15 Best Vegetables For Muscle Growth, According To Dietitian

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As a Registered Dietitian, I’ve noticed that the foods my clients ignore the most when it comes to muscle building are vegetables. 

That’s despite the fact vegetables play a vital role in muscle-building, from reducing recovery time and achieving strength gains to improving body competition.

The best vegetables to eat for muscle growth are:

(Click the vegetable you’d like to learn more about)

1. Potatoes


Potatoes are an excellent vegetable for muscle building since they are higher in calories than most other vegetables and are composed primarily of carbohydrates, providing more energy for your training session.

Potatoes are also very high in potassium, an electrolyte that can help to reduce muscle cramps and muscle weakness. One medium potato contains 926 mg of potassium or about 26% of your recommended daily intake.

If you eat potatoes for quick energy before a workout, remove the skin since it is high in fiber. Fiber will slow down the rate at which your body can use the carbs for energy.

2. Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of carbs that can help replenish energy lost during a workout, making them a great carbohydrate source for building muscle.

While sweet potatoes can provide around 24% of your recommended daily intake for fiber, you can reduce this by removing the skin, making a faster digesting food for pre/post workout nutrition.

Sweet potatoes are also very high in vitamin A, an essential vitamin that helps your body to synthesize protein. One sweet potato contains about 1400% of your recommended daily intake, with around 1400 mcg per potato.

3. Squash


While it may not be as carb-dense as potatoes, squash still offers a substantial amount of carbs, around 17 grams per 1 cup serving, making it a great choice for fueling a training session.

Squash is also rich in nutrients like vitamin A, C, and lutein, which help reduce inflammation and promote better muscle recovery after a workout.

Remove the skin to reduce the fiber content for optimal pre/post-workout food.

4. Corn


Corn is a vegetable that is a great source of both carbohydrates and calories, two key components when you are trying to build muscle.

Corn is higher in fiber, so while you might not want to consume it around your workout, you could have it at other meals during the day, and it will help keep you full.

Protein is essential to build muscle, and corn has an impressive amount of protein at almost 5 grams per one-cup serving.  This makes it a great vegetable to include in your diet when you are trying to build muscle.

5. Mushrooms


Although mushrooms don’t provide a ton of calories, the calories they provide are mostly protein (around 3 grams in 1 cup serving).

Unlike many vegetables, mushrooms are a complete protein, meaning that they contain all nine essential amino acids. This makes them a great option for plant-based bodybuilders who lack complete protein sources in their diet.

Finally, the high vitamin D content in mushrooms can help to improve strength and performance. In a study involving 419 people, vitamin D significantly affected bone health, which correlated to improved muscle strength.

6. Spinach


Spinach is a great muscle-building vegetable since it is not only high in protein, but it is also high in nutrients that help to support healthy cardiovascular ability, which leads to improved athletic performance and muscle growth.

More specifically, spinach is a great source of vitamin K. Vitamin K plays an important role in supporting the mitochondria (the powerhouse of our cells) and improving aerobic capacity.

One study showed that when 26 participants were given 150-300 mcg of vitamin K, their aerobic capacity increased by 12% compared to the placebo group who experienced no increase in aerobic capacity.

7. Kale


Kale is often described as a “superfood”, and for good reason. This leafy green is packed with high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C and manganese, all nutrients that play their own role in building muscle in the body.

Kale is also quite high in nitrates. Dietary nitrates have been shown to positively impact muscle performance during training, which is correlated to increased muscle growth.

8. Carrots


Not only are carrots a good source of carbohydrates at 12 grams per cup, they also support healthy muscle function with their high potassium content.

In addition to regulating muscle contractions and reducing the risk for muscle cramps, data collected from over 16,558 people found that those with a higher potassium intake had lower odds of muscle loss.

Carrots are also high in vitamin A (which helps with protein synthesis) and vitamin K (which helps with aerobic capacity), making them a great muscle-building food.

9. Onions


Onions are particularly high in the antioxidant known as quercetin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and aid in muscle growth.

Researchers found that a combination of quercetin and vitamin C increased lean mass by 1.5kg over an 8-week period, compared to a 0.1kg increase in the placebo group in the study.

