A well-balanced diet is your best bet for good health and weight loss. Women have long been targeted by the diet industry, which typically focuses on shedding pounds and losing weight.
New fad diets marketed to women appear on a daily basis, but these variations on a theme sometimes overlook half of the population. Many American men may benefit from losing weight for reasons other than looking a certain way or adhering to the current beauty standard.
Although the nutritional requirements of men and women differ slightly, a balanced diet plans for men can generally give you the nutrients you need to feel and look your best.
Dietary Requirements for Men
According to Jessie Fragoso, a registered dietitian at CalOptima, a community-based health plan that provides care to vulnerable residents of Orange County, California, “the main physiological difference between men and women is that men are typically taller, weigh more, and have more muscle mass compared with women”.
Men typically have more muscle mass than women, though there can be significant individual variation. Additionally, according to Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, “most men have higher calorie and protein needs than most women”.
In general, a higher metabolic rate and subsequent requirement for more calories are correlated with a higher ratio of muscle to fat and bone.
In addition to having slightly higher calorie requirements, Weinandy notes that men also have slightly higher needs for certain other nutrients like magnesium and fiber.
While it would be convenient to be able to identify a single diet strategy that is the absolute best choice in every situation and works for all men, this is not the case. No particular diet is superior for men over women, according to science, claims Weinandy.
Having said that, eating a diverse range of foods is a safe bet. The best diet for men looking to slim down or improve their athletic prowess consists of a variety of foods from all five food groups, with an emphasis on getting enough fiber from plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
To help you lose a pound of weight per week, Fragoso advises cutting your calorie intake by 500 per day and adhering to “intuitive eating guidelines, such as eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you start to feel full”.
According to Weinandy, determining a person’s nutritional requirements with accuracy depends on a variety of variables, including age and activity level. This is true for both men and women. The US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate program can help you calculate your caloric and nutritional needs.
Nutrients to Consider in a Diet Plans for Men
While there are no magic foods or eating patterns that men must follow, the USDA recommends that men eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and proteins such as beans, eggs, and lean meats.
To maintain good health, men should focus on a few key areas of nutrition, including:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
A calorie is a unit of measurement that indicates how much energy different foods contain. Eating too many calories can result in weight gain and other health problems, even though your body needs the necessary number of calories to function.
Calories are a very personal measurement, and some people especially those who are larger or more active will typically require more of them to get through the day than those who are smaller or less active.
Men typically have more muscle mass, which leads to a 300-400 calorie daily increase in calorie expenditure, according to Megan Wroe, wellness manager and registered dietitian at St. Jude Medical Center in Southern California. As a result, men typically require more calories.
Men also have an easier time losing weight than women, for this reason. The simple structure of their anatomy works more efficiently metabolically than the ladies. She continues, “Men should take advantage of the slight metabolic advantage they have over women.
It makes sense, says Weinandy, that a 6’3” tall man would require more vitamins and minerals than a 5′ tall, petite woman. When feeding a big, more active body, it’s important to scale up portion sizes to provide more calories, as long as the ratio of nutrients continues to meet your needs.
Although it is generally recommended that men consume between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day, each person’s requirements will differ depending on their age, level of activity, height, and weight. In order to meet their different macronutrient requirements, men and women can eat the same foods in different amounts, according to Wroe.
It is true that the main macronutrient that aids in the development of powerful muscles is protein. However, somewhere along the way, the notion that men require significantly more protein than women developed, and it is not entirely correct.
“Men frequently believe they require large amounts of protein, but most men require only 80 to 100 grams per day,” Weinandy says.
Still, if you’re trying to lose weight, you may require more protein than you realize to avoid muscle loss. Roy Gildersleeve, a metabolic/bariatric surgery dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, states that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises sedentary men to consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight and moderately active men to consume between 1.4 and 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight.
“This figure may fluctuate depending on the type of activity and other health conditions”.
