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A Nutritionist’s Guide To Bulking Up For Under £5 A Day

  • Learning about bulking up can be confusing and it’s often seen as expensive
  • However nutritionist Luke Hanna shares his tricks to doing it on the cheap
  • He debunks the most popular myths and reveals how much protein you should eat
  • Other tips include where to find the cheapest ingredients and a sample meal plan

There’s often a lot of conflicting information out there about bulking up. It can be difficult to know what the truth is, which mistakes to avoid and vitally, which foods to focus on. Fortunately, nutritionist Luke Hanna, who posts advice on Instagram and TikTok, has the answers.

He told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk: ‘Getting the body you want takes time, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. It will take dedication to get the training routine in, and you need to know a thing or two about nutrition in order to properly fuel yourself. These are the basics you need to know about the foods for bulking up - with some key myths debunked and a meal plan which costs under £5 a day.’

Don’t Be Scared Of Gaining Weight

The most common mistake people make when bulking is being afraid of weight gain. While you can build muscle without a calorie surplus, it’s going to make things a lot harder. This is why I suggest a small surplus of around 200-300 calories per day. Some fat gain is inevitable for most but it’s also necessary if you want to make the most out of your hypertrophy goals.

It’s Easy To Source Cheap Foods For Bulking Up

The cheapest foods to assist with bulking are staple foods that you can bulk buy, such as rice, pasta and oats. It’s also good to stock up on high-quality sources of fat that are calorie-dense, which include nut butter, full-fat dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurts), olive and cooking oils, own brand granolas and homemade smoothies made with oats, bananas, honey, whey and so on.

Dirty Bulks Aren’t Worth It - Focus On Clean Foods

Dirty bulks aren’t going to help with your goals. When people “dirty bulk” they tend to eat far more than they need and eat too much “junk”. As mentioned previously, only a small surplus is required. There is a ceiling to how many calories are going to benefit you - more is not always better. It will just lead to excessive fat gain. And while some “junk” or highly processed food in your diet is absolutely fine, you don’t want these types of foods making up a high proportion of your diet.

Don’t Pile On The Protein - Stick To 2.2g Per Kg Max

I often hear of people approaching their bulking journey by downing protein shakes like there’s no tomorrow. However, as with calories - there is a limit as to how much protein will benefit you. Most people should aim for 1.4-2.2g protein per kg of body weight for hypertrophy.

Get 30% Of Your Energy Intake From Fats

It’s easy to get bogged down in counting macros, but if you want to keep it simple then follow these rules. Get roughly 30% of your energy intake from fats. For example, if you’re eating 3000 calories per day then you’ll be wanting to consume roughly 900 calories or 100g from fat. Fats are 9 calories per gram so 900 divided by 9 is 100g. Then you can work out how much protein you’re aiming for. So if someone was aiming for 170g protein that equals 680 calories - 170 multiplied by 4 calories per gram of protein. The remainder will be your carbs! So in this example, someone would have 1420 calories or 355g for carbs (carbs are also 4 calories per gram).

Find The Cheapest Protein Sources To Reduce Costs

People can easily be put off concepts such as bulking up if they’re on a budget, but the reality is that, as well as the fact that you don’t need to overdo it with the protein, you can also buy it cheaply if you know what to get. For example, beef mince, chicken thighs, tuna and whey are some of the cheapest sources of protein and it’s easy to incorporate them into meals. You can eat chicken or beef with rice or potatoes, whey with oats and bananas in a smoothie, tuna and veggies in a salad, and so on.

You Can Bulk Up For Under £5 A Day

My sample cheap bulking up day of meals costs just a couple of pounds a day, and it’s easy to follow. You can also mix up these recipes using alternative veggies, protein sources and fats to keep it interesting - and the costs won’t change too much. Here’s what you’d be eating:

  • Breakfast: 100g oats, 300ml full-fat milk, 1 scoop whey, 1 tbsp honey
  • Lunch: 70g basmati rice, 150g beef mince, 1/2 pepper, tinned tomatoes, 1/4 can kidney beans, chilli flakes/spices
  • Afternoon Snack: Banana and peanut butter
  • Dinner: 150g potatoes, 2 chicken thigh fillets, mixed frozen veggies, mayo
  • Evening Snack: Protein bar

Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, added: ‘Luke is right - this meal plan costs under £5 a day and it’s full of good quality ingredients. They’re also easy to pick up - you can find the cheapest prices with the Supermarket Comparison Tool. For the breakfast, you can pick up 1kg of oats for 75p from Tesco, full-fat milk is typically 95p for two pints across the board, and prices for whey protein vary but I found 250g of whey from MyProtein for £7.99.

‘Lunch would involve buying 500g of basmati rice from Sainsburys for £1.10, 340g of honey from there for 69p and 400g of ASDA beef mince for £3.70. At Tesco you can get a pack of 5 peppers for 96p, along with 400g tinned tomatoes for just 28p. Kidney beans aren’t much more, priced at 38p for 400g in Sainsburys. While you’re there, pick up a bunch of bananas for 78p and 340g of peanut butter for 89p. Plus, 2.5kg of potatoes are 91p and 500ml of mayonnaise is 60p.

‘Chicken thighs for dinner can be found in ASDA, where 1.1kg is currently priced at £1.82, and frozen mixed veg is 60p for 1kg in Tesco. I found that the best price for protein bars was on Amazon, where a pack of 20 Grenade Carb Killa bars was £20 - that’s £1 a bar.

‘If you break down these costs per day, it’s £1.35 for oats and milk with honey, which includes a cost of just 8p for one serving of oats if you buy the bigger 1kg pack. For lunch, you’d only need around 5p worth of rice, plus £1.48 for the beef portion and 10p or less each for the pepper, tomatoes and kidney beans.

‘Buying a bunch of 5 bananas would mean you’re paying 15p per day for a banana as a snack with 5p worth of peanut butter on the side, and by grabbing ASDA’s deal on chicken thighs you’re paying around 40p per thigh. It’s only 6p per 100g of mixed veg, and as mentioned the protein bars are £1 each if you get the Amazon multipack - so that takes you up to £4.85 a day. Bargain!’

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