If you’re an avid gym-goer, or at least someone who takes fitness seriously, you know that maintaining your diet is, in many respects, the most difficult part of the entire equation. Sometimes, you just want to eat an entire pizza — but you have to fight your animal instincts and have a salad or piece of cod instead. It’s all a part of the sacrifice that is required to get the body you’ve always wanted.
Which is why so many people fail to reach their goals. Maintaining a clean, focused, and budget-friendly diet is one of the most difficult changes you can make.
To make it easier, you can take stock of what you have in the house — in the fridge and pantry, particularly. Shelves full of chips, pasta, candy, and soft drinks? Time to clear things out, and put together a grocery list that will help you bulk up, not hold you back. There are a ton of good, relatively inexpensive foods out there that you can substitute for a cleaner, healthier diet. Even if you have dietary restrictions, there are big changes you can make.
If building muscle is your goal, there are several foods you should be eating regularly — and several you should avoid. Those are what we are focusing on here — the foods that are not going to help you on your quest to get bigger and stronger.
As annoying as this is, you’re probably going to need to give up one of everyone’s favorite vices: drinking. No, a beer here and there isn’t going to kill you — or at least significantly hamper the muscle building process — but shying away from alcohol consumption is going to be in your best interest. Not only does alcohol interfere with your body’s natural muscle-building function, but also with the recovery process. Plus, it’s a lot of empty calories.
2. Processed meat
Yes, bacon and manhood often go hand in hand. But you should probably rethink your choices if you really want to get in shape. Without a doubt, you’re going to want to get plenty of lean, healthy proteins in your diet. But those aren’t going to come from processed meats, like bacon, hot dogs, sausage, etc. In fact, red meat is pretty bad overall — so you should stick to leaner, healthier options like grilled chicken, turkey, or fish. Processed meat is going to slow you down, and giving it up is going to be hard for some people. But if you’re serious about fitness, leave it for special occasions.
3. Candy and soda
Well, this is a bit of a no-brainer, but you should stay away from the sweets. Candy, sodas, and everything else in that realm of the dietary world really don’t do anything for you — it’s empty calories, with no nutritional value. Look at the label on a can of soda, and you’ll see calories and sugar. That’s it. Your body can’t really do anything with that, so do yourself a favor and skip it. A little sweet treat isn’t going to hurt, but don’t make it a habit.
Plus, soda consumption kills hundreds of thousands every year. So you can avoid that.
4. Bread and baked goods
Muffins, scones, cookies — all very deceptive, and delicious, foods. A lot of people like to start their day off with a baked good, but they don’t realize that, in many cases, these foods can contain a huge amount of calories, carbs, and sugar. All of which aren’t particularly helpful if you’re looking to get leaner and more muscular, although if you’re bulking, the calories might help you out. What you’ll want to do is stock up on whole grains and skip the white stuff. Again, if you’re bulking, bread can be an ally. But as for the baked goods at the Starbucks counter? A lot of sugar and calories, and not much in terms of nutrition. Have whole-wheat toast instead.
5. Salty snacks
Much like candy or soda, having just one chip is hard. They’re meant to be picked at, too. The best strategy for staying away from calorie-rich crackers and chips is to avoid them in the first place. So, if you get hungry at work, bring some fruit or beef jerky to chew on, and skip the vending machine. If you need to indulge, be disciplined and eat only one or two servings. The problem with these foods is they’re just providing empty calories with little value. Your body needs nutritionally sound food to build muscle, and Pringles aren’t going to suffice. Have some celery with peanut butter, or something similar, instead of a bag of chips.