When it comes to a healthy diet for men, trying to figure out how much you should be eating is no easy task. You may be wondering: How many calories do I need in a day? What are the healthiest foods to eat? What should I eat? When should I eat?
We get it! Finding a diet that fits your lifestyle can be challenging. This article breaks down what a healthy diet plan might look like for men including daily calorie requirements and tips around weight loss for men.
How Many Calories A Day Should A Man Eat?
Men typically have larger frames which can sometimes result in needing to consume additional calories, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein to fuel their bodies. Regardless of the number of calories that you need, it is recommended to eat foods from a variety of sources and avoid eliminating food groups all together. The healthiest diet consists of a good balance of all of these food sources.1
The exact amount of calories you may need per day is dependent on a few factors like (but not limited to) age, height, weight, activity level, gender, etc.
For reference, Harvard Health suggests the following weight maintenance guidelines:2
- Sedentary lifestyle – you can maintain your weight at about 13 calories per pound per day
- Moderate physical activity – you can maintain your weight at about 16 calories per pound per day
- Vigorous physical activity – you can maintain your weight at about 18 calories per pound per day
For example, a 175-pound man with a moderate exercise routine would need around 2,800 calories per day. If the same 175-pound man had a sedentary lifestyle, he would only need 2,275 calories a day to maintain his weight.
This can still be too high or low for some men because other factors such as age and height (as mentioned above) play a role as well. Keep in mind these numbers are for reference only and aim to give you a general idea of the amount of calories you may want to consume in a day.
If losing weight is your goal, you will want to burn more calories than you take in, regardless of your gender.2 The combination of physical activity and balancing your average calorie intake is important to keep in mind when setting goals and staying on track. Due to testosterone, men are more likely to gain weight around their belly area — also known as visceral fat or belly fat — which may be a warning sign for certain types of diseases.3 Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet can help reduce fat around your mid-section.
Remember to always consult your physician before starting a weight loss program.
Unfortunately, all calories are not created equal. As far as macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) are concerned, here are the percentages of each you should stay between for your daily caloric needs.4
- Protein should consist of about 10-35% of your daily calories. Opt for lean cuts of meat like chicken or beef. Fish is another great protein source. If you're vegetarian, other protein options include beans, protein-rich vegetables like broccoli or spinach, and tofu.
- Carbohydrates should account for about 45-65% of your daily calories. Whole grains (brown rice, whole grain bread, quinoa), vegetables and fresh fruit are all great carbohydrate sources.
- Fats should account for about 20-35% of your daily calories. Try to choose good fats such as avocados, nuts and fatty fish and avoid solid fats found in foods like butter and margarine.
Healthful Eating For Men
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offer a few guidelines for men and healthful eating:5
- Consume up to 2 cups of fruit daily — great options include berries, apples and oranges.
- Eat a minimum of 2 ½ cups of vegetables a day — try loading your plate with a variety of colored veggies like broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and more.
- Half of the grains you consume should be whole grains.
- Eat fish or vegetarian sources of protein at least 2-3 times per week.
- Watch your fiber intake. Men need at least 30-38g per day.
Importance of A Well-Balanced Diet
The main thing to keep in mind is that a balanced diet will always be the healthiest.
One common pitfall men experience when trying to eat healthy is consuming too much protein and not enough vegetables and whole grains. We recommend varying your diet to avoid unnecessary weight gain. One easy weight loss tip for men is to ensure that your plate has as many colors on it as possible! Here's an example of a well-rounded plate: fill most of your plate with greens or another colorful vegetable, then a source of protein and a portion of whole grains. 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. For lunch, make eating healthy at work a little easier. Have a ready-to-go, prepared meal on hand, like Jenny Craig, ready for days when you're tempted to go out for fast food. Pair your meal with a fresh salad and you're set! For dinner, try a lean protein source and at least two servings of fruits and veggies. Additionally, enjoy healthy snack options throughout the day to help you from feeling ravenous at your next meal. Snack options we love include an apple with a small amount (1 teaspoon) of nut butter, a low-fat string cheese with carrots or White Cheddar Popcorn paired with a seltzer water.
Weight Loss Tips for Men & Ways to Stay Healthy
If your BMI doesn't fall within a healthy range (take this test to find out your score), there are some simple tips you can keep in mind to help you lose weight or maintain your current weight if you've already reached your goal. Here are some tips for a healthy weight loss program for men:
- Set clear goals. This will help you understand and work towards something specific — losing weight, increasing your stamina, etc. Setting clear goals will help you refocus if you fall of track.
- Don't go for a 'quick' fix. Along with eating a balanced diet, it is important to keep in mind that changes should be gradual and something that you can do long-term rather than a fad diet or quick fix.
- 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 to eat off smaller plates. Use this visual portion guide to help you get started!
- Meal Prep. Chop up fresh veggies for the week, prepare small sides of fruit and grill or cook lean cut meats to easily prepare meals during the week. Or, take the guesswork out of preparing healthy meals by trying a program like Jenny Craig that offers over 100 delicious food options.
- Eat your breakfast. When you eat breakfast you may feel fuller throughout the day. Try some protein-rich eggs, lean meats, and tons of delicious veggies. Or maybe some healthy whole grains like oatmeal.
Overall, a healthy diet for men is about consuming balanced meals and incorporating physical activity. At Jenny Craig, we put together a delicious, healthy planned menu that works great for men! We offer over 100 foods that will never have you feeling like you’re missing out. Learn more and start eating healthier today!
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple
Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RDN
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals.
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