Asparagus is a potent vegetable full of antioxidants and nutrients. While most bodybuilders focus on protein intake, sometimes they forget that the type of veggies you eat can impact your results too.
Is asparagus good or bad for bodybuilding? Asparagus is good for bodybuilding because it is high in many nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A, and folate. It is also one of the lowest-calorie vegetables, so it’s ideal for those in a cutting phase. But, avoid asparagus if you are prone to stomach upset, as it contains properties that may not digest well.
In this article, I will teach you everything related to asparagus and bodybuilding, including:
- The calories and macros from asparagus
- Pros and cons of adding asparagus to your bodybuilding diet
- Is it better to have asparagus before or after a workout?
- Is asparagus good for muscle growth?
- Tips for including asparagus in your bodybuilding diet
Asparagus For Bodybuilding: Overview
Nutritional Content of Asparagus
In 100 g of asparagus, you can find the following nutritional content.
- Calories: 20
- Carbs: 3.9 g
- Fiber: 2.1 g
- Proteins: 2.2 g
- Fats: 0.1 g
Asparagus is a low-calorie food compared to other foods like non-starchy veggies. In 100 g of asparagus, you only get 20 kcal, while in 100 g of sweet potato, you get 90 kcal. This means that sweet potato has 4.5 times the calories compared to asparagus.
This represents a considerable advantage for bodybuilders in a cutting phase since you can add a lot of asparagus without reaching a significant amount of calories.
For example, ½ cup of sweet potato has 90 kcal. To have this exact caloric intake from asparagus, you would have to eat 2 cups of asparagus. Not only are you eating more with the same amount of calories, but due to the macronutrient composition, you will feel fuller eating the 2 cups of asparagus than the ½ a cup of sweet potato.
For a bodybuilder in a bulking phase, even if it is a low-calorie food, you can still benefit from all the nutrients that it possesses, which we’ll discuss later. If you did want to increase the caloric intake of asparagus, Additionally, since it is a low-calorie food, you can modify the caloric content, you can always add olive oil or butter to the cooking process.
Although asparagus has some carbs, it doesn’t represent a significant amount. In 100 g of asparagus, you get only 4 g of carbs, where 50% of those represent fiber. This means that you can subtract the fiber from the overall carbs, meaning you only get 2 g of net carbs in asparagus.
Although asparagus doesn’t have much protein compared to other plant sources like lentils or chickpeas, it has more protein than other non-starchy veggies like carrots, with 0.8 g of protein per 100 g of food.
If you are having trouble reaching your protein requirements, adding high-protein vegetables, such as asparagus or mushrooms can help. Nonetheless, keep in mind that asparagus is not that high in protein (compared to eggs or chicken), and it doesn’t have all essential amino acids, which makes it a low-quality protein.
Asparagus doesn’t have a significant amount of fat since, in 100 g of asparagus, you only get 0.1 g. If asparagus does have fat, it’s usually because of how it’s cooked, i.e. using oil.
Here are the top three nutrients that you can get from asparagus:
- Vitamin K. It is a vitamin known to increase performance. A study showed that people supplemented with vitamin K had a 12% higher cardiac output (the amount of blood your heart pumps each minuter). This means that with greater cardiac output, more nutrients and oxygen gets to your muscles, and you have better performance.
- Vitamin A. It is a potent antioxidant that helps decrease inflammation in the body. Additionally, it helps boost your immune system.
- Folate. It plays a vital role in the formation of red blood cells. These are the ones that carry oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.
Check out my complete guide on best vegetables for muscle growth.
4 Pros Of Eating Asparagus For Bodybuilding
Here are the four benefits you can get if you add asparagus as a bodybuilder.
1. Asparagus Is Low-Calorie Food
Asparagus can aid those that are in a cutting phase because it’s a low-calorie food.
Studies have shown that people who consumed low-calorie and high water foods (like asparagus since it is 94% water) reduced their weight thanks to decreased caloric intake.
For example, in one of those studies, people lost on average 6 kg over six months when they had low-energy-dense foods compared to those that still had a high-energy dense diet coming from fruits, grains, and non-starchy vegetables.
2. Asparagus Is A High Fiber Food
Asparagus provides 8% of your daily recommended fiber intake.
Thanks to its high fiber content, it increases your satiety levels. This means that you are less likely to get hungry during the day. In most cases, if you get hungry when you decrease your calories, you are more likely to start snacking and eat a heavier meal. This means that it can affect your overall goal.
- Related Article: 17 Best low calorie high fiber foods.
3. Asparagus Helps Boost Immune System & Performance
Asparagus has a high antioxidant capacity since it has vitamin E, vitamin C, glutathione, flavonoids, and polyphenols. These components help decrease inflammation in the body and help boost your immune response.