He adds that it’s important to leave the 80-gram protein shake at home and concentrate on spreading out your protein throughout the day because “most bodies can only utilize up to 40 grams of protein in one sitting”.
Consuming too much protein without getting enough other nutrients can lead to nutritional deficiencies or other problems.
An Orlando Health registered dietitian named Hollie Zammit says, “We have strong evidence from several meta-analytical studies that demonstrate a plant-based diet can significantly lower your risk of several cancer types, as well as other disease states, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The risk of colorectal and stomach cancer is known to rise with a diet high in red and processed meats. We also know that a high-fat diet increases the risk of liver cancer”.
Wroe adds that protein is important for men who want to lose weight, especially if they’re on the keto diet. “Overall, men tend to lose weight more quickly and effectively than women due to this high-fat, low-carb diet structure”.
According to her, men and women both use carbohydrates to produce estrogen, which is thought to be the reason why men appear to experience stronger weight loss results.
On the other hand, she adds, “I don’t recommend long-term keto for anyone, including men. Men should transition toward a diet more in line with the paleo lifestyle once some weight loss has been attained in order to ensure that their protein needs are met, as long-term keto can have risks.
Men generally fare slightly better physiologically than women when fasting for an extended period of time, Wroe continues. Women exhibit faster degeneration when fasting for extended periods of time, according to Wroe, so not all men will necessarily benefit from this dietary approach.
In addition to helping prevent heart disease and colon cancer, two chronic conditions that typically affect men more frequently than women, fiber also helps prevent colon cancer. In contrast to women, who have a 1 in 25 chance of developing colon cancer in their lifetime, men have a 1 in 23 chance (4.4%) of doing so.
The disparity is much greater in the case of heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one killer of men in the US.
It killed 357,761 men in 2019, accounting for roughly one out of every four male deaths. Furthermore, men are roughly twice as likely as women to have a heart attack.
Heart disease can be exacerbated by conditions like hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure, and high levels of low-density lipoprotein. However, getting enough fiber in your diet can help you lower these figures to a secure level. Fiber binds to cholesterol molecules in the small intestine and aids in their removal as waste, preventing them from entering the bloodstream and causing blockages that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
“So many men I work with tell me they’re always hungry, so they snack on foods like chips, crackers, or trail mixes because they know they need extra calories because they’re bigger than their wives and kids,” Wroe explains.
“While their muscle mass does necessitate more calories, these calories should come from fiber and protein rather than refined starches, inflammatory oils, salts, and sugars, which contribute to heart disease and cancers that men, particularly overweight men, are already at high risk for”.
Aim for 38 grams of dietary fiber per day for men. According to Gildersleeve, women should consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day. Fortunately, fiber helps you feel fuller for longer periods of time, so it should always come up when discussing weight loss.
According to Fragoso, “men need lots of non-starchy vegetables in their diet. “Non-starchy vegetables are excellent sources of fiber. The stereotypical’steak and potatoes’ diet contains too many calories, which, when combined with insufficient physical activity, can result in unintended weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and a variety of other health problems”.
However, “different vegetables can add vitamins and minerals without adding too many calories”, as the saying goes.
Another nutrient whose inclusion in a diet has been linked to heart health is omega-3s, particularly when taken in through food sources.
Foods like flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, plant oils, and cold-water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Fish oil supplements are another common source of omega-3 fatty acids.
In order to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association suggests eating one to two servings of seafood per week. The AHA doesn’t suggest fish oil supplementation for people who aren’t at high risk of heart disease, but it is possible to add one with the advice of a medical professional.
Men are more likely to develop heart disease than women, so it’s important to discuss your cardiac health with your doctor and make sure you’re getting enough omega-3s in your diet. This is especially important if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease.
Men and adolescent boys aged 14 to 18 should consume 1.6 grams of omega-3s per day, while women and adolescent girls should consume 1.1 grams. Pregnant adolescents and women should consume 1.4 grams, while breastfeeding adolescents and women should consume 1.3 grams.
