To Your Health: Nutrition tips for guys
By Leia Kedem/University of Illinois Extension
We're just past Father's Day, but did you know that June overall is Men's Health Month? The media seems to pay a lot of attention to ladies' health issues, so let's not neglect the guys; men, too, have special nutritional concerns. Here's what you need to know to keep yourself (or — if you're a woman — the men in your life) healthy all year long.
Let's start with the obvious — men typically eat more, and they really can get away with it. I know, all the women out there are crying, "No fair!" Men have more muscle mass and are generally bigger than women, hence they need more calories (energy) to sustain their daily activities. For comparison, a moderately active male should eat 2,000 to 2,800 calories per day. A moderately active female only needs 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day.
Of course, any person's calorie and energy demands depend on their height, weight and activity level, and there is a lot of variation among both genders. But even though men — and very active women — need more calories, these should mostly be coming from high quality food choices. That is, higher energy needs shouldn't be taken as a license to indulge in empty calories. I'm talking foods without a lot of nutritional value other than sugar, fat and sodium — chips, sodas, cakes, pastries, etc. To meet their calorie needs, men should focus on eating higher-calorie foods like nuts, seeds and dried fruit that also provide important nutrients like fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals.
The eating extravaganza doesn't usually last, though. As men age, their metabolic rate slows down. Because of this, older men need to reduce their caloric intake in order to prevent unwanted weight gain. A moderately active older male (50 years and older) should consume 2,000 to 2,400 calories.
Nutrient-dense foods then become even more important. For example, men — like women — need to get enough calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone health. To prevent muscle loss, men should make sure to consume foods with protein. This will also help to maintain a healthy metabolism.
In particular, it may be helpful to eat plant-based protein sources like beans, legumes and peas. Besides protein, these are also high in fiber, meaning they can help target other high-priority men's health issues.
For example, higher testosterone levels create a tendency for men to gain more weight around the midsection (a.k.a. spare tire, beer belly). Extra weight around the waist increases one's risk of developing certain health problems, including heart disease. Fiber helps decrease the risk of heart disease by reducing blood cholesterol levels, so fiber-rich protein sources like beans helps kill two birds with one stone.
Other high fiber foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. At the grocery store, check those labels. Products with 3 grams of fiber per serving are good sources of fiber. Those with at least 5 grams per serving are an excellent source of fiber.
Importantly, fiber can help prevent certain cancers that are commonly found in men, like prostate and colon cancer. Other ways to help prevent prostate cancer, which is a greater risk in men over the age of 50, is to have a diet rich in antioxidants. Berries and dark-colored fruits like plums, cherries and pomegranates are great. It's also a good idea to include more cooked tomatoes, which have high amounts of the antioxidant lycopene.
For a yummy summertime dish that men and women alike will enjoy, try my delicious lightened-up bacon ranch pasta salad. It's higher in fiber, lower in fat and still has bacon. For more fabulous recipe makeovers, follow my Moderation Maven Facebook page at facebook.com/moderationmaven.
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
12 oz package uncooked whole grain rotini pasta
5 slices center-cut bacon
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1 packet dry ranch salad dressing mix
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 cup skim milk, or as needed
1 large tomato, chopped
1 small can (about 4 oz) sliced black olives, drained
1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook rotini at a boil until firm to the bite; drain.
Cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook until evenly brown. Drain well and chop finely.
In a large bowl, mix Greek yogurt, ranch dressing mix, garlic powder and garlic pepper. Whisk in milk until smooth. Place rotini, bacon, tomato, black olives and cheese in bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Cover and chill at least one hour in the refrigerator. Toss with additional milk if the salad needs more moisture.
Leia Kedem is a nutrition and wellness educator with the University of Illinois Extension, serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties. Contact her at 333-7672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.