T Nation

Setting the Priorities Straight


The next few weeks I am going to be buying my own groceries, (we will say for the next four weeks I will be doing this).

I am going to be buying the meat first (about 175oz. of lean meats like chicken breast, pork, cube steak) so that way at least my minimum of 200g of protein a day is met.

I'm wondering this;

If, for money reasons, I hit a crossroads and have to either buy vegetables, fruits, or some vegetables and some fruits, which should I choose?

(I will literally have NEVER eaten like this before, as in eating healthy everyday)

My grocery list is something along these lines;

Some combination of meat that equals a 175oz. with;
(these are the best meats I found that have bout 8g of protein per ounce when cooked for around the same caloric value per ounce)
Chicken breasts
Cube steak

Veggies: (as a small start to eating vegetables, these are all that I for SURE like)
Cherry tomatoes

Fruits: (same applications as the vegetables)



Can I ask what your goal is? Simply to feel better? Gain muscle? Lose fat?

Berries are great for you. But fruit is going to be higher calorie and less filling than vegetables. My goal is weight loss, and I buy shitloads of vegetables but just a couple of fruits as treats here and there.

(Except avocados, which I eat routinely.)


Broccoli, cut up, put in bowl, place a plate that totally seals around bowl on top, nuke 4.5-6 min - try the shorter time first, it should be soft a bit, but not quite mush, add some olive oil or butter and a pinch or two of salt.

Other than the cabbage you have accent vegetables. While they have excellent properties, you will not likely eat the in enough quantities to get the micronutrients you want. For 7 oz. of broccoli cooked you would get a decent amount of vit A (betacarotene), vit E, half a days worth of folate (many people do not meet their daily need), and a days worth of vit C and K. Also about 20-25% of your fiber need.

As for meat, you could buy ground, cook it in a pan and then rinse with water. Studies have shown that it is mostly the fat that is removed and there is little loss of most nutrients. Chicken legs with skin are way cheaper and tastier, if you remove the skin after cooking, there is not that much fat left. Place it on a rack in a pan while you roast (75-85 min @ 350) and it won't sit in fat.

Spinach cooked in a pan on medium heat in a little butter or olive oil with a bit of salt, spices and herbs is also a nutrient powerhouse, I like to add red onion and 1/4 of any bell pepper that is not green.

If you are eating this clean, you will need to add salt to your cooking, otherwise your intake will be half of required. Usually 1-2g of salt spread over all meals and shakes.

Whole eggs are also an excellent cheap protein source loaded with nutrients. Due to the cheapness, you can afford to buy higher quality for the same price as cheap meat. These will have more micrnutrients than the cheapo eggs. I usually go for the omega3 ones, the chickens are fed flax and the eggs have a better fat mix (some would say ideal).

I would not worry so much about getting the absolute leanest cuts of meat, especially if your carb intake is lower, you will need some fat and most animal fat is not that bad. Supplementing with a couple tablespoons of flax and some cheap fish oil will nicely balance fat intake. By purchasing something like ground beef, you might be able to buy a higher quality for the same price, even once you work out the loss in weight due to rinsing fat.


Broccoli, beans, and beef.


I see you have veges and fruits, but any reason for the lack of complex carbs? Oats, bread, rice, beans, things like this...

My grocery bill is about 50-80 dollars a week, and I get:

4 frozen bags chicken breast
2 'silos' of oats
loaf bread
package of sliced cheese (~15 slices)
Bag of apples
Bag of Bananas
Dry Rice (easy to cook)
Broccoli heads or cauliflower
~ 6 dozen eggs
Sunflower Seeds

I also have a 5lb jug of protein powder.

If I wanted steak or anything like that, I'd estimate my bill would be much higher. Basics work for me. Plus I'm in college (college kids are broke ya know)


youll save A LOT of money if you buy fresh... at least at all the supermarkets i've been to


do you not like eggs? if money is an issue eggs are a godsend.

at 6 grams protein per egg, 12eggs x 6pro = 72 grams

comes out to about 1/3 of the protein you're shooting for for $1.50


I end up throwing up eggs no matter how I eat them/where I get them from. (I know) Being allergic to "fried" eggs runs in the family etc. but I have no clue what my issue is.

