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The 8 Best Diets for Men at Every Age

Medically reviewed by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, NutritionBy Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD on December 15, 2020

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With so many diets out there, choosing one that’s effective, sustainable, and easy to follow can be challenging.

For men, in particular, selecting a diet tailored to their specific needs can be difficult.

In fact, the nutritional needs of men can vary quite a bit depending on factors like their age, fitness goals, and health concerns.

The diets featured in this article were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Nutritionally balanced. Diets are rich in important nutrients and contain a good mix of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats.
  • Easy to follow. Clear guidelines are provided, and diets are simple and straightforward.
  • Flexible. Plans can be easily adapted to fit your lifestyle and personal preferences.
  • Sustainable. Diets are not overly restrictive and can be followed long term.
  • Evidence-based. Research is available to support the purported health benefits of the diet.

Here are 8 of the best diets for men at every age.

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Photography by Aya Brackett

Best overall: Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is an eating pattern that’s based on the traditional diets of people living in countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, and France (1).

It emphasizes eating plenty of nutritious ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.

Meanwhile, highly processed foods should be limited, including soda, sweets, refined grains, and processed meats.

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with a number of health benefits, including decreased inflammation and a lower risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer (2).

It may also aid weight loss. According to one study in over 32,000 people, following the Mediterranean diet was linked to a lower risk of weight gain and belly fat (3).

For more information about the Mediterranean diet and how to get started, check out “The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook,” which also includes a variety of healthy and delicious recipes that you can enjoy on the diet.

Shop for “The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook” online.

Best for weight loss: WW (Weight Watchers)

WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, is a popular point-based weight loss program aimed at promoting healthy eating habits.

Each food is assigned a specific number of SmartPoints, which is determined based on its nutritional value.

Members are also assigned a daily budget of SmartPoints based on factors like their height, weight, and activity level.

WW is one of the most flexible commercial weight loss programs available. No foods are completely off-limits, and you can still enjoy many of your favorite foods, as long as they fit within your daily SmartPoints budget.

Plus, research shows that it can be effective for long-term weight loss.

According to one review of 39 studies, participants who followed WW for 12 months achieved at least 2.6% more weight loss, compared with both a control group and those who received basic nutritional education (4).

What’s more, another study found that people who followed WW for 1 year lost significantly more weight than those who received self-help materials or brief nutritional advice. Plus, WW participants maintained a greater amount of total weight loss after 2 years (5).

Get started with Weight Watchers here.

Best for muscle growth: Paleo diet

The paleo diet is designed to mimic the eating patterns of ancient hunter-gatherer societies.

Minimally processed ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and poultry, are encouraged. Meanwhile, foods like grains, legumes, dairy products, and added sugars are restricted (6).

Paleo diets are often recommended for those hoping to fuel muscle growth.

This is because many foods encouraged on the diet are high in protein, which can help increase muscle mass when paired with resistance training (7).

What’s more, studies show that the paleo diet can help improve body composition by decreasing body fat, reducing belly fat, and increasing weight loss (8, 9, 10).

For a simple guide to help get you started on the paleo diet, check out “The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat,” which provides in-depth information about how the diet works.

Shop for “The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat” online.

Best for heart health: DASH diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is an eating plan designed to lower blood pressure levels and promote heart health.

In addition to limiting sodium intake, it encourages nutrient-dense ingredients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products (11).

Studies show that the DASH diet can decrease levels of systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers of a reading), total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol, all of which are risk factors for heart disease (12).

Moreover, other research suggests that the DASH diet may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (13, 14, 15).

If you need a resource with more information on the DASH diet, check out “DASH Diet Meal Prep,” which includes a variety of healthy recipes and weekly meal plans.

Shop for “DASH Diet Meal Prep” online.

Best for diabetes: Low carb diet

Low carb diets focus on limiting the amount of carbs you consume, often by restricting high carb foods like pasta, bread, and sugary snacks.

There are several types of low carb diets, but most involve reducing your carb intake to fewer than 130 grams per day, or around 26% of your total daily calories (16).

Studies show that following a carb-controlled diet can help improve blood sugar management in people with type 2 diabetes (17, 18).

Well-planned low carb diets are also typically rich in fiber and lean sources of protein, both of which can help slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes after you eat (19, 20).

If you’re interested in trying a low carb diet to help manage your diabetes but worried about the hassle of meal planning and preparation, a meal delivery service can be a convenient way to enjoy more healthy meals at home.

BistroMD is a doctor-designed meal delivery service that provides healthy, fully prepared meals, and it offers several programs tailored to men, including gluten-free, heart-healthy, and diabetes-friendly plans.

The diabetes-friendly program, in particular, boasts a rotating menu of over 100 ready-to-eat meals, all of which contain fewer than 25 grams of net carbs per serving.

Get started with BistroMD here.

Best for college-aged men: Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a popular eating pattern that involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting.

Several forms of intermittent fasting exist, but the 16/8 method is one of the most popular variations, which requires limiting your food intake to an 8-hour window during the day.

Intermittent fasting is a great option for college-aged men, as it’s one of the most simple, convenient, and affordable eating patterns available.

What’s more, studies show it can decrease body weight and body fat, if that’s your goal (21).

Plus, it can naturally increase levels of human growth hormone, which may enhance muscle strength and improve body composition (22, 23).

Finally, animal and human studies have suggested that intermittent fasting may enhance brain function and reduce inflammation (24, 25, 26, 27).

For more information on intermittent fasting, including how it works and how to get started, check out “The Complete Guide to Fasting.”

Shop for “The Complete Guide to Fasting” online.

Best for men over 50: Plant-based diet

Plant-based diets are centered on nutritious, plant-based ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.

Although they’re often confused with vegan or vegetarian diets, many plant-based diets also include foods from animal sources, such as meat, eggs, and dairy.

Plant-based diets have been linked to several health benefits, making them a great option for men over 50.

In particular, studies show that plant-based diets may be beneficial for weight control, gut health, brain function, and more (28, 29).

Some research also suggests that plant-based diets can slow signs of aging and increase your intake of essential nutrients and antioxidants, which are compounds that protect against cell damage and chronic disease (30).

If you’re interested in learning more about plant-based diets, consider checking out “The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners,” which provides recipes and additional information about the diet.

Shop for “The Plant-Based Diet for Beginners” online.

Best for men over 65: MIND diet

The Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet combines key aspects of the Mediterranean and DASH diet plans.

It’s intended to help preserve brain function and slow mental decline as you age, making it an excellent option for older adults.

The MIND diet is easy to follow and doesn’t have any complicated rules or regulations.

Instead, it simply encourages the consumption of 10 brain health-promoting foods, including leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, berries, and fish.

It also encourages dieters to limit foods high in saturated and trans fats, such as cheese, red meat, butter, fried foods, and sweets (31).

Studies show that following the MIND diet may be associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and a reduced risk of mental decline (31, 32, 33, 34).

Plus, Mediterranean and DASH diets have both been linked to improved heart health (12, 35).

For recipe ideas and guidelines to help you get started, check out “The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook.”

Shop for “The MIND Diet Plan and Cookbook” online.

There are a few important factors to consider when choosing a diet plan.

First, consider the purpose and potential health benefits of the diet. While some diets are aimed at increasing weight loss, others may be used to reduce cholesterol levels, enhance blood sugar control, or support overall health.

Ideally, you should also select a diet that has been researched and is backed by high quality, peer-reviewed studies.

Note that some diets have stricter guidelines or may require more time and effort than others, which can be an important factor to consider for many.

You should also avoid overly restrictive eating patterns. These diets may not only make it more challenging to meet your nutritional needs but also be difficult to sustain long term.

Finally, remember to consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

There are many suitable diets for men at any age, including options tailored to certain health conditions and specific fitness goals.

When selecting a diet, be sure to consider the aim of the diet, its potential health benefits, the amount of effort required, and whether it’s backed by high quality research.

You should also avoid diets that are unsustainable or overly restrictive, and be sure to check with your healthcare provider before making changes to your diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

Last medically reviewed on December 15, 2020

How we reviewed this article:

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Dec 15, 2020

Written By

Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD

Edited By

Susanne Arthur

Medically Reviewed By

Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Copy Edited By

Christina Guzik, BA, MBA

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Medically reviewed by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, NutritionBy Rachael Ajmera, MS, RD on December 15, 2020