Do you want to shed fat and gain muscle but don't know where to start? You're not alone. Most men find themselves out of shape and unhappy with their bodies, but don't have a clue on where to begin to start to transform their bodies.
What most people need is structure -- a set plan that will allow them to spend less time thinking and more time doing. The issue with so much fitness advice today is that it uses cookie-cutter information; the same advice is applied to everyone, not taking into account lifestyle or personal preference. If you think that working out alone can change your body for the better, think again.
Working out is only half of the battle. If you want to sculpt a body that looks and feels great, you need to supply yourself with the type of fuel that allows your muscles to heal themselves properly, and also avoid gaining excess fat. One of the biggest misconceptions about health is that it requires you to live some sort of ascetic lifestyle. This couldn't be further from the truth.
In fact, many of the diets listed here allow for plenty of treats and cheat days. If any diet is to be sustainable in the long term, it needs to be something that you can enjoy for the rest of your life. The goal isn't to adopt a fad diet, stick to it for a month or two, and immediately gain all of your weight back. Rather, you want to adopt a plan for your eating habits that will be sustainable in the long term.
The best way to do this is to pick a plan that is enjoyable and realistic for your lifestyle, and don't be afraid to bend the rules every once in a while. After all, the goal isn't perfectionism; the goal is to develop a consistent pattern of self-care through consistently good choices. With that in mind, below are some of the best diets available for men today, along with a handful of tips to help you on your journey to lose weight and gain muscle.
What Is the Best Diet For Men?
There are a myriad of diet options available; the best one is the one that you can stick to long-term, which might mean mixing several diet plans or adopting strategies from some to best suit your needs. You might not want to focus on a specific diet, but rather learn from the diets below and adopt your own plan based on what you find.
The general takeaway that you can glean from all of these options is that focusing on whole, natural, unprocessed foods seems to be a safe bet. Removing sugar and and drinking plenty of water is also a good idea.
1. The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is less of a diet and more of a lifestyle. There isn't one set list of foods you can eat, but rather a general guideline for the foods that you should eat. Because of this, most people find this diet extremely easy and enjoyable to follow.
The Mediterranean diet consists of foods like fish, nuts, veggies, and fruits. It also includes whole grains and seeds. The Mediterranean diet is great because it includes plenty of healthy fats (which are crucial for brain and heart health) and it allows for much variety. Because it is so popular, there are plenty of resources online like recipe books and lifestyle guides.
The Mediterranean diet also includes a moderate amount of wine, (or any other drink you prefer - we choose wine because it's so popular in the Mediterranean region) which many diets do not include.
2. The Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian Diet is exactly what is sounds like -- a vegetarian lifestyle that allows for meats every once in a while. It's no secret that the plant-based lifestyle has grown in popularity over the years, and for good reason -- it's a great way to add a huge variety of nutrient-dense foods into your diet consistently.
Plant-based foods are generally more nutrient-dense in terms of micronutrients than animal foods. The great thing about the flexitarian diet is that it doesn't require you to make a drastic decision like give up meat the rest of your life; rather, it just means prioritizing plant based foods over animal protein.
Adopting a flexitarian diet can help you to discover just how delicious plant-based foods are, in addition to adding much-needed variety to your diet.
3. The MIND Diet
The MIND diet is a hybrid of two popular diets -- DASH and Mediterranean. The MIND diet focuses on brain health over any other aspect of health, and may be a great option if you are concerned with preventing neurodegenerative diseases. Eating the foods described in the MIND diet can significantly decrease your risk of developing diseases related to the mind.
The MIND diet requires you to eat around three servings of whole grains per day, a salad, and at least one other vegetable. Make sure to use plenty of olive oil, and to eat fish at least once a week (salmon is great for its high omega-3 content.) Prioritize fruits like berries (blueberries are best.) Snack on nuts for protein and health fats as well.
The MIND diet should likely only be used if you want to prioritize brain health; otherwise, you have better options.
4. The Nordic Diet
The Nordic Diet follows the diet regimen of a typical Scandinavian. Much like the Mediterranean diet, this diet is not so much about a particular list of foods and calorie counting as it is a sustainable lifestyle based on a particularly healthy people group.
The Nordic Diet is also tied to lifestyle changes; it emphasizes relaxed, uncrushed meals with with friends and family. It emphasizes the social and pleasurable aspects of taking time and intentionality to cook, prepare, and serve a meal with your loved ones. It also emphasizes using locally sourced, seasonal foods. Often the best way to accomplish this is to utilize local farmer's markets.
