Dietitian Explains Why Mushrooms Help With Muscle Growth

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Mushrooms are low-calorie, nutrient-rich, highly versatile, and a decent source of plant protein.  But, they are often overlooked in bodybuilding, which is a big mistake if your goal is building muscle.

Key Takeaways

  • Mushrooms benefit bodybuilding because they are rich in essential nutrients like niacin, riboflavin, and copper. These nutrients serve critical metabolic functions necessary for vitality and optimal performance.
  • Mushrooms have a low energy density, with 100 grams providing 22 calories. They are also a decent fiber source, making them a highly satiating food you can enjoy in large quantities during a cut.
  • Mushrooms are not a good pre-workout food because they don’t provide enough fuel (carbs). However, you can pair them with protein (e.g., meat or fish) and carbs (e.g., rice or pasta) for a balanced post-workout meal that supports recovery.

Mushrooms: Overview

nutritional content of 100 grams of white button mushrooms


Mushrooms are a low-calorie food, with 100 grams (3.5 ounces) providing only 22 calories. Non-starchy veggies like mushrooms (including broccoli, zucchini, and carrots) are typically lower in calories than starchy veggies (e.g., potatoes).

The low energy density of mushrooms makes them ideal for a cut. You can eat larger quantities to feel full without adding too many calories to your total intake.

For example, you can eat almost three cups of mushrooms and get the same calories as you would from half a cup of potatoes (58 calories).

Despite their low energy density, mushrooms are also beneficial during a bulk because they are rich in essential nutrients your body needs for good health, athletic performance, and recovery. More on that in a bit.

Plus, you can always add fats like olive oil or butter when cooking mushrooms to boost the calories per serving.


Mushrooms provide mostly protein and carbs.

First, carbohydrates. In 100 grams of mushrooms, you get 3.1 grams of carbs, but almost a gram of that is fiber, which means you get 2.1 grams of net carbs your muscles can use for energy.

Second, mushrooms provide three grams of protein per 100 grams, the same as having half an egg and more than what you typically get in most plant foods.

For reference, celery only has 0.7 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Mushrooms provide complete proteins (having all nine essential amino acids), but the amino acid profile can vary. So, while mushrooms are beneficial, don’t rely on them as one of your primary protein sources.


Here are the top three nutrients mushrooms provide and how they can benefit your bodybuilder diet: 

  • Niacin (22% of daily needs for men and 25% for women in 100 grams). Along with riboflavin (and the other B complex vitamins), it helps turn food into usable energy. Additionally, it is a powerful antioxidant that helps decrease inflammation in the body.

Check out my complete guide on the best vegetables for building muscle.4 Pros Of Eating Mushrooms

pros of eating mushrooms

1. Some Mushrooms Increase Blood Flow

There is a type of mushroom called Cordyceps that seems to have performance-boosting benefits. 

In a study, 37 healthy adults were given a capsule containing extract from the mushroom or a placebo. Their maximal oxygen uptake (how much oxygen their muscles could use) was measured before and after. 

The results showed a 7% increase in oxygen uptake compared to the placebo group. This means they had better oxygenation, which improves physical performance. 

Also, here is some insight from Lindsey DeSoto, RD:

“Cordyceps supplements are popular among athletes. The fungus is believed to benefit athletic performance by improving blood flow, increasing oxygen utilization, and functioning as an antioxidant.”

2. Mushrooms Have Potent Antioxidants 

Antioxidants help decrease inflammation, supporting your health and potentially boosting muscle recovery

Mushrooms, especially Chaga mushrooms, have a high antioxidant capacity

Additionally, thanks to their high antioxidant capacity, mushrooms can also boost immunity. 

3. Mushrooms Are High In Fiber

Data shows that half the population in the US doesn’t consume enough fiber. The general recommendation is to consume 25-30 grams of fiber daily. 

