June is Men’s Health month and so we are focusing on ways that men can improve their lives and their fitness.
Nutrition is as important to your fitness goals as exercise. Before starting any nutrition plan, Lisa Jubilee, certified dietitian, and nutritionist as well as co-founder of Living Proof, recommends visiting your doctor for a checkup and requesting blood work. “Generally speaking, I find that my male clients do not go to the doctor as much as women. Women usually see their gynecologist at least yearly and have blood work done,” Lisa said.” The pandemic has probably delayed you from visiting your doctor as regularly as you would have.
Your doctor will be able to advise you on any specific deficiencies or medical concerns before consulting a nutritionist. Lisa starts her nutrition consultations an analysis of her clients' most recent blood work, as well as a 5-7 day food journal review, in order to create a more comprehensive plan and to address any deficiencies.
Many male gym-goers are looking to building muscle so protein intake is critical to the process. Often non-professional athletes tend to overestimate the amount of protein needed in their daily diets. “A good rule of thumb is one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you consume too much protein, your body will actually begin to turn the protein into sugar through a process called gluconeogenesis,” Lisa said. There is a wide range of protein products in the market but Lisa recommends whey protein from grass-fed cows, pasture-raised whole eggs, and wild Alaskan salmon as great sources of protein.
Eggs (specifically the yolk) are not only a great way to get protein but are one of the three main sources of Vitamin D in addition to wild Alaskan salmon and mushrooms. Vitamin D is crucial for the immune system and for controlling weight. Men with low levels of Vitamin D have a higher risk of diabetes. You can also get Vitamin D from sunlight--Lisa recommends that men with lighter skin be exposed without sunscreen for about 15 minutes per day, while darker-skinned men should find approximately 20-25 minutes in the sun. “You may find yourself with more energy during the summer as the weather is nicer. This can be partially attributed to your body getting more Vitamin D from the sun,” Lisa said. If you are low in the Vitamin D, you can also take supplements, which may be particularly helpful during the winter months.
Vegetables are sometimes overlooked as an integral part of building muscle. “I find that my male clients have a bit of a tougher time eating vegetables than my female clients so it is important to seek out greens-- the darker the better,” Lisa said. “Darker greens like kale, collard greens, spinach, and watercress can help give your body valuable co-enzymes that help develop muscle.”
After a tough weight training or HIIT workout, it is crucial to stay hydrated; drink 1 ounce of water per every 2 pounds of body weight or 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water. To help your body recovery, Lisa also recommends increasing your magnesium through nuts like pecans and walnuts or supplements as magnesium aids in muscle recovery. Give yourself ample time to sleep each night to fully leverage the benefits of a good workout as growth hormone is active at night. Men need more sleep than women- Lisa recommends that men get about 8-9 hours each night.