THE 30-Day Health Program for Men 40+
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What are the Essential Nutrients for Men?
Nutrients are substances that provide your body with nourishment needed for proper growth, development, and maintenance of life. Nutrients are divided into categories of:
Essential Macronutrients and Water
The macronutrients your body requires on a daily basis to function properly are:
Your body uses protein to build and maintain muscles, bones, skin, hair, and just about every other tissue in your body. Whether you’re trying to maintain your weight, lose weight, or build lean body mass, getting plenty of protein can help.
Men generally need more protein than women on a day-to-day basis, as men tend to be larger and have more muscle mass. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 46 grams for women and 56 grams daily for men, which is a minimum daily requirement.
Many men benefit from eating more protein than the RDA, especially those who are active. Today’s Dietitian suggests eating up to 2 to 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily is safe for healthy adults, which equates to 0.9 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. That’s about 158 to 210 grams of protein per day for a 175-pound man.
Aim to fill at least 1/4th of each plate with healthy protein foods — such as fish, seafood, poultry, very lean meats, plant-based meat alternatives like tofu, and eggs.
Just as your body requires protein on a daily basis, carbohydrates are essential nutrients your body needs to function the way it’s designed to. In fact, carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source, especially during workouts. Foods rich in carbs include:
- Whole grains
The Institute of Medicine recommends men get at least 130 grams of carbs daily, and consume 45 – 65% of their total calorie intake from carbohydrates. If you’re trying to lose weight, aim for closer to 45% of your calories from carbs, or about 203 grams per day when eating 1,800 calories a day (carbs provide 4 calories per gram).
Some veggies are much higher in carbs than others. High-carb veggies include potatoes, peas, dried beans, lentils, other legumes, corn, and squash. These veggies and whole grains are starchy foods. Fill 1/4 of each plate with starches and 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (plus fruits if you want) to meet daily carbohydrate needs.
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, but it’s different from other carbs in that fiber isn’t fully digested or absorbed by your body. It does, however, enhance digestion, keep you full, and aid in healthy weight management. Fiber rich foods include:
- Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, wild rice, etc.)
Men should aim for at least 30 to 38 grams of fiber daily to meet daily fiber recommendations. If your diet lacks sufficient fiber, as many Americans’ diets do, try increasing your fruit, veggie, legume, and whole grain intake. If your diet is still low in fiber, ask your doctor about taking fiber supplements.
Studies show that fiber supplements appear to help lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar, and help facilitate weight loss.
Healthy fats keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy, and omega-3 fats are a must to maintain brain health during aging and lower your risk for dementia. Fat should make up about 25 – 30% of your daily calorie needs, and fat provides 9 calories per gram.
Choose heart healthy fats in place of animal fats when possible, to keep your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease low. Examples of healthy fats include:
- Plant-based oils
- Nut butters
- Fish oil
Omega-3 fats, linked with heart disease protection and improved brain health, are found in fatty fish (salmon and tuna, for example) and fish oil supplements. Omega 3 fats alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are present in walnut oil, walnuts, pumpkin seed oil, pumpkin seeds, soy beans, soybean oil, canola oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, and flaxseed oil.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are two omega-3s particularly useful for brain health, and found in fish, fish oil, and algae oils. Men should aim for 1,600 milligrams of ALA and about 500 milligrams of EPA plus DHA each day to optimize health.
Drinking plenty of water daily helps prevent unpleasant symptoms of dehydration (such as fatigue), enhances workouts, and aids in healthy weight management. Aim to get at least 16 cups of fluids in each day, suggests Mayo Clinic.