Men’s fitness can be a tricky thing. Many men are confronted by self-doubt when they embark upon the fitness path. Should I build muscle or go lean? How much muscle is good, and how much is too much? Why am I gaining (or not gaining) weight despite hitting the gym?
One of the vital questions to consider is: do men react the same way to certain foods as women do? While most men don’t obsess about their health and fitness as much as some women do, they can have reasonable concerns and questions. So again, what is the truth?
Some experts will tell you that it all depends on your particular body type. But that is neither here nor there. The most important fact in men’s fitness is that food plays a crucial role. Here are five foods that should be right at the top of your must-have list, and at least four that you shouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.
Embrace the Nut in You with Omega-3 Fat
Omega what? That refers to omega-3 fatty acids, or what the world calls “good fat.” This is the kind that comes with all sorts of benefits, like improved eyesight, a stronger heart, better immunity, less inflammation (especially for athletes), resistance to arthritis, etc. It also helps you combat anxiety and stress! Sounds cool, right? And we get this mostly from fish.
But what if you are a vegetarian, celebrating a rich plant-based diet with the rest of the world? Well, you can go nutty, literally. This is where women score over men, as they are more likely to snack on a pack of nuts. Walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and even hemp seeds are fabulous sources of omega-3. So get yourself a good trail mix of nuts, and be unafraid to embrace this new adventure. It’s all good fat, apparently.
Ditch the Late-Night Binge
We just introduced you to “good fat,” a concept that is alien to many. But now we are also duty-bound to warn you about the dangerous kind, like French fries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins and all their baked cousins. These are all especially lethal at night when they are more likely to raise your insulin levels as you rest your body.
So if you think it is okay to indulge in these after an exhaustive workout, think again. They will push your efforts down the drain, and leave you with ugly fat, the kind that is all weight and no muscle. What’s worse is that these sugar bombs dramatically slow down your digestion. So the weight will continue to pile on, eventually attacking your heart. This is not a happy place to be!
Go Pick Those Berries
Berries are loaded with antioxidants. We will keep it simple and just say that this is more good stuff, and will help you fight everything bad in your system. Like aging, memory loss, and even cancer!
They also taste good and can be effortlessly sprinkled on your favorite cereal at breakfast. Or you can even make a complete meal of it as you whip up a bowl of mixed berries. This also works perfectly as a sweet yet healthy late-night snack.
Cut Down on Bacon
We will give you a moment to recover from your shock, as many men love bacon. There is a whole carnivorous herd that strongly believes that bacon makes all things good. Not!
An increasing number of studies prove that bacon is not just saturated with fatty meat, but it also has way too much sodium, and undeniably works against the health of your heart. Still addicted to bacon? We hope not.
Next, you’re likely to stress about protein. Relax, as we open you up to an exotic new world of vegetarian protein! This is gourmet dining at its best, as it can include soy beans cooked with rice (feels and tastes like chicken). Or a hearty sandwich, not with bread, but with hummus and pita! And let’s not forget that delicious warm bowl of fruit and oats that your partner will reach for too. See, a life without bacon isn’t all bad!Related: Do You Have to Give up Bacon?
Say Yes to Whole Grains
Let us quickly clarify here that we are not going to make you eat some weird health food. You are sure to agree with us when we declare that men sure love their sandwiches. The mightier it is, the better. But what if you give that white bread a miss? For one, it’s been around a long time and hence is mighty boring. Two, there’s a whole new range of fine breads made from whole grains that are loaded with the ingredient of this century – fiber.
This simple switch can make your tasty sandwich an exceptionally healthy sandwich! So not only will it nutritiously fill your hungry tummy, it will also keep you feeling full for longer, so you are less likely to snack on junk food. And it helps that the whole grains will make your heart that much stronger too. See, this is what we call a perfect win-win!
Say No to Canned Soup
Let’s just tell it like it is. Canned soup is not real soup, as all the nutritious ingredients that make soup fine food are taken out before the soup is canned. Yes, it is mighty convenient. But it also reeks of preservatives. That is the only way they can get plain soup to last that long! If this is what you turn to for your everyday meal, be prepared to welcome an early heart attack, as canned soup also reeks of too much sodium.
And, it doesn’t hold a candle in taste to your mom’s home-cooked broth. So why would you consider eating that again? Instead, slice a carrot or two. Throw in a few herbs, or even the frozen veggies in your freezer. And voila – you can effortlessly re-create your mom’s homemade magic in minutes! Now that is infinitely tastier, and also counts as real good food. Perfecto!
Get Introduced to Sauerkraut
Sour what? That is mighty fine German food, or sauerkraut. This is finely minced cabbage that is fermented with lactic acid, and comes with a singular sour flavor.
Sounds scary, right? And yet, it is not. This dish can be used to garnish your otherwise boring sandwich and give it a unique flavor. Try it, and you will never think of cabbage as boring again. It also helps that this fine piece of delicious cabbage is also a probiotic. It also improves the health of your gut and helps you stay stronger for much longer.
Nix That Beer
Now this is one German fix that men should fear. Yes, it’s cheap, and hence, it is more suited to a student’s cheap lifestyle, but not an adult. Look, we can choose not to judge you here, but your body will rebel. Beer brings with it several uninvited guests, such as high blood pressure, pancreatitis, liver damage, potential cancer risks, and in severe cases, psychological damage and addiction! Hardly the sensible choice for a sensible adult male, is it? So while probiotic German sauerkraut in your gut is all good, beer isn’t.
Say Hello to Plants (At Your Dinner Table)
A lot of men tend to think of vegetables as “fluff,” not food. Many even believe that a macho man stays close to his meat. Well, that’s one myth that’s been smashed by numerous vegan athletes, such as David Carter, linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals. Then there are the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, who share 30 Grand Slam titles between them and are both vegans.
There is also 53-year-old John Joseph, who very convincingly kills it at the Ironman triathlon. Still think of veggies as “sheep food”? Here, it helps to begin with “dark” vegetables, literally and figuratively. So embrace your dark side with a side serving of beets and kale at dinner. Your partner will be pleasantly surprised, and your heart, muscles, and joints will love you for it.Related: 10 Delicious Vegetarian Foods That Have More Iron Than Meat