Here's a news flash: If you want to make the most of your health and your bodybuilding gains, then you had better include at least two cups of vegetables a day. Here's why:

Vegetables are high in fiber, one of the most widely neglected bodybuilding nutrients. Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate that supplies no calories to your body, but it does provide bulk, which slows digestion. This has two essential benefits. First, carbohydrates enter your body more slowly. This helps hold your blood sugar levels in check, keeping energy levels up and "crashes" at bay. When blood sugar levels crash, they cause a spike in cortisol, a catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle tissue and makes recovery more difficult. Second, fiber helps support the absorption of amino acids. It keeps the walls of your intestines clean, making them more efficient. This in turn allows you to get more bang for your buck from your protein consumption.

Every hard-working bodybuilder needs a hefty amount of vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, many believe that popping a daily multivitamin/multimineral will suffice. It will help, but it won't cover your bases as completely as whole-food sources. You need vegetables. They contain compounds that enhance the absorption of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals found within them. These compounds also increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals found in meats, grains and even in supplement tablets. Bodybuilding nutrition is more than numbers; it's more than total amounts of calories, carbs, protein and fat. The best nutrition plans don't simply focus on the major things. The smaller things play a big role in creating the perfect environment for recovery and growth.

One thing we do know about vegetables is that we don't know everything that's in them. Recent information has demonstrated this. Scientists have established that vegetables contain lycopene, phytochemicals, antioxidants, carotenoids and sulfur compounds that contribute to numerous metabolic functions including immune support. Effective posttraining recovery calls for a strong immune system. When it's weak, not only do you fail to recover, but also your muscles may fail to grow regardless of your high calorie and protein intake. So, eat your vegetables for their known benefits as well as the ones yet to be discovered.

If you're on a bodybuilding diet, your challenges include avoiding cheating, reducing your total calories and providing your body with enough bulk to feel satisfied, Increasing vegetable consumption can be the key to all of these. Bump up your daily intake to six cups while dieting. When calories are severely reduced, it's often easy to miss out on some of the important vitamins and minerals, but eating a lot of low-cal vegetables will help ensure that you meet your needs. They'll also keep you full so that you're less likely to eat foods you shouldn't.

Certain vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, exert antiestrogen properties due to a phytochemical that they contain. This effect is beneficial to bodybuilders because lower estrogen levels may help fight bodyfat, minimize water retention and enhance testosterone levels. Include these veggies on a regular basis and focus on them when you're feeling overtrained or stressed. – FLEX