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Vegetables: 3 Fantastic Reasons Why You Should Be Eating Them

Bodybuilders can't live on chicken breasts alone. Raid the produce section if you want to gain mass and lose fat.

By Matthew G. Kadey, MS, RD

Are you a bodybuilder who scoffs at the thought of giving up your beloved protein for some boring carrots? Big mistake! You need your veggies if you want to reach your full bodybuilding potential. Lauded by health experts, doctors and your mom (remember "You're not getting any dessert until you eat all your broccoli"?), vegetables don't have a sexy rep, but their therapeutic and healing properties are essential to keeping you as healthy as possible for maximum gym efforts. And a bodybuilder in optimal health will make gains faster than one who isn't. So ignore vegetables at your muscle-gaining peril. From fighting disease to revealing your washboard abs, there are so many reasons to spend more time in the produce aisle that we could fill an entire issue. These are the most important reasons to say, "More, please," when it comes to vegetables.

Mighty Phytos

Unlike fiber and vitamins, what you don't see in those vegetable nutrition charts are the powerhouse antioxidant chemicals called phytochemicals. A vegetable will produce them to protect itself during growth, but many phytochemicals, such as lycopene in tomatoes and carotenoids in carrots, can also protect us against many ailments. There's even a group of phytochemicals called indoles (found in cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli) that stimulate enzymes to make estrogen less effective — a definite advantage if you yearn for more mass. Acting as antioxidants, phytochemicals also aid in postworkout muscle repair.

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