While the Nordic Diet may seem like it requires eating foods found in the Nordic Region, it really means selecting natural, whole foods that are indigenous to your region.
5. The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet (as its name might suggest) emphasizes foods that reduce inflammation in the body. Why? Well, because chronic inflammation is one of the main causes for illness of any kind in the body.
The Anti-Inflammatory diet is based loosely upon the Mediterranean diet, and as such, emphasizes plenty of fat-rich fish and whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains. Fats from sources like avocados and olive oil are also recommended. Aim to include a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables; the more color, the better.
It's also important to eat plenty of greens like spinach and kale. The ant-inflammatory diet is also a highly diverse diet; the only things that you really need to avoid are processed sugar (and most processed foods.) This diet allows you to focus on the good things to add instead of the bad thins to take away.
6. The Paleo Diet
If you've been around the health and fitness world at all in the past 5 years, you've likely heard of the paleo diet. This diet has grown in popularity a ton over recent years, due partially to its connection with CrossFit.
The Paleo diet emphasizes the consumption of meats, veggies, and fruits, and includes almost no grains (especially not wheat.) It also restricts pretty much anything processed, which isn't the worst idea. Refined sugar and legumes are also off the table.
The Paleo Diet can be healthy, as long as you are genuinely able to make it sustainable. The issue most people have with this particular diet is that it is too restrictive, and cuts out entire food groups. If you love meat and veggies and don't mind cutting out grains, the Paleo Diet could be a great option for you.
Keto has grown massively in popularity over the past few years. Proponents claim that it is the absolute best way to lose fat efficiently (which is not necessarily true.)
Keto is essentially focusing on fats and protein in your diet and removing carbs almost entirely, except for fiber-rich vegetables. Breads and sugars of any kind are not allowed.
The Keto diet gets its name from a state of the body known as "ketosis", in which the body uses its energy to break down stored fats for energy. The primary issue with this diet is that it eliminates carbs almost entirely, which many claim is unnecessary to lose weight. Its removal of carbs may mean that it is hard to sustain in the long term.
8. The Whole30
The Whole30 is less of a diet and more of a dietary reset. It is less restrictive than the Keto or Paleo diets, especially as it isn't meant to be a lifestyle, but rather a diagnostic tool to help you change your overall relationship with food. Participants take 30 days and only eat whole foods like fruits, veggies, and meats; wheat (and most grains) along with anything processed or refined is not allowed.
Common sources of food allergens are also restricted. The goal here is to help you remove yourself from foods that may be causing inflammation or allergic reactions in the body and to gain a newfound appreciation for whole, natural foods. Once the 30 days are up, you take into account what you liked and what you didn't like or found unnecessary, and structure your diet on your own from there.
9. Vegan Diet
Veganism is super popular today. Going vegan basically means consuming only plant-based foods -- no animal products whatsoever are allowed.
Veganism is meant to be a long-term lifestyle choice, although many choose to treat it in a manner similar to flexitarian diet -- focusing on mostly plant-base foods, with some "cheating" allowed. Going vegan can be restrictive, and protein is always a major concern.
In addition, without supplementation, plant-based protein sources generally don't contain all of the amino acids required to make a whole protein, which can mean that your body is unable to process and utilize the portion you eat effectively.
10. Intermittent Fasting
This popular choice is more of an approach to structuring your diet, rather than a standalone diet. The basic premise requires a partial fast, typically at the start of the day. You have 16 hours in which you must not eat at all, although water (of course) and black coffee or plain tea are allowed, so long as your total calories stay at or under 50.
Once your 16 hour fast period is over, there are 8 hours in the day in which you can eat. For instance, if you stopped eating at 10 PM, you would wait until 2 PM the next day to begin eating. Proponents of intermittent fasting are many; the diet seems to have many long-term health benefits, and there are no specific food restrictions, meaning you can structure the food you eat however you like.
Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting can accelerate your body's rate of phagocytosis, which is one of your body's mechanisms of removing toxins and harmful things in the body.
It also has the potential to boost growth hormone, which is essential for burning fat and gaining muscle. Intermittent fasting is worth a try; you don't have to stick to a strict 16 hour window, either. A great way to start is to simply skip your regular breakfast and wait until you would generally eat lunch to begin eating.
What Do the Best Diets Have in Common?
