Let’s talk about Men’s Nutrition: Framing an age-inclusive picture


Nutrition has always been a critical part of health and development. However, it has been more inclined towards women’s health. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Women tend to visit a doctor or preventive care centres more regularly than men. Similarly, the awareness of men’s nutrition would be beneficial for preventing health problems and probable early detection of diseases.

Basic nutritional education is essential to draw some attention and lead a quality life. So, this International Men’s Day let’s empower men to learn and talk about health and fitness. Understanding the relevance of health checkups, healthy lifestyle choices and working towards comprehensive wellness.     

How is Men’s nutrition different from Women’s? 

Irrespective of gender, living a long healthy life requires a balanced diet. It is true that women are much more aware of their daily nutritional needs than men. Moreover, there is tons of information provided over the internet that caters to women’s needs and dietary requirements. Though women and men share 98.5% identical DNA and need similar proportions of nutrition to fuel their daily activity, there are a few exceptions. 

1. Caloric Needs 

This is one of the major difference in women’s and men’s nutrition content. The caloric intake of an individual depends on various factors like age, gender, height, activity level and muscle mass. Muscle tissues are more metabolically active than fat, which is why it burns more calories even at resting position. Generally, men carry more muscle mass than females and thus men require more calorie intake than women. The recommended calorie intake of an average man should be around 2,200 to 2,600 calories per day. Whereas an average female is 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day. So, it is also believed that an average man burns 400 more calories than a female.

2. Fibre

According to Harvard Health Publishing, men are about twice as prone as women to have a heart attack. Various research studies predict that women’s natural hormones are more responsible to protect them against chronic heart diseases. 

Fibre is essential for lowering cholesterol, haemorrhoids and contributing to a healthy heart. Since men are certainly exposed to such diseases, an average man’s daily intake of fibre should be around 38 grams and female to 25 grams. 

3. Calcium

We often tend to hear that women need more calcium than men. True to its findings, men only need 800 mg of calcium per day, while women need 1,000 mg of calcium. According to extensive research by the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, high calcium consumption in men can lead to cardiovascular diseases. This research studied 400,000 men and women since 1995, who were regularly requested to consume calcium supplements. Resulting in 12 years of analysis that concluded on the grounds that men who consumed more than 1,000 mg of daily supplemental calcium were 20% more likely to compromise their heart health.  

Lifestyle changes that aid Men’s Nutrition

A balanced diet is essential, however, there are other factors to consider that an individual can adopt to contribute a little more. Irrespective of gender, these are some of the lifestyle changes that men can embrace in their daily lives. 

  1. Maintain a healthy weight- Being overweight or obese is the root cause of chronic diseases. It also affects mental health and the overall quality of life. 
  2. Better sleep Cycle- Lack of sleep causes adverse effects on health. Men at least need 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep to bounce back the next day. Sleep schedule management is a great way to keep a track of your sleep cycle. 
  3. Include Physical Activity- Considering physical activity as a motivator is great to initiate your day. Men should at least aim to achieve 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity for 5 days a week. This will keep them in shape and lower health risks. 
  4. Avoid Smoking and Drinking- Excessive smoking or drinking affects blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health. In addition to it, alcohol consumption can lower your testosterone levels. Refrain from drinking and smoking regularly. 
  5. Go for screening and tests- Routine screenings, tests and vaccination are an absolute necessity to monitor health. There are certain tests that men must include in their yearly health checkup, like, PSA tests, colonoscopy, Blood pressure and sugar screening etc. 

Men’s Nutrition- Requirements according to Age

Yes, nutritional requirements have everything to do with age. It is essential that one must eat all that is required to perform certain daily activities as per their age. This is a major part of development that focuses on the physical and mental maturity of the body.

1. 19 and Under

The growth years are certainly vital for muscle and bone development, brain maturation and coping with hormonal changes. So, the nutritional requirements remain very similar for either gender. Fibres, antioxidants and vitamins are what builds up their immunity and strength. Calcium and Protein for promoting bone mass and muscle development. Along with these, omega 3 fatty acids and iron for improving brain functioning, cognitive abilities and blood volume. 

2. 19 to 50

Although this is a huge age bracket, yet the physical activity and lifestyle of this group of men remain constant. Men require more Protein, Carbohydrates and Good Fats, Vitamins and Minerals in their Diet. 

Protein- Men require 56 grams of protein per day. However, men who are involved with regular workouts should at least consume 1.3 grams of protein every day, as per pound of their body weight. Foods like egg whites, lean meats like chicken and fish, paneer, and legumes are all good sources of protein. 

