Are Carrots Good For Muscle Growth? Pros & Cons Explained

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Carrots are low in calories, protein, and carbs. Yet, they can be a fantastic addition to a bodybuilding diet. Let’s see how you can add them to your diet and why you should.

Key Takeaways

  • Carrots are an excellent fat-loss food because they are low in calories and high in fiber (2.8 grams per 100 grams), which means they fill you up and reduce hunger throughout the day.
  • While not the best bulking food on their own, you can prepare carrots with oil or butter to boost their caloric density. You can also add them to high-calorie dishes like chili, which can aid in muscle-building.
  • Carrots are not a good pre-workout food, given their low calorie and carb content. However, for balanced post-workout meals, you can enjoy them with other carbs (e.g., rice, pasta, or potatoes) and protein (e.g., meat or fish).

Carrots: Overview

nutritional content of 100 g of carrots


Carrots are a low-calorie food compared to other vegetable sources like yams. 

They provide 41 calories in 100 grams, whereas yams have 118 calories per 100 grams.

Being a low-calorie, high-fiber food offers many advantages for bodybuilders in a cut, though. 

Carrots fill you up better than many foods without adding too many calories to your total intake.

To give you a quick example, a cup of yams has 177 calories. You’d have to eat more than three cups to get the same number of calories from carrots.

Also, here is some insight from Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD:

“In addition to the fiber carrots provide, they’re chock-full of water—a carrot is actually 88% water. This combination boosts fullness.”

That said, while low-calorie foods like carrots are not ideal for bulking because they can fill you up too much, you can still add them in moderation. 


In 100 grams, you get 9.6 grams of carbs, 2.8 of which are fiber (approximately 10% of the recommended intake), which means there are 6.8 grams of net carbs your body can use for energy.

Carrots also provide 0.9 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is not much, and it’s not helpful for bodybuilders to reach their daily protein target.

Better plant-based protein options include lentils, quinoa, and beans.


Carrots have a rich nutritional profile. Here are three nutrients in carrots and their benefits for bodybuilders: 

  • Vitamin K (11% of daily needs for men and 15% for women per 100 grams). It plays an important in bone health. Stronger bones make you less likely to get injured (e.g., a stress fracture) during a workout.

3 Pros Of Eating Carrots

pros of eating carrots

1. Carrots Are High In Antioxidants

Carrots are high in antioxidants, especially carotenoids, which are shown to control inflammation and potentially boost muscle recovery

Another antioxidant found in carrots called lycopene has also been linked to improved cardiovascular health.  

Cooking your carrots increases the absorption of carotenoids. 

A study found that those who consumed cooked carrots absorbed 65% of the carotene compared to 40% from raw carrots. 

2. Carrots Are High In Fiber 

Fiber plays a vital role in your health. It helps reduce cholesterol levels, maintain good gut health, fight constipation, and promote fullness

This last attribute benefits bodybuilders in a cutting phase.

A study showed that those consuming fiber lost more weight on a calorie-restricted diet. 

These subjects saw an average of 9 kilograms (19.8 lbs) of weight loss for six months, compared to those with a low fiber intake, where they only lost 6 kilograms (13.2 lbs). 

This is not because fiber somehow leads to better fat loss. It’s simply due to its satiating effect that makes it easier to stick with caloric restriction.

3. Carrots Are Easy To Meal Prep

A common complaint from my bodybuilding clients is that they struggle to eat enough veggies because they don’t have the time to prepare them.

The good news is that carrots are easy to prepare and stay fresh longer than other vegetables (e.g., tomatoes).

You can store carrots chopped, shredded, or cut into sticks, and they will stay crunchy and fresh for at least a week. 

Also, if you miss french fries while cutting, you can cut them into sticks and place them in the air fryer. This allows you to have a low-carb replacement for french fries. 

You can also make glazed carrots with butter or honey to increase their caloric intake during a bulk. 

Cons of Eating Carrots

cons of eating carrots

Too Much Beta Carotene Can Be Bad

Carrots are rich in carotenoids, one of which is called beta-carotene. When eaten in moderation, beta carotene can convert to vitamin A, which supports eye health, vision, and immunity.

However, having too much beta carotene can lead to carotenemia, primarily characterized by yellow-orange skin. In extreme cases, too much beta carotene can impair vitamin A’s functions in the body, which may affect vision, bone health, and immunity.

According to sources, eating ten carrots daily (roughly 700 grams or 24.6 ounces) for two weeks can lead to carotenemia.

While this is a considerable amount, a bodybuilder deep into a cutting phase may resort to higher fruit and veggie intake to feel fuller during the day.

So, when hunger becomes an issue during a cut (especially in contest prep), eat carrots, but include other vegetables to control your beta-carotene intake.

It’s also worth noting that, while seemingly scary, carotenemia is generally harmless. 

Here is a bit of insight from Shaziya Allarakha, MD:

“Though the change in skin color may be alarming, it is a harmless condition. The treatment simply involves withholding foods containing beta-carotene, such as carrots, pumpkin, cabbage, apricots, cantaloupe, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, and oranges.”

Can You Eat Carrots Before Workouts?

Carrots are not the best option to include before your workout because they only have 6.8 grams of net carbs per 100 grams, not enough to fuel your muscles during training.

For reference, research recommends having a gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight before training to optimize performance.

For someone weighing 70 kilograms (154 lbs), that would mean having 70 grams of carbs, which you cannot get from carrots.

So, it’s better to have other carb sources, such as ripe bananas, granola, rice, rice cakes, and pasta.

Can You Eat Carrots After Workouts?

You can eat carrots after training, as they provide some carbs to help replenish lost glycogen (the complex carb form primarily stored in the muscles).

They are also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce muscle inflammation and potentially boost muscle recovery.

To top it off, carrots provide potassium, which you’re likely to lose through sweat during training. Having carrots after lifting can help replace the amount you’ve lost.

That said, research recommends having 0.3-0.5 grams of carbs and protein per kilogram of body weight after training. For someone who weighs 70 kilograms (154 lbs), that would be 21 to 35 grams of protein and carbs.

So, while carrots can be a good food to snack on after training, pair them with other carbs (e.g., rice, potatoes, or pasta) and protein (e.g., meat, fish, or egg whites) for a balanced meal and optimal recovery.

Tips For Incorporating Carrots Into A Bodybuilding Diet

tips for incorporating carrots into a bodybuilding diet

Keep Them Crunchy

One of the main struggles is that carrots get soggy after some time in the fridge. To avoid your carrots from getting soggy, place them in a mason jar filled with water. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Cut the carrots into sticks.
  2. Place them in a mason jar.
  3. Add some cold water until you cover them completely. 
  4. Close the mason jar and place it in the fridge.  

This will keep them nice and crunchy. 

Have Them As A Snack

While most people add them to their salads, you can also snack on carrots. Carrots make the perfect snack if you need something crunchy when studying or working. 

You can have them with a healthy dip like one of the recipes below:

Meal Prep Them

As discussed above, carrots are easy to meal prep. Here are some of my favorite recipes if you don’t know how to prepare them:. 

Learn More About Other Vegetables For Bodybuilding


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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, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.

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