Foods to Avoid When Building Muscle: 14 Urgent Gain-Killing Foods 

There are a few foods to avoid when building muscle that could potentially ruin your gains if you are not careful. 

In fact, many of you are likely hindering your progress without even realising it. 

Let’s get right into it and take a look at some foods to avoid when building muscle.  

How to Eat to Build Muscle 

Before even thinking about foods you should avoid when building muscle, you need to know how to eat to build muscle in the first place. 

Eating to build muscle is simple, but most people overcomplicate things to the maximum.  

This is why articles like “food to gain muscle for females” or “top 10 bodybuilding foods” can be harmful in the wrong hands – they make you focus on the wrong things.  

Our article would also fall under this category, which is why we decided to tell you the truth about building muscle before diving into the list. 

To eat to build muscle, you need to do two things: eat enough protein and eat more calories than you burn off in a day. 

This is it.  

There are no special foods that can allow you to grow muscle quickly, and you do not need to avoid certain foods when trying to build muscle if you know what you are doing. 

All of the foods we are about to list are not necessarily bad for building muscle – it’s just that they can be if they are not properly incorporated into one’s diet.  

This is the same with any “X foods to avoid when building muscle” article.  

There are no foods that are going to kill your gains.  

It’s just that consuming them can make achieving your goals more difficult by making you put on more fat or not giving you enough nutrients.  

We will go more in-depth about how you can find out how many calories and how much protein you need to eat muscle later on, but the basic premise is that you need to go to an online calorie calculator to find out your maintenance calories and then increase this number by around 250. 

For protein, just aim for 1g of protein per pound of body weight. 

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at some foods to avoid when building muscle.  

Foods To Avoid 


While bagels can provide carbohydrates for energy, they are often high in calories and low in protein, both of which can be detrimental when trying to build muscle.  

Ice Cream 

Ice cream does contain some protein and carbohydrates, but it is also high in sugar and saturated fat. 

Eating ice cream while trying to gain muscle will likely just result in excessive weight gain.  

Reduced Fat Peanut Butter 

Reduced fat peanut butter often contains added sugars and preservatives to compensate for the reduced fat content, and this makes it not so ideal when building muscle is the primary goal.  

Processed Cheese 

Processed cheese is often high in sodium and unhealthy saturated fats, which may lead to weight gain and hinder muscle growth. 

Granola Bars 

While granola bars may seem like a healthy snack option, many brands are high in sugar and low in protein. 

It’s best to just stay away from granola bars for the time being.  


Muffins are often high in sugar and calories and lack the protein and nutrients necessary for muscle growth. 


While some oils can be healthy in moderation, excessive oil consumption can contribute to weight gain and hinder muscle growth. 


Soda is high in sugar and empty calories, making it one of the worst things you can consume when trying to build an incredible physique.  

Premade Smoothies 

Many pre-made smoothies are high in sugar and have very little nutritional value, so they might not be the best pick if you are looking to optimise your diet for muscle growth.  

(Too Many) Protein Shakes 

While protein shakes can be beneficial for muscle growth, consuming too many can lead to an excessive calorie intake and cause weight gain.  

Sports Drinks 

Sports drinks can help replenish electrolytes lost during exercise, but many brands are also high in sugar and calories. 

This is something to watch out for if you like drinking sports drinks for your pre-workout.  

White Rice 

While white rice is a source of carbohydrates, it lacks the fibre and nutrients found in whole grains.  

You’d be much better off finding a better alternative.  

Coffee Creamer 

Coffee creamer is often high in sugar and unhealthy fats.  

If you want to keep your waist nice and trim, it would be a good idea to switch to a healthier alternative.  

Sugary Cereals 

Sugary cereals are often low in protein and high in sugar, making them one of the worst foods if you are trying to stack on some muscle.  


Not Eating Enough   

The biggest mistake people make when looking to put on muscle is that they simply do not eat enough.  

If you do not know how much you need to eat muscle or do not track your calories every day, you are going to seriously struggle to make progress.  

Luckily, this is an easy issue to fix. 

If you are not gaining at least 1lb per month, increase your calories by an additional 250 (this is after you have already got a rough estimate of your maintenance calories from a calorie calculator). 

From here, simply repeat this process every month until you begin to gain 1-2lbs a month.  

Calculating Your Protein and Calorie Intake   

Calculating your protein and calorie intake is a necessity if you want to build muscle. 

