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Sports nutrition on a budget

Sally Perkins explains how to eat healthily on a budget while training.

Maintaining adequate nutrition could not be more essential when it comes to optimising your athletic performance and getting the most out of each workout or fitness session. The right balance of foods will help boost your energy levels and endurance capabilities as well as help speed up your recovery. Eating healthy on a budget while training can be difficult due to the increased calorie demand, below are some tips to help you sustain adequate nutrition at a low cost.

Drinking coffee

Ground or instant coffee is cheap to buy in supermarkets, and it could help support your fitness goals. Firstly, caffeine will kick start your metabolism, as fat is one of the primary energy sources used will exercising, this metabolic boost will help our bodies burn more fat which will over time lead to leaner muscles. 

The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that showed that those who drank coffee before a 1.500m treadmill run finished 4.2 seconds more quickly than the control group. Research suggests that drinking coffee, on average 2 cups for a woman and 3 cups for a woman 30-60 minutes before a workout could help your body work more efficiently and boost your workout performance. 

It can also help with post work out recovery, drinking coffee 24-48 hours after a workout can help reduce pain and inflammation, which can decrease muscle soreness by up to 48%.

Complex carbs

Fortunately, this is one of the cheaper food groups, which is handy as it is one of the most essential, and you do not have to worry about dry stores expiring as they last so long. You should stock up on store-brand complex carbs such as grains, pasta, and cereal which tend to be cheaper.

Other good sources of complex carbohydrates besides the staple dry stores are sweet potatoes, yams, butternut squash, peas, and a variety of beans and legumes, all of which tend to be relatively cheap. Buying cheap beans and legumes that you can rehydrate overnight is a cost-effective option as you get much more for your money. 

Fruits and vegetables for fibre

Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season will help you cut costs, and they often taste nicer. If there are any local farmers' markets or greengrocers near you, this can be a more cost-effective option than shopping at a supermarket as typically you can get more for your money.

Please take advantage of the sales. Whether it be fresh produce that is about to expire or low-sodium canned fruits and veggies, this is always an excellent opportunity to stock up on some essentials.

As time can sometimes be an issue if you have an intensive work/training schedule, setting half an hour to an hour aside once or twice a week to prepare all your food, for example cutting up vegetables and fruit into snack-size portions, will help you save a lot of time and money daily.

The all-important proteins

Eating enough high-quality protein can be a drain on your finances, particularly if you are relying too much on meat to fulfill this requirement. Going meatless one or two days a week will help cut down on cost, on these days you can get your primary source of protein from dairy, peanut butter, beans, and eggs. Protein powder can be cost-effective when bought in bulk. Hemp protein is a particularly good choice as it has a complete amino acid profile, containing all nine essential amino acids.

Also tinned oily fish such as tuna and salmon is another great source of protein, this can be expensive so try and take advantage of sales, buy packs of tuna which will work out cheaper, and single tins of oily fish such as sardines and mackerel which are less than a pound each.

Stretch it further

You can also stretch meat further, in particular, if you are making burgers, by adding oatmeal and ground beans to the ground meat. This has the extra benefit of adding a healthy dose of carbs and fibre to your meal as well.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • PERKINS, S. (2019) Sports nutrition on a budget [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years' experience across many different areas. She made a move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and travelling as much as possible.