There’s no doubt that food and nutrition influences a man’s health. From chronic health conditions such as acid reflux, hypertension, diabetes, or fatty liver, each can be linked to and influenced by a man’s dietary pattern. Part of that influence also affects a man’s body weight. Is it within a healthy range? Or could a man stand to lose a few pounds helping reduce the risk of serious illnesses?
Being overweight or obese affects about 75% of men 40 years or older in the U.S. Overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25-29.9 while obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or greater. While some health professionals have criticized the BMI, it is still a valuable tool for assessing a person’s risk of chronic diseases.
Weight loss for men is not just about looking good. It’s a quality of life issue of staying healthy and living many years disease free. Carrying excess body weight not only increases the risk of many chronic diseases, but for men, may raise the risk of low testosterone, reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, low energy, depression, decreased muscle and bone density, and increased risk for prostate cancer.
A man’s eating plan to burn fat and lose weight
All worthwhile goals in life work best when a plan is involved. Men, attempting weight loss, always need a plan. For example, attempts at weight loss should not involve following a fad diet that is unsustainable or potentially dangerous to health. Having a plan can avoid that situation without wasting time or energy.
What exactly is the plan men need for burning fat and losing weight? Here is what an effective weight loss plan for men should look like:
The Plan: Eat three meals a day with one to two snacks
When it comes to weight loss, skipping meals is not recommended. For instance, men who routinely skip breakfast are setting themselves up for major hunger issues later in the day. This can lead to overeating and choosing not-so-healthy foods to feel full. Done daily, this habit can be a main contributor to packing on the pounds.
Research has also shown that men (and women) who skip meals are more likely to gain weight than those who have a breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The trick is to plan balanced meals consisting of a protein, healthy starch and lots of vegetables.
The Plan: Always have a protein source at each meal and snack
Protein provides long-lasting satiety and keeps hunger at bay. That’s because the building blocks of protein – amino acids – take longer to digest. A longer transit time keeps men feeling fuller longer helping reduce hunger cravings for sugary carbohydrates.
Good protein sources for breakfast include eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, peanut butter, milk, even beans. For lunch and dinner, consider lean beef or pork, chicken breast, heart-healthy fatty fish like salmon or tuna, and plant-based protein sources such as lentils, edamame, nuts, beans, quinoa, peas, tofu, tempeh, and even hemp or chia seeds.
Adequate protein at each meal (25-30 grams) and snack (5-10 grams) also helps build and maintain muscle mass. Besides adequate protein at each meal, men should also practice strength training by lifting weights or doing push-ups or pull-ups.
The Plan: Have a good source of fiber at each meal and snack
There’s a reason why men need at least 30 grams of fiber a day: Fiber slows the rate of digestion, keeping men feeling full longer and reduces sugar cravings. Here is a listing of high fiber foods to include each day:
- Cooked beans
- ½ of an avocado
- Apples, pears, oranges
- All berries – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries
- Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, and spinach
- A handful of nuts such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, or pecans
- Brown rice, whole wheat pasta or whole wheat bread
The Plan: Eat healthy fats
For years, we were told to reduce fat in our diet. Now, things have flip-flopped and we’re told not all fats are bad. In fact, quality, healthy fats support good health and can help men reach a healthier body weight. The goal is to try to get 25 to 35 percent of total daily calories from healthy fats.
A good plan is to replace some starches (cookies, chips, etc.) with healthy fats. Fat takes longer to digest keeping men from eating too much food.
The healthiest fats for men to choose include nuts, avocados, peanut butter, olives, sunflower and flaxseeds, eggs, and fatty fish.
The Plan: Create awareness about food intake
By tracking food intake, men will learn how many calories there are in food. It also helps to know how many calories they are currently eating and then make changes from there. It’s recommended for men to track 7 days in one week to find their 7-day calorie average and then adjust their goal under that number by 300 calories. For example, if a man’s 7-day average is 2100 calories before attempting weight loss, reduce by 300 calories or to follow an 1800 calorie diet plan.
The Plan: Be mindful of beverage intake
It’s not all about food intake…beverages have calories too, especially sugary or alcoholic beverages. Men who go to a brewery with friends often end up consuming 3 to 5 drinks (wine, beer, or liquor). When each drink may contain approximately 150 calories, those numbers add up quickly. Sugary sodas can be worse with upwards of 200 or more calories per drink.
Men, who are consuming either sugary or alcoholic beverages frequently throughout the week, will be wise to significantly cut back or avoid altogether. Just this one dietary change can induce a remarkable weight loss.
The Plan: Slow down when eating
Eating fast or when distracted can lead to overeating more than we realize. The delay between our stomach and brain on recognizing the signals of fullness takes about twenty minutes. That’s why putting the fork down between bites and not picking it up again until the food has been thoroughly chewed and swallowed, helps slow the pace.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.