Skimping on the micronutrients from fruits and vegetables can actually thwart your efforts to gain muscle, says Jim White, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, who was not associated with the study.
“Exercise and strength training are stressors, so it’s imperative that you supply your body with the nutrients it needs to keep it operating at top condition,” White explains. Produce is full of those that improve energy production (B vitamins, thiamin, and niacin), bone strength (vitamin D), overall performance (nitrates and betaine), and recovery (folate and antioxidants). The muscle-building carbs are important, too.
The bottom line:
Eat at least one serving of produce with every meal and snack. To get a bunch of nutrients at once, White suggests making a smoothie with 60 percent vegetables and 40 percent fruit. If you include nitrate-rich beets, spinach, carrots, or collard greens, drink it two to three hours before your workout for performance benefits.