Men's Health Week: Diet and nutrition

Each day during Men’s Health Week, we’re posting articles to raise awareness of common health issues for men. Today: diet and nutrition.

Men and women share most of their DNA.

However, there are some differences in what makes a diet healthier. Men should have around 2,500 calories a day. Recommendations for nutrients are a guideline, not a target because everyone is individual and will vary in size and activity levels. As a guide, the dietary reference values (DRVs) per day for an average adult man are approximately:

  • Energy: Around 2500kcal

  • Fat: No more than 97g

  • Saturated fat: No more than 31g

  • Carbohydrate: At least 333g

  • Free sugars: No more than 33g

  • Fibre: 30g

  • Salt: No more than 6g

Fruit & Vegetables: Only around one in three UK men meet the 5 A DAY advice! The recommendation to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg per day (equivalent to 400g) is based on advice from the World Health Organisation to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers. A good way to ensure you get your 5 A DAY (if you don’t use fruits as snacks) is to have one portion with breakfast, two with lunch and two with dinner.

Saturated fat: Some fat is essential in a healthy balanced diet, but many of us are overeating saturated fat, the kind of fat found in butter and lard, pies, cakes and biscuits, fatty cuts of meat, sausages, bacon, cheese and cream. UK health guidelines recommend that saturated fat should not contribute more than 10% of our total energy. Yet, in adult men, saturated fats provide, on average, just over 12%, so cutting down on these foods may reduce your intake of saturated fat. You can find out how food labels can help you look at how much saturated fat is in the foods you buy.

Salt: The average intake of salt in adult men per day is 9.2g, higher than the maximum recommendation of 6g per day and higher than women, who have an average intake of 7.6g a day, so try to reduce the amount of salt in your diet and not add salt to your food during cooking or at the table. Overeating salt can increase your risk of high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and vascular dementia.

Healthy eating support: Food and diet advice on the NHS website includes:

  • Eight tips for healthy eating

  • A balanced diet

  • Food labelling

  • Weight loss advice