Did you know men’s nutrition needs change at different times of the lifespan?
Good nutrition is essential for peak performance, and a healthy diet should meet your physical needs, fit with your lifestyle, and be enjoyable.
If you need help with eating right, an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can tailor nutrition and dietary advice to make sure you are meeting your unique health goals at any stage of life.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines provides an outline of the right types of foods, in the right amounts. Men generally need more energy each day than women because they are often larger and more of their body is muscle. It’s best to get this extra energy by eating from whole foods like vegetables, and lean meat and meat alternatives like legumes, tofu or nuts [i].
In general, you should aim to:
- Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods such as:
- Vegetables of different types and colours, and legumes/beans
- Grain foods such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat
- Drink plenty of water
- Limit your intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt and added sugars.
Regular exercise goes hand-in-hand with healthy eating, and making time to exercise is protective for our health in the long term.[ii] Support healthy eating with regular physical activity, see the Exercise & Sports Science Australia website; Exercise Right for more information and talk to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to find out how exercise can help you manage your health.
Need more energy than older men, but it’s still important to keep a balanced approach to healthy eating.
Men are often interested in building muscle and performance with protein, and many people turn to supplements for this [iii]. However, most men in this age group only need about 0.84 grams of protein per kg of body weight, per day [iv]. That equals around 60 grams per day for an 80kg man.
Putting this into real terms, there is around 60g of protein in a small 100g rump steak, and just over 12g in two slices of cheese. So you can see that getting enough protein is easy if you are including protein-rich foods every day like meat, poultry, fish, dairy, legumes and lentils, eggs and nuts.
Your body doesn’t store extra protein for later, so any you eat on top of your needs will be excreted from your body. So focus on good quality protein, rather than quantity!
Need slightly less of some food groups, like lean meats or alternatives. As you get older, energy needs slowly reduce, so there’s less room to include extra foods like cakes, biscuits, chips, and soft drinks. As with other life stages, these foods usually don’t have any nutrition benefits, so base your food choices around whole foods [v].
Men start to need slightly less wholegrains and grainy foods and slightly more dairy foods and alternatives such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. You also need a little more calcium and phosphorus than younger men; good sources include dairy products, eggs, sardines or salmon, almonds, cashews rice/wheat/oat bran and peanut butter [vi].
Man up in the kitchen!
Cooking at home more is a great way to kick-start a healthier you. Research shows people who prepare food at home are more likely to eat smaller portions and take in fewer kilojoules and less fat, salt and sugar. And in turn, this is more likely to lead to a healthy weight and lifestyle [vii].
Home cooking can also improve the quality of your diet. Recent research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that those who spent more time preparing food at home ate vegetables and fruit more often, compared with those who spent less time in the kitchen [viii].
[i] National Health and Medical Research Council, Department of Health and Aging. Australian Dietary Guidelines, Recommended number of serves for adults. Retrieved from http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/how-much-do-we-need-each-day/recommended-number-serves-adults
[ii] Department of Health. Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines
[iii] Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12. 4364.0.55.007
[iv] National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values, Protein. Retrieved from https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/protein
[v] National Health and Medical Research Council, Department of Health and Aging. Australian Dietary Guidelines. Discretionary Food and drink choices. Retrieved from http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/discretionary-food-and-drink-choices
[vi] National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values, calcium/phosphorus. Retrieved from https://www.nrv.gov.au/node/3
[vii] Jones A. et al. Perceived motivators to home food preparation: Focus group findings. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014; 114: 1552-6.
[viii] Monsivais P. et al. Time spent on home food preparation and indicators of healthy eating. Am J Prev Med. Published online 18 Sept, 2014.