Carbohydrate and Good Fat- An average man consumes 2,200 to 2,600 calories per day. So, the amount of carbohydrates they should be consuming must be 45 per cent to 65 per cent of their calorie intake, and the other 20 per cent to 35 per cent should be dietary fat. Fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods are all excellent in providing carbohydrates and foods like nut butter, flaxseeds, beans are rich in fats. 

Vitamins and Minerals- These are equally important nutrients for daily needs. Men require more vitamins C, D, K, B1, B2 and B3, and zinc. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges can be consumed for fulfilling Vitamin C, Salmon, Cod liver oil and mushrooms for Vitamin D. Men can add green leafy vegetables in their diets for Vitamin K. Including Black beans, edamame, yoghurt, cheese eggs, brown rice, avocados are great in providing Vitamin B1, B2 and B3 properties. As per zinc, men can have Oatmeal, spinach, tofu and oysters.  

3. 50 and Older

There is tons of evidence that supports older men who are 50 and above tend to develop some deficiencies that can be prevented by following a diet that provides maximum nutrition in minimum kilojoules. Calcium and Vitamin D are the most important at this age and bring value in terms of eliminating the risk of deficiencies that can cause serious illness. Dairy products like milk, cheese and paneer are good for meeting daily calcium requirements, and if you are lactose intolerant you can include green leafy vegetables and soy products in your diet. Fishes like mackerels and salmon are good sources of Vitamin D, you can also choose from Almond milk, mushrooms and the easily available one, free for all, sunshine. 

Common Deficiencies in Men

It is a myth that developed or developing nations do not have people suffering from common nutritional deficiencies. However, this low level nutrition can’t be termed as just an economic issue, it is more a lifestyle problem. Men generally suffer from four major deficiencies. These deficiencies in men’s nutrition are one that could be prevented by having a balanced diet.

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is the most common deficiency which has affected over a billion people in the world. The global pandemic has also added to this crisis as people couldn’t go out of their house and fulfil their daily vitamin D requirements by exposing their skin to sunlight. This deficiency is generally seen in older men. The daily dose of Vitamin D is recommended to be around 600 IU for men of 19 and 70 years of age and 800 IU per day for men attaining an age of 71 years and above. It can be best met through direct exposure to sunlight or by consumption of key Vitamin D rich foods.

2. Calcium

This is another deficiency that is seen in men who are lactose intolerant or 51 years or above. Some studies also predict that Vitamin C and Calcium are interdependent deficiencies as Vitamin D helps the absorption of Calcium in the body. The absence of which can lead to brittle bones. However, men should also consume calcium in moderation, i.e. 1,000 mg for men aged 19 to 70 and 1,200 mg for older men. 

3. Omega 3

Men should consume 1.6 grams of omega 3s per day. This fatty acid is naturally present in our foods. However, the rise in consumption of processed foods has created a gap in its intake and surged the levels of Omega 6s in our body. These two fatty acids are needed in equal quantities to be benefiting us the most. The deficiency of one has disrupted the balance, causing chronic diseases like heart diseases, arthritis and cancer. Fish and nuts are a direct source of Omega 3 and help in maintaining brain and heart health. It also is responsible for improving muscle recovery. 

4. Magnesium

The deficiency of magnesium can be seen commonly among men who are 70 and above. It can weaken your bones, cause fatigue and weakness in the body. Excessive alcohol consumption can also hinder the absorption of magnesium and fluctuate blood sugar levels. The daily magnesium requirement in men between the age of 19 and 30 is 400 mg per day and it increases to 420 mg per day for older men. Whole-grains foods and vegetables are ideal sources of magnesium. 

Best Diets for Men

People may receive weight loss or muscle gain advice from various sources. However, the safest option is to talk to a dietician or a fitness professional who could provide evidence-based customized plans. More than usual, people struggle to find a suitable diet plan that would be ideal for their height, weight, age and lifestyle. HealthifyMe has carefully curated two diet plans for men that will help in gaining weight and also losing some inches.

Summary 

These changes in your daily dietary consumption and lifestyle are essential for your overall health. A balanced diet is all that is needed to keep away from sneaking in pills and supplements in your food. Supplements aren’t alternatives to food. Men should invest equally in achieving nutritional goals and embracing an active holistic approach of balancing the body and mind. So, men’s nutrition becomes a vital aspect of the nutrition sector.

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