Most Frequently Asked Nutrition Questions From Men
1. Why cut out the booze?
You don't have to cut it out completely, but if you fancy a beer (or seven) it can be a wakeup call to realise just how many calories you are putting away.
A pint of Fosters has 193 calories for example and in a pint of Strongbow there's 239 calories. Half a bottle of red wine has 255 calories, and let's be honest there are probably plenty of times you may not stop at half...
It is recommended that men do not consume over 3 to 4 units of alcohol per day (one pint of beer / one small glass of wine). Alcohol is particularly associated with abdominal weight gain which is associated with higher risk of diabetes and heart attacks.
You can check how many calories and units in your diet are coming from alcohol by using the Nutracheck online food diary which includes an automatic alcohol monitor. For a 5-day free trial of the Nutracheck for Men service, click here.
2. Can you give me a quick guide as to what to look for on a food label?
A lot of supermarkets are now using the "traffic light" system of nutritional labelling which helps make things easier. You'll need to be choosing as many green lights as you can and fewer amber ones. Some red lights are okay, but try to stick to red foods that have intrinsic nutritional value such as nuts and cheese.
Also be sure to check calorie count (labelled as kcal on the pack) and on products that don't have traffic light labelling, use these guidelines from the Food Standards Agency to assess what is a "a lot" or "a little" saturated fat, sugar and salt:
|High is more than 5g saturates per 100g||High is more than 15g sugars per 100g||High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)|
|Low is 1.5g saturates or less per 100g||Low is 5g sugars or less per 100g||Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)|
3. What easy food switches can I make to help me lose weight?
Here are 5 top tips from Angela Dowden, Nutracheck's Nutritionist:
- Instead of sausages and pies have lean meat.
- Swap full fat milk for skimmed or semi-skimmed.
- Always use low fat versions of mayo, or swap to something like salsa or ketchup.
- Ditch the sugary drinks - there's no easy way to cut down on calories (have diet drinks or water instead).
- Spread low fat spread instead of butter of full fat margarine.
4. Why does this system monitor fat intake?
Though calories are ultimately the most important thing when it
comes to losing weight, fat is important too. Fat is the nutrient with
the largest amount of calories per gram yet it is the least filling. So
keeping within your fat intake will automatically help you to lose
weight more successfully.
Also, too much saturated fat (found largely but not exclusively in animal products such as full fat dairy products and meat products) raises cholesterol levels which can increase your risk of a heart attack. So for all sorts of good heath reasons it's worth keeping an eye on your fat intake and keeping it down. Some types of fat are essential however, so don't try to cut it out altogether.
5. I love my food! What is a 'reasonable' portion size?
The most common reason for not losing weight, is not being scrupulous about how you enter foods into your food diary. Portion control is paramount which may mean you weighing your food at least for a while.
Obviously this is most important where a small slip of the knife or the wrong size of spoon can make a big difference. For example don't ever guess how much cheese you are putting in a sandwich (you'll almost always underestimate which can leave you a couple of hundred calories adrift), and watch calories traps like high fat dressings, and sauces where it's so easy to be a heavy handed without realising it. Also breakfast cereals are another food that it's easy to eat twice the recommended serving of - or more!
When weighing isn't possible, you may find it easier to come up with a visual reference system in your head - for example...
- a matchbox size piece of cheese
- a piece of meat the size of a pack of cards
- a potion of pasta or potato that's the volume of your balled fist... and so on.
6. Why is my waist measurement so important, and what guidance can you give me?
Waist measurement is so important because scientists have found that it correlates closely with various aspects of health.
A waist measurement of over 40 inches puts you at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and various other ailments. One below 37 inches is the healthiest, which is what you are aiming for!