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There are two types of car owners: those who purchase economy fuel and those who splurge on the good stuff, because they want better performance and better fuel efficiency. It’s the same with men’s nutrition. If you put low octane nutrition in your body, your performance and endurance will suffer the consequences. If you’re tired of feeling sluggish and mentally foggy, and tired of carrying a spare tire around your gut, it’s time to make a change. It’s never too late in life to improve your health, so what do you have to lose? Just keep on reading to get a general men’s nutrition guide.
The Role of Emotional Eating
The concept of emotional eating is something you might expect to read about in Oprah’s magazine. But the truth is that women aren’t the only ones who struggle with emotional eating. It’s a man’s problem too, even if guys aren’t generally as willing to talk about it.
How many times have you chowed down on chicken wings just because the game was on? How many times have you reached for a sugary snack because it was preferable to getting started on a tough project? How many times have you given in to a craving as a way to cope with stress? Any time you eat when you aren’t physically hungry, you’re likely eating because of your emotions. Guys eat when they are stressed, bored, sad and lonely, as well as when they are in the mood to celebrate or be sociable with friends. A few extra calories here and there might not seem like a big deal, but it does add up over time. And, arguably even more importantly, emotional eating adversely affects your total nutrition and the stabilization of your blood sugar levels.
The Physical and Mental Effects of Men’s Nutrition
If you’re at all interested in men’s nutrition, you probably already have a basic understanding of how it affects your physical health. If your diet is nutrient-poor and high in saturated fats, sugars and salt, then you’re at a higher risk of developing chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. These are all serious problems that all men should proactively work at avoiding through better nutrition. However, it’s also important to look at how what you eat makes you feel.
Your brain is like an engine for your body. It works best when it receives premium fuel, and it works less efficiently when it’s fed with economy fuel. More specifically, your brain is susceptible to oxidative stress. This refers to the damage inflicted by free radicals. Free radicals are atoms that have an unpaired electron. This might sound minuscule (pun intended), but it’s quite significant. Electrons do not like being unpaired. Free radicals go scavenging throughout the body looking for a partner for their unpaired electrons, and in the process, they inflict damage on DNA, cells and proteins.
This is one of the reasons why diets poor in nutrients and high in junk like refined sugar are harmful to the brain. Your body needs high-quality food to combat those free radicals and to stave off systemic inflammation. If you don’t know where to begin, start by cutting back on refined sugars and processed foods and follow a diet that advocates for more natural foods. John Shufeldt follows the keto diet to stay healthy and make sure he is eating nutritious foods.
By consuming a diet high in antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals, you can mitigate free radical damage and support your brain health. You’ll also feel much better. People who eat high-quality food tend to:
- Have stable moods
- Be more productive
- Focus better
- Think more clearly
- Enjoy higher, stable energy levels
- Have a stronger memory and better learning retention
The Nutritional Needs of Men
If you take a broad view of one’s diet, men’s nutritional needs are similar to women’s nutritional needs. Both require calories, protein, complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals. Yet, a closer look reveals that men really do have different nutritional needs.
The average, moderately active woman needs about 2,000 calories per day, while the average, moderately active man needs about 2,500 calories per day. If you’re trying to lose weight, you can shave that down to 2,000. If you’re trying to bulk up and increase muscle mass through powerlifting, you can increase that number.
The composition of those calories is also important. Since men and women have different hormone levels, and men tend to have more muscle mass, their nutritional needs are naturally different. Make sure to get the recommended daily amount so you do not have a nutritional deficiency. Here’s a look at what the average man needs each day to be healthy:
- Protein: 56 grams
- Carbohydrate: 130 grams
- Fiber: 33 grams
- Total fat: 20-35% of daily caloric intake
- Calcium: 1,000 milligrams
- Iron: 8 milligrams
- Potassium: 4,700 milligrams
The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion further recommends that men keep their daily intake of sugar to less than 10% of their daily caloric intake. Note that the majority of a man’s fat intake should be comprised of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These are the healthy beneficial fats. Saturated fats and trans fats are the unhealthy fats that tend to increase the risk of chronic diseases if eaten in large quantities.
It’s also important to bear in mind that your individual nutritional needs may differ from these general guidelines, depending on your activity level and health conditions. Always defer to your physician’s or registered dietician’s recommendations.
The Transition from Emotional Eating to Intuitive Eating
Even if you know exactly which nutrients should be going into your body, it can be tough to stick with the plan—unless you conquer your tendency toward emotional eating. By transitioning from emotional to intuitive eating, you can regain control over your body, your health and your habits. So, what exactly does it mean to eat mindfully?
First, let’s look back at emotional eating. An emotional eater might grab some buffalo wings before a game, not because he’s actually hungry, but because he’s associated the activity of watching a game with eating wings and other junk food. That’s mindless eating. To become a mindful eater, you need to first practice planning out your meals and snacks. Each weekend, before you hit the supermarket, write down your meals for the coming week. As you do so, think about how much time you’ll have to prepare meals each day. Save the easiest, minimal prep meals for your busiest days. This will help you stay on track.
Other simple ways to become an intuitive eater are as follows:
- Take a moment to appreciate your meal before starting to eat it.
- Eat without distractions. This means ignoring your phone and turning off the TV.
- Use your full senses to appreciate each meal, paying attention to the colors, textures, aromas and tastes.
- Take small bites, chew each bite thoroughly and put your utensils down while chewing.
- Eat slowly. Take a short pause in the middle of your meal and consider: Are you getting full?
By practicing mindfulness while you eat, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of overeating.
The Top 5 Takeaways to Remember When Modifying Men’s Nutrition
Overhauling your diet isn’t usually something that happens overnight. Don’t be afraid to take small steps at first. However, be wary of complacency. Continue pushing forward, striving for your next goal or milestone. Life isn’t static, and you shouldn’t be either. Remember the reason why you’ve decided to modify your nutrition. Remember that you want to feel better, look better and perform better—that motivation will keep you moving forward. Here are five top takeaways:
- Identify the type of fat: Not all fat is bad. There are two types of bad fat (saturated and trans fats) and two types of good fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). As a rule of thumb, avoid the fat that stays solid at room temperature (like a stick of butter) in favor of the fat that is liquid at room temperature (like olive oil).
- Know how much sugar you’re eating: Your brain actually needs some sugar to function, but the best sugars are those naturally present in fruit. As much as possible, eliminate your intake of added, refined sugar. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Simply getting rid of added sugar can boost your mood, stabilize your energy levels and even normalize your sleep patterns.
- Check yourself: Are you really hungry? Emotional eaters eat when they are bored, stressed or depressed. Be an intuitive eater. Before eating anything, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. Drink some water before eating too, as humans often misinterpret thirst signals for hunger signals.
- Remember that there’s always tomorrow: If you slip up with your diet, try not to beat yourself up about it. But don’t continue making those mistakes, either. Just focus on continually moving forward and making improvements to your nutrition.
- Consult your doc: If you have a medical condition, such as kidney disease or diabetes, you absolutely need to talk to your primary physician or a registered dietician about your unique nutritional needs. Don’t delay doing this, as it might save your life.
This introduction can help any man who wants to transform his life through better nutrition. However, to get an in-depth understanding of men’s nutrition and how it affects your well-being, you’ll need to check out Dr. John Shufeldt’s new book. Pre-order your copy of The Real Man Plan today and begin preparing for a better tomorrow.