Tricks and fads rule the diet and nutrition industry not because they work, but because they prey on our weakest desires to get something for nothing, to earn without merit, and to win without work.
If you can market a diet that has some sort of trick to get you to lose fat or build muscle without actually having to eat healthy or incur any kind of discipline, you’re going to make some money, especially if you focus on women. Women love diets, many different diets, and the “easier” (not simpler) it appears, the more likely they are to buy it, and guys are no different. We want tricks. That’s why fad diets are so incredibly popular and will be, forever. They give us a “unique diet trick” that will help us lose fat for a time, but tricks are for kids and don’t stand the tests of time.
I say women like diets because they buy the vast majority of diet products. It’s no secret that women are more concerned with their figure than men but that doesn’t mean that men shouldn’t also get a hefty amount of focus and help. Here’s the problem:
Many of the diets positioned to women, besides the fact that they’re unhealthy and don’t work, focus on low calories, low fat, and an abundance of salads and quinoa and soy. Nothing against salads and quinoa, but what guy wants to eat either? And yes, I have a lot against soy, if you want to lower your testosterone levels, eat soy. Back to salads and quinoa…
Your diet should, first and foremost, be simple. It should also be sustainable. It should include the natural foods you like and it shouldn’t be all that restrictive. In this article we’ll go over the different diet options out there and I’ll explain to your briefly at the end, why I created a diet that’s just for men and how it helps us naturally increase our testosterone levels.
As a man, you need to take care of your testosterone levels. That is, you need to be following a diet that will give you enough fat and protein and nutrients to keep your T levels high and allow your body to recover from your training.
This also means that you need carbs. Carbs aren’t the enemy, as we’ll discuss further. There’s no natural food group that should warrant enemy status, rather, should be handled with common sense, science, and care.
Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained a lot of momentum in the past few years. It’s gained so much notoriety that it’s almost fad-like. But is this approach to eating a fad or is it here to stay?
The rise of IF has actually debunked a few myths that were commonly believed over the past few decades:
1. Meal frequency: This myth dominated the 80’s and 90’s where smaller, more frequent meals were supposed to keep your metabolism more active and burning a greater number of calories. The problems:
a. With a greater meal frequency you tend to eat more calories – good for the guys trying to add weight, but not for the people trying to lose it.
b. The thermogenic effect of one single meal at 2,000 calories is the same as 5 meals at a combined 2,000 calories. So this “keeping your metabolism working” is a myth. The metabolic effect of one meal doesn’t differ if that same caloric amount is spread out into separate meals.
IF also helps increase GH levels over the fasting period. It typically works with a fast followed by an eating window, helping you not only eat overall fewer calories, which is perfect for fat loss, but see those benefits to your GH levels without effecting protein synthesis or reduce its effectiveness. So IF is awesome. I do like it. We have a protocol of it in the Man Diet, but I use it more as a tool than as a firm, set way of eating.
My schedule varies, so my eating schedule does as well. I eat 3-4 meals a day with one being a shake. But I also eat for energy, which is a personal thing. I’m also a naturally skinny guy so I need to consume a few more calories than the heavier guys to keep my muscle on or to gain more of it, and I find it tough to get those cals in just a few meals so I spread them out a bit and make my eating window a bit broader. Again, completely personal, so do what works for you.
Side note: hardgainers, I wouldn’t do IF, follow the meal timing protocol in the Man Diet. But for the rest of you, IF isn’t the be all end all. It’s not the magic solution, but it can be the thing that fits with your lifestyle and helps you stick to a diet of fewer calories. So give it a go.
Vegetarianism is, well, flawed. Most shy away from vegans and vegetarians because when you’re talking about the vegans and vegetarians you’re not merely talking about a diet, but a religion, a lifestyle, a cult, a part of who they are. Within 5 minutes of talking to a vegan they’ll tell you that they’re vegan and that you should be vegan and that killing animals is wrong.
I realize the emotional connection to this diet and the touchiness of the subject. But this stuff needs to be said, not necessarily for those already practicing veganism, but for those fellas who are being coaxed into a vegetarian diet by their ladies. This is a warning for you. Read on.
The reason why vegetarianism is flawed has to do with the motives for becoming a vegetarian. If you want to read further into this, get The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith – a former self-professed militant vegan who saw the light.
Many become vegetarians because they either want to save animals or become healthier. Two motivations with major flaws. For one, more destruction has been done worldwide to wildlife and their habitats as the result of agriculture than the actual eating animals, that is, more species have been negatively effected, driven to extinction or close to it, from our production of vegetables and grains than hunting and the farming of livestock.
