Vegetables are a key part of a bodybuilder’s diet. But what about carrots?
Are carrots good or bad for bodybuilding? Carrots are good for bodybuilding because they provide high fiber (2.8g/100g), which increases your satiety levels. This is an essential trait for a bodybuilder in a cutting phase. Also, carrots have key nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium. But, it might not have enough calories and macros for bulking.
In this article, I will explore everything related to carrots and bodybuilding, including:
- The calories and macros of carrots
- The pros and cons of adding carrots if you are a bodybuilder
- When is the best time to include carrots: before or after training?
- Are carrots good for muscle growth?
- Tips for including carrots if you are a bodybuilder
Carrots For Bodybuilding: Overview
Nutritional Content of Carrots
In 100 g of carrots, you find the following nutritional content.
- Calories: 41
- Carbs: 9.6 g
- Fiber: 2.8 g
- Proteins: 0.9 g
- Fats: 0.2 g
Carrots are considered a low-calorie food compared to other vegetable sources like yams.
In 100 g of carrots, you get 40 kcal, while in 100 g of yams, you get 110 kcal.
Being a low calorie high fiber food has a lot of advantages for those bodybuilders in a cutting phase. These types of food provide you with a more filling effect (increased satiety), without adding calories, which is crucial when you’re trying to eat fewer calories.
Even if carrots provide you with the same calories compared with their foods, it won’t affect your hunger levels the same way. For example, one cup of yams has 177 kcal. To reach this amount of calories provided by carrots, you would have to eat more than 3 cups of carrots. Having three cups of carrots is more filling than having one cup of yams.
Low-calorie foods are not ideal for a bodybuilder in a bulking phase. However, you still need them since low-calorie foods are often the ones that are higher in nutrients.
If you did want to increase the calories in carrots because you’re in a bulking phase, you could modify the cooking process, such as adding oil and butter to your dish.
Carrots are not very high in carbs. In 100 g of carbs, you only get 9.6 g of total carbs and 2.8 g of fiber. This makes carrots a very high fiber food since one cup represents 14% of the daily recommended intake. I’ll talk more about the benefits of fiber for bodybuilding later in the article.
Carrots don’t have a significant amount of protein either. In 100 g of carrots, you get less than 1 gram which is not enough to reach a bodybuilder’s protein requirements. Thus, if you are looking to increase your plant-based protein, you might include foods like lentils, quinoa, or beans.
Carrots don’t have a significant amount of fat.
Carrots are very nutrient-dense, meaning that you get a lot of nutrients in a small amount of food. Here are the top three nutrients you can find in carrots and how they can benefit a bodybuilder.
- Vitamin A. It is a potent antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation in the body and boosts your immune system.
- Vitamin K. It plays an important in bone health. Having stronger bones means that you are less likely to get an injury during a workout.
- Potassium. It helps with having a correct fluid balance, keeps a good heart rhythm, and helps in muscle contraction. A lack of potassium can lead to muscle cramps.
Check out my complete guide on best vegetables for muscle growth.
3 Pros Of Eating Carrots For Bodybuilding
Here are three pros of eating carrots if you are a bodybuilder.
1. Carrots Are High In Antioxidants
Carrots are high in antioxidants, especially those called carotenoids. They help decrease inflammation in the body and lead to better muscle recovery. Additionally, another antioxidant found in carrots called lycopene can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Cooking your carrots seems to increase the absorption of the carotenoids. In a study, they found that those that consumed cooked carrots absorbed 65% of the carotene compared to 40% when it came from raw carrots.
2. Carrots Are High In Fiber
Fiber plays an important role in our health. It helps reduce cholesterol levels, maintain good gut health, fights constipation, and helps increase fullness levels.
This last attribute plays an important part in those bodybuilders in a cutting phase.
A study showed that those consuming fiber (regarding the macronutrient composition) had larger weight loss. They saw an average of 9 kg of weight loss for six months, compared to those with a low fiber intake, where they only lost 6 kg.
A high-fiber diet not only had better weight loss results but it made it easier to follow.
3. Carrots Are Easy To Meal Prep
One of the benefits of carrots is that they are easy to meal prep. A common setback I hear is that people don’t add a lot of veggies to their meals because they don’t have time to prepare them.
You can store carrots in several formats like sticks, chopper, or shredded, which allows you to add them in several ways.
Also, if you are missing french fries and in a cutting phase, you can make them in stick form and place them in the air fryer. This allows you to have a low-carb replacement of french fries for those trying to cut back on their caloric intake.
You can also make glazed carrots with butter or honey to increase their caloric intake for those in a bulking phase—more on recipes later though.
1 Con of Eating Carrots For Bodybuilding
Although carrots have several benefits, there is one con of adding carrots for bodybuilding.
Carrots Can Cause Stomach Problems
Fiber is an essential part of our diet. However, people with low fiber tolerance or who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) might cause gastric problems like bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
Since one cup of carrots has 14% of the daily recommended value of fiber, this might be too much in a single meal for a person. Thus, start adding carrots slower if you know you have a low-fiber tolerance.
For example, instead of adding one cup, try adding ¼ to ½ a cup to determine if any symptom arises. Additionally, cooked carrots might be easier to digest than raw ones.
Can You Eat Carrots Before Workouts?
Carrots are not the best option to include before your workout. Although it provides more carbs than other veggies (like mushrooms and asparagus), providing only 6.8 g per 100 g is not enough to fuel up your body before a workout. Thus, you need to include other high-carb foods like fruits, granola, or rice.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you cannot add carrots altogether. If you suffer from bloating when you eat carrots, it is best to avoid them. But if this is not the case, you can include them and a high-carb food. For example, you can have rice with some chopped carrots. As long as you don’t make it the primary part of the dish, it’s fine to add.
Can You Eat Carrots After Workouts?
Yes, carrots are a great option to include after a workout. They are high in antioxidants helping decrease inflammation in the body (better muscle recovery). Also, they are high in potassium, an essential electrolyte to avoid muscle cramps. However, they don’t have a significant amount of carbs or protein.
After a workout, you need to replenish your glycogen levels. This is achieved by including a carb source like rice, lentils, and chickpeas. Thus, it is essential to have a high-carb source when adding carrots.
Additionally, you need to have protein after a workout to help repair and grow your muscles. Thus, make sure to add chicken, eggs, meat, or fish to have the best recovery.
Are Carrots Good For Muscle Growth?
Carrots are not the best option for muscle growth. They won’t help you achieve a caloric surplus or reach your protein requirements. However, they possess essential nutrients that your body needs to have optimal muscle recovery (like potassium or antioxidants), which means that they can indirectly help with muscle growth.
Tips For Incorporating Carrots Into A Bodybuilding Diet
Preserve Them Crunchy
One of the main struggles is that carrots get soggy after a couple of days when you place them in the fridge. To avoid your carrots from getting soggy, place them in a mason jar filled with water.
Here are the steps:
- Cut the carrots in stick form.
- Place them in a mason jar.
- Add some cold water until you cover them completely.
- Cover the mason jar and place it in the fridge.
I can assure you that it will make them stay nice and crunchy.
Have Them As A Snack
While most people add them to their salads, one way of having carrots is to have them as a healthy snack. If you need something crunchy when studying or working, carrots make the perfect snack.
You can have them along with a healthy dip like one of the recipes below:
Meal Prep Them
One of the advantages is that carrots are easy to meal prep. If you don’t have any idea how to make them. Here are some of my favorite recipes for you to try out.
- Parmesan roasted carrots
- Carrot fries
- Roasted brown butter honey garlic carrots (ideal for bulking)
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)
- Is Asparagus 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.