Increasing antioxidant intake through foods like onions can help to improve muscle recovery and ultimately help to increase muscle mass.

10. Tomatoes


Tomatoes are well known for their antioxidant properties (particularly lycopene), and with their ability to reduce inflammation in the body, they provide your muscles with the perfect environment to repair and grow.

One study showed that well-trained individuals who took a tomato powder supplement for one week saw a 12% improvement in their antioxidant capacities compared to a 9% increase in the placebo group.

11. Beets


Beets are widely known for improving aerobic capacity because their high nitrate content helps to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps increase blood flow to the organs, resulting in better oxygen and nutrient delivery.

Beets will not only help to improve aerobic capacity while you strength train, but they will also provide you with antioxidants (that will help with muscle recovery) and potassium (an essential electrolyte that can become depleted during training.)

12. Broccoli


Broccoli is a great vegetable to promote muscle building and recovery in your diet due to its high antioxidant and vitamin C content.

Researchers have found that consuming 250 g of broccoli daily can reduce inflammation markers in the body by a whopping 48%. This will ultimately allow for better muscle recovery and more efficient muscle growth.

Broccoli also contains a notable amount of protein at 2.5 grams per 100-gram serving (the same as half a small egg).

13. Asparagus


Asparagus is another vegetable on the list with a high antioxidant content that can help to promote muscle recovery. 

In particular, the glutathione found in asparagus has been shown to impact muscle mass positively. Glutathione has also been shown to improve insulin resistance

This is key for muscle building since an appropriate insulin response from the body is required for protein synthesis in the muscle tissue (resulting in muscle growth).

14. Peas


Peas are a great muscle-building vegetable often used in plant-based protein powders. They provide a good amount of calories, carbs, and protein, all of which are essential for the muscle-building process.

 One cup of peas delivers an impressive 8 grams of protein, about the same amount as one large egg. This makes it a good choice for plant-based athletes who want to build muscle.

15. Cucumbers 


Cucumbers are composed of about 96% water, making them a great food to eat post-workout when you need to replenish water stores lost through sweat.

In addition, cucumbers are high in antioxidants, which will help to reduce inflammation in the body experienced after a workout and will help to promote better muscle recovery.

Can Vegetables Help Increase Muscle Mass?

Vegetables can increase your muscle-building efforts in three ways:  

1. Higher Calorie Vegetables Contribute To A Calorie Surplus

Some vegetables are higher in calories, making them beneficial if you are trying to hit a calorie surplus to put on muscle mass.

A calorie surplus is essential when trying to gain weight and build muscle. 

Vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and corn have more calories per serving than many other veggies, making them your friend during a bulking phase.

These veggies are also higher in carbs, making them a great energy source for strenuous workouts when trying to build muscle.

2. Micronutrients in Vegetables Support Muscle Building

Vegetables are very nutrient-dense, meaning they are high in vitamins and minerals essential for healthy body function, including the ability of the body to build muscle.

While you can try to attain your micronutrient requirements through supplementation, it is not the same as having the real deal from vegetables.

Not only do vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals, they also contain antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation in the body (a great benefit to those who undergo strenuous exercise).

Aiming to include 4-5 servings of nutrient-rich vegetables in your diet, such as carrots, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and onions, will help ensure you provide your body with the essential nutrients required to help your body function properly.

3. Vegetables Promote Faster Muscle Recovery

After a workout, consuming vegetables that contain anti-inflammatory properties will lead to better and faster muscle recovery.

When consuming anti-inflammatory veggies, you are less likely to get sore after your workout and will experience less fatigue buildup, meaning you will have more energy for your next workout.

Including vegetables like beets, broccoli, asparagus, peas, and peppers in your muscle-building diet will help improve muscle recovery.

While you can still build muscle without vegetables, I recommend having at least 3-4 portions daily for muscle growth.

Want to learn more about high-protein foods? Check out our article Best Foods For Bulking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Vegetables Good For Muscle Growth?

Yes, vegetables like potatoes, corn, squash, and sweet potatoes can help muscle growth since they add calories to your diet, making reaching a caloric surplus easier.

What To Read Next

If you’re looking for other foods that are ideal for building muscle, check out the following links:


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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

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.

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