In the United States, an alarming 71 percent of men are overweight or obese, per data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The good news is men may find it easier to lose weight than women.
“Men have more muscle mass than women and because of this, they expend more calories each day,” says James O. Hill, PhD, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Nutrition Obesity Research Center and co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry. “When men and women begin a weight-loss program, men lose weight more quickly than women. However, when you express weight loss as a percentage of beginning body weight, usually men and women are not very different.”
When looking for a weight-loss plan for men, Hill suggests seeking one addressing both diet and exercise. “You want a program that gives you a way to live your life forever,” he says. “If you can only follow a program for a short time, you will only keep your weight off for a short time.”
Looking for a weight-loss plan for men? Here are ten programs to consider.
This popular diet highlights whole- and plant-based foods. “Fruits and vegetables are enjoyed in abundance, along with foods high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, and oils,” says Emily Kyle, MS, RDN, CLT, author of The 30-Minute Thyroid Cookbook. You also get to eat heart-healthy seafood, while you should limit red meat and poultry. “Many people find the Mediterranean diet appealing for its relaxed approach and recommendation to enjoy red wine in moderation and meals with friends and family,” says Kyle. “It’s ideal for men who are looking to achieve weight loss and optimal overall health. This is because of its focus on nutrient inclusions, rather than caloric deficit or food group removal.” And it works. In one study, men and women following the Mediterranean diet noticed less abdominal obesity!
Recently rebranded from Weight Watchers to WW, this weight-loss plan has a strong history of weight-loss success. “WW is perfect for men, as it teaches them how to eat healthfully by eating a plant-forward diet and watching their portions,” says Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, a clinical nutrition professor at Boston University and the host of health and wellness podcast, SpotOn! “The abundance of veggies allowed on the diet is a game changer for men. Veggies are full of fiber and water so they fill you up before they fill you out, allowing guys to still have a hefty plate without a hefty amount of calories.” Plus, the WW plan comes with an easy-to-use app and is a great choice for guys who prefer to not count calories. Here are some more healthy meal ideas you can make in 20 minutes or less.
State of Slim
This novel approach to weight loss also focuses on weight-loss maintenance. “We have found that men who participate in State of Slim do very well,” says Hill, the program’s co-creator and an internationally recognized weight-loss expert. “It is essential for people to examine their deep motivation for weight loss, and this is often an emotional experience. It is a critical part of weight-loss success for both men and women.” Hill and his colleagues have determined a successful approach to weight-loss maintenance. “Keeping weight off is different from losing weight,” he says. “Calorie reduction is the key to losing weight, but exercise and mindset become more important for keeping weight off.” You can either follow the program in person in select locations or virtually, or via the book.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH Diet, has traditionally been recommended to help people with high blood pressure. But it’s now being used for weight loss, too. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy—while limiting high-calorie meats (like processed ones), added sugar, and sodium. “Many of the recommended fruits and vegetables are also high in water content and contain fiber, which can help keep you satisfied,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook and a nutrition partner with Grapes from California. “For example, fresh grapes are 82 percent water and are a calorie bargain at just 90 calories per three-quarter cup serving. Research shows that grape-enriched diets can help promote the relaxation of blood vessels to help maintain healthy blood pressure and blood flow,” adds Amidor. Grapes are one of the foods anti-aging experts eat every day. Men may find the DASH diet particularly easy to follow, especially with an active lifestyle.
This eating style limits foods that are high in carbohydrates, such as fruits, grains, potatoes, corn, peas, legumes, and dairy, says Kim Yawitz, RD, a dietitian in St. Louis, Missouri. “Some low-carb diets limit carbs to 30 percent of daily calories or less, so 150 grams on a 2,000- calorie daily diet,” she says. “Low-carb diets can be very effective for weight loss, but we don’t know exactly why that’s the case. It’s common to lose several pounds in the first few days of a low-carb diet because the body sheds water weight as it burns stored carbohydrates.” Low-carb diets may also offer a bit of a psychological advantage for men. “Studies suggest that dieters who lose more weight in the first weeks of a new plan see greater success months and even years down the road,” says Yawitz. “And this makes sense—it’s easier to stick with a diet when you can see evidence that your efforts are paying off!”
