5 essential vegetables for staying healthy and packing on lean muscle

In a traditional bodybuilding diet, the emphasis will undoubtedly be placed on protein and carbohydrates as these two powerhouse macro-nutrients are seen by a lot of bodybuilding enthusiasts as the alpha and the omega of their muscle building diet.

Some people in pursuit of a muscle-bound bod may place a small focus on fat intake but for the majority, it is a misunderstood and therefore avoided macro-nutrient. The vast majority of recreational bodybuilders and those desperate to pack on size are missing key elements of their diet that would help excel them to their goal…..VEGETABLES!

These hardworking guys and girls are letting their efforts in the gym be stunted by not including essential vegetables in their diet which contain vital micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) for staying healthy and assisting in the maintenance and growth of lean tissue. Micro-nutrients tend to be neglected due to the misinterpreted connotation of the word ‘micro’ meaning extremely small and this therefore causes people to think that micro-nutrients only play a very small role for bodybuilding purposes and as a result come second best to the three macro-nutrients that everyone raves about. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth as micro-nutrients provide and a plethora of vitamins and minerals that are essential for health and fitness such as antioxidant benefits, fighting off illness, speeding up recovery and enhancing post-workout muscle repair.
Below are 5 vegetables that should be included in the diet of every bodybuilder or muscle bound gym fanatic due to the importance of the vitamins and minerals they provide.

1.Broccoli – Without a doubt a heavyweight contender for being king of all vegetables. It packs a real punch as it’s loaded with fibre (for digestion) and iron (for haemoglobin production: an oxygen transporter) and surprisingly, gram for gram, contains more vitamin C than a standard orange. It’s also packed with Vitamin K, calcium, selenium and potassium which has a huge role to play in muscular contractions.

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2.Kale – Rich in vitamin A and C (both vital for immune system support). It also contains a large quantity of vitamin K, an essential nutrient that allows proteins to bond to calcium ions and therefore play a critical role in all aspects of cellular functioning. Kale is also full of fibre, calcium, potassium and vitamin B6, an essential vitamin for absorption and assimilation of nutrients from food.

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3.Spinach – The go to snack for Popeye to make his guns bulge; everyone should follow in his footsteps. A great source of vitamins A, K and E and saturated with phytochemicals providing a range of anti-oxidant properties, spinach is an absolute winner for maintaining a healthy physique.

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4.Bell peppers – In a variety of colours, bell peppers have the winning combination of being tasty and nutritious! With loads of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and fibre; they’re also a top source of folic acid (vitamin B9) which plays an important role in red blood cell formation and central nervous system support.

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5.Asparagus – As well as being a diuretic to prevent unwanted water retention, these green spears of goodness are a protein rich vegetable! In addition to this, they are considered the number one plant source of vitamin K, plus a good source of potassium and anti-oxidants (indispensable for protecting cell membranes from structural damage than can lead to several major illnesses and diseases such as cancer).

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There you have it. 5 vegetables that are an absolute must when putting together your muscle building diet. If your body is healthy with everything functioning optimally then this will fire you towards your bodybuilding goals, with immediate physiological improvements including increased alertness, fatigue reduction, quicker recovery and an increased workout intensity.

By BSc Hons James Rutherford