Do You Count Vegetable Calories In bodybuilding

  • By: Dave Moffat
  • Date: June 19, 2023
Do You Count Vegetable Calories In bodybuilding

In the pursuit of sculpting the perfect physique, bodybuilders meticulously track their calories to ensure they’re fueling their bodies for optimal performance and progress.

A well-rounded diet is key to achieving success, and vegetables play a crucial role in providing essential nutrients that support overall health and fitness goals.

However, when it comes to counting calories, there’s a debate surrounding whether or not to include vegetable calories in the total count.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the importance of tracking calories in bodybuilding, the role of vegetables in a balanced diet, and the pros and cons of counting vegetable calories to help you make informed decisions about your nutrition plan.

Counting Macros: Should I Track Vegetables in My Macros?

As you navigate the world of macro tracking for your fitness goals, you may wonder whether or not to include vegetables in your macro calculations.

Vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all of which play a vital role in supporting overall health, digestion, and workout performance.

While most vegetables are low in calories and carbohydrates, some contain higher amounts of carbs and even small amounts of protein and fat.

When aiming for precision in your macronutrient tracking, it’s generally a good idea to account for the macronutrient content of the vegetables you consume.

This ensures that you have an accurate understanding of your total daily intake, helping you avoid potential imbalances that could hinder your progress.

However, it’s crucial to maintain perspective and not become overly fixated on minor macro variations in vegetables.

Strive for balance and flexibility in your approach, recognizing the importance of consuming nutrient-dense vegetables for optimal health and fitness outcomes.

Vegetables You Should Track In Your Macros

While it’s essential to include vegetables in your diet for their numerous health benefits, some vegetables have a more significant impact on your daily macronutrient intake and should be tracked.

Here’s a list of vegetables that you should consider tracking in your macros due to their higher carbohydrate, protein, or fat content:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Winter squash (e.g., butternut, acorn)
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Edamame (soybeans)
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Artichokes
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Broccoli

Vegetables You Don’t Have To Track ‘Free Veggies’

In contrast to certain vegetables that have a more significant impact on your macronutrient intake, there are ‘free veggies’ that you don’t necessarily need to track due to their low calories and minimal macronutrient content.

These vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber while providing very few carbohydrates, proteins, or fats. They can be consumed in larger quantities without significantly affecting your daily macronutrient targets, making them an excellent addition to your meals for added nutrition and satiety.

Examples of ‘free veggies’ include:

  • Leafy greens (e.g., spinach, lettuce, arugula)
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Asparagus
  • Green beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms

Benefits of Vegetables for Bodybuilders

Vegetables are an incredibly beneficial addition to a bodybuilder’s diet, offering a nutrient-dense and low-calorie food source that can help support their fitness goals. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, vegetables provide the necessary nutrients for optimal muscle growth, recovery, and overall health.

The vitamins and minerals found in vegetables play vital roles in various bodily functions, such as energy production, immune system support, and bone health. Antioxidants help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation, which can be particularly important during intense workout sessions when the body is subjected to increased stress.

Fiber is another crucial component of vegetables that benefits bodybuilders. Consuming high-fiber foods can promote healthy digestion, prevent constipation, and aid in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Furthermore, fiber contributes to feelings of fullness and satiety, helping bodybuilders control their appetite and manage their caloric intake more effectively.

Incorporating a variety of vegetables into a bodybuilding diet not only provides essential nutrients but also supports overall health and performance. A well-rounded diet that includes vegetables can lead to increased energy levels, improved immune function, and better adaptation to training stimuli. By prioritizing vegetable consumption, bodybuilders can ensure they’re fueling their bodies with the necessary components for peak performance and long-term health.

Tips for Incorporating Vegetables into a Bodybuilding Diet

  • Prioritizing nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetables

When incorporating vegetables into a bodybuilding diet, it’s essential to prioritize nutrient-dense, low-calorie options that provide the most significant health benefits without adding excessive calories. These vegetables, such as leafy greens, bell peppers, and zucchini, offer an array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber while having minimal impact on your daily caloric intake.

  • Balancing vegetable intake with other macronutrients

While vegetables are crucial for overall health, it’s important to balance their intake with other macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Ensure that your diet includes a variety of food sources to provide the necessary nutrients for muscle growth, recovery, and sustained energy levels throughout the day.

  • Experimenting with different preparation methods for variety

To keep your diet interesting and enjoyable, experiment with different preparation methods for your vegetables. This can include roasting, steaming, grilling, or even blending them into smoothies. By changing the way you prepare your vegetables, you can discover new flavors and textures, making it easier to maintain a consistent intake of these nutrient-rich foods.

  • Emphasizing portion control and moderation

Even with nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetables, it’s important to practice portion control and moderation in your diet. Overconsumption of any food can lead to an imbalance in your daily macronutrient intake, potentially hindering your progress toward your fitness goals. By being mindful of portion sizes and maintaining a balanced approach to your nutrition, you can enjoy the benefits of vegetables while staying on track with your bodybuilding objectives.


Incorporating vegetables into a bodybuilding diet requires weighing the pros and cons of counting vegetable calories. Tracking vegetable macros can provide accurate tracking and accountability while acknowledging that some low-calorie vegetables may not significantly impact overall intake.

Ultimately, it’s essential to consider personal preferences and individual goals when determining your approach to vegetable consumption within your bodybuilding nutrition plan. Some individuals may benefit from precise tracking, while others may prefer a more relaxed approach, focusing on consuming nutrient-dense vegetables without strict counting.

Regardless of your chosen method, embracing a balanced and flexible approach to vegetable consumption is crucial. Aim to prioritize nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetables and balance their intake with other macronutrients. By doing so, you can support your overall health, performance, and progress towards your bodybuilding goals.

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Hi, I'm Dave Moffat the founder and Chief Editor of and certified International Personal Trainer and Certified Nutritionist. My passion has always been bodybuilding but with 15 years' experience in weight loss programs too, it's hard not to mention all that when you're working at your fitness level fullest (I hope). When Im not in the gym or spending time away from my family i often think about what advice would help others achieve theirs goals just like these inspired mine.