Foods To Avoid When Bulking Up Muscle
Most bodybuilders will know that bulking phases are heavily reliant on the right type of diet. You’ll be piling up your plates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with calories mounting up as well.
But one thing that a lot of people don’t focus enough attention on is the types of foods to avoid at all costs. I’ve seen many people fall quite short of their goals, despite putting in a huge effort at the gym.
So, if you want to avoid missing out on your full potential, then make sure you implement the following guide.
What Foods Are Bad For Muscle Growth?
When you’re in a bulking phase, then aim to limit the following types of foods.
Raw and refined sugar that is added to so many things from candy to sodas and many processed foods really is a completely empty carb. It provides a sudden spike of blood glucose, and that’s it.
There are no other nutrients tied to it, and the blood sugar fluctuations will have negative impacts on your appetite, mood, sleep, and motivation.
Some people say that the odd beer or glass of wine won’t cause too many problems. But if you asked some professional bodybuilders how much alcohol they drink, especially during a bulking phase, I’d be surprised if many of them had an occasional drink.
The main reasons are that like sugar, alcohol is an empty carb, and it has no other nutrients going for it. More importantly, it can slow down muscle building processes, cause dehydration, and significantly impact your recovery phases.
Stores seem to be packed with these highly processed deli-style meats. The problem with these meats is that they are often full of salt and sugar, and they are quite difficult to digest.
Stick with lean cuts of fresh meat and poultry instead.
Highly Refined Carbs
Most bread and all baked treats should be completely off-limits. There has been a significant shift in recent years in the nutrition industry, where people now tend to look at highly refined flour in a similar way as sugar.
Vegetables are going to be critical for a lot of nutrients, but there are certain types that will fill you up and provide basically zero, or even negative calories. During a bulking phase, you need highly nutrient-dense foods, and that includes calories.
Can You Gain Muscle If You Don’t Eat Enough?
The simple answer is no, you won’t be able to gain significant amounts of muscle if you don’t eat enough.
And by eating enough, I mean plenty of calories in order to exceed your daily energy output.
The reason for this comes down to two things. If you’re not eating enough while doing some heavy lifting, then all the carbs, fat, and protein you eat will be turned into energy. As a result, there won’t be enough protein to support muscle growth.
Secondly, the increased energy output will be supported by a reduction in fat reserves and muscle mass. Basically, your body will do everything possible to find all the energy needed.
How Many Calories Do You Need?
Start with your baseline daily calorie needs. There are many calculators online that will help you work this out based on your height, weight, age, and gender.
Next, you need to add at least 10 to 15% on top of that, depending on how many times you head to the gym. This may take some finer adjusting over several weeks, but if you’re struggling to bulk up, then your calorie intake is most likely the problem.
Foods To Avoid Before Hitting The Gym
First of all, let me say that remembering that you haven’t eaten enough half an hour before you hit the gym is not the right time to shovel in some food. But even when you’re planning a snack or meal an hour or two before your workout, there are a few things to avoid.
Whether it’s some deep-fried chicken or a cheesy pizza, just avoid them before the gym. Fat takes quite a long time to digest and can end up sitting in your stomach, making you feel bloated. Not a pleasant experience when you’re trying to focus on your reps.
Sugar is quickly absorbed and will spike up your blood glucose levels. While this sudden high may seem like an energy boost, the subsequent crash will completely drain you and increase the chance of premature fatigue.
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are all slow to digest. When you then start exercising, that stomach full of food can start to make you feel bloated and nauseated. This is likely to happen whether you’re lactose intolerant or not.
Carbonated drinks are another evil to avoid before you hit the gym. The gasses will bloat up your stomach, and once you start any physical activity, that bloating can turn into indigestion, nausea, and some not so pleasant farting.
Not really the best things to bring to the gym, right?
What To Eat Before A Workout
I already mentioned that timing is important when it comes to eating food before exercising, and my general tip is to plan meals about 2 hours before training starts.
But when it comes to what you eat, it’s important to get the right macronutrients.
This is not an excuse to shovel in a few donuts. What you want are complex carbs that are slow to digest. This produces a slower increase in blood glucose levels that will continue into your training time.
Aim for whole-grain bread, pasta, and rice, as well as some lentils and oats.
Getting some protein before you exercise is a great way to have a reserve ready for the recovery period. By eating some lean poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, and soy, you can quickly get a 10 to 20-gram boost of protein without feeling full.
This should not be a greasy burger, but rather food that contains healthy fats. Some fish is fine, and a personal favourite is avocado, as well as a few nuts and seeds. Just make sure you limit the fats compared to carbs and protein, as it does take longer to digest.
What To Eat After A Workout
When it comes to nutrition after your workout, your main focus should be on protein. You’ll likely have a post-workout protein shake as part of your cool down, but it can be helpful to have some high-protein snacks in the hours after training.
Aim for some light meals or snacks using eggs, soy, fish, and oatmeal, to name a few.
And if you had a particularly demanding training session and it’s still early in the day, then get some more complex carbs in to replenish your blood glucose levels.
Putting It All Together
Unless you get your diet and nutrition right, all the effort you put in at the gym can become seriously compromised. If you haven’t seen the results you were expecting during a bulking phase, then I would always suggest looking at your diet first rather than your training routine.
Try to implement the above tips immediately and keep a careful diary of what you’re eating. This will help you fix the most likely problem and see your muscle growth increase.