As caloric needs vary by age and gender, men and women have moderately different daily calorie needs and weight loss plans. Regardless of gender, it's critical to understand what a well-balanced diet looks like and how to create a diet plan for your body. This article breaks down a healthy diet for men including daily calorie requirements and tips around weight loss for men.
Nutritional Needs for Men
Since men are usually larger, they require additional amounts of calories and protein to fuel their bodies. It is recommended to avoid just eating one type of food-so try not to eat all fats, all protein, all carbs, etc., because the healthiest diet consists of a good balance of all of these.1
The calorie requirements per pound for men can vary based on activity level. A person with a sedentary lifestyle should work toward about 13 calories per pound per day, and someone with vigorous calorie burning exercises may need to consume as many as 18 calories per pound. The average daily calorie intake for a 175-pound man with a moderate exercise routine is about 2,800 calories. While age, body weight, lifestyle and other factors, impact the number of calories needed, on average maintaining a healthy weight for males will require 2,300-2,500 or more calories per day for men. If losing weight is your goal, net calories need to be negative to create a calorie deficit, so you would need to exert more calories than you take in.2 Maintaining a calorie burning workout schedule and balancing your average calorie intake is important to keep in mind when setting goals and staying on track.
As we know well, all calories are not created equal. You may be thinking that a healthy diet for men would consist of a great deal more protein than that of a woman’s healthy diet. However, this is not entirely true. About 20-30% of your diet should consist of protein, whether you are male or female. Of course, this adds up to more grams for males, but the ratio is the same as it is for women.
In the same vein, carbohydrates should account for about 50-60% of your daily caloric intake. However, men typically require a little more fiber than women, so get your carbs through whole grains that are unprocessed and therefore high in fiber.3 Try to keep sugars less than 10% of your diet as sugar offers very little nutritional value.
Fats should make up about 20-30% of your diet, or less if you are actively trying to lose weight. For men, Omega-3 fatty acids are an important source of fat to add to your diet as it can help support fat loss, improve heart health and reduce inflammation.4 Omega-3 acids are best found in fish, vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, spinach and kale. In addition, it is recommended to stay away from trans fats and minimize saturated fats to less than 10% of calories. There is such a thing as good and bad fats - make sure you’re eating enough of the good fats (avocados, nuts, fatty fish, etc.) and avoiding the bad ones.
Healthful Eating For Men
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offer a few guidelines for men and healthful eating:
- Try eating at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day.
- This should come as no shock, but men should up the ante with their whole grain intake. At least half of your grain intake—if not more—should come from whole grains. Low-carb diets are very popular right now, but it's important to make sure you get enough healthy carbs so that you have the energy to exercise. Believe us, you can't survive on meat alone!
- Although a juicy steak might be tempting, it is not the most healthful protein on the market. To get a delicious source of protein that won't counteract with your weight loss goals, try eating two to three servings of fish per week. Eating less red meat, in general, is a good idea, as this can also help keep your blood pressure down.
- Fiber is important for both sexes—but men need even more of this healthy nutrient than women. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends at least 38 grams of it per day.
Due to testosterone, men are more likely to gain weight around the middle—which is a warning sign for certain types of diseases. To prevent heart disease or diabetes, keeping your waistline below 40 inches is a good start.
Importance of A Well-Balanced Diet
As we mentioned earlier, the main thing to keep in mind is that a balanced diet will always be the healthiest. Men (and women) were designed to enjoy nutrients from a variety of sources, and unfortunately, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing when it comes to your diet.
One common pitfall for men when trying to eat healthy is to amp up their protein consumption. While good in moderation, too much protein can have adverse impacts and can even make result in weight gain if you are not handling it correctly.5 We recommend varying your diet to avoid unnecessary weight gain. One easy tip is to ensure that your plate has as many colors on it as possible—a red apple paired with a chicken breast, and green vegetables, for instance. This will ensure you are not getting too much of anything.
For breakfast, we love recipes that you can make on your own, such as omelets or scrambles with your favorite veggies inside. During work, stick to a salad or sandwich for a light lunch, and load up a little more for dinner with a lean protein and at least two servings of fruits and veggies. Additionally, you can enjoy your favorite snacks with healthy fats to keep you full until the next meal!
Tips For Men’s Weight Loss & Staying Healthy
If you find yourself falling a little more into the “dad bod” category than you’d like, there are some simple tips you can keep in mind to help you lose weight or maintain your current weight if you've reached your goal. Along with eating a balanced diet, an important tip is to make gradual changes and think of them as a lifestyle change rather than a fad diet or quick fix. Healthy weight loss and eating habits should continue for years—not bounce back and forth with your cravings. Tips for a healthy weight loss program for men:
- Set clear goals. This will help you understand what your plan is for—to cut weight, to increase stamina, to reach a certain milestone, etc. Keep your goals in mind when you’re tempted by something unhealthy.
- Drink more water! Drinking more water can lead to a plethora of health benefits—weight loss, higher energy, improved immune system, just to name a few. If you find yourself not drinking enough water, try these 10 tips to drink more water.
- Portion control. There are many ways to do this, but one of the easiest is just to eat off slightly smaller plates. It sounds a little elementary, but it has been proven to work repeatedly.
- Meal Prep. Following a program like Jenny Craig is a great way to save you time, money and worry throughout the week. You will be able to have complete control over your food choices all at once, as well as portioning them out correctly and taking care of unhealthy snack cravings in advance.
- Do not skip breakfast. This is especially important for men on a higher calorie diet. Breakfast always helps you feel full and not snack between meals. Grab some protein-rich eggs, your lean meat of choice, and tons of delicious veggies. Or go the hearty route and enjoy some healthy whole grains in oatmeal or granola.
Overall, a healthy diet for a man is only moderately different than a healthy diet for a woman. Simply keep the ratios about the same and adjust to your areas of growth. At Jenny Craig, we put together a delicious, healthy planned menu tailored to accommodate an average intake of calories per day for men. We offer over 100 foods that will never have you feeling like you’re missing out. Call Jenny Craig today to get the results you want and learn more about our weight loss program!