Men and women differ in many ways, including their nutritional requirements. Many problems related to nutrition are common in both men and women, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Men, however, do have unique nutrition considerations in order to maintain optimal health.
Men generally need to consume more calories than women due to having a greater amount of lean body mass. Men tend to have more lean body mass than women because testosterone increases muscle mass. Higher levels of testosterone also make men more susceptible to gaining weight around the abdomen as they age. Fat around the waist is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. If a man’s waist measurement is greater than 40 inches around, take a look at lifestyle behaviors, including diet, exercise and sleep. In order to promote a healthy weight, get at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days per week. This will help to boost metabolism, build and strengthen muscle, maintain bone health, increase energy levels, and lift mood.
Both men and women need good sources of protein in their diets, however, men’s protein requirements tend to be greater due to a larger amount of muscle mass. Red meat is high in protein, but excessive intake of saturated fat from red meat is linked to heart disease and colorectal cancer in men. Rather than eating foods high in saturated fats, such as meat, cheese, and fried foods, opt for foods high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats including: olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds and avocadoes. To get adequate protein intake, focus on more plant-based protein sources, such as beans, lentils, tempeh and tofu. Plant-based proteins are high in fiber, which is associated with a decreased risk of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Calcium is important for both men and women. Osteoporosis is oftentimes thought of as a woman’s disease, however, one in four men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in his lifetime. As men age, they need to be sure to get adequate dietary vitamin D and calcium to maintain strong and healthy bones. Men should aim for three servings of calcium-rich foods daily, including: milk, yogurt, calcium-fortified cereals, non-dairy milks, dark green leafy vegetables, and canned fish with soft bones.
A healthy diet for men includes:
• At least 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day for vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
• Whole grains for adequate fiber intake. At least half of all grains should be whole grains, including whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, brown rice, oats or barley. Fiber-rich foods help to manage hunger and fend of certain cancers, such as prostate and colon. Younger men need at least 38 grams of fiber per day, and men older than 50 need at least 30 grams of fiber per day.
• Lean sources of protein, such as chicken, turkey, lentils, and fish. Aim for at least two to three servings of fish per week to provide heart -healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
• Stay hydrated with water. Beverages can pack on the calories, so limit high-calorie drinks including: soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
Good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices play a big role in keeping men healthy. You can decrease your risk of developing chronic disease by making smart food choices.