Lisa Money, RDN
Apex Athletic Performance
For many men, nutrition is not a focus until much later in life. Because it’s best to start healthy habits as soon as possible, Lisa Money, registered dietitian nutritionist with Apex Athletic Performance, explains the importance of good nutrition throughout every stage of a man’s life.
Young men have busy schedules and are exposed to different environments, which can lead to skipping meals and resorting to fast food, high calorie snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages and excessive alcohol. Focusing on a few consistent habits below can help young men stay focused and avoid fluctuations in weight and zapped energy:
- Eat breakfast every day. Guys can solve this problem by planning practical meals, like overnight oats that can be set in the refrigerator, heated and taken with them in the morning.
- Include fruits and vegetables daily. Plan fruits as snacks, even if they are raisins in your trail mix, and add veggies to subs and burgers.
- Add healthy fats. Look for nuts in trail mixes and avocado in the form of guacamole on your nachos and subs.
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D. Young men need 1000 mg of calcium and 600 IUs of vitamin D every day for bone and tooth health. Foods are your best choice, so pick low fat milk, yogurt, cheese and greens when you can.
- Stay active. Thirty minutes of exercise each day and resistance training 2–3 times per week can help build strong bones and increase muscle strength.
Older men might have realized by age 50 that they cannot eat the same foods in the same amounts as they did when they were younger because their body composition is not the same. Making these changes can extend a man’s life as well as improve the quality of it.
- Continue to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Men continue to need calcium and vitamin D as they age, but now these nutrients help decrease blood pressure and weight, so include three servings of milk, yogurt, cheese or leafy greens each day and consider a supplement if you don’t consume these regularly.
- Decrease sodium and increase potassium. This can help lower blood pressure, which is too high in 1 out of 3 Americans according to the American Heart Association. Good sources of potassium are bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach and white beans. Choose low-sodium foods and replace salt with herbs and spices.
- Eat a high fiber diet. Eating at least 30–50 grams of fiber can promote the survival of good bacteria and promote proper gut function. Try to make at least half your grains whole grains. Oatmeal, brown rice and whole-wheat bread are all good sources.
- Replace saturated fats with healthy fats. Choose olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, almonds, fatty fish and avocados.
- Never stop being active. Exercise 30 minutes each day and continue to do strength training two times each week.
- A word about supplements. At any stage of life, if you are not eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep or exercising regularly, you may not have good energy levels, and be tempted to choose dietary supplements. These products are regulated differently by the FDA and do not have to show effectiveness before being placed on the market, which can leave the consumer vulnerable to fraud and contamination.
- Help your eyes and prevent macular degeneration. Carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, have shown promise in eye health. Vegetables such as kale, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and broccoli are rich in these nutrients.
- Choose foods that promote prostate health. Choose 2 cups of dark-colored fruits and 2½ cups of vegetables each day. The nutrients found in spinach, berries and orange bell peppers have higher levels of many carotenoids and work with one another to promote health. Replace less healthy saturated and trans fats with their healthy alternatives from plant foods: olive oil, canola oil, avocados and walnuts. Vigorous exercise (defined as more than three hours per week) was shown in one study to reduce deaths from prostate cancer by 61 percent.
Serving Columbia and Lexington, Apex Athletic Performance has a comprehensive and scientific approach to athletic training and exercise, which includes nutritional assessments. For more information, visit their website or call 803-296-9202.
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