Building muscle as a student isn’t easy. You’ve endured the mountain voyage to Streatham Sports Park and coughed up that hefty membership fee, and now you’re in the gym pumping iron to your heart’s content. But there’s a problem. As we all know, weight training is nothing without a reasonable diet to back it up (although the odd trip to Mega Kebab is still on the cards, you’re “bulking” remember?) Muscles require calories, and calories equal money. Given that this isn’t exactly in easy supply during your studies, you’re going to need to find some cheap food solutions to reach your goals. With this in mind, here are my top five fitness foods for students:
- Peanut Butter
The holy grail of budget foods. Along with your protein and carbs, you’re going to need a good amount of high quality fats in your diet if you want to build muscle. Your average jar of peanut butter is cheap, will last you a long time and is high in natural fats and protein. The perfect way to bump up your calorie intake for the day – just check the label to make sure the particular brand you’re buying isn’t packed with unnecessary sugars.
Again, a very cheap option for students. Mince gives you flexibility in meal choices, is easy to cook with and goes a long way, making it ideal for cost-effective batch cooking. Think chili con carne, spag bol or anything along these lines. If you fancy something different, give turkey mince a go as it is incredibly lean and relatively inexpensive.
Let’s be honest, none of us really have the time or motivation to cook in the mornings, do we? A bowl of porridge takes no time to prepare, will cost you next to nothing, and provides great calorific value – without the sugar content of many breakfast cereals. With good, slow-release carbs and more protein than you might expect, this will give you the perfect start to the day. And for those of you who like your whey protein, why not invest in some instant oats? A cheap way to add some strong carbs to your your shakes.
Kidney beans, butter beans, baked beans… It’s really up to you, but beans in general are a great way to pad out meals. If you’re batch cooking, these can help you stretch out to those one or two extra portions, making your food prep far more cost-effective. High in protein, cheap, and a perfect source of fibre.
- High Fat Dairy Products
A lot of bodybuilding blogs, forums, and YouTube videos will tell you to buy low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese. In an ideal world we would follow this advice, but on a budget it makes more sense to buy full fat products; this way you can easily boost your fat intake, without gorging on Domino’s. Just be sure to consume in moderation.