by Pam Rand
Are food and nutrition needs different for men vs. women? Yes, and no, any Registered Dietitian Nutritionist would answer the same way. Whether you are a male or female, food and nutrition needs vary considerably from infancy to adulthood due to body mass, activity level, and of course, genetics.
One big difference between men and women is men are born with more muscle mass due to the male hormone, testosterone. Having said that, I’ve arm wrestled many men in my office and won because men (and women for that matter) redistribute muscle to belly fat as time passes, especially if our activity decreases. We can’t eat the same amount we did at 20 years old and expect to maintain the same weight.
Recently, a man told me he had no idea he was overweight until his doctor told him. He had a waist circumference at 40 inches indicating visceral fat, or a high volume of fat in the abdomen area. Research indicates visceral fat poses more risk for developing certain cancers, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. A waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men or 35 inches for non-pregnant women indicates higher risk for these diseases. Understanding where you stand in relation to your health is the first place to start. Check your health status and waist circumference at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing.
Men can typically eat more calories than women across the board. So, how do we lose belly fat? Plants are medicine, and if plentiful in our daily diet, will decrease our risk for developing chronic diseases. Whole grains including whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice, fiber-rich pasta; fruits, vegetables, and unsaturated fats including olive oil, canola oil, avocados, fish; have the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to keep our bodies functioning without disease.
Try a smoothie this smoothie recipe loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber.
1 cup of berries
2 handfuls of leafy greens
6 oz. plain yogurt
Water to thin to your preferred consistency
2/3 cup of any ‘guest’ fruit or vegetable you have available
Blend for at least 2 minutes so everything is mixed.
The fiber from the plants in our diet are digested by our gut bacteria and forms into short chain fatty acids that help immune function and decrease inflammation. Consuming fruit and vegetables in a smoothie is an easy way to meet the recommended 2-2 1/2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables recommended by the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. Remember nothing looks as good as healthy feels.
Pam Rand has over thirty years’ experience as a private practice Registered Dietitian in South County. She is a member of the Rhode Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For more information, visit www.eatrightri.org.