Bodybuilding can be pretty expensive. From buying whey protein to pre-workouts to BCAA’s and the latest “must have” supplement, it’s pretty obvious that you need some deep pockets if you’re going to take it seriously.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there’s plenty of cheap bodybuilding meals out there that cost only a dollar or two, and that take only a few minutes to make. Dirty bulking costs even less.
While dirty bulking isn’t necessarily the best “long term,” solution, for all of you broke hard gainers out there trying to get jacked…here’s my advice.
When I was in college I used to practically live off of this stuff. For just a few dollars, you can get a 12 pack of Maruchan Ramen. That’s literally 16 cents for a 380 calorie bowl of ramen with 10 grams of protein and 52 grams of carbs.
There’s a million flavors of ramen, too—beef, shrimp, chicken mushroom, picante beef, and more. If you ever get tired of one flavor, there’s a dozen over flavors that you can try for literally pennies on the dollar.
As for the protein source, tuna is one of the cheapest out there—you can get a 6 pack of tuna cans for like $5 at Walmart. Each can has roughly 26 grams of protein, and zero carbs. To make it more appetizing, mix it with some BBQ sauce, microwave it for a couple of minutes, and voila, you’ve got brisket.
A meal of 2 cans of tuna and 2 blocks of ramen has over 60 grams of protein and 900 calories—add in the BBQ sauce and it jumps up to 1100 calories. All of this costs only $1.50 and can be made in under 10 minutes. Boom.
Back when I was in college there was this local Martin’s that I used to hit up all the time. They’d have this special every Wednesday, where you could pick out any 12 donuts you wanted, and get them for $4. Four fucking dollars.
I’d always load up on the Boston Creme, Chocolate Glazed, and other high calorie donuts to get the most bang for my buck. One Chocolate Glazed donut is a whopping 360 calories, and one Boston Creme donut is around 420. How’s that for some serious bulking?
You still need protein, though, which is where the whey comes in. If you’re doing a dirty bulk, you could probably get away with mass gainer, but isolate is far cheaper. Just put two scoops in some water, shake, and eat a few donuts.
When I was trying to bulk up a while back, I’d always have 2 scoops of whey protein and 4 donuts right before bed. This “meal,” if you can even call it that, had around 1700 calories and 54 grams of protein—all for just a few bucks.
Best of all, it took literally seconds to make. I didn’t even have to prepare the donuts, I’d just whip them out of the plastic bin and eat them. Just scoop some whey into your blender bottle, fill it with water, shake it up, and drink. Easy.
Back when I started my first official dirty bulk, I used to have one of these bad boys every single night before bed. Was it delicious? Yes. Did it make my bedroom smell like a gas chamber? Yes, it did.
While this may not be the most healthy long term solution, it’s definitely a great cheap bodybuilding meal for the short term. One tub will only run you a couple bucks, and can pack up to 1,500 calories depending on the flavor.
Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is also fairly high in protein, with the peanut butter and chocolate fudge based flavors often having up to 20 grams per tub. While this isn’t really a “meal,” it’s a great last snack before bed time.
If you’re a hardgainer, eating 1,000+ calories of sheer fat and sugar right before you sleep, will ensure that your body puts on weight. Again, while this isn’t necessarily the healthiest option, it’s probably okay to do it in the short term.
I ate a different flavor every night for about 3 months, and packed on a whopping 30 pounds of solid muscle—now this was in addition to following the Body of an Alpha routine, as well as some “chemical enhancement,” but that’s still incredibly impressive.
The McDouble is the cheapest and most calorie efficient fast food burger out there…period. I can’t remember who, but some famous economist did a study on this and discovered that it’s the most nutrient dense food you can get for the price.
You can get a McDouble for just $1 on the dollar menu, and it’s got 380 calories with 23 grams of protein. I recommend you get two of them for 760 calories and 46 grams of protein—but you still need your carbs, though.
Pop Tarts, while not glamorous, are an extremely cheap and efficient way to get some calories in. They’re also super portable, because you can take an entire box with you anywhere; to the gym, in your car, in your backpack, it doesn’t matter.
My favorite flavors were S’Mores and Brown Sugar Cinnamon, when I used to have 2-3 packs a day. Just one pack has 400 calories and 72 grams of carbohydrates, which is great if you’re a hardgainer.
Combine this with 2 McDoubles and you’ve got yourself 1160 calories for just $3. How’s that for a cheap bodybuilding meal?
While I normally don’t recommend dirty bulking for most people, if you’re an extreme case hardgainer, you are permitted to use it. Back when I was a kid and my metabolism was unrealistically high, I would need to pile down over 4,000 calories just to start building muscle.
So, I resorted to a dirty bulk. Thankfully you don’t have to do this forever, because most hardgainers find that their hormones level out when they hit their early 20’s. Some may take even longer, but regardless, dirty bulking is great for college students due to their high metabolism and low budget.
I recommend that you get a blood test done every few months just to make sure nothing is too out of whack. When I’m on a dirty bulk I regularly get my blood lipids tested, just to make sure I’m not clogging up my arteries with cholesterol levels of like 700.
If you guys have any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know in the Disqus section down below—and, as always, I’ll see you next time.
Jon Anthony is a world renowned dating coach and the founder of Masculine Development, a website specifically dedicated to helping men improve their personal, dating, and financial lives. After years of training men how to attract women, build muscle, and make more money, Jon created the "7 Strategies" program to help kickstart your journey to success. Jon firmly believes that every man should have control over his own life, and he created Masculine Development to share his passion with men who want success in all areas.