More than women, men gain weight around the waist, which increases the risk for diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and other chronic diseases.
That being said, maintaining a healthy weight is key for an overall healthy life. Luckily, men who embrace a healthy diet can be the ticket to health not only in their 20s, but for years and decades to come.
Weight Loss Diet for Men in their 20s
While calories are not the sole factor for weight loss, they certainly warrant consideration. Calorie needs are a not one-size-fits-all and depend on numerous factors, including height, weight and activity level.
According to this chart provided by USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, men in their 20s need approximately 2,600 to 3,000 calories daily. However, these calorie needs are suggestive and consulting with a doctor can help establish specific calorie ranges to meet personal needs and goals.
But as a general rule of thumb, a 500 daily caloric deficit can help shed approximately a pound per week, which may be achieved through a combo of moderating food intake and increasing physical activity.
Choose whole grains and wheat products over refined products, as wheat and related grains contain wholesome vitamins, minerals, and fiber that white and refined foods generally lack.
Men are encouraged to not only make at least half of grain intake come from whole grains, but consume eight, 1-ounce servings of whole grains daily. Younger men are also encouraged to consume at least 38 grams of fiber daily to support a healthy weight and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
Fruits and Veggies
Men should be consuming at least two and a half cups of veggies and two cups of fruits on a daily basis, approximating to a general guide of "5-a-day."
An easy way to ensure that adequate intake of each is by coloring the meal plate with a variety of produce, including leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, and berries. Additionally, choose fresh or frozen produce over canned whenever possible and opt for whole pieces of fruit over juices.
Men can meet the 5-a-day recommendation with these 10 ways to increase fruit and vegetable intake.
Lean and Plant-Based Protein
Protein is key for weight loss, as it mostly known for its notorious role in muscle synthesis, which supports weight loss by cultivating lean body mass to innately boost metabolism. Furthermore, protein has shown to be considerably satiating, thus lowering the risk of overeating and controlling caloric intake.
Whereas protein recommendations vary based on the actual muscle mass percentage and activity levels, the dietary reference intake (DRI) for the average sedentary man is 56 grams of protein daily or 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. They are also advised to space out protein needs across the day, as muscles are essentially only capable of absorbing an approximate 30 grams of protein during each meal.
Include lean and plant-based sources, including chicken, fish, beans, lentils, tempeh, and tofu, to ensure adequate protein whilst controlling calorie and fat intake.
Healthy Fat Sources
Fat tends to become the "bad guy" when it comes to weight loss, though falling victim to such a myth can impede on weight loss success.
While reducing fat can offer value towards overall health, swapping out trans and saturated fats with more healthful options has shown can assist in weight loss goals and lower the risk of heart disease and other health conditions.
Healthy fat sources include unsaturated fats, including well-recognized omega-3 fatty acids, which are sourced from avocados, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and olive oil.
Weight Loss Tips for Men in their 20s
The grocery store is essentially where weight loss originates. Healthily navigate through the grocery store with these tips:
• Make A Grocery List
Making a grocery list helps shoppers stay on tasks and flows grocery store run more efficiently, along with lowering the risk of grabbing unpredicted items and spending more money than anticipated. Researching store ads prior and basing meals on sales items can also keep your wallet fuller.
• Shop the Perimeter
As a general rule, shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The entrance and border tends to house colorful produce, meats, milk and dairy products, and other fresh products.
• Take Advantage of Labels
Whereas the aisles and boxed products can also offer nutritious items, it is important to take advantage of the Nutrition Facts and Ingredients labels. Stay weary of added sugar, sodium, and oils and when in doubt, steer clear of products with more than five ingredients.
• Go After the Gym
Go to the store after gym, particularly while motivation level gearing for fitness is at its peak!
• Don't Go Hungry
Try to avoid grocery store runs on an empty stomach, as going shopping while hungry can result to fuller cart of items you did not necessarily intend to purchase. If grocery shopping leading up to mealtime, consume Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit, or a cheese stick to keep hunger levels at bay.
Practice Meal Prepping and Healthy Cooking
Now that grocery shopping is tackled, prepare nourishing meals in the kitchen.