Sodium Sodium has been linked to high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. As a result, men in particular must exercise caution when it comes to sodium consumption. Also, certain processed foods, such as soups, bread, breakfast cereals, sauces, and snacks, can contain far more sodium than you realize.
In order to maintain a healthy eating pattern, people ages 13 and older should limit their daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams, according to the CDC’s 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In actuality, however, the majority of us eat far too much on average, 3,400 milligrams daily.
To help lower your sodium intake and lower your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, avoid adding salt to foods and instead use other seasonings. Check the label when purchasing prepared or packaged foods and choose low or very low sodium options.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, foods with 35 milligrams or less of sodium per serving are very low in sodium. Low sodium foods contain 140 milligrams of sodium or less.
Minerals There are also some differences in the amount of minerals required by men and women. Men typically require more zinc than women, but less calcium and iron, according to Wroe.
This is due to female hormonal cycles and a higher risk of bone degeneration, whereas male reproductive hormones require slightly more zinc”.
Gildersleeve also points out that men require more selenium than women. All of the following foods are excellent sources of selenium: Brazil nuts, organ meats, seafood, grains, and dairy products.
The Office of Dietary Supplements at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends the following daily intakes for key minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium:
Calcium aids in the formation of strong bones and is essential for the proper functioning of the heart, brain, and circulatory system. Adult men should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day (women require more).
Iron contributes to healthy circulation and the movement of oxygen throughout the body. 8 milligrams should be consumed daily by men between the ages of 19 and 50.
Fragoso advises men to be cautious about consuming too much iron, despite the fact that it is a vital mineral to have in a healthy diet. “Excess iron consumption has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack in men”.
Magnesium is essential for the electrical function of the heart. Men require more magnesium than women. Men over the age of 18 should consume 400 to 420 milligrams per day.
This mineral promotes cellular function and a healthy immune system. It is also necessary for the production of testosterone, the primary male hormone.
As a result, men require more zinc than non-pregnant or breastfeeding women. Teens and men over the age of 14 should consume 11 milligrams of zinc per day.
Men’s Health for the Rest of Their Lives
In addition to pursuing a well-balanced, healthy plant-based diet, men should be aware of other facets of their overall health. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, men are more likely than women to:
- You should not be smoking at all, so if you are not, do not begin. Make a plan to quit smoking if you do.
- Consume alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages contain a lot of calories and provide no nutritional value. Additionally, the effects of their inebriation may cause individuals to make other unhealthy decisions, like consuming excessive amounts of calories.
- Don’t start drinking if you don’t already. If you do drink, keep it to a minimum.
- Up to the age of 64, men should limit their alcohol consumption to two drinks a day or less, and after that, they should limit it to one. Higher alcohol consumption increases your risk of liver, stomach, and colon cancer.
- Make unhealthy or dangerous decisions. Men, on average, tend to take more risks than women, and these choices can go far beyond what you put on your plate. This has been proven by studies.
- When engaging in a potentially hazardous activity, use common sense safety precautions.
- Defer routine medical care. Only men are afflicted by conditions like prostate cancer and low testosterone, which can be screened for with routine testing and scheduled checkups.
- Diet is only one factor in determining your overall health, and the best diet for you might not be the best diet for someone else, according to Zammit. Your body’s response to particular foods or diets is greatly influenced by genetics, age, and gender, and we are powerless to alter these factors.
- Furthermore, since the human body is so intricate, it is useless to compare oneself to another. Additionally, it means that “bad diets as a whole, not individual foods, are the problem. Behavior and lifestyle changes continue to be the best predictors of your health and happiness.”
- Before beginning a “diet,” Gildersleeve advises consulting with a qualified medical professional or registered dietitian. They can not only help you develop a plan based on your specific needs and goals, but they can also steer you away from diets or products that are not only ineffective but potentially dangerous”.