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Eat Like Ox For Cheap!

IFBB pro Evan "Ox" Centopani built an elite physique without breaking the bank.
Here's how he got big on a budget!

Eat Like Ox: Get Big On A Budget With Evan Centopani

The grocery aisles are barely wide enough to contain IFBB pro standout Evan Centopani. This world-class competitor knows all the tricks about how to gain mass on the cheap. Join him on shopping day!

When I stop to think about it, I can split my life into two more or less equal chapters. In one half, nutrition has been a high priority; in the other, I simply attempted to scarf down as much food as I could get away with.

People get a kick out of my story about how I used to eat three breakfasts every morning as a kid. I grew up in a rural area, where my grandparents lived across the street and my cousins lived next door.

My mother was forever on my ass trying to control what went in my mouth, because I was like a human vacuum cleaner. So I'd eat my "healthy" breakfast at home, and then I'd walk across the street to "see Grandpa." That meant sitting down with him for fried eggs and toast, because he loved to feed me, and I loved that he loved to feed me.

After wrapping it up with Grandpa, I'd head over to my aunt's house. My aunt and uncle had a 130-pound Doberman named Gunther, so they never bothered locking their doors. Their lazy Susan was unlocked too, and it housed every sugar-laden breakfast cereal that my mother specifically forbade: Apple Jacks, Sugar Smacks, Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, and my all-time favorite, Lucky Charms.

In short, I ate for pleasure, and I had a lot of pleasure in my life. That lasted the first 15 years of my life. Then I got serious about training, and everything changed.

Evan Centopani: Big on a Budget
Watch The Video - 19:12



Maximum muscle for minimal money

Around the age of 15, I began riding my bicycle to a grocery store to shop for things that my parents generally didn't buy, like chicken breasts and multigrain bread. Becoming a professional bodybuilder and making a living from the sport hadn't entered my head. I had never been to a pro bodybuilding contest, met a pro, or had a magazine subscription, and I couldn't tell you what NPC stood for. I just wanted to train hard, look my best, and get onstage just to do it.

Riding home from the grocery store, I felt like the key to success lay in those bags dangling from my handlebars. Honestly, I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but I had read enough to understand that proper nutrition was crucial to achieving my goals. However, I didn't see the need to plunk down money I didn't have to for food. Truth be told, even if I had seen it as necessary, it wasn't an option at that time in my life.

In the name of getting the most for my money, I never shopped for food in my own town. I lived in the suburbs, and my father pointed out to me at a young age that people in the suburbs pay too much for everything. Going to the chain supermarket in town, he said, was like flushing money down the toilet.

The solution: pedal to the next town over, where I found a grocery store with lower prices, greater ethnic variety, and fresher produce than anything in my town. Plus, the people just seemed friendlier over there. Why? I had no clue, but they were.

The bulk of my diet consisted of eggs, chicken, protein powder, potatoes, rice, oats, and veggies. Fast forward a few years, when I was fresh out of college, way more knowledgeable, and totally dedicated to the competition lifestyle, and guess what? My diet was made up of those same fundamentals. I was able to obtain my IFBB pro status eating like a cheap bastard for just four meals per day, and if I could do it, so can you.

Gains for a Grant

When Animal asked me how far I could make $50 go for the "Big on a Budget" challenge, I didn't need long to figure it out. All I needed to do was look back at what I ate when I was an up-and-coming bodybuilder. Hell, if it weren't for the fact that my old digs had gone under, I'd have gone right back to the same store.

To get big like Evan, you don't have to spend a fortune, but you do have to be smart about your purchases. Sometimes a short drive can save big bucks.

It's true that I now eat twice the amount of whole food that I used to eat, and I have the luxury of incorporating things into my diet that I couldn't afford in the past, like fresh fish. But some things haven't changed. I still go to the next town over when I want to stock up on produce and other random items on the cheap. Sponsored or not, nobody wants to spend money when they don't have to.

For the challenge, I loosely based my grocery list on the off-season diet I was using prior to turning pro. And with $50, I was easily able to buy the whole food that I would typically consume for a week.

Here's what I purchased:

  • Approx. 10.5 pounds of Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 10.5 pounds of Potatoes
  • 14 crowns of Broccoli
  • 1 tub of quick Oats
  • 7 dozen large Eggs
  • 7 Bananas

Cooked and prepared, this quantity of food was used to construct the following daily diet:

Meal 1
Meal 2
Meal 3
Meal 4

Here is the approximate macronutrient breakdown for those 4 meals. (Note: protein from incomplete sources not included.)

  • Meal 1: Carb-53g / Protein-36g / Fat-30g / Calories-420
  • Meal 2: Carb-46g / Protein-56g / Fat-24g / Calories-730
  • Meal 3: Carb-46g / Protein-56g / Fat-24g / Calories-730
  • Meal 4: Carb-53g / Protein-36g / Fat-30g / Calories-420
  • Total: Carb-198g / Protein-184g / Fat-108 / Calories -2300

The quality of your diet directly correlates to your growth in the gym.

Shake Up Your Diet

The whole foods listed above are close to what I was eating in my amateur days, and with a little leg work, you should be able to get it all for $50. I calculated out the cost per meal at $1.79 on average, give or take. The macros line up almost perfectly along a 40/40/20 carbohydrate/protein/fat split.

However, it was standard for me to have two protein shakes each day, to which I added some type of fat, typically peanut butter. Here's what the shakes looked like:

Protein Shakes (2 per day)
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Shake
Amount per serving
Calories 614
Total Fat16g
Total Carbs30g
Protein63g

If you are looking to keep the cost down, buy your high-quality whey in economy-sized 5-pound jugs. For roughly $50, you'll get 77 scoops of protein. If peanut butter gets a little rich for your blood, another good cheap fat source to try is extra virgin olive oil.

