Men's Health: Diet Overhaul
Men don't typically give quite as much thought to what they eat as women do. While women fret about their weight and pore over food labels, men tend to be a bit more carefree when it comes to their diets.
Maybe it's because most men burn through calories a lot faster than women do, so it seems they can get away with eating whatever they want without gaining weight. And many men assume that as long as their weight is in check, they really don't have to give their diets much thought.
But body weight is only part of the picture of health. How much body fat you have, where that fat settles on your frame, and the overall quality of your diet all contribute to a man's health.
Men tend to carry their extra weight around the midsection. This belly fat is much more damaging to health than the hip and thigh fat that women get, because it releases a host of hormones and other compounds into the system that increase the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
So keeping weight down is key to good health – but it needs to be done the right way. Simply eating less works just fine as long as the nutritional quality of the diet is above par. But men who eat poorly to start with, and then cut back, will sell themselves short when it comes to nutrition. So it's important to make every calorie count, and focus on foods that have the most nutrition per bite like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins like fish, poultry, low fat dairy and soy products.
Since heart disease is one of the greatest threats to men's health, it's wise to put heart healthy foods like seafood on the menu as often as possible. Men also tend to eat a lot of carbohydrates, but not usually the right ones. Steering clear of highly processed starchy foods and sweets, and filling up instead with foods rich in soluble fiber like oats, beans, berries, plums, broccoli and carrots can help to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk.
Men who skip meals or who tend to grab foods on the run should think about a little forward-planning. It might help to set a goal of having a healthy breakfast a few mornings each week, or packing a lunch or preparing a home-cooked meal once or twice a week. Some yogurt or cottage cheese with some fruit, or a protein shake are quick and easy to make first thing in the morning, and homemade lunches and dinners mean more control over calorie intake and portion sizes.
Lastly, men might be wise to write down everything they eat for a few days. There's nothing quite like a good hard look - the skipped meals, the excess sweets, fats or alcohol or a severe shortage of fruits and vegetables – to spark a diet overhaul.
Susan Bowerman is a paid consultant to Herbalife.