June is Men’s Health Month, and MyFitnessPal is here to encourage men everywhere to start Eating for Next-Level Fitness. In May, we conducted a consumer survey on the state of men’s health in America. The results showed the top health concerns of men today are mental health, energy, strength, and performance.
We partnered with Brett Singer, a registered sports dietitian with Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute, to offer helpful ways you can eat to achieve optimal health, fitness, and athletic performance. So start here, come back for more, and follow our social channels and community forum all month long to join the conversation!
We all need food for our bodies to function, but you can adjust what you eat in order to achieve your goals. These 6 simple tips were developed to help you reach your max health.
Identify one or two areas you’d like to work on, and start with those. If your goal is to improve on your habits, it doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul. Take note of what your diet looks like currently, and see if there are any specific opportunities for improvement in line with the goals you have for yourself. Start with small changes, and see what a difference that can make with consistency.
For early morning workouts, or after a tiring day of work, it’s not uncommon for men to turn to coffee, energy drinks, or a caffeine-containing pre-workout supplement. Caffeine has been linked to improved endurance, strength, power, muscular endurance, and more. But you may not need as much as you think. Relatively low doses of only 2 to 3 milligrams of caffeine per 1 kilogram of body weight can be used for a performance benefit. This is an amount you would likely find in 1 to 2 cups of coffee. Doses beyond this are unlikely to provide any further benefit, and may even hinder performance.
Leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, lettuce, as well as other vegetables, such as beets, have been linked to reduced blood pressure. This is in part, due to their nitrate content, which is eventually reduced to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, allowing blood to flow more easily through the vessels so the heart doesn’t have to pump as hard. In addition to reduced blood pressure, nitrate-rich foods have been linked to improved performance in high intensity exercise. Set a goal to add an extra serving of nitrate-rich leafy greens to your diet each day.
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid found within salmon, herring, sardines, and other fish, as well as some plant-based sources. Both in adults, and within collegiate athlete settings, the omega-3 index—a marker of omega-3 status—has indicated most individuals are not meeting the ideal intake of omega-3s. Omega-3 has been linked to many potential health benefits, as well as recovery within athletes. Omega-3 may also aid in preservation of muscle mass during times of injury. Aim to consume at least 2 servings of omega-3 rich fish each week, or consider omega-3 supplementation.
Dividing your protein intake across several meals throughout the day is likely more impactful for health and muscle growth in comparison to consuming all of your protein within one meal. Protein should likely be split up into doses of .25 to .4 grams protein / 1 kilogram body weight. For many athletes, this means consuming somewhere between 20 to 40 grams of protein in each meal, though more is necessary for larger athletes. If we use the same example as above, a 165-pound athlete might benefit from consuming 30 grams of protein for their three main meals, plus an additional 30 grams of protein for each of their two snacks. This would help reach the top-end goal of 150 grams of protein for the day.
While guys may seek out the latest and greatest supplements on the shelves, creatine monohydrate remains one of the most well-researched and effective supplements available. Creatine is commonly found in meat as well as produced within the body, however at lower amounts relative to what is found in a creatine-monohydrate supplement. Supplementing with creatine has been linked to improved strength, muscle mass, power, sprint performance, recovery between high intensity exercise bouts, and more. Supplementation protocols typically call for a loading phase of 5 grams, 4 times daily, followed by daily supplementation of 3 to 5 grams.
Want more tips on Eating for Next-Level Fitness? Stay tuned for 6 more tips coming on June 15.
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