Losing weight usually isn't easy (or fun) for anyone. But for men trying to lose weight, they may face different challenges and circumstances than women.
"The issue every person faces most is they eat too many calories," says Mike Gorski, RD, registered dietitian and owner of MG FitLife. "For men, it's usually a combination of just not knowing what's in their food calorie-wise, not being able to eat like they used to, and not 'having the time' to cook or train. Most guys, myself included, tend to be very black or white, all or nothing thinkers. This can be a positive trait, but also a curse when the 'all' is unrealistic and that leads us to doing nothing."
And it's not making any diet or lifestyle adjustments that can be the crux.
"We aren't getting any younger, so our metabolism is slowing down, and our eating habits haven't adjusted for our metabolism," says Angel Planells, MS, RDN, Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. "So many men eat like active teenagers when they live a sedentary lifestyle. It won't make a difference today, but definitely can add up after months and years of potentially over-eating."
Men also simply don't like to chalk up to the need to lose weight when it comes to data collection.
"According to a study in 2016, one of the biggest issues men face in weight loss is the fact that men are not likely to report that they are trying to lose weight or in a weight loss program," says Jonathan Valdez, RDN, CDN, ACE-CPT, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Genki Nutrition.
Keeping these things in mind, it is possible for men to successfully lose weight. Here are 14 tips to help you jumpstart your weight loss journey. Combine these tips with the 11 Foods Men Should Eat Every Day, and you'll see results in no time.
Drink enough water.
"'Hydrate or Diedrate.' This is a motto I use." says Tony Castillo MS, RD, LDN, performance dietitian, and owner of Nutrition For Performance. "Most men believe they are hydrating enough because they have a few cups of water a day. However, it has been shown that performance can drop by 7-10% by even being slightly dehydrated, and reduced performance means less effort in the gym."
According to Castillo, a good rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day.
Thirst can also be confused for hunger. "The thirst mechanism is located in the same area as hunger. So when we feel a rumble in our stomachs, it could actually just mean we're thirsty, but guys may grab a snack instead of having water throughout the day," says Castillo. If you're not sure whether you're drinking enough water, see if you show any of the 7 Side Effects of Not Drinking Enough Water.
Create awareness about what you're eating.
"Track your food, learn about how many calories is in this or that. Don't pick a random calorie goal and shoot for it, but rather find where you are currently at, and then make a change from there," says Gorski.
To find where you're starting at, track yourself for 1 week.
"Many people tend to eat more on the weekends, so track all 7 days, find your 7-day average, and then adjust your goal under that number by 300-400 calories and see what happens," says Gorski.
Be mindful of your beverage calories.
Alcohol, in particular, can quickly add up calories.
"Going to a brewery with your friends can be an enjoyable experience. However, one drink can turn to 3 or 5. Each drink can contain 140-220 calories depending on the type of beer you drink," says Planells. "Multiply that by the number of drinks and we are looking at a lot of calories from beverages. The same applies to wine or liquor."
And the same goes for sugary drinks.
"The other culprit we need to be mindful of are the beverages with added sugar, like that nice refreshing soda. Some restaurants may offer unlimited refills, and what is 150-180 calories can easily become 3-5 cups of soda," says Planells. "The same applies to coffee or juice. Drink one and chase it with a cup of water."
Calculate your BMI.
"One reason men may not attempt to lose weight, or at the least report it, is that they may not perceive themselves as needing to do so," says Valdez. "Though BMI is not a perfect tool, it is a starting point. Most people in an overweight or obese BMI range will see significant benefits from weight loss but it may take a wake up call to kick things into gear. Losing weight shouldn't be for anyone else but you so you can have a longer and better quality of life."
Don't skimp on sleep.
"Most of the guys I work with are busy professionals who don't have time to sleep, and they come to me only sleeping 5-6 hours a night," says Castillo. "It has been shown that when we sleep less, we tend to eat an extra 300-500 calories a day. So just by increasing sleep to 7 hours can help us conquer those late-night cravings."
