Like, finding a way to achieve your goal that is cost-effective and inside your college budget. YES! you heard it right. Here, you will find a cost effective bodybuilding diet in college with limited food budget just for you guys!

1. Cost Effective Bodybuilding Diet in College

cost effective bodybuilding in college
By FotoshopTofs/pexels. Copyright 2016

Eating healthy food in these times of inflation it becomes very difficult to obtain all essential nutrients on a low budget. Thinking to follow a bodybuilding diet that requires high-budget food purchases makes it difficult for college students to follow their passion for bodybuilding. The question is, are there any cost-effective bodybuilding diet in college that fulfills the body’s nutritious need? The answer is YES!

Let’s further look at the cost-effective diet with all the nutrition facts (per 100 or 1 serving otherwise mentioned) just for you guys!

1.1. Vegetarian

This is a cheap and healthy plan for college students. You can opt for the best options for your 3 times meal plan and choose which fits you best and in your budget. Since all these are vegan food items they will cost less. Vegetables like broccoli, sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, and others are very good foods for bodybuilding and are affordable too. Also, these can be cooked at home easily.


  1. Whole Milk with Peanut Butter Sandwich

    cost effective bodybuilding in college
    By Muhammad Ragab/Pixabay. Copyright 2021

    In one cup of whole milk:

    • Calories: 149; Protein: 8 grams; Fat: 8 grams; Total Carbs: 11.8 grams
    • In one peanut butter sandwich:
      • Calories: 342; Protein: 12.2 grams; Fat: 16.9 grams; Total Carbs: 37.9 grams
  2. Steel Cut Oats
    • In one cup (cooked):
      • Calories: 166; Protein: 5.9 grams; Fat: 3.6 grams; Total Carbs: 28 grams
  3. Cottage Cheese with Berries
  4. Sprouts

    cost effective bodybuilding in college
    By tookapic/pixabay. Copyright 2015

    In one cup of pea sprouts:

    • Calories: 149; Protein: 10.6 grams; Fat: 0.8 gram; Total Carbs: 32.5 grams
    • In one cup of kidney bean sprouts:
      • Calories: 53; Protein: 7.7 grams; Fat: 0.9 gram; Total Carbs: 7.5 grams


  1. Canned Beans
  2. Brown Rice

    cost effective bodybuilding in college
    By SooYeongBeh/pixabay. Copyright 2021

    • Calories: 218; Protein: 4.5 grams; Fat: 1.6 grams; Total Carbs: 45.8 grams
  3. White Rice
    • Calories: 242; Protein: .4.4 grams; Fat: 0.4 grams; Total Carbs: 53.4 grams
  4. Sweet Potatoes with Burrito

    cost effective bodybuilding in college
    By Pixabay/pexels. Copyright 2017

    In one large, sweet potato (approx. 200 grams):

    • Calories: 162; Protein: 3.6 grams; Fat: 0.2 grams; Total Carbs: 37 grams
    • In two servings of Burrito:
      • Calories: 542; Protein: 28 grams; Fat: 11 grams; Total Carbs: 87 grams


  1. Green Beans
    • Calories: 31; Protein: 1.8 grams; Fat: 0.1 grams; Total Carbs: 7 grams
  2. Broccoli over Brown Rice

    cost effective bodybuilding in college
    By Polina Tankilevitch/pexels. Copyright 2020

    In per 100-gram Broccoli:

    • Calories: 34; Protein: 2.8 grams; Fat: 0.4 grams; Total Carbs: 7 grams

1.2. Non-Vegetarian

These poultry costs are a little high but to save money and get more protein if you are a non-vegetarian, it would be better to add on food items listed below in your meal plan. The egg whites, bread, chicken, canned tuna fish, ground beef, and meat will cost a little high but will get normalized with vegan food.

For example, you can include egg whites along with a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and chicken breast with brown rice for lunch, and so on. In this way, you will not spend more money and will fulfill your bodybuilding diet within your budget.