While the keto diet isn’t for everyone, some men really like it. The diet is very high fat, with moderate protein and a very low amount of carbohydrates. “Carbs will be limited to green leafy veggies such as spinach, some nuts and seeds, and a few berries on occasion,” says Ginger Hultin, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “When the body is producing ketones, it is relying on fat for fuel so it does promote fat loss.” And while studies show that the keto diet may be effective for weight loss, there’s still a big question about success with long-term weight loss. If you decide to follow it, you’ll see the best results working with a doctor or registered dietitian (find one at eatright.org). Is the keto diet safe? You may need to take certain supplements because of potential nutrient deficiencies, and certain people (such as ones with kidney problems) will want to skip the diet.
The Mayo Clinic Diet
With two phases, the “Lose It” phase and the “Live” phase, this diet is a top weight-loss plan for men. The first phase allows you to lose up ten pounds within the first two weeks. It focuses on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with no refined sugar, high-fat foods, or alcohol. “The diet uses a habit tracker and focuses on 15 key habits for weight loss, including regular exercise and not eating while watching TV,” says Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, a dietitian in Cincinnati, Ohio. “It’s based on researched principles, low fat and high fiber.” However, it’s not a quick-fix fad diet. “It promotes lifestyle change,” says Andrews. “A person has to be committed to the program for it to work and be sustainable long term.” Get more healthy-eating secrets from nutritionists.
Plant-based eating is hot right now, and many men are embracing this eating style. “A diet largely based in plant-rich fiber, such as a vegetarian diet, has been associated with a lower risk of chronic disease, lower body weight, and increased lifespan,” says Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, a dietitian in St. Louis, MO. “Benefits of the vegetarian diet largely rely on diet quality, as a diet of grilled cheese, French fries, and soda is still vegetarian.” That’s why it’s important to take in high-quality protein and fiber. “Protein from soy, in particular, has been shown to improve weight-loss success, maintenance of muscle mass, and most weight-loss success in the long term,” says McDaniel. “In addition, fiber serves as a source of fuel for the good bacteria in your gut. Short-chain fatty acids are the byproduct of fiber breakdown, which may play a role in producing hormones that favor weight loss.” Before you rush to start a vegetarian diet, McDaniel advises considering your motivation for following a vegetarian diet. “You’re more likely to stick to something that feels right and aligns with your personal values,” she says.
The Flexitarian Diet
Here’s a perfect weight-loss plan for men who want to eat more plant-based but don’t want to go completely vegetarian. “Flexitarians eat a mostly plant-based diet with the flexibility to add in animal protein when they want to,” says DJ Blatner, RDN, author of The Flexitarian Diet and Superfood Swap. “I say it’s ‘vegetarian-ish.’ It’s a pro-plant diet, not an anti-meat one.” And it can definitely help with weight loss: “Plant-based eaters tend to weigh less than meat-eating counterparts,” she says. “The reasoning behind why flexitarian eating may lead to weight loss is that plants tend to have fewer calories and more filling fiber than animal proteins. So you can eat less but still feel full.” In addition to weight loss, a flexitarian diet can also decrease the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, says Blatner. Find out the best and worst diets for heart health.
The South Beach Diet
This long-standing diet has recently been revamped. “It provides a diet that is higher protein and lower in carbohydrates, with added healthy fats,” says Emily Rubin, RD, a dietitian at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. “Research shows that following a high-protein diet promotes weight loss without feeling hungry. Protein foods are filling—so you may eat less. When I ask my weight-management patients, especially men, whether an egg or a bagel makes them feel fuller, 99 percent say the egg!” In the South Beach Diet, you may lose up to seven pounds within the first week. Now, check out some of the weight-loss breakthroughs doctors wish you knew.
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