Dieting can be difficult and confusing for both men and women. Not only do you have to stick to a rigorous eating schedule, but you must also fine-tune your daily intake of calories and nutrition. This frequently means denying yourself the foods you crave most. What exactly are you supposed to do?
Thankfully, dieting doesn’t have to be torture. The most effective diets are those which you can maintain throughout your entire life—in fact, the word “diet” comes from the Greek word “diaita,” which roughly translates to “way of life.” On this note, it’s possible to stick to a diet while still eating the foods you love most.
For men, particularly those trying to lose weight at an accelerated pace, there are a few extra points worth considering. The male body has an exceptionally high protein requirement, which is even higher for those wanting to preserve or gain muscle mass through their diet.
With so many different diets for men to choose from, however, finding the right one for you can be a challenge. To help you out, we’ve compiled this short guide highlighting the essential parts of any diet, as well as some of our favorite popular diets for men.
What to Look For in the Best Diets for Men
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While there are many diets for men to choose from, the best of them tend to share some common factors. The most important of these factors include the following.
Maintaining a Calorie Deficit
Difficult as though it may be, losing weight comes down to simple math: calories in versus calories out. Your body burns a certain number of calories every day for maintenance while you take in a certain number of calories through eating and drinking. To lose weight, you must maintain a calorie deficit—or, in other words, you must eat fewer calories than your body burns.
The best diets will always highlight a calorie deficit. Be wary of diets promising weight loss through fad exercises, hyper-specific meal plans or “point” systems. If a diet isn’t recognizing the importance of calories, then it’s probably not worth adopting.
On this note, it’s also important to recognize that exercise takes a backseat to nutrition when it comes to dieting. Exercise can help burn extra calories, but if your diet isn’t on par, then you won’t lose much weight. In other words, you can’t outrun your fork!
Your body’s nutritional requirements are based on three essential macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates. Regardless of the “no-fat” or “no-carb” diets out there, your body needs all of them to survive!
Of the three macronutrients, however, protein is arguably the most important. Among other things, your body requires protein to build and repair muscles. Also, protein keeps you fuller for longer, making it ideal diet food.
While protein requirements will vary based on your age and dieting goals, the average person requires a daily intake of about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you’re trying to build muscle during your diet, you may want to consume extra protein to help your body repair and build new muscles.
Lean Whole Foods
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In general, the most effective diets for men will have you eating lean, whole foods. “Whole” foods are foods which have undergone minimal processing—in other words, any naturally occurring food source. This category includes fruits, vegetables, fish and meats.
When on a diet, it’s often best to select foods with high amounts of protein and minimal carbohydrates. However, provided you maintain a calorie deficit, you can mostly eat anything and still shed pounds.
Realistic Goals and Requirements
Many diets for men like to make promises which simply cannot be kept. For example, it’s impossible (or, at most, extremely unhealthy) to lose ten pounds in a week. Whichever diet you choose, make sure it outlines reasonable, long-term goals and expectations. You can generally expect to lose between half a pound or two pounds per week on an effective diet.
As an extension of this, avoid diets which make wild promises. If anyone promises that you can lose an absurd amount of weight per week or become muscle-bound overnight with “this one weird trick,” then they probably care more about your wallet than your wellbeing.
Our Favorite Diets for Men
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Any realistic diet following the guidelines above will likely be successful, but there are a few specific, popular diets for men worth highlighting. These are only a few, of course, and there is no one best diet for men, but they are all very popular and very effective.
Intermittent fasting requires eating for only a specific “block” of time during the day. This not only helps you keep your calories in check but also takes advantage of your body’s fat-burning abilities. By skipping breakfast, for example, your body is forced to burn its own fat instead of what it would typically derive from food.
The most common and approachable type of intermittent fasting is “16:8,” meaning that you eat for eight hours of the day and fast for the remaining 16. For example, you might choose to start eating at noon and stop at eight. During this time, you can eat whatever you want as long as the quantity puts you in a calorie deficit.
Keto is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that is extremely popular among dieters. By largely replacing your normal carbohydrate intake with fat, you force your body into ketosis, a state where it begins to burn its own fat.
Many dieters like keto since it allows them to enjoy fatty foods such as bacon. Again, it will require you to stay within a calorie deficit, but the process can be gratifying with keto!
There are plenty of diets for men out there, but provided you maintain a balanced deficit and get the right nutrients (particularly protein), you’re bound to lose weight. If you’re also planning to pack on muscle in conjunction with an exercise routine, be sure to take in a little more protein as your age and fitness level allow. Also, remember that exercise, while important, is not a cure-all—nutrition is most of your diet.
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