It’s a common misconception that vegetables aren’t good muscle mass building foods.
The truth is, if you want to build muscle, it’s actually highly recommended to incorporate a ton of vegetables into your diet.
The benefits of vegetables for bodybuilders, strength athletes, and fitness freaks goes farther than just “being good for you”
- Shortens recovery time
- Improves cardiovascular system
- Slows aging
- Provides essential vitamins and minerals
- Good source of water
- Improves mental health
- Promotes healthy digestive system
- Increases food and nutrient absorption
Try and consume at least a handful of vegetables at every single meal. It’ll have you feeling better, clearer minded, and more energized for workouts.
But don’t just take it from me, look at the science behind it!
“Vitamins and minerals in vegetables are critical for proper and efficient muscle contractions, red blood cell production, inflammation control, cortisol response mediation, oxidative stress response, cholesterol synthesis and more.”
But that begs us to ask the question…
What are the best vegetables for building muscle and recovery?
After all, there are over 20,000 different kinds of vegetables on this beautiful green planet.
Here’s a list of all the vegetables and greens you should consider implementing into your bodybuilding routine.
How do you think Popeye got those canons for arms?
By eating a can of spinach!
You wouldn’t even begin to understand the benefits of spinach for your body and your gains.
Spinach is very high in Manganese, Folate, Magnesium, Iron, and Copper. All of which are fantastic at preventing disease and fighting cancer.
Spinach is also very high in protein. There’s about 3 grams of protein for every 100g of spinach.
More recently, scientists have found that spinach contains a chemical compound which they are now calling “plant steroids.”
This plant steroid is called ‘phytoecdysteroid.’ This plant-based compound has been proven to increase muscle tissue by up to 20%.
You read that right!
Spinach has steroid like muscle building capabilities.
Phytoecdysteroids have also been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis and lower stress levels.
Lower stress levels have been linked to an increase in testosterone, which will also increase your muscle mass.
A superfood like no other, Kale is a nutrient rich vegetable and another fantastic source of protein (3g per 100g of Kale.)
Kale has more protein per calorie than most meats, so it’s an excellent way to gain some super lean muscle mass without the fat.
It also contains many essential vitamins and minerals that promote a healthy heart and cancer fighting agents.
I highly recommend throwing Kale into a post-workout protein shake. It’s super high in antioxidants that help prevent inflammation and promote muscle reparations.
Not to mention, Kale also contains extremely high levels of Vitamin K, something that helps strengthen bones and keeping joint cartilage healthy.
Kale has also been shown to carry natural anti-depressant effects, so next time you’re feeling the blues, start munching on those dark leafy greens!
Mom always told us to eat our broccoli so we could grow big and strong.
Well… she was right.
Broccoli contains a flavonoid called Kaempferol. Studies show this flavonoid is great at reducing inflammation.
It’s also abundant in antioxidants that promote healthy cell and tissue development.
But what really fascinates me about broccoli is it’s ability to use phytochemicals to block aromatase.
Aromatase is the process of which testosterone is converted into estrogen.
For us athletes this is a huge no-no.
We already know that more testosterone increases muscle mass. The last thing we want is for us to lose testosterone and increase estrogen levels.
Lucky for us, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable high in phytochemicals. These phytochemicals help stop aromatase and block the production of estrogen.
Eat some broccoli every few meals and it’ll keep your hormones in check!
Another cruciferous vegetable that blocks estrogen is bok choy.
Bok choy is possibly the most delicious vegetable out there.
The Chinese have been farming and cultivating bok choy for thousands of years, and with good reason.
Some of the health benefits include
- Improves heart health
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Promotes bone health
- Regulates blood pressure
It’s super easy to prepare to. Steaming bok choy is one of my favorite techniques but you can also stir-fry, grill, and stew the vegetable as well.
Yes, technically avocado is a fruit…
But I still added it to this list because it’s so commonly referred to as a vegetable.
Avocados are one of the best forms of healthy fat.
And what’s known about healthy fat? It helps boost testosterone.
That’s right, if you’re suffering from low T-levels, try incorporating some more avocados and healthy fat into your diet.
We already know that testosterone is the main male hormone responsible for muscle growth, but it also has many other different bodily functions including libido, hair growth, energy levels, and the production of red blood cells.
Avocados contain a good amount of calories and protein for it’s size. One large avocado has over 300 calories and 4 grams of protein.
If you’re looking for a quality form of carbohydrates, look no further than sweet potatoes.
Carbs = Muscle gains and increased energy levels.
Sweet potatoes are also loaded with high amounts of potassium which help fight fatigue.
If you’re pre or post-workout meal doesn’t include sweet potatoes, consider changing that right now.
You’ll notice the difference in the gym as well as after.
This dark red vegetable isn’t the most popular vegetable. But it sure has it’s benefits, especially for us athletes and lifters.
They’re high in nitrates which have shown to boost athletic performance.
Nitrates improve cell efficiency, thus improving your overall energy levels, allowing you to work harder, stronger, and longer.
Incredibly, beets also improve your body’s ability to utilize oxygen by up to 20 percent! It’s almost as if this nutrient rich veggie was made for us!
Beets are versatile and can fit into almost any dish you prepare, so be sure to incorporate this superfood into your diet as much as possible.
Studies show that beans help you live longer and they promote a healthy heart.
They’re also a great source of protein for vegetarian and vegans.
If you need an extra addition of protein in your meal, just add a cup of cooked beans!
Here’s a list of beans you should be eating on the regular to get a quality source of protein
- Black beans – 14g per cup
- Chickpeas – 15g per cup
- Edamame – 18g per cup
- Peas – 11g per cup
- Lentils – 20g per cup
Beans are readily available at any supermarket, but if you want the best bang for your buck, buy your beans dry and in bulk. You’ll save a lot of money and it’s much healthier.
When you get home, soak your beans overnight and then cook them the following day. You’ll have a ton of quality beans ready to eat and give you some gains.