By eating the grains and veggies that are such a large part of the vegan lifestyle you’re actually having a greater negative impact on animals than the guy with the steak on his plate (keep reading, I’ll address the mistreatment of animals in slaughterhouses, worry not).
Second, being a vegetarian means you’re doing a few things from a health standpoint:
1. Relegating yourself to fewer foods that are of lesser quality. This means you’re more likely to negatively effect your body’s absorption by limiting the variety in your diet, but you’re also removing good, healthy saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats from your diet, at the very best getting them from nuts and one or two fruits and not animals. You’re also removing the highest quality proteins from your diet, the proteins that have the greatest absorption rates and the most amino acids.
If you want to build muscle and burn fat optimally, eat meat.
The highest quality proteins come from meat.
Beef protein, for example, 70-80% of what’s eaten is absorbed and used by the body, it also has a large amount of amino acids.
Whey protein, whether from actual dairy or protein powder has a very high absorption rate in the low 90%’s, again, also filled with essential amino acids. Whey protein is one of the highest quality proteins you can find.
That isn’t to say that vegetarians and vegans have no protein sources. They have a few solid sources of protein but again, it comes down to variety and quality and the best variety and quality when bringing dietary fats into the mix involve animals. We’re carnivores, man, start acting like it!
Great resource: How Much Protein Is Needed to Build Muscle?
2. Humans are meat eaters, we’ve evolved to be so, to require meat and the nutrients from meat in our diets. In fact, not just a little bit of meat, but a lot of meat. This has more to do with the dietary fats and the nutrients discussed below than even the protein. It’s the fats in fish and meats that are of a much higher quality than nuts and fruits that feed our brain.
The fats, minerals, and amino acids found in animal products are essential for the production of neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and neuron membranes, as well as neurotransmission. Deficiencies in these nutrients are detrimental to brain health and increase the risks of substance abuse, food addiction, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, adrenal fatigue, low blood sugar, chronic fatigue and much more.
I know you glossed over that entire paragraph and saw only “steroid hormones”, which made you think of testosterone, and yes, these fats are very important for the production of testosterone, but that brain issue is pretty glaring.
Veganism doesn’t feed your brain.
3. To be a “healthy” vegetarian you have to supplement with things like B complex, vitamin K2, vitamin A, and omega-3 DHA that are naturally found in animal foods. If your diet can’t stand on its own and instead needs lesser forms of natural nutrients found in animals but instead in supplement form, that should be a red light that what you’re eating isn’t a complete diet. It’s only a part of the equation. And while certain veggies and fruits may contain the nutrients above their quality can’t compare to those found in meat.
Other limits of the vegan/vegetarian diet:
Veganism is making you devolve.
4. Testosterone production relies heavily on the cholesterol that we get from dietary fats, especially those from animals, like saturated fats. Men need to eat saturated fats. We need them in abundance. We need cholesterol from eggs and monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Our T levels are our health. When they drop our risk for cancer, heart disease, and even depression go up. Our ability to burn fat diminishes as they diminish and our ability to build muscle and repair tissue has the same effect. If the brain issue and the protein issue and the “health” issue don’t get you, let the testosterone issue be the red flag that stops you from becoming a vegan. Yet, and I’ll readily admit this, there are some glaring benefits to both this diet and the people to live it.
The benefit of vegetarianism?
Most arguments that occur in the public domain against vegetarianism or veganism take the stance of a “meat vs vegetables” argument, which it shouldn’t be. A hefty percentage of your overall caloric intake should come from vegetables, but also meat. You need a lot of veggies in your diet and vegetarians typically get that in greater amounts than meat-eaters. But meat eaters get the glorious goodness of meat.
The answer: eat large amounts of both. You’re not saving the planet by being a vegetarian. You’re not doing anything for wildlife by being a vegetarian. You’re not becoming healthier by removing meat from your diet. Men are supposed to eat meat. We thrive on omega-3’s and saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Oh, and another thing that vegans and the like have done that is good is raise awareness for slaughterhouse conditions. The way they treat animals in those things is abhorrent and should be criminal, especially when there are plenty of grass-fed farms for cattle and pigs that treat their animals fine. I’d rather eat an animal that has been fed what it’s meant to be fed and treated with respect than an animal that hasn’t lived any sort of quality of a life whatsoever.
One thing they’ve missed is in attacking hunters. The VAST majority of the actual “good” done for wildlife in the form of conservation and national parks, especially here in the west, has been pushed for by hunters, a trend that continues worldwide to places like Africa. Hunters actually do something for the conservation of the wildlife they hunt. I’m sure this has something to do with the respect they have for these wonderful beasts. Most vegans don’t appreciate the gift of animals. They’ve never been up close to them in the wild, seen their power, or eaten their meat. Instead they choose stand outside of a store and throw paint on fur coats, wasting the lives of the animals that died to make that lovely coat.