• Pick A Day of the Week
Devoting a day to tackle the grocery store and meal prep helps ensure meals are ready to go for you the rest of the week!
• Measure Out Ingredients
Especially if new to understanding appropriate portion sizes, measure out ingredients to keep portions moderated.
• Balance the Meal Plate
To keep calories moderated and nutrients maximized, balance the meal plate by filling half the plate with non-starchy veggies, a quarter with a lean protein, and the other quarter with a whole grain or fruit. Also complement with a healthy fat source, including olive oil.
• Make Smart and Healthy Swaps
Though weight loss takes high effort, staying smart with food choices assists in an easier path. And no, that does not translate to a chicken breast and broccoli for each meal! Take action with these healthy food substitutions for weight loss, including going from white to wheat and swapping quinoa for rice.
• Experiment in the Kitchen
Cooking does not have to be, nor should be, boring! Have fun experimenting with and exploring new ingredients, recipes, and cooking methods.
• Healthy Eating Simplified
Want to skip the grocery store and the meal prep? Try bistroMD, a prepared meal delivery service crafted for men that is scientifically proven to help you lose or maintain a healthy weight. With flexible men's programs and over 150 meals and snacks to choose from, this program takes all the hard work out of eating and following a healthy diet!
Eat with Intent
Along with the actual gathering of ingredients and prepping of the meal, these tips can also support not only weight loss, but a healthy relationship to food:
• Eat based on hunger cues and stop when full.
• Take at least 20 minutes to enjoy a meal.
• Sit at a designated eating spot, free of electronics and other distractions.
• Drink water before and with meals.
Though there is some evidence supporting drinking moderated amounts of alcohol grants health benefits, the key word moderation cannot be emphasized enough.
Ultimately, men are encouraged to consume no more than two drinks per day (one drink equals one 12-ounce beer, one four-ounce glass of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits). Going beyond the recommendation can be detrimental to health and increase the risk of weight gain, liver failure, and other health consequences.
But beyond alcohol considerations, men should also be mindful of consuming sugary beverages and other soft drinks that essentially nothing more than empty calories. The adequate intake (AI) for men is 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluid each day chiefly coming from water.
Increase fluid and water intake by:
• Experimenting with refreshing flavors, including watermelon mint, orange ginger, and cinnamon apple.
• Consuming water-rich fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, oranges, and cucumber.
• Keeping a water bottle handy and in accessible areas.
• Making it a personal challenge.
Increase Physical Activity
Diet is only part of the equation, as true weight loss and overall health also results from an active body.
Men should participate in at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week, along with making weight training a regular part of a workout regimen. The combination of the two not only sheds weight, but helps support lean muscle mass and a healthy metabolism.
But beyond structured cardio and weight training sessions, there are small, active methods that can help develop large results. Men can increase physical activity in their day by:
• Pushing a lawn mower to cut the grass.
• Washing the car in the driveway rather than an automatic washer.
• Taking the dog on a walk.
• Biking with family after dinner.
• Taking the steps over the elevator.
While women are perceived as the ones with greatest emotion, men also face daily stress and are encouraged to manage it. Allowing stress to build can deter overall health and increase the risk of weight gain, depression, anxiety, and heart disease.
That being said, a momentous healthy living tips for men stresses the importance of managing it. Relieve stress by:
• Hitting the gym.
• Separating work from home.
• Taking time off from work.
• Getting out in nature.
• Playing with your pet.
• Writing out stressors on paper.
• Disconnecting from social media.
• Practicing deep breathing and mediation.
• Listening and dancing to music.
• Getting a massage.
• Confiding in others.
The importance of catching those nightly Zzz's should not slept on, as going without it increases the risk of weight gain, depression, and numerous chronic diseases.
The National Sleep Foundation encourages adult men (and women) to sleep between seven to nine hours on a nightly basis. But if struggling to fall asleep and counting those sheep is not putting you into a slumber, try:
• Creating a healthy bedtime routine.
• Fighting off the blue lights from electronics.
• Reducing caffeine intake in the afternoon hours.
• Practicing relaxation techniques, including the ones identified above.
• Turning the temperature between 60° to 67°F.