Nutrition plays a crucial role in building muscle. While it is not true that you can’t untrain a bad diet, you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t focus on what foods you eat, and what foods to avoid when building muscle.
For most people, you will need to be in a calorie surplus, as your body requires extra calories to build muscle tissue. However, this has led to many people overindulging, and eating too much of the “wrong” foods.
In this article, we will be focusing on what not to eat, but there will also be information on what foods you can prioritise. Remember, there is no such thing as an inherently bad food, and avoiding foods does not mean that you can never eat them, you just need to moderate your intake.
The food you consume provides the necessary fuel and nutrients for your muscles to repair and grow after intense workouts. Additionally, nutrition plays a crucial role in optimizing your body’s hormone levels, such as testosterone, which are vital for muscle development.
One key aspect of nutrition for muscle building is creating a calorie surplus. This means consuming more calories than your body burns daily. A calorie surplus provides the extra energy needed to support muscle growth.
Without those extra calories, your body would not be able to build muscle tissue. Well, it could build some muscle tissue, but not the optimal amount. This is why bodybuilders who take performance enhancers need to eat so much because the amount that they are able to train means that their ceiling for building muscle is so high.
It is true that when it comes to building muscle, almost any food can help, but using muscle building as an excuse to eat lots of junk food can have consequences. Gaining too much body fat, consuming too much sodium or trans fats etc.
Ideally, you want the foods that you eat to allow you to train at 100%, you also want them to help you to recover fully from each workout. So, eating a diet that contains lots of fruit, vegetables, and healthy protein is your best option.
Rather than give you an exhaustive list of all the foods to avoid when building muscle, we will instead look at the types of food that may be unhelpful. The goal, as stated above, is to provide enough calories and nutrients to fuel muscle growth and repair.
There are a lot of foods that provide the calories, but don’t provide the nutrients. For example, a whole pizza will certainly provide you with enough calories to fuel your training, but will it provide you with enough protein? Or micronutrients? Will it also contain too many ingredients that may hinder your progress? Sodium and trans fats, for example.
Pizza is a high-fat, low-quality food that can still be helpful for muscle building, but its downsides outweigh its benefits. It is an example of a food that you can enjoy while building muscle, but should not overindulge in.
Pizza is also a processed food, and you want to limit the amount of processed foods that you eat. Processed meat such as burgers and sausages should also be limited. Even though they are high in protein and are popular with bodybuilders during a bulk.
Alcohol is another example of something that can be enjoyed while trying to build muscle (this is Beer N Biceps after all) but should not be a regular thing. A couple of beers per week? Fine. Six beers each night? Not fine.
It is also a good idea, but not essential, to try and keep your diet varied. Not just eating the same foods over and over again. Having chicken, broccoli, and brown rice every lunch for six months isn’t going to harm your muscle growth. If anything it will help. But it will become boring, and it will prevent you from getting all of the micronutrients that you need.
The most important foods to add are foods that are high in protein, but you’ll also want foods that contain carbs and some fat, as a balanced diet is best. You can use caffeine as a pre-workout, which will allow you to train harder during your workouts, and creatine monohydrate is an ideal supplement for building muscle.
While it is possible to build muscle without eating many fruits and vegetables, it is certainly recommended that you do. Not only will they help to improve your overall nutrition, but the micronutrients will help you to train harder and recover faster.
Lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, and vegetable proteins, are often recommended. But as you are bulking (building muscle) you can also add in some not-so-lean protein such as red meat. As mentioned earlier, try to avoid eating too much processed meat.
Dairy is a great option for anyone looking to build muscle. Not only can it be very high in protein, but it is also very cheap, and easy to digest. Protein yoghurts have become very popular, and are now sold at most supermarkets.
Check out my article on what bodybuilders eat, for a full rundown on what foods to eat when building muscle.
When it comes to building muscle, it’s important to pay attention to both the foods you should avoid and the foods you should add to your diet. By avoiding certain foods, such as processed snacks and sugary beverages, you can prevent unnecessary weight gain and promote overall health. Additionally, limiting foods high in saturated fats and refined sugars can help optimize your nutrition for muscle growth.
It is important not to overthink things when trying to build muscle. Creating a calorie surplus that is packed full of healthy foods and lean protein will get you amazing results. You can afford to be a little more relaxed with what you eat, but don’t go overboard.
Matt Smith is the owner of Beer N Biceps. He has a degree in Sports Science, 10 years of experience working in the fitness industry, and has written for hundreds of fitness websites. He is a lover of good quality beer and believes that drinking in moderation can form part of a healthy lifestyle.