Natural Bodybuilding with JC: Where There’s A Will…

You’re broke, aren’t you? Or pretty close it. You can barely keep up with the demands of your diet and supplementation requirements. You probably entertain thoughts such as “What can I sell? How much do you get for donating plasma? If only I were sponsored…”

I’ve been there. I’m actually there quite often. Chances are you started on this journey without the slightest idea that it would become such a demanding and life altering experience. I for one, had no clue. It took me several years to figure it all out, but I am proud to say that I have done it, and my results have never been better.

The first thing you are going to want to do is take a good hard look at your supplements. This is where the majority of the expenses arise. Supplements aren’t cheap, and the cheap ones are usually cheap for a reason. There will always be something that will catch your eye, something that will promise the results you have been looking for, something you just cannot live without.

Stop. Refer to my article “That’s Great Bro, But is it Science.”

Resume reading. Once you have fully and properly researched what it is you believe you cannot live without, start prioritizing from benefit to cost. Does the benefit outweigh the cost?

How about this approach – can the product be obtained naturally through a well-planned diet? Let’s take Glutamine, for example. I know Glutamine alone is rather inexpensive, but an expense is an expense, and they add up. Dietary sources of Glutamine include plant and animal proteins such as beef, pork, poultry, milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, raw spinach, and cabbage. These are all great bodybuilding foods – especially cottage cheese which is commonly used in place of Casein powder between meals and before bed. There you have it, we just eliminated the “need” for supplemental Glutamine and Casein powder. You can apply this to just about every supplement in your cabinet. If you’re natural, everything you need to build the body you want is available through dietary sources.

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying supplements are a complete waste. Supplements are a great addition to any fitness or bodybuilding regimen, but they are just that, supplements. They are an option – not a necessity.

Of all the supplements out there, you will most likely agree that the most important and widely used is protein. Let’s face it; powdered protein is just an amazing convenience. Considering the amount of protein any bodybuilder or fitness enthusiast consumes daily, supplemental protein powder is not only a time saver, but in my opinion, is also a money saver.

A typical serving of Whey is approximately 25 grams of Protein. To get 25 grams of protein from chicken, you would need about three and a half ounces of cooked meat. That usually comes out to be about a six ounce raw breast, give or take. For just three meals of this modest protein dose, you would easily need over a pound of chicken.

If you do the math on a standard Whey product, you will find that a serving containing 25 grams of protein will most likely end up averaging about 50 cents. Am I saying stop eating chicken and switch to whey? No. Am I suggesting you SUPPLEMENT, as in replace a meal here or there or add to a meal, absolutely.

Even though Whey may be a money saver in the long run, I understand it is still an expense. With an average tub of decent protein running about 35 dollars, that can still be a lot to swing all at once. As a man with a family, I still have a hard time justifying 35 dollars on powder that will only be consumed by me. Sure, it will provide far more meals than 35 dollars of chicken or steak, but that’s still 35 dollars that wasn’t put towards feeding the other five people in my household. What to do?

Here are some simple and inexpensive ways to get a good protein fix without breaking the bank.

  1. Beans – Dirt cheap whether you buy them dry or canned. Beans not only pack a good amount of protein but they can also be used as a solid carb source.
  2. Eggs – One whole egg contains 7 grams of protein. Two whites will yield the same protein without the fat. Eggs are great on their own, or added to just about any dish. Buy in bulk and you can save a ton. I have purchased cases of seven and a half dozen eggs at five dollars a case!
  3. Milk – Just like eggs, you get to choose whether you want fat or not. Again, a great addition to any meal for a quick protein fix.
  4. Cottage Cheese – Just like milk, cottage cheese will come in different varieties.
  5. Fat Free Greek Yogurt – Double the protein of regular yogurt with none of the fat. Extremely versatile in that you can make many treats or meals out of it or even use it in cooking.
  6. Tuna – One can of tunas yields almost 30g of protein!
  7. Nuts/Nut Butters – It would not be feasible to use nuts solely for the protein, but they are a great snack or addition to any meal that will add good fats and protein.
  8. Frozen Chicken breast – Not a favorite amongst many, but beggars can’t be choosers. A three pound bag will run you about five dollars and fifty cents. A small piece of chicken, some veggies, beans, and glass of milk will yield all the protein you need at an amazingly low cost.

Get creative and toss a bunch of these ingredients into a crock pot to create several meals at an incredibly low cost. Now, that takes care of the nutritional aspect of our financial woes, but what about the OTHER expenses. Other expenses, you ask? Yes – there are more – if you are a competitor, anyway. If you don’t compete, you frequent a modest gym, and don’t care for flashy workout gear, you really have nothing to worry about beyond the monthly/yearly gym dues. I pay $10 a month for my gym membership. I can find that in change in the couch.

Competition can get very pricey. Standard entry to a show is as follows:

Entry:                                                            $60
Organization Membership:                  $50
Polygraph:                                                   $40
Tan:                                                                 $100

That’s just to get started. Then, just as if you were at a fair or amusement park, the add-ons start rolling in: Video, photographs, travel (hotel, airfare, and gas), and food…it’s not difficult to burn up a thousand dollars in a single weekend. Should you win a pro-card, they even charge you to activate it!

If you’re like me, and you need to work on a small budget, planning is key. Plan your meals ahead of time. This will help you gauge how much food you need to buy in a week and you can plan around a budget. Shop once a week and never shop while hungry! I write out all of my meals for the week based on what I have to spend on food. I buy only what I need and by the end of the week there is not a single scrap of food left in my house. Nothing is wasted.

Planning ahead for a show is also important. Show schedules are often posted very early. Figure out your competitive schedule and start putting money aside. The entry fee is usually required a couple weeks before the show, but the membership, polygraph, tan, and other expenses will all be due up front and on the day. Planning to compete in a show several months before the event will allow plenty of time to start putting small bits of money aside.

I sincerely hope you find this informational helpful. It is always disheartening to hear people talk of how cost has prevented them from maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is NOT true that it costs more to eat healthy:

I will leave you with this fun fact, as a sign that I do practice what I preach:

I am currently consuming only 50 grams of Whey protein powder a day. That is one and a half Servings – a grand total of 42 grams of supplemental protein. At that rate, the five pound tub from which I dig into will last me 45 days. My powder usage equates to approximately 75 cents per day.


Happy Lifting!

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