Men and women approach their bodies, healthy eating and weight loss differently. Women tend to be more emotional about their weight loss journey and men are looking for a quick, simple way to get the results they want.
Often a man’s approach is a discreet decision and something men feel like they need to deal with themselves, says our resident weight loss expert Liz Josefsberg. Liz helped Charles Barkley lose weight with Weight Watchers and helped Weight Watchers develop the Weight Watchers Online for Men product.
“Resolving to lose weight and eat better is something men want to handle very personally and privately,” Liz says. Here are her tips on how to get started with weight loss, following a healthy eating plan and be successful without depriving yourself.
1. Use your resources.
Getting started can be overwhelming and difficult. You might find the motivation to get started after hearing about weight loss success stories, reading transformation stories on a men’s health website, or by seeing a friend or family member’s progress. It’s easy to get confused and frustrated by the myriad of weight loss information out there—much of it seemingly conflicting at that. Consider starting with a two-week or four-week meal plan to help kick-start your efforts. There are some downloadable plans on Men’s Fitness that will take the thinking and calculating out of meal planning.
2. Get the food figured out before you try to work your gut off.
“I often find that men are quick to hit the gym when they want to lose weight; and food seems to be the second thing they think about,” says Liz. While it’s a great decision to ramp up your exercise efforts and build more fat-torching lean muscle, Liz says men could enhance their weight loss by focusing on nutrition so they’ll see a better payoff in the gym. The more fat you shed, the more likely you’ll be able to see those muscles you’re working hard on.
3. Work from your playbook.
When working with Barkley, Liz knew it was important to give him a game plan so he could be successful. “Many of us eat a lot of the same foods day in and day out, so use your resources to plan meals,” she says. Choose five go-to healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks that you know you can rely on either at home or on the road. While you’re likely not a 6’5’ 250-pound retired pro basketball player, you can steal some of the types of breakfasts Liz told Barkley to keep in mind that he could find anywhere. Have an omelet with veggies and a yogurt, two eggs and three slices of bacon, or oatmeal with nut butter and fruit. These are breakfasts you can rely on and easily find whether you’re at home, on the road, in an airport, or a hotel. These high-protein meals contain some fat which will keep you satisfied for longer.
4. Remember KISS.
Relax, we’re not calling you stupid, but remember to keep it simple when starting a healthy eating plan. If you know you don’t have or won’t make the time to prep nutritious foods for the week, shop the prepped basics at your supermarket. Pick up a cooked rotisserie chicken, use the salad bar to grab veggies and already cooked foods, buy microwave-ready frozen chopped vegetables you can cook in minutes. Shop the perimeter of the supermarket for the freshest foods you can find. If you hate veggies, prepare them in ways that will get you to eat them. Bake sweet potatoes and top them with grass-fed butter, steam broccoli and add 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar, toss spinach leaves or kale into fruit smoothies (you won’t taste them), or drizzle olive oil on Brussels sprouts and roast them (we promise, they’ll taste better than the version you had as a kid). If you’re feeling more confident in the kitchen, try our Meatball Recipe.
5. Add flavor to meals with your favorite foods.
While you should build your healthy meals around veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, you can make meals and snacks more palatable and enjoyable by sprinkling in high-fat favorites. Bacon is not a four-letter word anymore,” says Liz. While she isn’t calling bacon a health food, she (and research) have found that meals containing fat will keep you fuller for longer than those that don’t and may even aid in fat loss. Make sure your food shopping list contains olive oils, raw nuts (unsalted), beans, red meat (those with “loin” or “round” are the leanest), jerky, avocados, low-fat or full-fat cheeses, and beans. To get an idea of what a healthy plate should look like, check out ChooseMyPlate.gov.
6. Navigate the bar menu with ease.
You can lose weight and enjoy your nights out at the bar with friends without having to be the dude who orders a salad when everyone else is digging into wings. Order a bacon cheeseburger and ditch the bun, suggests Liz. Have a few wings and balance it with a lighter chicken dish for dinner. Skip the beer pitcher deals and spend more money enjoying a better quality beer or two. Keeping portions in check is the most important trick when dining out. If you order your own pints and your own dishes off the menu, you’ll be more successful at portion control.
7. Become a snacker.
You may have been the guy who guzzled a grande coffee for breakfast, then ordered lunch out and had dinner at a restaurant with friends or clients, or ordered in at home because you didn’t feel like cooking. Since you’re revamping all of those habits after reading this guide, you might find that you have better weight loss success by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. Portion control is one of the biggest challenges Liz has seen her male clients face. Eating smaller portions and more often can help keep your metabolism and energy levels amped up throughout the day. Convenience snacks to keep on hand or be on the lookout for include: jerky, unsalted nuts, hummus and veggie packs, peanut butter snack packs, pre-portioned cheese sticks, high-quality deli meats and flavorful cheeses, or dry roasted edamame.
8. Drink more water.
You knew we were going to say this. But replacing high-calorie beverages with zero-calorie water will not only help you effortlessly lose weight, it might help you eat less, identify the difference between thirst and hunger, and allow you to perform better during your workout. Consider flavoring your water with these low-calorie options, drinking more seltzer or decaf teas throughout the day.
One of the most important success tips to help you stick to your healthy eating plan? Liz says to plan for indulgences. Plan at least one indulgent meal a week. Look ahead at your week and the times you’re going to eat out and decide that you’ll allow yourself one splurge meal and order whatever you want. “This will keep you from going crazy while trying to stick to your healthy eating plan all the time,” says Liz.