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How's My Diet for Lean Muscle Gains?

I’m 26 years old. Male. 150 lbs. Workouts 6-7 days a week (PPL Workout Plan). I eat about 3000 calories a day. It’s been hard for me to gain weight and I can’t seem to get past being 150 lbs. I want to get to 165 or 170 lbs as my goal.

I try to go for 40/40/20 diet for lean muscle gains. I’m also on a very tight budget with food and supplements. I only buy pre-workout and whey protein powder. As for food, I eat mostly eggs and oats. Here’s my diet plan below:

You an ovo-lacto vegetarian or something?

No, I was growing up cuz my parents made me be a vegetarian. I do eat meat now, it’s just so expensive at my grocery store (Giant Eagle, Earth fare, and Traders Joes). It’s like $15 for 2 lbs of chicken or $10 for 4 lbs of beef. I also need help with quicker meal prep cuz I got roommates that take up the kitchen and they don’t eat or lift like I do, they got more of a careless lifestyle.
I’m also trying to be healthy. My father died of cancer almost 2 years ago and my mom had cancer too but survived. I don’t want to get cancer and I know that diet can’t prevent it but can maybe help reduce the chance of it…

I’d start shopping somewhere else then. Just getting odds and ends its hard to get out of giant eagle for less than a hundred bucks.

Look around for bulk/discount meats or packing houses.

You’re taking a preworkout supplement that costs $40 for 20 servings (so let’s say you buy that once a month). Save that money and buy yourself 2 additional pounds of ground beef per week. That will do much more to bring you closer to your goals than a preworkout.


Very good point.

Is there a better pre-workout that got more servings? I find that the pre-workouts really helps me get the best workouts. I could also try to find other grocery stores nearby. There’s an Aldies nearby that I haven’t checked out that could be nice and much cheaper than giant eagle.

You (slightly) missed my point: the relative importance of getting a sufficient amount of quality protein is much greater than the importance of a pre-workout. If money is tight (which is fine - no judgement here), spend your money on food first, not on a pre-workout.

I do not take a pre workout. I deadlifted 595 pounds this morning in a 20 minute workout that I squeezed in while my 5 month old son napped. A cup of coffee was all the caffeine I had. Pre-workout supplements are the sort of luxury you might add for a little extra juice after you have nailed the basics first,

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That’s a good point, I could try just coffee until I get my diet fixed and I start making more money when I get a new job.

Also, I’m having serious trouble with making my diet easier to meal prep and prep up easily and quickly. All the eggs, oatmeal, and pancakes are not very easy to meal prep, so I don’t, I just cook them. Now I don’t mind cooking the morning before work but I have to wait until after work before I can eat more oats or pancakes. I really like food like chicken which I’m really bad at making, I love shredded beef or sliced steak (thin). Any tips or recipes for meal prep?

I’m gonna blame late and post millennial music for this. We didn’t have this problem when Iron Maiden was around.


For sure. I’ll post more details in a bit.

Heavy metal & alt music forever! Lol

I do not know what post Millennial music is…


@hawkeyefitness To simplify your cooking you could get away with having nothing but whole eggs (no need to separate the yolk if that’s what you are doing but I do realise you might get egg whites purchased separately).

I’d echo the sentiment in getting rid of the PWO.

I would however suggest getting some liquid carbs into your pre/intra-workout. To keep in-line with saving money I’d suggest either maltodextrin or waxy maize, it doesn’t matter which one, as that will go well to fueling your workouts and it will add some additional calories to your diet (you mentioned struggling with getting past 150 lbs)

Otherwise, looks quite alright. Mentally I wouldn’t want to eat that much oatmeal, and maybe opt for rice instead. Cheap, and easy to cook.

Just to float some ideas for you, my suggestion for meal-prep (presumes you have an oven though):

This is to set you up with 1 meal a day for the entire workweek (5 days). So, if you can imagine eating the same thing ad nauseum you could just multiply my suggestion by 2 and voila you have lunch and dinner cooked for the entire workweek.

Saturday: purchase 1kg of chicken breast (frozen. So, you get 200g for lunch everyday), put in a bowl in a fridge. Also, rinse jasmin rice (the amount will ultimately be up to you) and leave soaked in water in a separate bowl.
Sunday: put the chicken in a semi-deep dish (see image), cut the breasts into halves with a knife. Mix spices together with water and pour over the chicken. I love spicy food so I might mix

  • 2 tablespoons of beef bouillon/stock
  • 2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek
  • Infinite amounts of Tabasco
  • Chili Powder
  • Salt
  • Ginger


Put in the oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 35-45 minutes. I use a thermometer to tell when the chicken is done (it should be 72 degrees centigrade). Meanwhile, cook the rice. Either just cook it regular, or put it in a frying pan with a small amount of water, add mushrooms and red onion and make yourself a risotto while the chicken is cooking. Great if you need to be in the kitchen anyway.

Rice lasts for about 3 days in the fridge, but you can freeze it and it will last up to a month. So, you can prepare rice for the entire week if you want to.

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I used to take ON Serious Mass which has maltodextrin and that gave me tons of muscle and I’m sure some fat too but not much. I remember the gains were great. It was also the time I was also doing fewer reps and more heavyweights too. I could just save money by just buying ON 100% Whey Protein and this Carbo Gain from NOW supplements, it will last a few months:
Carbo Gain NOW Supplements.
Also, for PWO, if coffee doesn’t help me, I could get Kaged Muscle Hydra-Charge + Caffeine pills. It’s about $40 and it will last 4 months. I used to do that. It’s not quite as good as a true PWO but it worked for me. For now, I will stick to coffee and see how it goes.

I would much rather not eat that much oatmeal, it’s just cheap and easy to make. Same for eggs. Would it be okay if I meal prep 2 different meals for the week (Lunch/Dinner) and just freeze all of them? I can just microwave them. Thanks for the recipes. I will try cooking rice in a pot with little water and mix the spices + veggies with it.

I’ll get back to you in a few hours. Don’t buy any supplements yet.

Personally, I’m not too keen on products that blend macros as I prefer to be in control of that myself.

Not really, ON is an expensive brand.

You do not need a PWO. You don’t even need coffee. I reserve PWO for when I’ve had 2-5 hours of sleep, otherwise, I omit it completely. And then, I blend it myself from the ingredients that have the biggest impact for me personally. It’s far more cost-efficient. Find the intensity that you feel PWO provides yourself, bring it out from your desire to change your body and strength levels.

Of course.

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My recommendation with supplements, for now, would be whey (get ON if you like it) and maltodextrin or waxy-maize. Take in about 30g of whey and 30-50g of malto/waxy during your workout and have ~40g of protein + carbs post-workout. There are improvements we can make to this but we’ll save that for later.

I eat about 4000 Calories per day, so I have to delicately balance healthy and affordable. Meat can be expensive, but if you shop correctly, it can be very cheap. I go to Harris teeter (usually on the expensive side, but quality is usually better) and scavenge the meat section for meat that is about to expire. I’ve bought 6 pounds of grass-fed beef for $12 and a few times I’ve lucked out and paid -$0.50 each for 10 packs of boar’s Head sausage (it was on sale for $3.50 and the markdown coupon was $4). I find deals like this every time I go, these deals are not anomalous.

Try Aldi if you have it anywhere around, it has good cheap meat.