The old saying that “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” seems to apply when it comes to nutrition. So, men: Don’t let body fat be your downfall—this is the diet makeover you need.
While women tend to fret about their weight and pore over food labels, men often have a more relaxed attitude when it comes to their diets. Maybe it’s because most guys burn through calories a lot faster than women that they figure they can get away with eating whatever they want without gaining weight. The male assumption seems to be that as long as their weight is in check, they really don’t have to give much thought to what they put in their mouths.
But men…please listen up. Body weight is only a part of the picture of health. How much body fat you have, and where that fat settles on your frame along with the overall quality of your diet, all contribute to your well being.
Let’s say you don’t do much exercise, but your weight is reasonable. Don’t let that fool you—you could still be carrying around way too much body fat. While excess body fat is a concern for everyone, guys are more likely to carry that excess weight around the middle. That’s much more damaging to health than the fat that women tend to accumulate on their hips and thighs.
So, keeping your body weight down is key, but you need to do it the right way. Simply eating less only works when the nutritional quality of your diet is above par. Eating less of a lousy diet may cut calories, but you’ll still be selling yourself short on nutrition. Instead, you want to pack the most nutrition you can into each bite by keeping your focus on the healthy items—vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains.
You should place an emphasis on heart-healthy foods, too. If most of your carb calories are coming from chips and soda, look instead to foods like oats, beans, berries, plums, broccoli and carrots. They’re great sources of soluble fiber and can help to help keep cholesterol levels in check. And seafood, which is low in fat and calories yet rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, should be on your menu as often as possible.
One of the biggest barriers to taking care of yourself is time. You may find yourself so busy that it becomes too easy to skip meals or grab something on-the-go. But skipping meals usually backfires, and you just wind up overeating at your next meal. And if you don’t make the time to exercise, you’ll gain more belly fat and your sleep will likely suffer, too. Then you might find yourself turning to sugary foods and drinks to boost your flagging energy, which just puts more weight on you and the cycle continues.
If you’re a breakfast skipper, set a goal of having a healthy meal a few mornings a week. Grab a carton of yogurt and a piece of fruit if you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast. Or whip up a protein shake with some low-fat milk and fruit then take it with you. If you tend to grab meals on the run during the day, think about packing your lunch a couple of days a week or preparing a home-cooked meal once or twice a week. It will give you a lot more control over what you eat, and how much.
Lastly, try writing down what you eat for a couple of days. It’s the best way to come face-to-face with your eating habits—for better or for worse. There’s nothing quite like a good hard look at the skipped meals, the salty snacks or a severe shortage of fruits and vegetables to spark a diet makeover.