Imagine all the things you could enjoy if you could eat whatever you wish to eat at any time if money wasn’t a thing.
If you’re into fitness, you might be dreaming of free-range, grass-fed beef, wild-caught Pacific salmon, organic chicken breast, and the best protein powder money can buy.
However, money is indeed a thing for many of us mere mortals. We can’t always splurge on the aforementioned delicacies every day.
You’re going to need the trusty standbys that help you hit your target daily without breaking the bank.
A protein-rich diet doesn’t automatically mean a more expensive one. There’s always a high-quality protein source suitable for every persuasion, budget, and taste. After all, protein is an essential building block of building muscle and reducing fat. Why not stock up on reliable, affordable options?
The case for consuming more protein
We all know the old saying that eating more protein equals more gains. But protein goes over and beyond just building muscle. Protein plays an essential role in digestion and metabolism (e.g., weight loss).
Moreover, proteins are a fantastic source of amino acids, which are essential for the optimal function of bodily processes. This includes repairing muscle tissue (necessary for recovery and building muscle in between sessions), producing the antibodies needed to prevent potential infections, and serving as the building blocks that make life possible.
It’s fair to say that protein is a foundational cornerstone of a healthy diet based on how many bodily processes it plays a role in. Protein also curbs hunger, making it just as crucial for weight loss as it is for recovery and building muscle. A healthy protein intake is therefore necessary, regardless of your budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable animal and vegetable proteins you can incorporate into your diet. Here they are.
Affordable animal protein sources
The great majority of us obtain our protein from animal sources. In general, animal proteins are made from meat, and meat is made of muscles. Muscles, on the other hand, are produced from proteins.
One of the most popular animal proteins is chicken breast, a mainstay in most fitness-based lifestyles. Other products containing animal products are also loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that support optimal health. However, such animal products tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Here are some affordable protein sources that will help you attain your daily protein goals in just a pinch:
- Eggs. Eggs are a low-cost and practical staple for many individuals into fitness. Eggs are rich in protein and essential fats and nutrients that will give any other protein-rich food a run for its money. Vegetarians may also opt to use eggs as a cheap protein source since they are categorized as dairy. If you wish to reduce the calories on your egg intake further, you can enjoy them without the yolks. Consume whole eggs if you wish to obtain the full spectrum of nutrients they can offer.
- Canned fish. Canned fish like sardines, salmon, or tuna is a fantastic protein source at a reasonable price. Tuna, for instance, is packed with 24 grams of protein for every 100 grams of fish. Supermarkets often have a wide selection of canned fish options, some on the high end but mainly on the reasonable to low end of the pricing spectrum.
- Assorted chicken parts. Chicken breast (fresh or frozen) might be the more popular cut among fitness enthusiasts. Still, it’s not the only protein-rich source on the bird. Chicken thigh fillets are a fantastic, tasty protein source. It’s much tastier than chicken breast, apart from being easy to enjoy in a variety of ways. Stir fry, roasted, broiled, or stewed, chicken thigh is just as versatile, if not better-tasting, than breast meat.
- Protein powder. Finding an affordable, nutritious protein powder is worth its weight in gold because we know that certain brands can be expensive. Finding a reasonably-priced one–and there are plenty of options–is a great way to supplement your protein anytime, anywhere. You can also add it in various preparations from beverages, cereals, and baked goods, giving you more bang for your buck.
Affordable plant protein sources
Vegetarians, on the other hand, also require a healthy supply of protein–no exceptions. Luckily there’s plenty of plant protein sources that are affordable and tasty for any and every diet to enjoy. Best of all, these plant-based protein sources also help count towards your fiber intake, which is necessary for optimal digestive health and lower cholesterol. Here they are:
- Beans. Beans are indeed the magical “fruit” because they are a rich source of protein. It figures prominently in plant-based diets. One thing is for sure about beans: they are extremely affordable and can be bought in bulk for excellent prices. Canned beans go a long way in achieving your daily protein goals. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about nutrient malabsorption or if you are prone to inflammatory diseases.
- Chickpeas. Much like beans, chickpeas are a fantastic plant-based food source that is versatile in nature. It can be prepared as falafel, hummus, or as ingredients in soups, stews, and casseroles. Each cup of chickpeas can contain as much as 15 grams of protein, with the added bonus of fiber and minerals you can count on plant-based foods like this hardy legume.
- Tofu. Tofu and soy protein is a prevalent replacement for meat in vegan and vegetarian diets and dishes. Tofu and soy protein works best when paired with other fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-rich foods due to their relative lack of supplementary nutrients.
- Quinoa. Quinoa is a superfood that has caught the eye of the fitness community in recent years. While quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) might contain a relatively lesser amount of protein than other plant-based options, it’s easy to use and consume in a variety of preparations as a filler that can be used in stews, curries, soups, or one-pot dishes to maximize its protein content.
- Seeds. Seeds, such as those from watermelons and sunflowers, are loaded with protein (19 grams for every 100 grams!) However, they are also rich in polyunsaturated fats. Seeds are an excellent protein and fat source for individuals trying to put on some quality, lean mass, and they keep you satisfied much longer. They are popularly added to cereals, baked goods, or enjoyed by themselves (or as part of a trail mix).
Like these ideas? Keep your tabs on this post and bookmark it so you can refer to this list every time you hit the grocery!