@Calypso: I am currently eating a very high protein/low caloric diet so I can continue to gain strength for a while while losing weight. I also love eating meat of all sorts (except eggs :frowning: ) Also, I will have an easier time getting my nutrient needs from fruits than veggies, I have trouble keeping large quantities of veggies down, probably due to never really eating them until now.

@Peter: You guys are goin to kill me with this broccoli stuff, but I LOVE spinach, especially a little heated with chicken. I just simply forgot to write that down, I also forgot to buy cabbage at the store (FML!)

@HL: I was going to just buy chicken, but I want a more diverse diet and the steak I buy is pretty dirt cheap (and still pretty high in protein low in calorie etc.)

Interesting stuff with the ground beef and chicken, however I wanted to start a little more simple first and ground beef is a little to high (where I buy it from) on the calories in vs. protein in outlook on it.

For the rest of the questions, I will now tell you what I bought for sixty bucks (you'll notice i forgot my grocery list because I forgot to buy a few things)

1 gallon of chocolate milk
1 something of Mort's Vegetable Juice (for the hell of it)
8 "1 lb." steaks
5lbs. of pork loins
2 bags of frozen chicken breasts
5 white onions (are red onions higher in nutrients or do they just taste better?)
1 carton of cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
7 bananas
2 cartons of strawberries
2 cartons of blue berries

This came to "60.05"

I'll need more milk next time (got chocolate milk just because, it'll be skim next time)

As to the comment on lack of breads; Veggies and fruits have carbs, so I figured I'd be better off for now getting carbs from those since they are MUCH more nutrient dense, seem to be way cheaper, and, quite frankly, I'd rather accent a triple of chicken breast with cherry tomatoes and onions then two slices of bread.


Bread wasn't the only complex carb listed as a suggestion. Rice, sweet potatos, oatmeal, etc. are all great compliments to the things you have purchased and if your goal is size then you'll want to include them in your diet.


Not size, weight loss. Strength gains along with this :smiley:


Then you'll want some complex carbs in your diet to aid your recovery and allow you to have strength gains. While they're not completely impossible to make while losing weight, it's a very thin line to walk. Read as much as possible about nutrient timing and carb cycling.


Is this site the best source for that if I'm going to do such a detailed thing?

I also don't use protein shakes, can milk or some meat with in that same amount of time be just as valuable as a protein shake?

And I'm not challenging your suggestion, just curious;

What makes complex carbs separate from carbs in vegetables or fruits?


1) protein shakes are easier to stomach pre/during workout

2) you want starchy carb sources (oatmeal, quinoa, sweet and regular potatoes etc) b/c they are primarily glucose and fruits are higher in fructose

3) glucose is more likely to be stored as muscle glycogen than fructose (which is more likely to be stored as fat)

^^^ the differences arent SO drastic that fruit will make you fat and potatoes will not but i think it will make a difference in the long run


The difference in carbs of fruit and vegetables is what is in it.. fructose.. and the higher levels.
As far as fruits, apples are good because they have a lot of fiber, banannas are high in sugar, there are other fruits and vegetables that can give you max bang for nutrients/ calories etc. just look at resources here and glycemic index on the internet.

Find things you like to eat,(vegetable wise), garlic and onions are more like condiments to me adding flavor to dishes and not a whole lot of nutrient additions. One big thing I don't see a lot of on these discussions, watch your sodium and potassium. Sports drinks like gatorade are loaded with sodium as well as condiments, and some foods. Eating foods like Kale, spinach, broccoli, apples, etc these will help flush excess fluids out of your body and keep you leaner.

I don't know your age, training age (how long you have worked out), goals( I know you said lose weight and get strong.. kinda general), but at some point your going to have to pick which one you really want and focus your eating plan to that goal to achieve maximal gains.

As far as Protein goes, you don't have to do the Protein shake thing. I think its easier to drink a Protein shake than prepare chicken steak or whatever. I know people may disagree with me, but you don't need 200 mg Protein a day. Unless maybe your are an Elite athlete training with max poundages, or pro bodybuilder with high % of muscle mass would you need something in that range.
I am 245.. lost from 286, I eat around 120-140g P a day. I have been training for over 20 years, I might have gotten over 200 mg Protein 1 or 2x in all that time, with no noticable gains. I may go up to 150g this winter when I am planning to train heavy and work specifically on strength, but no more than 150. But I will also say, do what works for you.. try various levels of Protein and see how you feel/ look etc.

