I go to gym and workout pretty hard to buff up my body. With time I learned about protein requirements of muscles to grow and started taking whey protein which costs around 4000 for 5 lbs pack. But it lasts for only 2 - 2.5 months. Is there any way to plan my diet and workout in such a way that would completely eliminate the need of protein powder. If yes how much time it would take to build muscle relative to protein powder.
Stick with real food. The only time protein powders are useful is post workout. They are highly insulinogenic. So they are not an ideal protein source over the course of the day if you want to stay lean. Stick with chicken, turkey, eggs, beef, dairy (greek yogurt). If you have an aversion to animal products, beans, nuts and legumes are loaded with protein as well, you just need to combine them with grains to get the full compliment of amino acids as they are incomplete on their own. These foods are all loaded with protein and they are much more filling, satisfying and sustaining over the course of the day. Keep it simple and avoid overthinking it.
Protein is just one of many factors in the complex process of building muscle. Another factor that is relevant to this topic of diet/nutrition is that of total caloric intake. If you aren't getting enough calories then it doesn't matter how much protein you consume because you simply won't be building muscles.
Let's start with protein. The academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that bodybuilders require 1.4 - 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, or approximately 0.63 to 0.77 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Since you're trying to bulk and add more mass, you'll want to be at the high end of that range, and maybe and even exceed it to 1.8 - 1.9 grams/kg. You'll want to make sure you have a balance of fats as well, with carbs making up the remainder for your caloric requirements.
As far as high protein diets without protein powder, this is quite easy. Milk, chicken, fish, yogurt, eggs, almonds, beans, and lean beef/pork are all great sources for protein. Things like almonds and yogurt are great snacks to have throughout the day.
I won't go so far to build an actual meal plan, because between not knowing your tastes, allergies, body weight, caloric need, etc., it is clearly not practical for me to do so. But with the information above and a little research I'm sure you can put together something quite healthy.
EDIT All of that being said, I will say that personally I like protein powder as it is a quick, cheap, and easy way for me to meet my protein requirements every day. Often times I won't even have a shake, but instead add it to my coffee, oatmeal, or another snack throughout the day. As someone who is trying to put on mass, I also find it a good source of calories that are cheap and easy to consume.
"Real food" that is naturally high in protein will always in out over powders nutritionally speaking. This is largely dependent on where you live. In the United States whey protein is relatively cheap, and animal meat is relatively expensive. In most developing nations however meat is much cheaper than the cost of importing a tub of whey.
- A chicken breast (two breasts) has about 60g of protein. Currently (2014), in the United States, two chicken breasts will cost around $3.50.
- A tub of ON whey costs around $55, for 74 servings at 24 grams per serving. You'd need 2.5 scoops to equal the protein in the chicken breasts, so that costs you $1.85 (($55/24)(2.5)).
So that's $3.50 in chicken or $1.85 for whey, gram for gram. Economical whey protein, in this case (2014, United States) costs roughly half that of chicken. Other things to consider:
- Real food has fiber, nutrients, and is usually much slower digesting. That's really important because all the talk about pre/intra/post protein is negated to a large degree if you have a constant state of elevated amino acids because you're eating real food.
- Real food tends to make you feel full longer.
- Real food like fish contains (duh) fish oil (a supplement) and red meats are usually high in creatine (another supplement).
- Protein powders are (again, usually) cheaper and nearly always more convenient. Raw chicken breasts require cooking, cutlery, fuel, refrigeration, and dishes that need to be cleaned up.
I would advise anyone to base their diet largely in fresh whole foods, trying to get as much lean protein and fresh vegetables as possible. If you can't get enough protein because of cost or schedule, supplement with protein powders. A tub of whey shouldn't form the basis of your diet, it should be a convenient go-to when the realities of cost and schedules show up.