Struggling with sleep? "A way to get more sleep is by having a bedtime routine which could include reading, meditating, or journaling before bed," says Castillo. "Keep those phones and TVs away because the lights disrupt our body's natural production of melatonin."
Slow down when eating.
"I am guilty of this myself," says Gorski. "When we eat fast, or distracted, we don't realize how much we have eaten until it's too late. There is a delay between our stomach and brain on the signals of fullness." To do this, try putting your fork down between bites, and don't lift it back up until you have chewed your food thoroughly and swallowed.
Be mindful of your fruit and vegetable intake.
"The average American consumes just 1 serving of fruit/vegetable daily. So let's opt to improve our intake by shooting for more than you currently do now," says Planells. "Make it a priority by having it around you and accessible. This could be cutting the fruit in Tupperware containers, making a weight loss smoothie, having some easy veggies with a dip, throwing spinach with your morning eggs. If you habitually get 1 serving of fruit per day, shoot for 2."
Take time to learn to cook.
"Higher consumption of convenience store food may signify a lack of willingness to cook and a need for instant gratification. In this case, it is best to learn a few simple recipes and/or meal prep once a week," says Valdez. "In addition, you can replace snacks and other quick foods with healthier options; such as low-calorie snacks and take out from health food stores rather than typical high-calorie snacks and fast food options."
Always eat breakfast.
"A lot of guys are into fasting because it allows them to skip breakfast and they find it easy on time and just wait until lunch to eat. However, studies have shown that skipping breakfast can actually make you gain weight," says Castillo. "The reason is that we are ignoring our hunger cues, then our body tells us to eat more later. So, when guys skip breakfast, they tend to have heavier dinners and then late-night snacks. All this putting them in a calorie surplus."
Strength train regularly.
"Many guys stop lifting because they think it's bad for their joints, or they don't have time to train like they used to, so they 'can't train at all'. Look, the glory days of 2 hour squat sessions might be over, but that doesn't mean you can't workout at all," says Gorski.
Strength training especially is the fountain of youth, and proper strength training with an expert should not lead to injury or bad joints.
"Too many men are old school in their mindset and think 'cardio = fat loss'. However, cardio and diet alone = skinny, soft and weak," says Gorski. "Strength training with safe, heavy, compound lifts 3-4 days per week, plus a proper diet = jacked, hard, and strong."
Get moving and become more active.
"It's not about trying to look like Jason Momoa or The Rock, but about being the best version of yourself. I know many men who do not like going to the gym. So find some activities that fit your body and lifestyle and make it work," says Planells. "I live in the Pacific Northwest and love to go hiking – there's nothing better than being out in the mountains climbing up to the payoff which is a beautiful viewpoint or waterfall. Or simply go for a walk in the neighborhood or try to run your first 5K."
Get support or have an accountability partner.
"If you have friends trying to lose weight, you should all keep in contact to hold each other accountable! You can share foods and exercise together to keep things exciting," says Valdez. "Exercise classes are a great way to meet other people who may have similar goals to your own as well. And you may even consider having a personal trainer and registered dietitian to keep you accountable."
Get your produce from the freezer or canned goods section.
"Don't be afraid to go for the canned or frozen variety of fruit and veggies," says Planells. "This is an easy way to have something nutritious. And the blessing of living with technology is that you can easily watch a youtube video on how to prepare some vegetables for dinner."
Choose healthier fast food.
"Fast food can be done well if we look at the menu and go for some more healthful items (grilled chicken sandwich vs. fried chicken sandwich, or choosing a side salad vs French fries)," says Planells. "Many restaurants do offer some healthful options. But if you do want to opt for the burger and fries, then choose the kids meal or the smallest size available." If you don't want to eat a mini meal, you can try any of these #1 Healthiest Menu Option at 80 Popular Restaurants.