While it can feel a little intimidating, it is actually surprisingly easy to find out both. 

As we mentioned before, to find out how many calories you should be eating in a day to build muscle, go to an online calorie calculator and add 250 calories on top of your maintenance calories.  

For protein, just aim to eat 1g of protein for every pound you weigh. 

For example, if you weigh 180lbs, then you would aim to eat 180g of protein every day. 

Don’t worry if you don’t actually hit this number – in all likelihood, you will still get optimal results with a protein intake of far less than this. 

It’s just a good goal to aim for.  

Forget Fad Diets  

One of the most common problems we see when beginners are trying to build muscle is that they fall victim to fad diets.  

Whether it be supposed “quick muscle-building foods” or superfoods that can “build muscle overnight”, no food is going to bring you results on its own. 

Building muscle is a long process, and following some fad diet is only going to make the whole ordeal more difficult than it needs to be. 

As long as you eat in a caloric surplus and consume enough protein, you are doing everything you need to build muscle.  

Focus on Muscle Growth  

While googling things like “muscle building foods for skinny guys” and “foods to avoid while building muscle” can give you an edge, if you are not putting in the work at the gym, then you are not going to make any progress.  

To build muscle, you need to eat enough protein, stay in a caloric surplus, follow a good training routine that focuses on progressive overload, and be consistent for months on end. 

To tell you the truth; you are probably looking in the wrong places.  

Most of your results will come from doing the aforementioned things correctly, and the fact that you are worried about certain foods that could kill your gains just goes to show that you might not have a good insight into the muscle-building process.  

 Putting It All Together 

The key to building muscle is to identify what you need to do and then do it. 

While avoiding certain foods may help you stack on muscle (depending on your diet at large), if you are not eating enough protein or following a good muscle-gaining program, then all of your efforts will be wasted.  

If you are not eating in a caloric surplus, focusing on progressive overload in the gym, and being consistent with your workouts, no amount of min-maxing will help you.  

It’s about putting everything together all at once.  

Go Easy on Yourself 

It can be far too easy to knock yourself when trying to build muscle. 

Whether it be because you are not putting on muscle quick enough or because you are losing strength in the gym, things are bound to go wrong. 

The fact of the matter is this; gaining muscle is not a straightforward process. 

You may not gain any strength for two weeks for no apparent reason, or you may lose weight despite doing everything you can to stack on muscle.  

This is just a part of the process.  

So, go easy on yourself when you feel like you are not doing good enough. 

If you are doing everything you can, then there is nothing more that you can do. 

Foods to Avoid When Building Muscle – FAQs 

What Drinks Should You Avoid When Building Muscle? 

You should try to avoid high-calorie drinks when building muscle.  

This includes alcohol as well as sugary drinks, both of which can lead to excessive weight gain.  

What Are You Eating To Build Muscle?  

I eat beef stew, tuna, and oats on a regular basis to build muscle.  

What Foods Should I Avoid in My Diet? 

You should avoid any foods that are high in calories and saturated fat for general health and fitness.  

How To Avoid Sugary Snacks After a Workout?  

To avoid sugary snacks after a workout, you should look for a healthier alternative that can replace said snacks.

One good example is bananas, which are high in natural sugar.  

What Foods Should I Avoid to Gain Muscle? 

The main foods to avoid when building muscle and losing fat are ice cream, bagels, and reduced fat peanut butter.  

What Stops You From Building Muscle? 

The main thing that stops people from gaining muscle is not eating enough.  

Even if you follow a 7 day meal plan for muscle gain, if you don’t eat more calories than you need to maintain your current bodyweight, you won’t build muscle.

What Foods are Good for Muscle Growth? 

Some foods that are good for muscle growth are chicken, meat, fish, oats, and nuts.  

A high-protein diet plan for muscle gain will include a mix of all of the aforementioned foods.  

What Foods Affect Your Muscles? 

Foods that can affect your muscles are bagels, ice cream, and reduced fat peanut butter. 

While these foods will not necessarily hinder your muscle growth, you will most definitely find them on any muscle building meal plan for beginners. 

So, were you surprised by any of the foods we mentioned on our list?  

There are so many foods that we consume on a daily basis that can impact our gains, and being more aware of what we consume can allow us to reach our true potential. 

If you would like to find out more foods to avoid when building muscle or are just interested in fitness in general, feel free to take a look at the rest of the content we have here at MovingForwards

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