Right now, I'm looking at a 750-ml bottle of excellent quality olive oil that I purchased for $9. It contains 50 1-tbsp servings, which works out to 18 cents per tbsp.

Extra-Cheap Protein Shakes (2 per day)
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Shake
Amount per serving
Calories 630
Total Fat22g
Total Carbs33g
Protein66g

Depending on protein cost and shipping, my cost per shake with olive oil comes in at around $2.25, which is $4.50 per day or $31.50 for the week. That's $6.50 more than going all whole food with six meals. But for this extra amount, I would get an additional 40 g of protein per day, while sparing 10 g of fat and 32 g of carbs. And of course, it's always nice to taste something different. I can be tight, but I wouldn't personally have any trouble parting with the extra $6.50 for the week to get a little extra variety—and protein—in my life.

If you or anyone you know can put together a solid diet that complete for $81.50 per week, I'll be damn impressed. Tailor it to your needs, your caloric requirements, and how much you want to grow. For one guy, this could be enough. For another, this could just be the starting point.

No matter what your end goal, it's still worth your time to be smart, shop wisely, and get big on a budget. Good luck!


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monolith224

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monolith224

This article first appeared on the animal pak website. I've been following Frank McGrath's plan, which is similar in concept. It really is cheap and easy.

Mar 5, 2014 6:05pm | report
 
ItalianJr

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ItalianJr

Do you have a link to that plan? I'd love to see it

Mar 20, 2014 7:21pm | report
atokad

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atokad

Is that protein shake with peanut butter and oats mixed with water or milk? Or has anyone tried something similar with water, I ask because I don't drink milk and was curious how it would taste

Mar 5, 2014 6:41pm | report
 
NeroMaj

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NeroMaj

I only use milk when I'm making it into a smoothie (for the creaminess). All other times I use water to make these protein "shakes".

Mar 6, 2014 6:27am | report
AndrewsDaebo

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AndrewsDaebo

I either use water or fat free milk. Depending on my taste that day.

Mar 7, 2014 10:30am | report
M0J0Ryzn

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M0J0Ryzn

almond milk unsweetened 30 calories per serving

Mar 11, 2014 9:35pm | report
lloydc

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lloydc

I only use water and I would assume he does the same because milk would add to the budget.

May 12, 2014 12:37pm | report
M0Ex

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M0Ex

I absolutely love these articles and videos, this is the second one so far right? Very informative stuff and a godsend for us still in school and others on a budget. Love Universal, please keep these coming.

Mar 5, 2014 8:15pm | report
 
DarkSideHome

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DarkSideHome

Although I can't commit to such a diet daily, it contains an excellent shopping list for breakfast and lunch. I need more variety for dinners but good saving potential on the two other meals.

Mar 5, 2014 10:07pm | report
 
mikedte2u

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mikedte2u

Evan is a beast.

Mar 5, 2014 10:30pm | report
 
mdterps24

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mdterps24

this is great article it help me out alot

Mar 5, 2014 11:05pm | report
 
Grolas

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Grolas

hmmm did u eat 12 whole eggs a day? or just the whites? xD cause 12 whole ones a day, dont think it is very good for u...

Mar 6, 2014 3:27am | report
 
NeroMaj

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NeroMaj

There is absolutely nothing wrong with whole eggs as long as the fat fits into your macros for the day. There was a trend that egg whites were better due to lower fat and lower cholesterol; however, it has been shown that dietary cholesterol has very little effect on blood cholesterol levels and that naturally occurring saturated fat (most animal fats, coconut oil, etc..) are beneficial in a well-balanced diet.

Mar 6, 2014 6:32am | report
jdalsim

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jdalsim

The cholesterol in them is perfect for converting into test. It would be worse as just whites since the whites contain avidin, which binds biotin.

Mar 6, 2014 8:30am | report
twinsmom903

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twinsmom903

LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!!! I'm a bargain shopper myself.

Mar 6, 2014 7:49am | report
 
jdalsim

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jdalsim

lol @ 40/40/20 carb/protein/fat
it's more like 40/20/40 carb/protein/fat

Mar 6, 2014 8:23am | report
 
slbross

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slbross

Actually 30/30/40.

Also 2500, not 2300 kCal.

Mar 15, 2014 11:34pm | report
roniecoelho

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roniecoelho

Evan always knows what to say! Great article, that's exactly what i need.

Mar 6, 2014 11:44am | report
 
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 5'10"
  • wt: 182.98 lbs
  • bf: 12.0%
Kevin Mattson

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Kevin Mattson

Excellent Article! I see why they call Evan Centopani the OX!!! Impressive Physique for sure!!!

Article Rated:
Mar 6, 2014 4:58pm | report
 
VersusMyself

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VersusMyself

Bodybuilder Budget articles are the best, thanks for this.. BBB FTW! haha

Mar 6, 2014 6:20pm | report
 
jamesleeeklund

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jamesleeeklund

so when they say oats on here, are they talking about oatmeal?

Mar 6, 2014 8:36pm | report
 
ne14t

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ne14t

Yes, Oats would refer to Oatmeal, though he is probably using just the regular old Oat none of that quick oats stuff.

Mar 7, 2014 2:55pm | report
Allaround101

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Allaround101

Love these vids man. you looked amazing at the arnold.

Mar 6, 2014 8:45pm | report
 
richyrich12292

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richyrich12292

Very good article. I'm in the military so I have to be able to strect my BAS over a month. Good insight to budget eating

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Mar 6, 2014 9:13pm | report
 
Miamiboy87

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Miamiboy87

Very good article

Mar 6, 2014 9:20pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 41 Comments

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