Weekly Wellness: (inexpensive) muscle-building foods

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COLUMBIA - When someone is trying to get healthier and stronger, one of the most important things we (as trainers) look at is: what is my client eating? Sure, we want you to stop eating fast food (in most cases) and cut out the soda (sorry), but we aren't expecting you to completely change your food budget to include pricey items like "organic" everything and/or fancy supplements.

We want you to get nutrient-dense, efficient, protein-rich/low-calorie foods that won't break the bank. These are a good start:

Beans: One half-cup of black beans contains 7.5 grams of protein, but it also contains more iron than a three-ounce flank steak. Certain beans, like red kidney beans, have just as many antioxidants as dark berries and pomegranate juice.

Price: Approximately $1.30 for 15-oz. can

Canned Tuna: A 5-ounce can contains about 26 grams of protein for just 120 calories.

Price: $1.69-$5.99 (for wild-caught) per can

Frozen Edamame: Edamame is a shelled soybean with just 180 calories and 18 grams of protein in one cup. Plus, it’s an excellent source of iron and calcium, and contains a third of your daily value of fiber.

Price: $2.99-$3.59 for a 12-oz. bag

Greek Yogurt: One 5.3-ounce container of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt has just 150 calories and 20 grams of protein. Put it in your smoothies and/or use it as a replacement for sour cream on tacos or potatoes!

Price: $1.19 for 5.3 oz.

Chuck Roast: This lean cut of beef has 182 calories, six grams of fat, and 29 grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving.

Price: Approximately $5.40/lb

Lentils: One cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein, 15 grams of fiber, and iron.

Price: $2.29-$2.49 for 16-oz. bag (dried lentils)

Cottage Cheese: One half-cup of one percent fat cottage cheese has 14 grams of protein and just 80 calories, and it’s also rich in bone-building calcium.

Price: $4.29-$5.99 for 16-oz. container

Eggs: The new USDA Dietary Guidelines now state that eating dietary cholesterol doesn’t raise blood cholesterol levels. (Hooray for eggs!) One large egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals, and 6 grams of protein for just 70 calories. They also contain the amino acid leucine, which helps stimulate muscle growth.

Price: Approximately $1.50/dozen large eggs