Meal Plans for a Man Performing Hard Physical Work

Salmon filet on a wooden carving board.
Salmon filet on a cutting boatd (Image: ValentynVolkov/iStock/Getty Images)

A man who performs hard physical work on a regular basis is directly affected by what he eats. His strength and energy go hand in hand with the kind of food he puts into his body, making his meal plan just as important as showing up for work on time. A healthy, smart, all-inclusive meal plan can turn a workday slouch into a workhorse leader.

Good Carbohydrates

When your body needs energy to perform hard work, it turns to calories for fuel. During intense physical labor, as much as 85 percent of those calories can come from carbohydrates. Foods that contain bad carbs, like potatoes or sugar, will give you a short boost of energy, followed by a hard crash, leaving you feeling run-down. Good carbs can be found in old-fashioned steel-cut oats, brown rice, whole grain pasta and beans, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. These carbs will keep you energized for hours.

Protein

When you put intense strain on your muscles, you are literally tearing the fibers within the muscles. After this happens, your body sends healing satellite cells to the site of the tear, ultimately becoming one with them. With the addition of these new cells, the muscles grow back larger and stronger. This process is driven by protein, and without a steady influx of protein throughout the day, your muscles will remain stagnant in both size and strength. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that adults who exercise regularly eat 0.6g of protein for every pound of body weight each day. Healthy foods like salmon, grass-fed beef and chicken can keep your fat intake down and your protein intake up.

Caloric Intake

The USDA recommends that men between the ages of 19 and 50 who exercise vigorously each day eat as much as 3,000 calories per day just to maintain a healthy level of energy. Eating only two meals per day, each consisting of 1,500 calories, will slow your metabolism down significantly, and result in extreme bouts of low energy between the two meals. These calories must be spread out throughout the day to ensure that your body is receiving a steady influx of calories, or fuel, at all times. Eating at least three square meals per day, with small healthy snacks between, can help keep your energy level consistent.

Timing

To get your body ready and energized before heading to work, eat a large, well-rounded breakfast a few hours before getting started. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating large meals three to four hours before performing any intense physical work allows your body time to digest all of the essential nutrients to be used as fuel. If you begin working too quickly after eating a larger meal, your body will be forced to reserve energy for digesting the food while you are eating, immediately putting you at an energy disadvantage.

Balance

The body requires 13 essential vitamins on a regular basis just to function normally. These 13 vitamins can't be found in a New York steak and a bowl of oatmeal. To ensure that you're getting all of the necessary nutrients throughout the day, eat multiple servings of the rest of the six major food groups. Fruits, vegetables, oils and dairy are all just as important as meat and grains.

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