Nearly 3 out of 4 men over age 20 have overweight or obesity, according to statistics published by the 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. If you're in your 30s and you find yourself in this category, it's time to lose weight. Having overweight or obesity increases your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To lose weight, you need to trim calories and move more, but dainty portions of salad and dance aerobics aren't required. Adopt a plan that fits your lifestyle and supports your body's needs.
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Why You Should Worry About Weight in Your 30s
After age 30, you experience a drop in production of the male sex hormone, testosterone, at a rate of approximately 1 percent per year. At the same time, you start to lose lean tissue and gain considerably more fatty tissue -- which is only accelerated by lower testosterone levels. If you don't take action to counter muscle loss and drops in testosterone, your beer belly will continue to expand into your 50s. Weight loss helps curb this drop in testosterone and reduces the risk of developing associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes. It also helps your fertility, your physique and your self-confidence.
How Weight Loss Works
The good news: When you cut the same number of calories from your diet as a woman would, you tend to lose weight faster when you begin your diet plan -- because of your naturally greater levels of muscle mass. The average man in his 30s burns between 2,400 and 3,000 calories a day. The more active you are, the more calories you burn. You can create a 1,000-calorie deficit by combining diet and exercise, without having to reduce your caloric intake drastically. A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so if you hit this 1,000-calorie deficit every day, you could lose 2 pounds a week.
An intake of about 2,000 calories a day keeps you feeling satisfied, while also supporting weight loss. If you're sedentary, this only gives you calorie deficit of 400- to 500- calories a day, so you'll need to increase your physical activity to burn more calories so that you can lose the weight.
Your Weight Loss Diet
Aim to eat about 6 ounces of whole grains daily, 2 to 3 cups of fresh vegetables, 2 cups of fresh fruit, 3 cups of low-fat dairy and 6 ounces of protein. About 20 to 35 percent of your total caloric intake -- roughly 400 to 700 calories -- should come from fat. These should be mostly unsaturated sources of fats such as nuts, olive oil, seeds, avocados and fatty fish. Limit your intake of saturated fat to no more than 6 percent of your 2,000-calorie intake, which is about 120 calories. Saturated fat contributes to the accumulation of dangerous visceral, or abdominal, fat. Saturated fat is found in fatty cuts of meat and full-fat dairy products.
Make it easy to follow this plan by purchasing rotisserie chicken and bagged lettuce for salads. Order dressing on the side at restaurants and take half your order to go for a later meal, rather than stuffing down the entire meal all at once. Minimize your alcohol intake, as beer and liquor can add hundreds of calories and also encourage fat accumulations in your middle.
Sample Meals for a 30-Year-Old Man
Sample meals on this plan include 1/2 cup of dry oats cooked in 1 cup of skim milk with 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries and 2 teaspoons of brown sugar plus 2 kiwi fruits; a flour tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs, chopped tomato and 1 ounce shredded cheese plus a grapefruit; or a cup of whole grain cold cereal with 1/2 of a banana, 1 cup of skim milk, 1 slice of whole-grain toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 2 teaspoons of all-fruit jam.
At lunch, you might have a taco salad made with Romaine lettuce, 3 ounces of ground turkey, 1/2 ounce of cheese, 1/3 cup of black beans, 1/4 cup of black olives and topped with a handful of crushed corn chips and salsa. Alternatively, you can have a sandwich on a whole wheat pita or with two slices of whole wheat bread, a light smear of mayonnaise and mustard, 2 to 3 ounces of turkey breast or roast beef, 1 ounce of mozzarella cheese and slices of tomato, dill pickle and shredded lettuce along with an apple. Decline the fast-food burgers and fries. Instead, order a grilled chicken sandwich on whole grain bread with a baked potato on the side.
For dinner, enjoy 4 ounces of roast salmon with 1/2 cup of quinoa or brown rice, 1 cup of sauteed spinach and a glass of low-fat milk. Or try 3 ounces of roast chicken with a large baked sweet potato and 1 cup of green beans or have 2 slices of thin-crust, Hawaiian-style pizza with a large, green salad.
Snack on fresh fruits, hummus and cut-up veggies or whole-wheat crackers, low-fat cheese and unsweetened Greek yogurt.
Exercise Is Key to Weight Loss
Include strength training in your workout routine two to three times a week. Address all the major muscle groups with functional, multi-joint exercises such as squats, chest presses, deadlifts, lunges and pullups. You'll encourage the release of growth hormone to build muscle mass. Having a more muscular body enables you to burn more calories at rest, while also helping to mitigate the loss of testosterone.
Aim for about 250 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise a week to lose significant weight, advises the American College of Sports Medicine. Increase the intensity at two or three of your weekly cardiovascular exercise sessions to further boost fat loss. Try high-intensity interval training, which is better than other types of exercise at encouraging fat metabolism, according to a paper published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011. Use running or another type of cardio, such as cycling or rowing, and complete a short bout of 30 seconds to 4 minutes at a very high intensity. Follow that bout with a short period of low-intensity work such as walking. Repeat, alternating between high and low intensity for the 30- to 60-minute duration of your workout.
- The New York Times: The Biological Clock, Ticking for Men, Too
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010: Chapter 2; Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Overweight and Obesity Statistics
- Medline Plus: Aging Changes in Body Shape
- Today's Dietitian: Overweight Men Can Boost Low Testosterone Levels by Losing Weight
- CNN: Do Men Lose Weight Faster Than Women?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Sample Menus for a 2,000 Calorie Food Pattern
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Position Stand on Physical Activity and Weight Loss
- Journal of Obesity: High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss