Bodybuilding on Food Stamps! The SNAP Challenge

I’m a little late to the party, but I recently learned about The SNAP Challenge from a fellow member of my local Toast Master’s group that I attend. I love a good challenge, and I thought there was some irony in the concept. I spend a lot of time helping people, talking to people, and thinking about ways to help people be healthier by removing calories and foods from their program. But there is a sizable segment of the population that is suffering from an unhealthy lifestyle because of lack of nutrition, or lack of resources to feed themselves and/or their families.

The SNAP Challenge was designed to create awareness for Americans going hungry. Formerly called Food Stamps, The SNAP Program (Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program) is a government assistance program that provides low income individuals and families money to eat every month. The amount of assistance is determined by your income level, family size and several other factors, and the amount is adjusted each year.

The rules of the SNAP Challenge

  1. You’re allowed $6.19 per day for food and drink — $192 per month. **Previous famous challenges have lower amounts, but I adjusted to meet the numbers for 2017.
  2. All food purchased and eaten in the time period must be counted in total spending.
  3. You’re not allowed to eat food purchased prior to the challenge.
  4. Avoid accepting free food because these opportunities are not available to everyone.
  5. Eat as healthy as possible

My personal spin on the challenge was to stick to a bodybuilding diet and stay within the rules of the challenge. Given the high amount of protein requirements that bodybuilders generally eat, this took a LOT of planning and creativity, but with a solid plan it actually wasn’t too difficult to accomplish.

My Shopping List for the Week:

Apple Juice
Roasted Peanuts
Canned Tuna
Chicken Breasts
Black Beans
Brown Rice
Canned Green Beans
Instant Coffee

Grand Total of $36.39

My Daily Diet:2800 Cals.
94g Fat (30%) | 298 Carbs (43%) | 187g Protein (27%)

Meal 1:

4 whole eggs
1 cup Oatmeal
Coffee and Water

Macros: 36g Fat, 59g Carbs, 37g Protein, 705 Calories

Meal 2:

Can of Tuna
1 cup brown rice
¼ cup black beans
1/2 cup green beans

Macros: 3g Fat, 59g Carbs, 36g Protein, 405 Calories

Meal 3: Intra Workout

15 oz. Apple Juice mixed with water

Macros: 0g Fat, 52g Carbs, 0g Protein, 203 Calories

Meal 4

4 oz chicken breast
1 cup brown rice
¼ cup black beans
1/2 cup green beans
¼ cup peanuts

Macros: 22g Fat, 65g Carbs, 51g Protein, 632 Calories

Meal 5

Can of Tuna
1 cup brown rice
¼ cup black beans
1/2 cup green beans

Macros: 3g Fat, 59g Carbs, 36g Protein, 405 Calories

Meal 6

4 whole eggs

Macros: 30g Fat, 5g Carbs, 27g Protein, 405 Calories

CHEAT MEAL! My motivation to get under the budget for my initial shopping trip was to be able to afford my weekly cheat meal. A weekly cheat meal is something I do through most of the year. I generally only remove cheat meals the 6-8 weeks prior to a contest, and use high carb days instead of cheat meals. I had just over $6 to buy a cheat meal. I almost messed up and went to McDonald’s but after reviewing the rules of the SNAP Program, pre-prepared food is not a part of the program, meaning you can’t use SNAP credits at restaurants so I had to stick to the grocery store.  I chose:

* Frozen Pizza
* Break and Bake Cookies
* liters of Diet A&W ( I missed my diet soda all week!)

Macros: 80g Fat, 241g Carbs, 54g Protein, 1,809 Calories

Cost Breakdown:

Main Grocery Trip $35.12
Christmas Charity Donation $2.00
Coffee Trip $1.27
Cheat Meal $5.54
Total Cost: $43.93

What I learned:

* Compared to a bodybuilding diet, especially a precontest diet, this was harder. Less variety!
* Missing clean sweet treats. Protein powder, and diet soda specifically!
* I shouldn’t be buying microwavable rice and boxed liquid egg whites!
* You can eat healthy on very limited funds but it’s difficult, and you definitely lose the opportunity for fresh food.

What can you do from here:

* Try the challenge and share your experience online!
* Get involved with, or donate to your local food bank!
* North Texas Food Bank: