Ever since you were a kid you were told by your parents that you need to eat your veggies. And your parents were certainly right then and even more so now, provided that you still listen to their advice!
But on a serious note, vegetables are packed with healthy nutrients that provide enormous benefits for your overall health and your bodybuilding goals. The minimum dose you should strive for every day are at least two cups. And here are the reasons why:
Reason no.1: They have lots of fiber
Vegetables are known for their high fiber content, which is perhaps one of the most neglected nutrients by bodybuilders. Fibers are basically indigestible nutrients and provide no calories for your body, yet they give your meals bulk, thus slowing your digestion. This fact poses two important benefits.
First of all, carbs enter the body more slowly, which aids in controlling and maintaining sugar levels in your blood, keeping the energy levels pretty high and prevents you from experiencing insulin-spike induced crashes. When the blood sugar levels start to plummet, they cause a cortisol spike, which is a catabolic hormone that breaks down your hard earned muscle tissue and decreases recovery rates.
Second, fibers can aid in faster amino acid absorption. It does that by keeping the intestines’ walls clean which makes them more effective at absorbing all nutrients. All of this ultimately allows you to experience greater overall protein consumption.
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Reason no.2: They are packed with various minerals and vitamins
Every serious bodybuilder knows that he needs a lot bigger quantity of minerals and vitamins than the average person. However, a lot of them think that just by taking a multimineral or multivitamin pill or powder will be enough. It will certainly help, but it won’t satisfy the needs completely as whole foods would.
Vegetables come in handy in this situation. They have compounds in them that increase the absorption rates of minerals and vitamins that are found in sources other than vegetables like grains, lean meats and even in some vitamin and mineral supplements. Bodybuilder’s diets should be based on numbers only. They aren’t just about the total caloric intake or macronutrient ratio.
The most successful diet plans do not focus on these major things only. They also rely on the smaller components that have a big role in producing the optimal body environment conducive to growth and recovery.
Reason no.3: Because we don’t fully know what’s in them
If there is one thing we know for sure about vegetables is that we still aren’t aware of the majority of compounds contained in them. Research has established that they have lycopene, antioxidants, phytochemicals, carotenoids and various sulfuric compounds which aid in many of metabolic functions, as well as strengthening the immune system.
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If you want to recover properly and efficiently after training you need to have a powerful immune system. If it is weak, not only will you experience a poor recovery, but your muscle tissue can also stop growing regardless of how much you take care of protein consumption and overall caloric intake. The conclusion is, eat vegetables for the compounds we know are in them and for the ones that we don’t.
Reason no.4: They help you to get leaner
If you happen to be on a cutting diet at the moment, the hardest challenges will be to avoid eating junk food, decrease your daily caloric intake and giving your body enough food quantity that will satiate you. Vegetables can help you in all three cases. When you are dieting you can freely increase the daily vegetable intake to 7 cups.
When you reduce your daily calorie amount, chances are you will avoid ingesting one of the most essential minerals and vitamins, however, by eating a big amount of vegetables that are low in calories will ensure that your daily needs are met. They will also inhibit your appetite, decreasing your cravings for foods you shouldn’t eat.
Reason no.5: They boost muscle gains
Particular vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage have anti-estrogenic characteristics because of a phytochemical they have. This characteristic offers many benefits to bodybuilders since it lowers overall estrogen levels which helps in inhibiting the accumulation of body fat, minimizes retention of water in the muscles and increases testosterone levels. Incorporate the veggies above in your daily diet and increase their intake especially when you are stressed or overtrained.
Even though they may not have lots of protein, they could still be your very best diet friend.
Despite so many people who think micronutrients aren’t very important and that macros are all that matter — my experience has been exactly as described in this article. The more veggies I eat, the more muscle I gain and the more fat I lose.
Then recently, I was talking with a record-holding competitive powerlifter at my gym about how he preps for his competitions. He usually has to drop about 15-20 pounds to his competition weight and stay on a strict diet leading up to each competition. When I asked if his strength goes down during this phase, he told me that his strength actually increases because he’s eating so many more vegetables.