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We are all human, but men and women have slightly different needs when it comes to fueling their bodies. Men have more muscle mass than women, for one thing, so their need for protein is somewhat greater. Men also require more fiber. Here are some guidelines to help you maximize your nutrition.
Men have proportionally more muscle mass and less body fat than women. As a result, men need more protein to maintain their greater muscle mass. Protein provides amino acids, which are the building blocks the body uses to repair and build muscle. Proteins are made of about 22 "standard" amino acids, nine of which are essential. An amino acid is considered essential if it is required for growth and development of the organism but the organism is unable to make the particular amino acid itself. The body obtains them from the diet. Protein sources that contain all the essential amino acids are called complete, or whole, proteins.
It’s important for both men and women to drink enough water each day. A good general guideline is eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily.
Drinking zero-calorie or very low-calorie fluids can help control calorie intake. Consumption of sugared soft drinks has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Potassium is an essential element that helps lower blood pressure, among other effects. Studies suggest that most people get too much sodium and too little potassium in the diet. Some fruits and veggies that are high in potassium include:
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. It is also crucial for proper regulation of the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency have been linked to numerous conditions and chronic diseases. Some foods high in Vitamin D include:
It may be difficult to get enough vitamin D in the diet, though, so consider taking a supplement of 1000 IU vitamin D3 or more. Get your blood levels checked to determine the correct dose for you.
Dietary fiber is an important, indigestible component of most plants, Although most people think of fiber as a single thing, in truth there are many different types of fiber with different and varying effects on an individual. Some varieties of fiber contribute to blood sugar regulation by affecting absorption of small carbohydrates from the intestines. Fiber can help control weight by making you feel full longer, and helps keep the bowels moving. Higher fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Get your fiber from:
Omega-3s help reduce inflammation and protect the heart and brain against disease. The foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fishes like:
If you do not like fish or do not eat it often, consider supplementing with at least 1000 mg of DHA + EPA omega-3 daily. Plant sources of an omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, are present in foods such as walnuts and flaxseed. ALA is not readily converted to the forms of omega-3 the body needs, however. Vegetarians may need to consider fish oil supplements, or omega-3s derived from marine algae.
These "bad" fats can increase inflammation and "bad" LDL-cholesterol levels. Note that trans fats are considered toxic. Although largely removed from the food supply, they still appear in some prepared baked goods, and things like ready-made frostings. Try to limit your intake of:
These two types of simple carbohydrates can cause rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar. They may also increase inflammation. Avoid foods in these groups, such as white flour and sugars added to foods. These sugars include:
Eating more calories than you burn in a day causes weight gain, which can increase your risk of numerous chronic diseases. Limit your meal portions and aim to spread food out throughout the day instead of eating large amounts at one time.
Too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Try to stay below 300 mg per day by limiting:
Written by: Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N
Medically reviewed on: Aug 11, 2014: George Krucik, MD, MBA
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