You don’t have to be a total nutrition nerd to know that some numbers are extra important when it comes to your health, weight, and overall wellbeing. I think the scale is overrated, but I do see my clients rock their goals with the help of some hard targets. And in both my experience at Foodtrainers, a private nutrition practice in New York where I customize food plans for clients, I know that men and metrics work very well together. A little challenge and competition never hurts, right?
In general, I am a fan of completely customizing your diet, but I’m going to let you in on a few secrets that can seriously benefit most men. Here are some numbers I’m challenging you to hit on a daily and weekly basis.
Getting hydrated is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do for your energy, your mood, and your weight. I suggest at least 10 glasses a day, but if you want your custom quantity, take your weight in kilograms and divide by 30. That’s about how many ounces you should be drinking a day. (A 90-kilogram man should drink about 3 litres.)
9 or fewer alcoholic drinks for the week
Try to keep your cocktailing and booziness to single digits (9 or fewer) for the week, especially if weight loss is a goal. If that sounds totally unrealistic, at least get a firm count on how much you do typically drink in a typical week, and cut back by a couple. If you drink more than 9 drinks per week, you are getting over 4,000 Kilojoules from alcohol, not to mention the impact booze can have on your food choices and your exercise intensity.
7 hours of sleep per night
Sleep impacts your appetite. Your hunger hormones surge after a sleep-deprived night, according to Penn State research. If you feel like you’re doing everything right, and scale is not budging, or you get cravings in the late afternoon, I can almost guarantee that focusing on your sleep habits for a week will have an impact. At least 7 hours a night is ideal, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
6 ounces protein, 3 times a day
While macro needs are different for everyone, in general, eating a higher protein breakfast (eggs, greek yogurt) and lunch (fish, chicken, turkey, steak) is the best way to maintain energy and avoid crashing late afternoon. Of course I am a fan of having a solid protein serving at dinner, too.
You can’t out-train a crappy diet, but exercise is extremely important for both your body and your brain. The specifics depend on where you’re starting from, but aim to get moving 5 times a week. I suggest at least 2 to 3 cardio workouts and 2 to 3 strength training workouts per week, depending on your goals.
4 fish meals per week
Omega-3s may be good for your body fat percentage, according to Gettysburg College research. So you want to get in omega 3’s in as much as possible; I suggest at least 4 servings a week.
3 hours between meals and snacks
When you eat is almost as important as what you eat. So do your metabolism and your willpower a favor and aim for 3 to 4 hours between meals and snacks to prevent a blood sugar crash and scavenging through the snack drawers.
So often I see people fail in making real diet changes because they focus on what they’re NOT eating. Instead, I want you to focus on eating more of certain things, specifically vegetables. That’s at least 2 cups, 2 times a day of vegetables raw, steamed, sautéed, roasted, grilled, or in soup or salad.
1 good fat per meal
Fat is where it’s at for weight loss, fullness, and for your skin, hair and nails (hey, I can attest that girls do look at these things). So, no fat-free or skim products. Aim for 1 good fat like nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, etc., per meal.
0 artificial sweeteners + soft drinks (diet or otherwise)
Enough said! One trick I use when I find myself wanting to add sweetener to coffee, Greek yogurt, or smoothies: Add a pinch of cinnamon instead.