As a man between the ages of 51 and 70, your body becomes less efficient at absorbing nutrients from the food and drink you consume. Along with this, the amount of energy your body burns also reduces. 

Why eat healthily?

At this stage of your life, it’s important that you eat enough nutritious food to keep your body functioning at the best possible level and absorb the nutrients that you need. 

Find out more about Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines

Healthy eating guidelines for midlife men

The Australian Dietary Guidelines outline what a healthy diet is for men aged 51 to 70 with average height and an inactive (sedentary) to moderately active lifestyle. 

Australian Dietary Guidelines serving recommendations by food group

Food group Example serving size Serves per day Example of essential nutrients
Grains (cereal) foods 1 slice of bread or ½ a medium roll or flat bread (40 g), ½ cup cooked rice, pasta, noodles, ½ cup of cooked porridge or polenta, 2/3 cup breakfast cereal flakes (30 g) or ½ cup muesli 6 serves Fibre, carbohydrates, protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, B group vitamins, vitamin E
Vegetables and legume/beans   ½ cup cooked vegetables (75 g), 1 cup salad vegetables, 1 small potato, ½ cup cooked dried or canned beans, chickpeas or lentils (no added salt) 5½ serves Fibre, carbohydrate, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, folate, protein, iron  
Fruits 1 medium piece of fresh fruit (150 g), 30 g dried fruit (e.g. 4 dried apricot halves), 1 cup canned fruit (150 g)  2 serves Fibre, carbohydrate, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, folate 
Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, legumes/beans* 65 g cooked lean red meat (e.g. beef, lamb, pork, venison or kangaroo) or ½ cup of lean mince, 2 small chops, 80 g cooked poultry, 100 g cooked fish fillet or 1 small can of fish, 2 large eggs, 170 g tofu, 30 g nuts or seeds 2½ serves Protein, essential fatty acids (found in fish, e.g. omega 3 and omega 6), iron, vitamin B12, iodine, zinc
Milk, yogurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat* 1 cup (250 ml) milk, 200 g tub of yoghurt, 40 g or 2 slices of cheese, 120 g ricotta cheese  2½ serves Calcium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12, iodine, zinc, riboflavin
Saturated oils and fats (e.g. butter, cream, lard, coconut and palm kernel oils)   use in small amounts  

* If you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, plan your diet to be sure it includes all the essential nutrients. 

If you are taller or more active, you can have an additional 0–2½ serves per day, selected from:

  • foods from any of the five food groups, or 
  • unsaturated spreads or oils (such as olive oil, canola oil, nut butters or avocado paste), or 
  • discretionary choices. However, discretionary choices are not needed as part of a heathy diet and, if eaten, should only be eaten occasionally.

Is your weight putting you at risk of chronic disease?

For adults over the age of 18, the body mass index (BMI) can be used as an indicator to determine whether your body weight puts you at risk of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. If you would like to know what your BMI is and what it means, use our Body mass index calculator.

Eating for a healthy weight

Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight is all about balancing the energy you take in with the energy you burn (energy out). To find out more about the relationship between food and energy, see Balancing energy in and energy out.

How to start healthy eating habits

It’s never too late to improve your diet. Here’s how you can.

Fruit, vegetables and legumes/beans – help your body shine

Eat a variety of different coloured vegetables and fruit every day by including them in your meals and having them as snacks. 

For more information, see ‘Vegetables and legume/beans’ and ‘fruits’ in the Australian Dietary Guidelines table.

Also see, Can you eat a rainbow for more information.

Wholegrain breads, cereals and grains – keep your heart and gut healthy

Wholegrains are high in fibre which is important to heart and gut health. Fibre also helps you to feel fuller for longer and therefore helps with weight control. 

For more information, see ‘Grains (cereal) foods’ in the Australian Dietary Guidelines table.

Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes/beans – maintain your muscles

These foods are high in protein, which is key for maintaining muscle mass in later years. 

See ‘Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, legumes/beans’ in the Australian Dietary Guidelines table for more information.

Dairy and dairy alternatives – keep your bones healthy

Dairy is a great source of calcium, which is essential for bone health. Vitamin D from sunlight helps you to absorb the calcium you consume. It’s important to get enough vitamin D and dietary calcium to maximise your bone density as you age. 

If you prefer dairy alternatives, choose those that have been fortified with 100 mg of calcium per 100 ml.

For more information, see ‘Milk, yogurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat’ in the Australian Dietary Guidelines table.

Also see ‘Bone health’ on this page.

For more information about vitamin D and safe sunlight exposure, visit SunSmart and the Cancer Council.

Foods that contain vitamin D are oily fish like salmon, tuna or mackerel, liver, egg yolks and some vitamin D-enriched foods such as breakfast cereals and milk.

Fluids – keep your body hydrated

Drink plenty of water during both warm and cold weather and avoid sugary drinks. Staying hydrated is important during this life stage, so aim for around 2.6 litres (approximately 10 cups) of fluid every day.

Common dietary issues for men aged 51 to 70

Here are some of the more common dietary issues that can affect men in this age group.

Obesity

Obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure (which increases risk of cardiovascular diseases), high cholesterol (which increases risk of coronary heart diseases) and some cancers (such as colon and rectum cancer).

You can use the body mass index (BMI) as an indicator to determine whether your body weight puts you at risk of chronic disease. A waist circumference measurement can indicate whether your body waist fat is putting you at risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. (This may be the case if your waist circumference measures more than 94 centimetres.)

For information on healthy weight loss, see Weight loss – a healthy approach and Body image and diets.

Alcohol 

Alcohol is high in kilojoules and low in nutrients. Drinking alcohol can cause serious short- and long-term harm such as obesity, heart disease, liver disease and high cholesterol. It can also affect your mental health. 

For more information, see How alcohol affects your body.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s publication Cancer in Australia 2017, alcohol is a known risk factor for the following cancers:

  • colon and rectum
  • liver
  • lung
  • oesophagus
  • pancreas
  • stomach.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Alcohol Guidelines recommend that healthy men should drink no more than two standard drinks on any one day to decrease the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related diseases. These guidelines also recommend that healthy men should drink no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion to decrease the risk of alcohol-related injury. 

For more information on what represents a standard drink, see Alcohol content of a standard drink.

Bone health

According to Osteoporosis Australia a quarter of the people who have osteoporosis are men. Most risk factors for osteoporosis apply to both men and women, but men also have specific risk factors such as treatments for prostate cancer.

For good bone health it’s important to include enough calcium in your diet. Adult men aged 70 and under need about 1,000 mg of calcium every day. See ‘Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives’ in the Australian Dietary Guidelines table. 

To help your body absorb the calcium in your diet you also need to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D.

For more information, see Osteoporosis in men.

Note that this page does not apply to men with specific health conditions. For more information, please consult:

References
 

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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Deakin University - School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Last updated: May 2019

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