Mens Health
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Mens Health

Mens Health – The Mans Guide to Nutrition

Did you know, as a male your nutritional requirements differ throughout different stages of life? Good nutrition is essential for various reasons, including reducing your risk of developing a chronic disease.

So Whats Different?

There are some chronic diseases that are more prevalent within the male population. Here is some data from the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare:

  • 1 in 2 Australian males have a chronic disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • The most common cancer diagnosis in males is prostate cancer, followed closely by colorectal cancer, skin melanoma and lung cancer
  • In 2015, the leading cause of death in males was coronary heart disease
  • Prostate cancer only affects males – it is the 6th leading cause of death for the Australian male population
  • Gout affects men more frequently than women as men have higher uric acid level than women (Source)

By eating a diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean meats, in conjunction with regular physical activity, this will assist in preventing various chronic diseases and health problems. The best way to make sure you are eating enough nutrients to keep your body healthy, is to follow the recommendations provided in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

What are the guidelines?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines have been produced based on scientific evidence. The guidelines provide you with information about the best types of foods to be including in your diet and how much is recommended for you at each stage of life.

In general, the recommendations suggest you should enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables (including legumes, lentils and beans)
  • Whole grain breads and cereals (including those that are high fibre)
  • Low fat dairy products or alternatives (eg. soy milk)
  • Lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes / beans
  • Drink plenty of water – choose water as your main source of fluids
  • Limit you foods containing saturated fats, added salt and added sugar

It is also important to note the Alcohol Guidelines. These guidelines suggest for males to consume no more than two standard drinks in a setting, with at least two alcohol free days per week.

How much do I need?

YOUNGER MEN AGED 19-50

As a male, during the teenage years your nutritional requirements are much higher due to the rapid growth and development that is occurring. It is important to note, although your requirements are higher during this time, it is still important to have a balanced approach to eating.

MEN AGED 51-70

During this stage of life you require less serves of some of the food groups. As we get older, our requirements decrease so there is less room for consumption of discretionary foods such as cakes, chocolates, biscuits, chips and soft drinks.

MEN 71+

As you get older, you require less serves of some of the food groups. Your calcium requirements are higher than younger men.

Have a look at the table below that displays the food group and the number of serves per day recommended for your age group. You can see that as you get older, nutrient requirements decrease for most food groups, however requirements are higher for the dairy food group (milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives) to ensure your bones stay nice and strong.


Food Group
Serves Per Day
19-5051-7070+
Vegetables & Legumes / Beans65 ½5
Fruit222
Grains & Cereals664 ½
Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds & legumes/beans32 ½2 ½
Milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives2 ½2 ½3 ½

How can I make sure I am choosing food and drinks that are nutritious?

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Plan your meals ahead (or work on doing this with your spouse!). By planning ahead and making a grocery list, you can eat at home more often and cook meals at home rather than option for takeaway foods
  • Try cooking your foods in different ways to change things up – eg. BBQ, baking, roasting, stir frying
  • Opt for fruit as a snack
  • When consuming meat, try to always opt for lean meats (those with less fat) and cut any excess fat off your meat prior to consuming. Red meat is definitely important to include your diet, however a maximum of 455g per week is recommended for safe consumption
  • Try to include at least 1 or 2 meat free meals per week – include eggs or legumes instead.
  • Choose reduced fat varieties of dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Try to choose a variety of different fruits and vegetables – try to opt for those in season (this will also help your budget)
  • Make water your main source of fluids – try to limit drinks with added sugars or alcohol
  • Include small amounts of foods that contain unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nut butters and avocado.
  • When eating out, choose your meals carefully – limit creamy and fried foods
  • Make sure to store unused cooked food in the fridge
  • For those that are older and have issues with their teeth, it may be more beneficial to consume softer textured and well cooked foods

And Exercise?

