By Barb Besteni, Staff writer
In a television commercial for a popular fast food chain, a father and son sit on the living room couch as the dad prepares to teach his boy an important life -- how to eat a pizza. It's a rite of passage the boy will remember for the rest of his life.
But if he plans to live a long and healthy life, he may want to chow down on a carrot stick or two while bonding with his buddies.
Take a look at the recommendations for what men should be eating for optimal nutrition and to help prevent some of the diseases common to them.
Love Handles May Kill You
Men are generally larger and have a higher muscle to fat ratio than women. As a result, they also have higher protein and calorie requirements.
Extra muscle gives men higher fat-burning abilities. But if high-fat foods are your fuel of choice, over time the belts in your closet will start to shrink.
And so will your arteries.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (.pdf), your expanding waistline increases your risk for heart disease -- the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States -- and a host of other illnesses, including stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
In an effort to curb male bonding through high fat foods, the CDC even provides guidelines for what to eat during a Super Bowl party.
"Eat healthy before you go to the party so you won't be as likely to overindulge," it advises. If you're hosting people for any game, the guidelines suggest that while it's OK to offer the traditional pizza, wings and chips, you should also add some healthy snacks to the menu, including vegetables and carrot sticks.
Too Much Protein?
Because men weigh more than women, they also require more protein.
The recommended daily allowance for protein for the average man is about 52 grams per day. That's roughly the equivalent of about 8 ounces of meat. Protein requirements increase if you're an athlete or are physically active.
Here's the formula for determining your personal protein requirements. For every pound of your ideal body weight, you will need 0.36 grams of protein. The key here is the word ideal. If you're overweight, the extra pounds should not be factored into the equation.
Doctors also caution against eating too much protein since low-carbohydrate/high protein diets may cause kidney problems through a process called ketosis. Ketosis is said to increase insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. Insulin resistance is one of the risk factors for the development of coronary artery disease.
Good For Heart, Bad For Prostate
Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil or omega-3 fatty acids offer health benefits to both men and women. But studies suggest that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a vegetable-based omega-3 found in canola and flaxseed oils, may increase the risk of prostate cancer, the third most common cause of death from cancer in men.
ALA has also been found, however, to be good for the heart. For men with risk factors for heart problems the benefits of ALA may outweigh the risks. But those with risk factors for prostate cancer should get their omega-3 fatty acids from fish and vegetable fats from olive oil, according to the American Cancer Society.
Studies have also linked eating large amounts of red meats or dairy products to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
The Cancer Society says men need to eat five or more servings of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day, limit intake of red meats and dairy products, and maintain an active lifestyle and healthy weight.
Although statistics show that about 80 percent of those suffering from osteoporosis are women, men are not completely immune from the disease.
A high-calcium diet is a woman's primary protection against osteoporosis, but a high consumption of calcium from food or supplements in men -- more than 2,000 mg. per day -- has been linked to an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer.
Studies suggest that about 800 mg. of calcium per day will protect men from osteoporosis without increasing the risk of prostate cancer associated with high calcium consumption. A cup of milk, for example, contains about 315 mg. of calcium.
Although there are some differences when it comes to the dietary needs of men and women, there's one common theme for both sexes, regardless of age, fitness or health: When in doubt, check with your doctor to find what's right for you.