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Man traps

HFG nutritionist Claire Turnbull has a guide to products targeted at men.

There seems to be a current trend of food products being marketed towards the male population — you know the ads — are you MAN enough to eat this… are you GAME enough to eat that? It can be tempting to dig in, drink up and hope to feel more manly… but are these foods really right for you?

It can be easy to forget the impact of what we drink on our weight and overall health. Sports drinks can have as much as 11 teaspoons of sugar in a bottle and have nearly as many kilojoules as three slices of bread or two standard beers. Sports drinks are really only necessary for those doing high intensity training — more than a game of touch or a gym workout.

Energy drinks such as V, Red Bull and Mother are also packed with sugar and stimulants.

Healthy alternative

Low-fat milk or water.

The humble meat pie is a Kiwi favourite and certainly a very popular ‘man snack’, but it is an easy way to load up on kilojoules and fat without much nutritional goodness. An average mince pie can contain more than 1700kJ and 18g fat — far more than anyone needs for a well-rounded snack!

Healthy alternative

A wholegrain bread sandwich with lean ham, reduced-fat cheese and salad or tuna and salad. If you want to eat a pie, choose a potato-topped pie to reduce the amount of fat (especially saturated fat), place it on a plate and add vegetables to make a meal of it.

These male favourites can be quick, convenient and helpful after training for those who are doing regular, long, high-intensity exercise or resistance training. However, on their own these products won’t build muscle or the body of your dreams. The combination of eating healthy, balanced meals and snacks and the right exercise programme are what will get you the results. Some protein shakes and bars are very high in kilojoules and have far more energy in a serving than you need — you can easily cancel out your workout with a single one of these.

Healthy alternative

If you do moderate exercise for general health and fitness, a glass of low-fat milk and a piece of fruit is adequate after training. Or just make sure you have your next meal as soon as possible after exercise.

These bars are a very clever invention and certainly a helpful and convenient option for busy, active people. But take note of the name: they are formulated so that two bars (ie. one square) has enough kilojoules, protein and fat for one meal — one-third of your totally daily nutrition needs. I regularly see men who are watching their weight munching on these bars for morning tea or having them as a snack after they have eaten a meal already. A single bar has 1450kJ and 11.7g fat — which is about two to three times more than is needed for a sedentary male for a snack.

Healthy alternative

A banana, a smaller high-fibre cereal bar or a bite-sized One Square Meal bar.

The TV adverts for Mammoth Yoghurt suggesting that it is the ultimate ‘man food’ are very entertaining. But unlike other yoghurts, these products are not an everyday snack. They have around seven per cent fat (an average fruit yoghurt is around two per cent fat). A single 375g serving has over 2000kJ, 21g fat and 13g saturated fat, which is equivalent to a small meal and similar in total fat to a chocolate bar.

Healthy alternative

A 150ml pottle of low-fat fruit yoghurt has between 300-600kJ.

Just because you are a man, it doesn’t always mean you need more or a bigger portion than a woman. If you are watching your weight, even if it does seem cheaper or better ‘value’ to upsize, when it comes to your health and looking good, it can be a bad deal. She’s having a cheeseburger with 1428kJ and 16g fat (and probably topping up on some vegetables later!) but you’re thinking a Whopper (2778kJ with 37g fat) or maybe a Double Whopper (3768kJ and 54g fat). Most men don’t need that much fat in one meal.

First published: Nov 2011



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