6 science-based tips for optimal men’s health

Food is more than just fuel. A balanced diet can help you feel energised, boost your immune system, improve your sleep and prevent disease.

To celebrate Men’s Health Week, our IGA dietitians Anna and Alex from The Biting Truth are sharing their top tips for men to improve their health and wellbeing.

1. Don’t wait for something to go wrong before changing your diet

There are two types of people in this world – those who get their car serviced regularly and those who hear strange engine noises but keep on driving until they break down and need to be towed away!

The same applies when it comes to health. You’re likely to see the doctor when feeling unwell or sick, but what if you took steps to improve your health before you got sick in the first place.

Nutrition plays a fundamental role in reducing your risk of illness and chronic disease. Rather than waiting for a diagnosis before making changes to your diet, take steps now to enjoy good health for longer.

2. Watch your red meat intake

Hear us out! It’s perfectly healthy to enjoy lean red meat on a regular basis. It’s rich in zinc, iron, B vitamins and protein – all good things. The key is to avoid going overboard.

The latest Heart Foundation recommendations are to limit red meat intake to less than 350g per week due to the links between red meat consumption and disease risk. By ‘red meat’, we are referring to beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, venison, kangaroo and goat.

This means you could include red meat in 1-3 meals per week, depending on your portion size. Keep in mind, when eating out it can be easy to exceed this weekly limit, sometimes in just one meal! Think about the last time you had a steak at the pub; often the steaks available are 300-400g. Whilst a 300g steak does fit within the weekly allowance, it doesn’t leave much room to enjoy red meat during the remainder of the week.

Incorporating other protein sources into your weekly roster, such as fish and seafood, legumes, nuts, eggs, poultry and dairy, will help you stick to the 350g limit.

Bonus tip: Avoid processed meats, such as frankfurts, salami, bacon and ham, as these increase your risk of colorectal cancer and heart disease.

3. Spread protein throughout the day

Protein intake tends to be skewed heavily towards the evening meal. Think about your current diet; there’s likely a good source of protein with your evening meal (e.g., chicken, fish, red meat, tofu), but where is your protein coming from earlier in the day?

Research suggests spreading protein intake more evenly across the day may help stimulate muscle synthesis because the body is able to digest and absorb the protein more efficiently.

Ideally, aim to include a source of protein at each meal and snack. This might look like:

4. Stock your pantry well

Set yourself up for success by keeping your pantry stocked with healthy essentials. A well-stocked pantry makes creating quick, balanced meals 10x easier.

These items are a brilliant starting point when it comes to rustling up a weeknight dinner. Got some rice on hand? Whip up a speedy fried rice! Packet of pasta in the pantry? Try a clear-out-the-fridge spag bol!

5. Make time for meal prep.

While “meal prep” might bring to mind bland chicken breast, rice and green beans perfectly portioned into a week’s worth of containers, don’t give up on the idea just yet!

While that’s one way to meal prep, it certainly isn’t the only way. Meal prep can be done however fits your schedule and lifestyle. It’s simply about planning, preparing or batch-cooking meals, snacks or ingredients ahead of time to make healthy eating easier when life’s busy.

It might mean prepping a week’s worth of lunches to be reheated at work, or simply chopping up some veggies and boiling some eggs. It could also mean planning your meals for the week to avoid having to come up with ideas after a long day at work.

6. Watch your alcohol intake

Alcohol is very energy dense, meaning it’s packed full of kilojoules. On top of that, alcohol makes you want to eat, and it’s not fruit and vegetables you typically crave, it’s fatty and salty foods.

In 2020, new Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol were released. They recommend healthy adults drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.

How does your typical week compare?

So, what are you waiting for?
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: food is more than just fuel. It’s time to start paying more attention to one of the simplest and most accessible ways to improve your health – your diet.

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