Protein dense foods should form the base of the food pyramid. Why? Because without adequate intake of protein, all the basic cellular processes going on in your body will come to a screeching halt or perform like a car that desperately needs an oil change.
At a minimum, males should strive for a protein intake of 0.5 gram per pound of body weight, and that is for men with sedentary lives who do not regularly take part in physical activity.
As workout frequency increases, so should protein intake, so aim for 1 gram for each pound of body weight, and even more in certain cases. Protein keeps your metabolism efficient, intestinal enzymes primed for breaking down food into easy absorbable forms (to get the most out of them), and for modulating hormones and the structural components of the body (skin, hair nails, joints).
In short, primitive man knew what he was doing when he would eat the entire mammoth for breakfast.
These poor macro-nutrients have been wrongfully accused in recent years of causing everything from heart disease (which they do not), to making you fat and everything in between.
More specifically, saturated fat was incarcerated. However, as research has correctly provided to the public domain, saturated fats are beneficial to the human body in a multitude of ways, and may only go “rogue” when combined with the pro-inflammatory effects of carbohydrates.
Most animal fats are saturated, and are responsible for supplying the raw material of testosterone, which is cholesterol. Research has also demonstrated that men who consume a healthy diet; rich in saturated fats and protein, but low in bad influences (such as carbs), report healthy testosterone levels, and are in the better health than many subjects following other diets.
Fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel also offers saturated fats, and also provide essential Omega-3 fatty acids that are important for heart health. Red meat offers you primarily Omega-6 fatty acids.
In addition to a diet rich in animal protein, vegetables should form the perfect complement. Do you know why? Well, for one, vegetables are extremely low calorie, meaning that you can eat a lot of it without adding a large caloric load.
Secondly, they do not digest very fast, with many supplying necessary insoluble fiber to propel waste through the digestive tract and prevent the dreaded “poop block” (AKA constipation).
Aim for six servings of veggies per day, with at least one serving with each meal. Vegetables also help supplement your vitamin and mineral intake to further bolster cellular efficiency.
Vegetables are the perfect food, especially your green color varieties and leafy greens like Kale, and collards and spinach.
Nutritional powerhouses, supplying loads of vitamin C, A and E, but with one major caveat – lots of sugar.
Many men are under the impression that it is a “healthier” sugar, when indeed it is merely another form that is still converted to glucose before it is absorbed by the body.
Yet, fruits do play an important supporting role in diet, no doubt about that. With that said, moderation is important. Strive for no more than two servings of fruit per day, and preferably those that do not have a high GI (glycemic index), such as apples and berries.
GI refers to the speed at which food is converted to simple sugars before absorption. A lower GI means it is released slowly into blood, preventing dreaded insulin spikes from occurring that can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
The Supporting Cast
With a firm grasp of preferred nutrition in the macronutrient department, men also have micronutrient needs that are different from what women require.
Important Requirements For Men Include:
Zinc – zinc is important in testosterone production, immune activity, and reproductive health. Zinc could likely be the most important mineral for men to supplement. Love oysters?
Then have a few every day or take a zinc supplement containing between 30-100mg daily, but no more as nasty stomach cramps may follow.
Selenium – especially important for prostate health, selenium plays an important part in fertility. Many fertility-improving cocktails actually utilize selenium as part of their arsenal. 100 mcg (micrograms, not milligrams) a day should be plenty.
Selenium rich foods include cooked oysters, shrimp, sardines, tuna, Brazil nuts, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, scallops, and beef.
Vitamin D – pretty simple to get during summer seasons, this vitamin is important for skin health but in men, it particularly supports testosterone levels and fertility.
Spending 15 minutes a day outdoors helps the body naturally produce vitamin D, and then there are also enriched foods like milk and cereals.
Processed carbohydrates are the anti-Christ of good nutrition. Sadly, carbs have snuck under the radar for years, and in many cases have been advocated for by policy making bodies. Most of the bad effects of carbohydrates stem from its ability to spike insulin levels, which trigger a typically unsavory cascade of effects in the body. Furthermore, processed carbs are just empty calories that lead to weight gain.
From signaling cells to store fat, to forming reactive cholesterol units (the bad cholesterol), clouding you mentally, the effect of constant insulin spikes and bombardment is not good.
Many carbs are considered anti-nutrients, in that they prevent normal, healthy absorption of nutrients by prioritizing itself. The best example of this at play is the classic white potato.
Had any potatoes recently?
Did you know that bodybuilders rarely touch any food that is white? That includes potatoes, white rice, and white bread. This is because they know these foods only promote body fat, which no self-respecting bodybuilder wants or needs.
Eating To Prevent Disease
Strangely enough, eating with the objective of preventing disease is hardly ever considered, primarily because men believe that disease prevention comes secondarily to a good diet. While this is a correct belief in theory, it has two major flaws.
1. Scarcely, do men eat, as they should – if a thorough analysis of a man’s caloric intake is performed, you would easily see that their caloric consumptions are far in the surplus zone (AKA overeating). This excess of calories is likely to trigger an insulin response, which in addition to promoting fat storage, also results in insulin resistance, metabolic abnormalities, and may lead to type 2 diabetes.
2. Many of the most commonly consumed foods are acid forming- most people do not understand the theory of acidic and alkaline forming foods; well for all intents and purposes, the human body functions best at a pH that is slightly basic (alkaline). As such, the best types of foods to consume are those closest to our natural pH.
What are the main acid forming foods? Carbohydrates. Acid forming foods are responsible for many inflammatory processes in the body, especially heart disease (atherosclerosis) and presumably cancer. Research is so far preliminary, but shows great promise in the use of baking soda (alkaline forming in the body) for the treatment of cancer, acid reflux, and heart disease. Lemons are considered an excellent alkaline food source in the body.
The Disease Prevention Diet
Foods touted to have the greatest potency for infection prevention typically have high levels of antioxidants, natural compounds that reduce the harmful impact of free radicals in the body. Free radicals have been implicated in premature again, heart disease, decreased libido and cancer, so reducing their impact is of utmost important to a man.
• Lots Of Foods Rich In Anti-Oxidants – consume many differently colored vegetables since their anti-oxidant levels and bioflavonoids differ significantly. For example, deeply red/orange vegetables are typically rich in vitamin a, while darker green veggies have high concentrations of zinc and even calcium. Fruits are also important, but because of their high sugar content, only moderate amounts are allowed.
• Sufficient Alkaline Forming Foods – most fruits and vegetables are conveniently alkaline forming as well. Simply adding some lemon juice to water several times daily is the easiest way to significantly boost intake. Meats are mildly acid forming, but no need to worry since the higher intake of fruits and vegetables will offset the balance. Nuts, seeds, and beans are also excellent alkaline forming foods that you can easily incorporate in your diet.
• Low GI Foods – again, carbohydrate foods need to be meticulously chosen for consumption in any diet. Fruits are the preferred source of simple carbohydrates, with emphasis on morning time consumption, or around workouts (if any!) And whole grains, that is “brown” foods are the best sources of complex carbohydrates, including brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole oats, whole grain pasta and wild rice, just to name a few.