Additionally, research shows that one of its flavonoids, called quercetin, can decrease the stress seen after a workout and improve performance.
Those that took an average of 1000 mg of quercetin for two weeks, had a greater time to exhaustion (improved 15% of their treadmill time).
While the quercetin content depends on how the asparagus was harvested. On average, you can get 23.6 mg of quercetin in asparagus. While it is very hard to reach those 1000 mg eating only asparagus (since it would mean consuming more than 4 kg of asparagus), you can still get some benefits from it.
4. Asparagus Is A Natural Diuretic
Asparagus is a natural diuretic. This means that it gets rid of the excess salt and water in the body.
Not only is it ideal for those bodybuilders with high blood pressure. It also helps those looking to have a more shredded and less puffy physique, since it can help you get rid of some water.
2 Cons of Eating Asparagus For Bodybuilding
Although there are several benefits of eating asparagus, there are two cons to keep in mind if you are a bodybuilder.
1. Asparagus Might Give You Stomach Upset
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms ranging from stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. The foods that you eat can either help manage your symptoms or make them worst. Typically, those with IBS want to avoid high FODMAP foods.
What are FODMAPs?
FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) are types of carbohydrates that can increase your symptoms of IBS. They go straight to your intestine, where the gut bacteria use them, and thus, it can create bloating, diarrhea, or stomach cramps.
For people with IBS, especially when they have an acute case of symptoms, it is better to avoid high FODMAP foods.
Asparagus is considered a high FODMAP food. Hence, if you have stomach problems, it is best to avoid them. Once the symptoms are managed, you can add them in small portions, always checking if any symptoms arise.
2. Asparagus Is An Expensive Vegetable
One of the cons of asparagus is that it is a very expensive vegetable. One pound of asparagus can have a price of $2.48 compared to $0.98 from carrots.
For a bodybuilder whose energy intake is very high, the amount of food they need to buy can be a lot. Thus, consuming products higher in price might not be the option in most cases.
While we can consume asparagus once in a while, you might not include it as often as other veggies due to its higher price.
Can You Eat Asparagus Before Workouts?
Asparagus is not the best choice to include before a workout. Before working out, you need carbs to provide an energy source for your body to have an arduous training session. Since asparagus only contains 2 g of carbs per 100 g, it won’t provide you with the energy you need.
Before your workout, you need high-carb food like rice, quinoa, or fruits to get enough energy. Along with any of those, you can add the asparagus, as long as you don’t make it the primary food in your dish.
Can You Eat Asparagus After Workouts?
Yes, asparagus is good to have after a workout. In 100 g of asparagus, you get 6% of potassium, which is a nutrient that you need to replenish after a workout to prevent having any muscle cramps. However, since it doesn’t have any carbs or protein, you still need to add other foods to replenish.
After a workout, you need to replenish the glycogen lost during training. This is achieved by adding a carb source (fruit, lentils, or beans). Also, you need to add a protein source to help repair and grow your muscles. Along with asparagus, make sure to add chicken, fish, or beef.
Is Asparagus Good For Muscle Growth?
Asparagus is not the best option for muscle growth, it is not high in calories which won’t help you achieve a caloric surplus, nor will it provide any significant protein to help repair and grow your muscles. However, it does provide essential nutrients that your body needs that indirectly support your muscles by improving performance or recovery.
Therefore, I would incorporate asparagus in a muscle-building diet, but don’t make it the central focus.
Tips For Incorporating Asparagus Into A Bodybuilding Diet
Place Them In Cold Water
If you don’t like cooking asparagus, and they become mushy, one tip is to place them in cold water. Immediately after you cook them, place them in cold water to prevent further cooking and preserve their crunchiness.
Store Them The Right Way
I don’t know if it has happened to you that you buy some asparagus, leave them in the fridge, and they are soggy after a couple of days. To preserve and avoid that from happening, make sure that you store them the right way.
Trim the bottom of the asparagus, add some water at the bottom of a jar (about 1-2 inches), place the spears standing up, and cover the jar. Place them in the fridge for them to last 4-5 days.
Cook Them In Different Ways
There are different ways that you can cook asparagus. You can always meal prep them and have some ready to eat in case you are looking to have a fast lunch or dinner.
If you don’t know how to cook them, here are some recipes that can help you out.
Learn More About Other Vegetables For Bodybuilding
- Eating Raw Spinach For Bodybuilding: Can It Help Add Muscle?
- Are Mushrooms Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding (Pros & Cons)
- Are Carrots Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding (Pros & Cons)
- Is Broccoli Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding? (Pros & Cons)
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.