The best advice is the simplest.. train hard and eat as healthy as possible.


^ lolz, wasn't up when I started writing, good post

Vegetables tend to have very little carbs (not counting potatoes as veggies), and as described above, fruit is only half glucose for the most part.

Certain times like post workout, some carbs will help recovery and not impede your fat loss goals. For example a decent sized sweet potato has around 35-50g carbs (1/2-2/3 lb) and a lot of other important nutrients. They are also high in fiber as are oats and quinoa. I think bread is nutritionally weak, even some of the whole grain ones.

You look like you could use some fat in there if you limiting your carbs.

I'll not mention eggs again as you have a reason not to eat (the only decent reason IMO).

For the broccoli, I recommended it because of nutrient content and also the antioxidants contained in it as well as some other beneficial detoxifying compounds. I understand if you can't stand the taste, but I will state that the method I gave gives one perfectly steamed broccoli that loses its poor taste and is quite tasty with the butter or oil and salt. I cannot eat it raw because it messes up my stomach, not to mention it tasted like shit to me. Was just trying to give you options. Spinach is excellent.

The red onions will have some compounds not in normal onions, but either is fine.

As for protein shakes, I would go with cottage cheese first if fat loss is your primary goal (chocolate milk postworkout would be a exception). A quality whey powder is quite cheap and a scoop added to the milk postworkout is a decent recovery option. Milk seems to have some insulin raising effects beyond what would be expected due to its glycemic index.

Generally speaking cooking your veggies will help with digestion. You seem off to a good start.

There are many nutrition articles on this site, use the search function for terms, or checkout the author listing:

Mike Roussell, Shelby Starnes, and John Romaniello have some good articles, as does Chris Shugart - but his are harder to sift through since he is an editor and writes on other topics.

Here is one to start:

And a another (some would say the seminal piece):
part 2:


Alright I'll answer questions first and then post my questions


My specific goal is to get stronger at DB benchpress, kroc rows, and leg press while on a cut. Based on my high fat percentage and eating a high protein/low caloric diet, I'm more than sure (by others in the field and others who have done this) that I can last doing this for at LEAST a month.

I am 18 years old

and have been training inconsistantly for a year, most recently coming back from six weeks straight of no lifting.

I do not drink such trash (lol kidding here) as gatorade or monster or anything like that. Milk, chocolate milk, and water all suit me just fine as a drink. AND. A fruit smoothie.


Thanks for the links!

God bless whoever first created chocolate milk.


Thank you for the info!


  • What amount of protein/calories should I aim for pre/during/post work out? (found this in the first article, about 90g of carbs and 45g of protein) (basically 40oz of choco milk haha)

  • Are potatoes one of the better choices if I'm looking for some sort of glycogen addition in comparison to breads? (i figured calorically and on a cut they are probably more preferable)

  • I will post up my next week's grocery list so you guys can tell me if I understand everything prior to this post's questions. Or at least CLOSE to everything.

  • (@iron) are you saying that I should check to see if I will come short of potassium, or that one of those "if you eat too much of this good vitamin you'll kill yourself" may occur on this diet?


Alright, after reading the first article I wanna put up a "rough draft" of what I have in my head of what Berardi is saying;

During/before work out;
in simple terms, 40oz of choc. milk or milk or something similar to the protein/carb per kg. ration should be met during this span of time

After/post work out;
Same as during work out, only for me since I have about a two hour window, I'm thinking;

Protein source (chicken breast, pork loin, steak or something)
Vegetable (top protein source with spinach, wrap it in cabbage, etc.)
Nutrients (some sort of quick fruit smoothie)

The post work out/ Anabolic stage meal should meet the same carb/kg. and protein/kg. ratio as the pre work out/during work out "shake" should.

Am I on track so far?


1) i would say something like a shake before and a shake after (50 grams) would be enough but its more important to make sure you hit your total each day

2) yes potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice oatmeal are all better than bread


you are 245 and a what BF?

no you dont NEED 200 grams (not mg's) but going above i can almost for sure say it would be beneficial

200 grams is by no means a lot either...

also eating "as healthy as possible" is almost never the best way to improve body composition


Mind explaing that last quote?