Bulking on a budget…

Nutrition & Recipes
Protein Dynamix
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When I was in University I “bulked” up to a staggering 220 lbs. I was able to deadlift 220kg for reps, Squat 140kg for working sets and bench 140kg.

I wasn’t a competitive powerlifter. I wasn’t bodybuilding at the time.

I just wanted to add some size and strength. I was just a student bulking.

Chances are – you are to. Right?

My mates at Uni would struggle to progress in the gym. They were slow at gaining strength. The size they put on was fat more than muscle and some of my friends couldn’t put weight on at all.

Does this sound familiar? I know this feeling as well. It happened to me in college. I dont want to let that happen to you.

If you’re busting your ass in the gym and following a tried and tested programme but still seeing slow (or no) gains then the problem is nutrition.

Unless you’re a competitive bodybuilder, powerlifter or strongman, then as a student you will have more important things in your life other than weighing rice and oats down to the milligram. Exams, coursework, part time jobs, social life, homework, classes, living on your own for the first time.

It quickly adds up any anything that isn’t simple when it comes to your workouts and diet is going to get neglected.

So to help you make serious gains I want to show you how easy it is to bulk on a diet as a busy student.

Im going to assume you have your workouts in check and this will be bespoke to you and your schedule – so im not going to touch on that.

In this article im going to look at giving you some diet & supplements tips to help you bulk – the simple way.

Know How Much You Should Be Eating

There are a few ways to establish your macros. Such as knowing how much protein you should be eating to gain muscle as well as your carb and fat intake. But you’re a busy student, struggling to gain weight.

So we’re going to air on the slightly excessive side of things to make sure you do add some size and strength – the simple way.

In an ideal world you will already be lean, as you’re going to gain some fat (its one of the many sacrificies we must make when bro bulking) but if you’re only concern is getting big and strong – and not having six pack abs – then screw it – do this calculation as i recommend anyway.

Establish Your Calories

  • Take your body weight and multiply it by 18-20. 20 is the max you’ll want to do, so you may want to start with 18 or 19 – its up to you.
  • This will give you how many calories you need in order to bulk.
  • So as a student lets assume you’re 170 lbs. Multiply by 20 – you’re going to need 3400 calories.

Our example we’ll use this figure – 3400 calories.

Establish Your Macros

This is your protein, carbs and fat. We will be working this out as a % of your total caloric needs. I would recommend the following as a starting point.

  • Protein – 35%
  • Carbs – 45%
  • Fat – 20%

For the example above – 1% would be 34 calories. So multiply 34 by the protein , carb or fat percentage value (34*35 for protein for example)

These calulcations will give you the calorie values.

  • 1g protein = 4 calories
  • 1g carbs = 4 calories
  • 1g fat = 9 calories
  • So you’re going to want to divide these figures by the above numbers.
  • Protein needs = 1190 calories. 1190 divide by 4 = 297.5
  • Carb needs = 1530 calories. 1530 divide by 4 = 382.5
  • Fat needs = 680 calories. 680 divide by 9 = 75.5

Lets not be anal here. We can roud those figures to 295, 380 and 75.

Also give yourself a 5% range on each so you dont have to be super strict with it. Remember – you’re not competing. Aslong as you get into the habit of doing the same thing day in and day out, a few grams here and a few grams there isn’t gonna affect you.

Use a Shopping List

You know what macros you need – now figure out what you need to buy. Depending your student situation – you’re either gonna be broke as hell and want things mad cheap – or you’re rolling in student loans, grants and parents are supporting you and you just want everything to be convenient.

Regardless – make a shopping list. This will make sure you’re buying what you need, and not wasting anything. If the food is in – you’ll eat it and make a meal plan become a daily habit.

Buy In Bulk

Im going to cover 2 options below. A cheap option and a convenient option. Regardless of what situation you’re in – you want to buy in bulk.


  • Buying in bulk is cheaper
  • You’re going to be eating a lot of food – and you don’t want to waste time heading to the store all the time
  • If food is in the house you wont be tempted to miss meals or eat crappier foods.

The Cheap Option

  • Buy everything raw and cook it yourself
  • Buy in bulk
  • DONT buy any “convenient” brands
  • Ignore the marketing on products. You dont need “be good to yourself” varieties
  • Butchers have better prices on meat than supermarkets
  • Don’t get hung up on brands. Use basic/value versions – most foods are very similar.
  • Cook up a few days worth of food at once – saves money on gas/electricity bills



  • Rice – Buy it raw and in bulk. Never buy microwave packages.
  • Oats – Supermarket value 1kg bags is all you need. Not microwavable sachets
  • Pasta – Supermarket raw pasta
  • Bread
  • Potatos
  • Fruit – Aldi normally does fruit deals, check them out!
  • Vegetables – Frozen 1kg bags are cheap
  • Carb Powders – Maltodextrin & Dextrose supplements are super cheap


  • Chicken Breast – buy in bulk and from a butchers – this applies to all meat
  • Chicken thighs – cheaper than breast
  • Eggs – whole eggs are super cheap
  • Yoghurts
  • Turkey Mince – cheap and easy to cook
  • Beef Mince – much cheaper than steak
  • Whey Protein Powders


  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Egg yolks
  • Full fat milk
  • Beef

The Convenient Option

Its a spin on the “cheap option”. If you’re a student who isn’t on a super tight budget – but you’re super stretched for time – then you want things quick.

The changes id make in recommendations would be

  • Buy microwave rices
  • Buy pre-cooked chicken and let it defrost
  • Buy ready made mass gainers
  • Microwavable sachet porridges


If you’re a student, particluarly one on a budget and your goal is to simply gain size and strength – you don’t need a ton of supplements. I’ve tried, reviewed and changed my supplement stack over the years. What I use now, as a competitive bodybuilder, contains a lot of added extras from when I was back at Uni.

Here are the basics i’d recommend:

Whey Protein Powder

Whilst most supplements are pretty damn expensive – whey protein powder is actually the cheapest protein source you can find. Its also one of the best protein sources you can consume – containing a full amino acid profile.

The beauty of protein powder is its convenience. Add it with water or milk and shake. Meal done.


One of the supplements i’d recommend to anyone. Its scientifically proven to help build muscle mass and strength faster than not using it.

Another benefit – creatine monohydrate is dirt cheap. No reason at all to not take this.

Mass Gainers

If you’re looking to gain weight in an easy & cheap whey (pun intended) then you should be using mass gainer supplements. Weight gain supplements work because they are packed with calories and theyre not hard to consume. Simply add them to water or milk and you can easily add a few thousand calories to your diet a day. If you’re hard up for cash, buy the ingredients yourself such as a maltodextrin carb powder, protein powder and follow my 1000 calorie homemade weight gainer recipe.

For those looking for the truly best in class supplements though and what an added level of convenience, then try the Eddie Hall range.

Building a Simple Student Bodybuilding Meal Plan

You now have all the basics you need to start gaining weight – whether you’re a busy student a broke student, or both.

Factor all of the above into a meal plan that suits your schedule.

For example, use weight gainer supplements or protein shakes between back to back lectures. Prepare your meals in advance and take them with you. Plan your shopping out before you head to the store.

Want more? Follow me over on my bodybuilding blog www.shreddybrek.com