Foods to Avoid When Building Muscle: A Beginner’s Guide

Building muscle is hard work, even for the most seasoned gym goer. While intense training and adequate recuperation are important, you’ll never see the benefits of that effort until you get your nutrition on point. And knowing what foods to avoid is just as important as knowing which ones to eat.

In this article, our focus is on the foods to avoid when building muscle. We’ll identify the key foods that need to be on your “no go” list. We’ll also offer guidance on how to nourish your body with wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that promote muscle growth.

How to Gain Muscle

The goal of a muscle-building phase is to increase muscle strength and size through a process known as hypertrophy. The muscle fibers undergo hypertrophy when they are continuously stressed and damaged. This forces them to adapt and increase in size and quantity. Intense resistance training creates micro-tears in the muscle fibers, which starts this process.

Bent Over Barbell Row

The goal of muscle-building is to increase muscle strength. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

After an intense workout, the body heals these micro-tears by producing new muscle proteins. This process is known as protein synthesis. With time, consistent training, and a healthy diet, the muscle fibers get bigger and stronger, which increases muscle mass.

This whole process can only take place when the body has a caloric surplus. This gives muscles the energy and nutrients they need to grow and repair. Since protein provides the building blocks for the synthesis of muscle protein, getting an adequate amount of protein is also essential.

Lean Muscle Diet

Without the right nutrients, the process of gaining muscle will be hampered and progress will be minimal or nonexistent. Protein is the most important nutrient for muscle growth. Protein is crucial for healing the muscle fiber tears that are caused by exercise as well as for regenerating new muscle tissue. So, getting enough protein is crucial for muscle growth and recuperation. For people aiming to gain muscle, the usual advice for protein intake is about one gram per pound of body weight each day.

Protein is the most important nutrient for muscle growth. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Carbohydrates are essential for maintaining muscle mass after exercise by replenishing muscle glycogen stores. They also give the body energy during workouts. When performing high-intensity exercise, your muscles are primarily fuelled by glycogen, so if you don’t take in enough carbs, you won’t have the energy you need to exercise efficiently or recover well.

For the purpose of growing muscle, healthy fats are just as important as protein and carbohydrates. Fats are necessary for the body to produce hormones and to control inflammation, which can slow down the body’s ability to recover after exercise.

Top Foods to Avoid When Building Muscle

Not all foods are created equal when it comes to gaining muscle mass. Some foods can actually impede muscle growth and may even lead to loss of muscle tissue. Here are the key foods to avoid on your muscle-building journey:

Processed Foods

Foods that have been heavily processed, such as chips, cookies, and candies, are inevitably rich in calories, bad fats, and extra sugars, and have little nutritional benefit. Weight gain brought on by these foods can impede your muscle-building efforts. These foods also fill you up with worthless calories when your body needs all the quality it can get.


Drinking alcohol reduces protein synthesis, which hinders muscle growth and raises cortisol levels. Cortisol, the stress hormone, may indirectly lead to muscle breakdown. Alcoholic beverages can also result in weight gain, which can impede muscle growth, and are frequently high in empty calories.

Drinking alcohol reduces protein synthesis. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Fried Foods

Fried meals, such as french fries, fried chicken, and onion rings, are fatty and calorie-rich and can cause inflammation in the body. This may obstruct the growth and healing of muscles. Fried foods are often high in trans- and saturated fats that result in inflammation that interferes with muscle recovery. Inflammation also causes oxidative stress, which can impede protein synthesis.

Sugary Beverages

Drinks high in added sugars and with little nutritional value include soda, energy drinks, and fruit juices. These beverages can cause hydration problems as well as weight gain, which can impede muscle building.

Sodium-Laden Foods

Foods heavy in sodium, such as fast food, canned soups, and processed meats, can cause bloating and water retention. This will make it more difficult for you to notice the benefits of your efforts to gain muscle. They’re also likely to increase your chance of developing high blood pressure.

Salty snacks

Foods heavy in sodium can cause bloating. (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Top Foods to Eat to Build Muscle

Proper nutrition is critical to building muscle. While it’s important to concentrate on eating nutrient-dense foods that give your body the required protein, carbs, good fats, and fluids it requires, it’s also vital to stay away from foods that may impede muscle growth.

12 Best Foods For Muscle Building and Strength – Body Hub

As outlined above, the top five things to stay away from when trying to gain muscle are highly processed foods, alcohol, fried foods, sugary beverages, and high-sodium foods. These meals can cause oxidative stress, weight gain, and inflammation, all of which can obstruct the repair and expansion of muscles.

Here are the top five foods you should be eating to build muscle:

  • Lean Protein: Provide the amino acids required for the synthesis of muscle protein. Sources of lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, protein bars, and tofu, are all good for muscle building.
  • Complex Carbohydrates: Crucial for supplying energy during exercises and replacing muscle glycogen stores after exercise. Examples of complex carbs include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Healthy Fats: Vital for hormone production, controlling inflammation, and promoting muscle repair. Examples of healthy fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish.
  • Water: Staying properly hydrated is important for muscle growth, since the body needs it for several metabolic activities, including the production of proteins.
  • Vegetables: Fantastic source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are necessary for both general health and muscle building.

Wrap Up

You will maximize your muscle-building efforts by concentrating on eating nutrient-dense foods and knowing which foods to avoid when building muscle. Remember that building muscle requires patience and perseverance, but anyone can achieve their goals with the proper diet and exercise.