As you might be able to tell from the list, there are some common similarities that you can see in the most popular diets. Let's explore what those are.
The best diet is one that you can stick to for a long time. The more practical hurdles that stand in your way, the less likely you are to stick to something. Practicality is the best way to ensure that your diet is enjoyable and sustainable in the long term.
If it doesn't require exotic ingredients or hyper-specific ways of preparation, the diet will probably be much easier to follow than one that requires you to chew all of your food 50 times or to only use specific types of cookware.
2. They Don't Allow Sugar
Most nutritionists in the past 20 or 30 years thought that fat was the leading cause of fat gain. This seems like common sense. However, most nutritionists today recognize that fat doesn't make you fat -- sugar does. Sugar is mostly responsible for insulin spikes in the body and high fat gain.
If you want to get rid of fat, get rid of sugar. Healthy fats like avocados, oils, and fats from fish won't harm you when eaten in a normal amount.
3. They Emphasize Adding Good Things
Adding nutrient dense foods in your diet doesn't leave room for junk. If you focus on adding a wide variety of whole, natural, nutrient dense foods that you enjoy into your daily routine, you won't be tempted to take their place with sugar-laden processed foods.
The mental game is huge here too -- if you only focus on what you can't have, you are far more likely to be bummed out about all of the things you think you are missing out on. However, focusing on adding good things to your diet helps to make healthy eating sustainable and enjoyable.
What Should Men Eat?
While there are plenty of diets out there, it might be helpful to explore what men should and shouldn't eat for optimal health. Below is a list of common foods that you might be missing in your diet that can do wonders for improving your health and protecting against disease.
Oysters contain a ton of zinc -- more so than pretty much any other food. Zinc helps to protect against prostate issues and fertility failures. The body doesn't produce zinc on its own, so it's important to make sure that you consume it in your food.
2. Wild-Caught Salmon
Salmon has tons of omega-3's, is a phenomenal protein source, and contains plenty of vitamin D. All of these factors mean that salmon is a great protein option for gaining muscle and burning fat.
Walnuts contain omega-3 acids and antioxidants, along with being a great protein source. Walnuts are a great food for supporting cognitive health. Their omega-3 content means that they are also adept at fighting inflammation.
Coffee can help reduce your risk of erectile dysfunction, along with containing plenty of antioxidants. Once thought to be unhealthy, many researchers are suggesting that black coffee consumed in moderation can be greatly beneficial to your health.
Spinach contains iron, which is important for muscle health and development, as well as magnesium. Magnesium can help increase blood flow by reducing acute inflammation in the body. Spinach can be eaten raw in salads or sautéed with other veggies and meats.
6. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are a great source of protein and contain plenty of healthy fats which support heart health. The great thing about flax seeds is that they are versatile; they can be aded to smoothies and oatmeal, and are relatively harmless in terms of flavor. You can buy flax seeds whole or in powdered form for easy additions to recipes.
Ginger contains compounds which can help ward off and fight cancer. It's also delicious and can add a ton of much-needed flavor to dishes. Ginger can be added to smoothies or used in a variety of popular Asian dishes.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (or ACV) can help with a myriad of digestive issues as well as help your body's response to insulin. Some studies suggest that it is particularly effective keeping you lean. Take one to two tablespoons of it mixed with water, and make sure that you don't let it sit on your teeth for too long.
Quinoa is a great alternative to rice, mostly for its protein content: One cup has about 8 grams of protein. Pair it with salmon and broccoli for a muscle-building, nutrient dense meal.
10. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain about 6 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons, and have plenty of the all-important omega-3 fatty acids that are crucial to fighting inflammation.
In addition, they swell up when they come in contact with liquid and form a sort of pudding, meaning they are extremely versatile in cooking and can help you feel fuller for longer. Chia seeds can be added to smoothies or oatmeal.
Final Verdict: Diets For Men
Overall, there are plenty of things to consider when trying to burn fat and gain muscle, but the most important thing to remember is to consume a variety of foods that are nutrient-dense and are easy and enjoyable for you to eat.
When combined with the right workout routine, following the guidelines in this article can help you take the first step to a healthier and stronger body.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
The Diet Fitness King Team is a team of 6 people lead by the founder Greg Davis. We have all different levels of experiences and credentials in the health field and our goal is to provide people the highest quality information available. Everything we put out is well researched and we have a lot of passion and pride behind this! Please let us know if you find any incorrect information on our website or feel free to contact us with feedback in general.