Fiber plays a vital role in your health. It helps reduce cholesterol levels, promotes a healthy gut, and stabilizes sugar levels (allowing for steadier energy levels and more predictable gym performance). 

Also, an important benefit for bodybuilders is that fiber promotes satiety (the feeling of fullness). A study has shown a strong correlation between high fiber consumption and weight reduction. 

This paper found that people who consumed fiber felt fuller throughout the day and ate an average of 22% fewer calories.

Plus, mushrooms are low in calories, making them the perfect food to fill up and keep hunger at bay, especially as you get deeper into a cut and your appetite skyrockets.

4. Mushrooms Are Versatile

As a bodybuilder, eating the same thing repeatedly gets old, so it’s important to explore new food options and ways of preparing your meals.

Mushrooms are a great addition to a bodybuilding diet because they are easy to prepare. One simple way to prepare them is to cut them into small pieces and fry them with just a bit of oil (or cooking spray).

Enjoy them as a side for your meal, sprinkle them on your salad, add them to scrambled eggs, or use them as part of stuffing. 

I’ve shared three tips for adding mushrooms to your diet below.

Cons of Eating Mushrooms

cons of eating mushrooms

Potentially Incomplete Protein

While mushrooms provide a decent amount of protein compared to most plant sources, the quality can vary.

As noted above, mushroom protein is considered ‘complete’ (having all essential amino acids). 

However, that may not always be the case because numerous factors (including production conditions) can influence the nutritional quality.

So, while mushrooms can provide some additional protein to your diet, they cannot be a primary source.

Can You Eat Mushrooms Before Workouts?

Mushrooms are not the best option before a workout because they are low in carbs and don’t provide the necessary energy for a training session. 

Research recommends having up to a gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight before training. For someone who weighs 70 kilograms (154 lbs), that would be 70 grams of carbs, the equivalent of 7.2lbs of mushrooms.

Also, given their fiber content, mushrooms can take longer to digest, which may lead to stomach discomfort during training.

Given that, consider fueling your gym performance with high-carb, low-fiber foods: ripe bananas, rice cakes, rice, pasta, potatoes, granola, and quinoa.

You can add mushrooms (¼ cup) to your meal but don’t make them the central focus.

Can You Eat Mushrooms After Workouts?

Yes, you can eat mushrooms after a workout, but you must pair them with carb and protein sources. 

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

Carbs (like rice, lentils, and beans) are essential for replenishing glycogen stores, and protein (like chicken, fish, and salmon) helps repair and grow muscles. 

Are Mushrooms Good For Muscle Growth?

Mushrooms can be part of a well-rounded muscle-building diet, but you should not rely on them as a primary source of nutrition for muscle gain.  

This is because building muscle requires a more comprehensive nutrition plan that goes above and beyond a single food.  

Optimal muscle gain depends heavily on the following:

Tips For Incorporating Mushrooms Into A Bodybuilding Diet

tips for incorporating mushrooms into a bodybuilding diet

Meal Prep Mushrooms

Mushrooms have the advantage that they can be prepped in advance.

You can wash and chop them up to add to your favorite salad or add them to your favorite dish. 

Also, you can make some mushroom recipes as a side dish to have veggies available when having meat or fish. 

Here are my top three mushroom recipes: 

Use Them As A Low Carb Bun 

Mushrooms are a great bun option during a cutting phase when looking to reduce your carbs but are not too keen on lettuce wraps. 

Two portobello mushrooms can serve as the buns in your favorite burger. 

This will allow you to save the carbs for other things like sweet potato fries (made in the air fryer) or oven-baked chips. 

Add Them To Your Dishes 

One of my favorite things about mushrooms is that they are versatile and can go with almost any dish. 

If you want to increase the nutrients in your dish, add some chopped mushrooms. 

This will increase the meal’s nutritional content and allow you to have larger quantities of food to feel fuller for longer after eating.

Also, Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, shares that you can “blend mushrooms into smoothies,” which I haven’t tried but sounds like an excellent idea.  

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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