If you’re a bodybuilder, then paying attention to which vegetables you’re eating will be important depending on whether you’re bulking or cutting. So where does broccoli fit within a bodybuilder’s diet?
Is broccoli good or bad for bodybuilding? Broccoli is good for bodybuilders since it offers a lot of fiber (1.8 g per cup). This will reduce hunger levels, which is important for a bodybuilder in a cutting phase who is required to eat lower calories. Brocolli also has key vitamins and minerals that other vegetables don’t, including vitamin C, K, and folate.
If you’re going to eat broccoli for bodybuilding though it’s important to know some of the cons as well.
In this article, I will explore everything related to broccoli and a bodybuilder, including:
- The calories and the macros in broccoli
- Pros and cons of adding broccoli if you are a bodybuilder
- When is the best time to include broccoli: before or after a workout
- Is broccoli good for muscle growth?
- Tips to include broccoli if you are a bodybuilder
Broccoli For Bodybuilding: Overview
Nutritional Content of Broccoli
The following nutritional content is for one cup of raw broccoli (74 g).
- Calories: 30
- Carbs: 4.8 g
- Fiber: 1.8 g
- Proteins: 2.0 g
- Fats: 0.3 g
Broccoli is low in calories like all other non-starchy veggies, such as carrots, mushrooms, spinach, and kale.
For bodybuilders in a cutting phase, this possesses several advantages. It allows you to consume a lot of broccoli without worrying that you will pile on calories. As well, because broccoli has high fiber content, the calories are very filling, meaning that you are less likely to feel hungry throughout the day.
However, this food alone won’t help you reach your desired gains for a bodybuilder in a bulking phase. Due to its low-calorie nature, you would have to eat A LOT to achieve a significant caloric intake coming from broccoli.
Thus, if you are a bodybuilder in a bulking phase, you’ll need to increase the caloric content of broccoli by adding a fat source like butter or olive oil.
In one cup of broccoli, you find only 3 grams of net carbs. The remaining 1.8 g comes from fiber.
Therefore, the carb content of broccoli doesn’t represent a significant amount for a bodybuilder.
While broccoli doesn’t have a significant amount of protein for a bodybuilder (2 grams per cup), it has more protein than other veggies (like celery, which offers 0.7 g per cup).
Bodybuilders on a plant-based diet or who have difficulty reaching their protein intake can benefit from high protein veggies.
However, don’t depend on them to reach your protein requirements entirely since they don’t offer a high-quality protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. Veggie sources don’t have all the amino acids your body needs to build muscle, unlike other protein sources.
Broccoli doesn’t offer a significant amount of fat either. They only have 0.3 g per cup.
Broccoli is a very nutrient-rich food.
Here are the top three nutrients you obtain when you eat broccoli and how it benefits a bodybuilder.
- Vitamin C. It helps boost your immune system and increase the production of collagen, which means that you can have stronger joints.
- Vitamin K. It can help strengthen your bone health. Stronger bones mean less likely to fracture or injure yourself while working out.
- Folate. It plays an important role in red blood cell formation, which helps carry oxygen and nutrients through your blood to your organs (like muscles).
Check out my complete guide on best vegetables for muscle growth.
3 Pros Of Eating Broccoli For Bodybuilding
1. Broccoli Is High In Fiber
Fiber has an important role in our body. It helps decrease blood cholesterol levels, have good gut health, fight constipation, and increase satiety levels.
The general recommendation for fiber is 25-30 grams per day. However, it is said that half the population doesn’t even reach half of this amount.
A high fiber diet is essential for a bodybuilder in a cutting phase. Fiber takes longer to digest in the body, giving you a sense of feeling fuller for longer. If you are cutting down calories, high fiber and low-calorie foods are your friends.
Without fiber in your diet, you are more likely to feel hungry during the day, which would mean 1) eating more at your next meal, or 2) snacking more throughout the day.
Ultimately, this means eating more calories that weren’t unaccounted for.
- Related Article: 17 Best low calorie high fiber foods.
2. Broccoli Is High In Antioxidants
Broccoli is one of the foods with the highest antioxidant capacity, which helps decrease inflammation in the body.
A study was done on people who smoked (this population naturally has higher levels of inflammation in their bodies), who consumed 250 g of broccoli for ten days. They found a reduction of 48% in the inflammation markers.