  1. Egg Whites

    cost effective bodybuilding in college
    By Klaus Nielsen/pexels. Copyright 2020

    Calories: 52; Protein: 11 grams; Fat: 0.2 grams; Total Carbs: 0.7 grams

  2. Sweet Potatoes
    • In one large, sweet potato (approx. 200 grams):
      • Calories: 162; Protein: 3.6 grams; Fat: 0.2 grams; Total Carbs: 37 grams
  3. Omelet
    • Calories: 154; Protein: 11 grams; Fat: 12 grams; Total Carbs: 0.6 grams


  1. Canned Chicken
    • Calories: 234.4; Protein: 30.9 grams; Fat: 11.3 grams; Total Carbs: 0 grams
  2. Chicken Breast

    cost effective bodybuilding in college
    By Robert Owen-Wahl/pixabay. Copyright 2016

    Calories: 165; Protein: 31 grams; Fat: 3.6 grams; Total Carbs: 0 grams

  3. Lean Steak
    • Calories: 250; Protein: 26 grams; Fat: 15 grams; Total Carbs: 0 grams


  1. Grilled Salmon
    • In approx. 250 grams:
      • Calories: 386.2; Protein: 46.1 grams; Fat: 18.9 grams; Total Carbs: 5.3 grams
  2. Chicken Tacos

    cost effective bodybuilding in college
    By John Guccione/pexels. Copyright 2021

    In approx. 300 grams:

    • Calories: 645; Protein: 39 grams; Fat: 35.5 grams; Total Carbs: 39 grams
  3. Broiled Fish
    • Calories: 142.; Protein: 24.79 grams; Fat: 3.98 grams; Total Carbs: 0.37 grams

1.3. Protein Shakes

cost effective bodybuilding in college
By Fabiano Silva/pixabay. Copyright 2017

For muscle, growth proteins play a vital role. It is recommended to intake 1.6 grams per kg per day of your body weight to build muscle mass. Most people doing gym are preferred to intake protein powder to deliver the body’s needs. But instead of taking protein powder you can opt for high-protein foods such as beans, chicken, fish, nuts, protein shakes, and so on. 2 protein shakes per day are enough to fuel muscle growth, also these are cost-effective as they are easily available in the market and easy to make at home.

  1. Oatmeal Shake – 75 g of protein
  2. Banana Bread Shake – 54 g of protein
  3. Peanut Butter Cup Shake – 53 g of protein
  4. Chocolate Coffee Shake – 59 g of protein

2. Healthy Fats

Unsaturated fats: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are known as “Good Fats” which are healthy for your body and help in overall growth and heart disease. Essential Omega fatty acids play a vital role in your body’s health and need to be obtained through the diet.

3. Lean Muscle and Bulk Muscle

To build lean muscle that contains no extra fat and gives you a slim body shape with those appealing cuts then, you should opt to gain lean mass. Whereas for a bodybuilder look you go for the bulk muscle building as it adds on your muscle mass and make them look bigger giving them a bulky look.

4. Note

Use extra virgin olive oil to cook your meal or for coating your salad as it helps in reducing inflammation and muscle breakdown. During bulking, the phase calorie requirement of the body is 3200-3800 calories per day. Only one tablespoon of Olive Oil adds approximately 120 calories. It is a great source of good fats and helps build muscle.

5. Things to Keep in Mind

cost effective bodybuilding in college
By Victor Freitas/pexels. Copyright 2018

  1. Do not overdose on protein powder as it might cause protein poisoning in which the body is prone to increased levels of amino acids.
  2. Eat healthy food rich in nutrition to avoid as many supplements as you can.
  3. The meal plan must consist of plenty of fats, proteins, and clean carbs.
  4. Do not intake much spicy food such as hot sauce, as they might cause heart palpitation, increased heart rate, and more harmful things.
  5. Only food will not make your muscles strong, exercise is a must.
  6. Do not overexercise or overtrain as muscles need time to recover.
  7. It would be better to consult your dietician or fitness trainer (if any) if have any health conditions.
  8. Do not try out weightlifting without a professional’s supervision.

6. Synopsis

Bodybuilding can be exhausting so manage your daily routine properly and make a cheap yet healthy and wholesome meal plan in your college food budget. Take care of the above points to be safe and make sure to fulfill your body’s protein, calories, and carbs requirements along with your workout.

Protein plays the most vital role in bodybuilding so; many people chose to intake protein powder to grow their muscles but always remember shortcuts won’t lead you to the peak and will come with disadvantages. So, do not depend on protein powder alone, intake healthy food for the same. STAY HEALTHY! STAY SAFE!

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