Bulking up is a challenge. Balancing a busy life while sticking to a healthy high-calorie meal plan and training can be a tough balancing act. But it’s even tougher if you’re bulking on a budget.
With a solid meal plan and a few simple lifestyle tweaks, you can meet your training and calorie goals while keeping your bank balance happy. Yes, bulking on a budget is possible—and we’re going to tell you how to do it right now.
Ready? Let’s dive into the art of bulking on a budget.
What is bulking?
Bulking is eating a calorie surplus and using all that extra energy to build muscle. It’s a strategic process that bodybuilders use to maximize their gains. A bulking diet is usually followed by a cutting phase (reducing your calories with the aim of burning fat and getting shredded).
Read: Our guide to the difference between cutting and bulking to uncover everything you need to know about these two essential bodybuilding phases.
Bulking on a budget: our top tips
If you’re keen to get bigger and want to know the best way to bulk on a budget, here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Have a bulking plan
Planning is vital if you want to enjoy muscle growth and boost your strength on a bulking budget.
First, you need to be clear on your macronutrient goals. Why? Because protein is a macro you’ll want to prioritize for muscle growth.
Research suggests a higher protein diet increases the body’s ability to convert energy into muscle mass, rather than fat mass. The recommended protein requirement when bulking is between 1.6 and 2.2 grams per kilogram of your body weight per day. This is around double the average recommended daily dosage.
But, don’t neglect all of those other epic macronutrients just because you’re concentrating on protein. Healthy fats are vital for several bodily functions and can give you a big energy boost for your workout. Carbohydrates also provide fuel for your training and help with hormone regulation.
Once you’ve set your goal calorie and macro levels, you can create a meal plan that will help you succeed. Consider healthy food choices that meet your nutrient needs. And, think of meal prep options that suit your lifestyle, like packed lunches for those busy work days.
Read: 10 nutrition-packed foods you need in your diet to bulk up for top tips on creating a budget-friendly meal plan for big gains.
2. Eat at home
Preparing, cooking, and eating your food at home is one of the simplest ways to bulk up on a budget.
Cooking your meals will give you complete control over what goes into your food, so you can be sure you’re eating a balanced meal time after time. You’re also more likely to stick to your meal plan, training goals, and food budget by avoiding the temptation of impulse food purchases when you’re on the go.
There will be times when you’re out socializing with friends or need a quick meal between work meetings—and that’s all good (everyone needs a treat from time to time).
Bonus tip: If you’re eating at a restaurant, cast your eyes over the menu in advance to see check options, prices, and dishes. For work lunches, prep your food, take it with you—and enjoy the fruits of your labor in a location of your choice (preferably with a view).
3. Shop smart
Coupon-cutting might get a bad rep. But, when it comes to bulking on a budget, it can help you shave some serious dollars off your grocery bill.
Many supermarkets have weekly deals or publish coupons regularly. Sign up for the reward scheme for your local grocery store and opt-in for updates on their offers. Trust us, your bank account will thank you.
Shop around different stores for the best deals using local newspapers or magazines. Using supermarket own-brands can also lessen the cost of your weekly shopping.
Bulking up on a budget and bulk-buying your food are a match made in heaven. Find big bulk stores in your area and use them for grabbing long-life foods like rice, pasta, and canned goods. You’ve got to go big to get big.
Carefully shopping at bulk stores and sourcing coupons takes effort, but once you get into a flow, you’ll find the whole process a breeze. And, you’ll stay on budget while adding easy calories into your diet and going for those big gains.
4. Avoid dirty bulking
Dirty bulking is the term for consuming cheap unhealthy foods in an attempt to follow a budget bulk diet. But, while it may be an attractive option—going for a dirty bulk has its fair share of drawbacks.
While calories from low quality processed meals will still provide energy, a good bulking diet (one that will give you the best possible results) should be nutritious. Eating too many processed meals with little to no nutrients can lead to a long list of health risks like obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
Also, because junk foods offer little in the way of nutrients, they rarely fill you up. And, when you’re not full, you’ll end up eating additional food—spending more money in the process. So, eat clean and you will stay on track.
5. Buy the right supplements for your bulking needs
Supplements can be an excellent way to get the proper macronutrients and calorie count you need to succeed. But, make sure you weave the costs of supplements into your budget before pressing the ‘buy’ button.
Consider when you’ll need supplements the most. Is it a protein powder for breakfast? Or help with a pre-workout snack?
If added to your bulking budget from the start, supplements can actually save you money by replacing unexpected snacks or meal purchases. They will also fill in any nutritional gaps in your training plan.
Bulking on a budget is all about planning
Learning to bulk up on a budget is a process that takes time and consideration. And, it all comes down to planning:
Create a solid meal schedule
Put social events into your calendar in advance
Shop smart (and in bulk) for essential nutrients
Buy the right supplements
All this prep will keep you on track with your calorie goals and help you save you some serious money while bulking. You’ve got this.
If you’re looking for supplements that offer excellent value for money and will give you the fuel you need to succeed, check out our epic range of bulking stacks.
How do I bulk up on a budget?
Bulking up on a budget comes down to planning and preparation. By setting out your training goals and nutritional needs from the start, you’ll be able to get serious gains without draining your bank balance.
Searching for coupons and buying in bulk will reduce your grocery bill. Plus, weaving a solid supplement into your budget will save you money in the long run.
What foods should I eat to bulk on a budget?
If you’re bulking on a budget, these food items will give you the results you deserve without draining your bank balance:
Ground lean turkey
Lentils and pulses
How do I eat 3,500 calories a day?
To get 3,500 calories a day and bulk up on a budget, you should eat small meals frequently.
Planning your meals in advance and batch cooking will also ensure that you get all of the calories and nutrients you need when you’re on the go.