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A Health Guide For Men In Their 20s

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Shorter Version


Est. Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Hey fellas! You’ve got it pretty good right now in your twenties so why change things up?

Because this is the decade to start taking advantage of preventative care.

Preventative care is just that – stepping in to take care of your wellbeing before you have to take care of it.

Our comprehensive health guide for men focuses on what you should be doing to optimize your health starting in your twenties.

Focus on key nutrients

To kick off our health guide for men in their 20s, let’s talk about what you’re eating. Men in their 20s should pay special attention to a few nutrients including protein, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and fiber.

  • Muscles are still developing and cells rely on protein for numerous tasks, so don’t skimp on protein. Choose from a variety of different protein sources to ensure you’re getting the full spectrum of amino acids (the little building blocks). Choose proteins that are as lean as possible like skinless poultry and seafood (avoid “fried” and “smothered” varieties), or try incorporating plant-based proteins such as tofu, beans, and peas.
  • Men need 3,400 milligrams a day of potassium to support heart and kidney health, maintain healthy blood pressure, and regulate muscle contractions. Get plenty of potassium from foods like low-fat dairy products, potatoes (all varieties), oranges, cooked spinach, and broccoli.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential form of fat required by our bodies to optimize brain and heart health. Most Americans get plenty of omega-6 fatty acids from takeout and convenience foods but lack the omega-3. Add fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, or sardines to your protein rotation. Try to sprinkle hemp, chia, or flax seeds on almost anything you eat or add a few walnuts to your breakfast.
  • Our bone density reaches its peak sometime between ages 25 and 30 so now is the time to capitalize on it. While regular resistance training will also help build bone density, eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D is also important. Keep some of these calcium-rich foods on hand: fortified 100% fruit juices, low-fat dairy products, dark leafy greens, fortified tofu, navy beans, and almonds.
  • Fill up on fiber fellas! Men require at least 38 grams of fiber per day to maintain a healthy digestive system and prevent digestive cancers. That’s about 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories. Slowly start to add in more fiber-rich foods while sipping on adequate amounts of water. Choose from fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Move daily

Most of us think of exercise as hitting the weights and doing what it takes to bulk up. But exercise should be constant throughout your life not just to improve body image but to maintain lean muscle mass, maintain a healthy weight, improve heart health, and boost mood. Choose activities that you both enjoy and can maintain doing for the years to come. Avoid exercise types that may put too much stress on your joints and increase the risk of injury.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity each week – walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, yard work. Get at least two days of resistance training per week with exercises that challenge each major muscle group. Practice flexibility every day, as often as possible. Flexibility improves blood flow, posture, quality rest, and energy levels while preventing injury and muscle soreness.

Less is more… of alcohol that is

This is the decade where alcohol doesn’t seem to affect us, right?

Wrong. In so many ways. The majority of binge drinking occurs in your twenties and these binges will quickly catch up to you. Alcohol is a toxin and heavy drinking will not only dehydrate the body but can also lead to nutrient deficiencies, illness, and certain cancers.

Yes, binge drinking increases your risk for developing cancer (and leads to riskier behaviors such as unsafe sex, drugs, drunk driving, and more).

Timeout on tobacco

Or more like just quit the game altogether. Smoking and the use of tobacco increase your risk of many diseases including lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Save your cig money for a better activity for the lungs like a gym membership.

Get it checked out

Men are less likely to go to the doctor than women, but your twenties are the most important time to start preventative health care. Get an annual check-up with your primary care doctor.

These visits should include checking blood pressure, heart rate, blood cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and thyroid. Ask your doc what vaccinations you may need to ante up on.

Oh, and get a full physical exam of… you know, down there. If you’re sexually active, get tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) if with new or multiple partners.

Health Guide for Men: Actionable Steps


1

Build a healthy plate…now!

There’s no time like the present to optimize your health through good nutrition. Start by adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and quality protein sources into your day rather than thinking of taking away “bad” foods.

Slowly incorporate more fiber-rich foods into your day until you reach 38 grams per day (with plenty of water throughout the day). Remember to vary your protein and try some plant-based sources, too.

Check out our Nutrition Page to answer any nutrition questions you may have about eating in your 20s.

2

Get moving

If you haven’t already, get into the habit of moving regularly throughout the day. Consistent movement is most important to our long-term health.

Take the long way around, use the stairs, go for a walk before lunch. Resistance training, cardio, and flexibility are all important components of maintaining lean muscle mass for the long haul, too. Just find the activities that you enjoy most that can be realistically added into your lifestyle for the years to come.

Learn more about how to move in your 20s on our Physical Health page.

3

Cut back on booze

Stick to drinking in moderation – two drinks per day for men (12 ounces beer, 5 ounces, wine, 1.5 ounces liquor).

Dietitian’s Tip: Drink a glass of water after each drink to not only re-hydrate but to also slow down the drinking event. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with your friends. They’ll thank you later. Read more tips for cutting back on alcohol by Harvard Health.

4

Quit now and forever

Tobacco has no place in your health journey today, tomorrow, or ever. Do your lungs (and everything else in your body) a favor and quit smoking and/or tobacco products. Go to Smokefree.gov to learn more about quitting.

5

Make an appointment

What’s up doc?! Don’t skip your annual health exams and any specialty check-ups needed such as dermatologist, eye doc, dentist, etc.

6

Read more on this topic

We’ve done the research to find the best sources. Try reading: Abbott’s Men’s Guide to Lifelong Health, and MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Health Tips for Men in Their 20s. Use this cheat sheet by Marin Health.

Still need help? Ask the coaches!

About the Author


shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Shannon is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, and Group Fitness Instructor with over 5 years of experience working in Corporate Wellness specializing in overall health, nutrition, and fitness. Throughout her journey to becoming an RDN, she grew her passion for culinary nutrition by teaching and developing hands-on cooking classes for all ages in the community.
Full Bio | LinkedIn


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