Hunters do more good for wildlife and animals in general than vegans do. Theodore Roosevelt, a prolific hunter, set up over 90% of America’s national parks. Vegans sprayed paint on fur.
So eat your vegetables and your meats and my goodness, stop attacking hunters. They’re the ones saving the animals while you you eat their food.
Low Calorie Diets
All calories are not created equally. Your body process calories from carbs very different than it does from fats and proteins. I’ll keep this quick…
Dramatically decreasing the number of calories you consume is not the way to a six pack. There are a number of problems with this approach:
a. It’s not sustainable. If you’ve tried to chop your daily cals in half you’ll know what I’m talking about.
b. You’ll increase your cortisol levels. That is, you’ll decrease your testosterone levels, making your body store more fat, burn more muscle, creating a perfect recipe for a body that is skinny-fat.
Does that mean you shouldn’t eat fewer calories? Of course not. If you want to lose weight and lose fat you should eat fewer calories, but you should also change the kinds of calories you consume. When I’m trying to trim a bit of fat my caloric intake doesn’t actually drop all the much, I simply up my fat intake and my protein intake (yes, more protein if you’re losing weight than if you’re trying to gain it) and keep my carbohydrate intake to my post workout nutrition.
This keeps the overall carb intake lower, but not too low, and keeps it close to the area when said carbs will be used to do what they do best: stop the muscle breakdown that occurs during and after a workout.
Depending on how much muscle you have, anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 calories should suffice. Yes that’s a broad range but depending on your goals and, again, your muscle mass, you can eat more, absorb more, and use more. For the guys trying to gain muscle, get over that 3,000 calorie range – we talk about this in more detail in The Man Diet.
Low Carb Diets
Still not the answer…
While carbs should be a smaller part of our diets, they should not be taken out of our diets by any stretch of the imagination. If you’ve ever gone on an incredibly low carb diet you’ll know what I’m talking about, your muscles will leave and your life will be hell. In my mind the second point is most important.
Your diet shouldn’t ruin your life, it should make it better.
That is, you should be able to eat a fair amount of the foods you enjoy while also getting healthier and in better shape. You need carbs. That’s just a fact. You don’t need sugars or the highly glycemic carbs that pervade our fridges and menus, but from time to time they can be had just like beer can be had or wine or whiskey, actually, they shall be had if you’re going to both enjoy life and eat a healthy diet.
So while low carb/high fat diets are great for you, they’re not what’s best for you in the big picture.
Carbs actually have a anti-catabolic effect, helping us store and restore our muscle. And insulin isn’t all that bad. While prolonged spikes in insulin that last all day everyday are definitely terrible for you and your waistline and your heart, insulin can actually be great for us, hence, why we should consume a buttload of carbs after our workouts as this spike in insulin helps drive amino acids into our muscles for protein synthesis and to stop this muscle breakdown that occurs during and after training.
So no, a completely low carb diet is not ideal if you want to be healthy, ripped, lean, and muscular.
Side note: no trans fats. Man-made, lab-created nonsense shouldn’t be in your diet.
If we could eat like they did in the Paleolithic era, this would be a great diet. The problem is that our climate and our way of life has changed so dramatically that the mere premise of this diet isn’t entirely possible. The heart of it, however, is, and I love the heart of this diet from a health standpoint but not from a restrictiveness aspect.
It’s just too restrictive and it limits perfectly healthy foods from your diet. Oatmeal is good for you, especially after a workout with some protein. Protein powder, yes, of the whey variety, is also good for you. The Paleo diet, while it may be ‘the perfect human diet’, is very healthy for you but it’s still too limiting.
It’s no way to live, for one, but you’re pigeonholing your diet to a very specific way of preparing and consuming your food with ingredients that can be bland and boring.
Listen, I do like the Paleo Diet, I’ve said that numerous times. It’s a healthy way to live, it’s also too restrictive and the resulting binges and wagon fall-offs are where you’re going to do the most damage. You can use the primary principles of the Paleo Diet, even the macros, without going all Paleo and shutting yourself off from society.
Saturated fats aren’t the heart-killers that we thought they were. With everything we’ve talked about thus far on this site and even in this article, you should know that fat is an imperative part of a healthy diet. You need fat, a lot of it. You need it for your brain and your balls. You need it for your heart, your mind, your happiness.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you should be cutting fat from your diet. That’s the last thing you should remove. Add fat to your diet. In the Man Diet we have a number of fat-focused meals during the day designed to feed both your balls and your brain with the goodness that comes from high-quality fats that can be found in the meat of animals.
So how should a man eat?
5 Rules for Dieting Like a Human in a World of Humans
The following 5 rules may fly in the face of everything you’ve heard about “dieting” so far, but your best interests are the focus. Longevity, that is, you being able to stick to a healthy and effective way of eating for the rest of your life is the focus, not a 3-month crash followed by a corresponding binge that leaves you worse off than when you started. So, read.
1. Time your meals.
There’s evidence that says meal timing, i.e. keeping your carbs and fats separate will help you absorb less fat, but there has also been studies done that show it doesn’t really matter, so why do I like to time my meals?
If you have your proteins and carbs in two meals (your post workout shake and your post workout meal) and the rest of your meals are proteins and fats and vegetables, you’re going to better fit your macros and you’re going to stop the protein breakdown that occurs post workout. If you’re having carbs with every meal, you’re likely going to consume too many carbs and not enough fats.
As far as macros are concerned, that all depends on your body type, how your body reacts to carbohydrates, and your goals.
So time your meals accordingly. Simple.
2. Don’t follow a diet that won’t allow you to eat at a restaurant.
Humans are social animals and dining and drinking is how we best socialize. Don’t remove yourself from one of the most important aspects of being a human because you’re following a diet that doesn’t allow you to eat the delicious delicacies prepared by other humans who are actually professionals at making meals that taste great.
Live a little. Actually, live a lot. Eat out. Most good restaurants serve steak and vegetables, enjoy. Most also have salmon on the menu or chicken or other animals that taste good. They also have pasta, which should be enjoyed by every human from time to time because the Italians invented the best food on the planet and their masterpieces shall be enjoyed by all (and yes, I’m biased).
Don’t confine yourself to your own kitchen with a diet that requires strictness that removes the joy from life, joy that is conversation and laughter in the form of dining with other humans.
3. Drink alcohol.
To further the point above, drink booze. Is it good for you? No. Alcohol isn’t good for you, but it can help you relax, and wine and whiskey are fine to be had in moderation. Binge drinking is terrible for you but being a social drinker is all good.
I can’t remember a steak in recent memory that wasn’t accompanied by red wine or a night out with the fellas that wasn’t aided by whiskey. Alcohol is a lovely thing. It should be had and enjoyed in moderation. ‘Tis one of the finer pleasures in life and an even greater part of us being social animals than dining is, so relax and have a drink.
4. Eat a lot of meat and fish and fat.
You should know that vegetables should be a huge part of your diet, but meats and fishes should be as well. They’re packed with by far the highest quality proteins and fats you can find, and proteins and fats should dominate your diet.
A few rules with meat and fish:
- Free range, grass fed whenever possible. Don’t eat the hormone-filled nonsense that dominates our grocers – find a good butcher.
- Wild game is by far the best quality meat you can find. So if you want to get into hunting, do it. Eat the animal, use it’s coat for a rug and hang its antlers somewhere nice or simply sell them. But the quality of meat that a wild animal possesses is unbeatable.
- Avoid the farm, the fish farm that is. Eat wild fish.
- Eat variety. This rule applies to veggies as well, but don’t get caught eating the same forms of meat or fish or fruits or veggies, we’re meant to consume variety, it aids in the quality of the absorption of the food’s nutrients – i.e. you’re going to get a better bang for your nutritional buck if you’re consuming a wide variety of meat, fish, vegetable, and fruit.
5. Listen to Ernest.
try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. and when you get angry, get good and angry. try to be alive. you will be dead soon enough. ~ Hemingway
Enjoy your food. You will be dead soon enough.
Eat Like a Man.
I started the Man Diet because of my own frustrations with diet. I’m surrounded by an industry filled with tricks and fads and devoid of simplicity, so I created the simplest, most honest, easiest to follow whilst seeing great benefits diet I could create.
Eat a balanced diet and eat the right macros at the right time.
I also saw a gap in my industry: a lack of focus toward men because men spend less money on dieting and dieting products. Yet most diets created for women are filled with salads and quinoa. Men need fat and we like to eat meat, all kinds of it. Fish too. And it’s good for us. So are the yolks in eggs. So while your lady eats egg whites and oatmeal, have steak and eggs.
You’ll get a great boost in both high quality protein and testosterone-boosting saturated fats. And as studies continue to dispute the correlation between saturated fat and heart disease, you can eat a shit load of fat and help your heart, your balls, and your brain.
So, if you want to help your heart and your balls and your brain, join the Man Diet. It’s simple. It works. And it’s for men only.