The most popular reasons that are given by men who are not physically active are insufficient time due to work commitments, study commitments, lack of interest, family commitments, the usual age card (where the common excuse is ‘I’m too old for this!’) and ongoing injuries or illnesses.

There is, however, an increasing focus on the benefits of exercise and encouraging the Australian community to become and continue to be physically active. Being physically active and limiting sedentary behaviour (i.e. sitting or lying down) is important for good mental and physical health throughout all stages of life. Staying active throughout your whole life is the single most powerful way to remain healthy and live longer. A lack of physical activity can be closely linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

What happens if I don’t Exercise?

Mens health will often suffer as a result from not exercise. Adverse effects can include things such as high rates of cardiovascular disease, with coronary artery disease being the leading cause of death in Australian men. Therefore, preventing such diseases and addressing common risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and overweight/obesity) is integral for men. Research shows that there are numerous benefits of exercise for men. This includes:

  • Decreasing the likelihood of premature death caused by cardiovascular disease
  • Decreasing the number of new cases of cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes
  • Reduces weight, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Improves overall cardiorespiratory fitness
  • Improves mental health

It is important to remember that some exercise is better than no exercise! The current recommended guidelines state that you should aim for at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. That breaks up to be at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week, which is not much when you think about it. In addition to this, it is recommended that you avoid long periods of prolonged sitting by getting up every 45 minutes to 1 hour and walk around for 5 to 10 minutes.

Ok so what Exercise should I do?

The recommended guidelines for exercise can be broken up into 3 common forms of exercise – cardiorespiratory (or aerobic), resistance and flexibility. Whilst we can go on forever listing the benefits of all three modes of exercise, we have decided to focus solely on resistance training (the mode of exercise which most men prefer to do) in this article. It is recommended that you do resistance training on at least two days each week.

Resistance training is based on the principle that muscles in our body will work to overcome certain resisted forces when they are required to. In doing so, repeatedly and consistently, your muscles will become stronger.

There are numerous ways that you can strengthening your muscles through resistance training, whether it be at home, gym, or even at the work office:

  • Free weights – dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, even random objects around the house or office that are weighted!
  • Medicine balls or sandbags
  • Weight machines
  • Resistance bands (easy to pack away and carry with you anywhere you go!)
  • Your own body weight – use your own body weight for exercise as this can be efficient when travelling or when you are at work

And whats in it for me if I exercise??

A well-rounded and efficient resistance program will provide you with the following benefits:

  • Improving muscle strength and tone – this will protect your joints from any injury from occurring
  • Maintaining flexibility and balance
  • Weight management and even increasing the muscle-to-fat ratio (fun fact – as your gain muscle, your body will be burning more kilojoules at rest)
  • Can help reduce or prevent cognitive decline in older men
  • Improves stamina – as you grow stronger you will find that you won’t tire as easily!
  • Improved bone density and strength – reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Enhanced performance of activities of daily living

The good news is that doing any physical activity is always better than doing none. So to all the men out there, get moving today! Try to be as active as you can. Several ways that you can increase your activity can include:

  • Trying to do at least 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days per week
  • Walk or cycle instead of using the car
  • Park further away to where you need to be to walk the extra distance
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift or escalator
  • Play with your children in an active way
  • Invite your friends, family and even colleagues to be active with you

Conclusion

If you would like a tailored set of recommendations, all you need to do is contact us to arrange an appointment with our Exercise Physiologist and Dietitian for a health and fitness assessment and if you are interested, to receive a home-based or gym-based exercise program or tailored meal plan.

Reference

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2017). The health of Australia’s males, How healthy are Australia’s males? – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. [online] Available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/male-health/contents/how-healthy [Accessed 22 Nov. 2018].
  2. Eat for Health Educator Guide: Information for Nutrition Educators. (2013). [ebook] National Health and Medical Research Council. Available at: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/The%20Guidelines/n55b_educator_guide_140321_1.pdf [Accessed 22 Nov. 2018].

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