Reducing inflammation is a beneficial trait for a bodybuilder since it can help improve muscle recovery, especially after working out.
- Related Article: Is Asparagus Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding (Pros & Cons)
3. Broccoli Helps Boost Your Immune System
Thanks to broccoli being very high in vitamin C, it helps boost your immune system. A stronger immune system means that you are more likely to spend more time working out than resting (which leads to a loss in muscle mass long term).
A study showed that consuming 100-200 mg of vitamin C daily can help increase your immune system. For you to obtain this amount coming from broccoli, you would have to eat roughly 2 cups (140 mg), which is not a very difficult amount to achieve on a daily basis.
1 Con of Eating Broccoli For Bodybuilding
Broccoli Can Produce Stomach Problems
While fiber is an essential nutrient for our body, as I previously discussed, some people, especially those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), could have difficulty digesting foods high in fiber.
Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, kale, bok choy, cauliflower, and cabbage) contain a type of carb called raffinose. This carb molecule goes undigested to your intestines, where it can be fermented by your gut bacteria, creating gas as a by-product.
Ultimately, this means that you get bloated whenever you eat one of these types of veggies. While this can happen to everyone, people with IBS are more sensitive to gastric problems.
Thus, if you are a bodybuilder that suffers from IBS, I recommend eating broccoli in moderation until you know how much is too much. For some, it might represent 1-2 cups. For others, ½ a cup.
- Related Article: Broccoli Make Me Gassy & Bloated: 4 Reasons & How To Fix
Can You Eat Broccoli Before Workouts?
Broccoli is not the best option to include before a workout. Since it isn’t very high in carbs, it won’t give you the energy you need for your training session. Also, since they are high in fiber, they might produce stomach problems like bloating, stomach cramps, or sluggishness, which could affect your workout.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should avoid them altogether. It means that you shouldn’t make them the focus of your meal.
For example, add a high-carb food like rice or sweet potatoes to boost your energy before a workout. You can then have some broccoli as a side to provide you with essential nutrients.
Can You Eat Broccoli After Workouts?
Broccoli is a great food to add after you work out to help add nutrients (like antioxidants), which will help reduce inflammation in your body to recover better. However, since it doesn’t have carbs, protein, or fats, you still need to complement broccoli with other foods.
Carbs are essential to help replenish your glycogen stores lost during training. Thus, adding a high-carb source like quinoa, lentils, or brown rice is crucial.
Protein helps repair and grow your muscles. That is why it’s always important to add a protein source after your workout. Include a source like chicken, fish, seafood, or eggs.
Is Broccoli Good For Muscle Growth?
Broccoli is not the best food for muscle growth since it is very low in calories. A caloric surplus (eating more calories than your body needs) is essential for muscle growth. Due to broccoli’s low energy content, it will be hard to achieve this surplus.
With that said, it doesn’t mean that broccoli cannot indirectly aid in muscle growth. It has essential nutrients in the vitamin B complex that helps process the carbs and protein for your muscles to use and grow.
- Related Article: Can You Build Muscle Without Vegetables? (What Science Says)
Tips For Incorporating Broccoli Into A Bodybuilding Diet
Use Broccoli As A Low-Carb Rice Alternative
For bodybuilders following a low carb diet or a ketogenic diet, replacing high carb sources (like rice) with low carb options (like broccoli) can help them achieve their goals.
You can make broccoli (or cauliflower) rice to replace traditional rice. This is a great way to avoid adding too many calories (or carbs) whenever you are craving rice.
Here is one of my favorite recipes for those who don’t know how to make broccoli rice.
Meal Prep Broccoli
One of the advantages of broccoli is that you can meal prep it and store them in the fridge or the freezer.
A common problem I often see in bodybuilders is that they often don’t include a lot of veggies due to lack of time. They end up having something quick and easy like lettuce or tomatoes. However, remember that variety is key to getting different nutrients throughout the day.
You can make broccoli once a week in a batch and store it in the fridge to reheat it the next day. Store them in the freezer if you want to keep them for 1-3 months.
Try Different Broccoli Recipes
Finally, one of the advantages of broccoli is that you can add them to several dishes. You can have it as a side dish to boost your nutrient intake for pretty much any meal.
If you don’t know how to make broccoli, here are some of my favorite recipes that you can try
- Side dish: Caramelized broccoli with garlic
- With a protein: Chicken and broccoli stir fry
- For breakfast: Broccoli omelet
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.