A balanced diet for men

Find out how much protein, carbohydrate, and fat you should be eating and at what time. Choose intelligently for a healthy diet that will keep you full all day long

A selection of foods in a wire shopping basket

Men have diverse daily nutritional necessities to women and, below, our nutritionist has presented direction and recipe ideas for men who are seeking a balanced diet for good health. But the question is: “what exactly is a ‘balanced diet’?”

The Eatwell Guide describes the different types of foods we are supposed to be eating and in what amount. The guide explains some easy rules to follow like getting a minimum five fruits and vegetables a day, including whole grain and choosing more fish, beans poultry, and pulses. Less red meat and lower fat, lower sugar dairy foods. How much should you be eating and is there a perfect time to consume carbs, protein or fats? Keep on reading for our guide to healthy eating throughout the day.

Reference Intakes (RI)

Nutritional needs differ depending on sex, age size, and activity levels so use this chart only as a general guide. The chart shows the Reference Intakes (RI) or daily amounts suggested for an average, more or less active adult to realize a healthy, balanced diet for upholding rather than losing or gaining weight. The RIs for fat, sugars saturates, and salt are all maximum amounts, although those for carbs and protein are statistics you should aim to achieve each day. There is no RI for fiber even though health experts recommend we have 30g a day.

Reference intakes (RI)
Men Women
Energy (kcal) 2500 2000
Protein (g) 55 50
Carbohydrates (g) 300 260
Sugar (g) 120 90
Fat (g) 95 70
Saturates (g) 30 20
Salt (g) 6 6

Perfect portions

Figures and numbers are all very well, but how does this relate to you? Keeping the Eatwell Guide in mind, you can personalize your portion sizes with this handy guide.

Foods Portion size
Carbs like rice/cereal/ pasta/potato (take in 1 portion at each main meal and make sure it fills no more than one-quarter of your plate) Your clenched fist
Protein like meat/ fish/ poultry/tofu/pulses (aspire to have a portion at each meal) Palm of your hand
Cheese (as a snack or part of a meal) 2 of your thumbs
Nuts/seeds (as a snack or as a part of a meal) 1 of your cupped hands
Butter/spreads/nut butter (no more than 2 or 3 times a day) The tip of your thumb
Savories like popcorn/crisps (as a snack/treat) 2 of your cupped hands
Bakes like brownies/flapjacks (as an occasional treat) 2 of your fingers

Do not forget, as defined in the Eatwell Guide, all of us should be aiming for a minimum of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Find out what counts as one portion using https://www.bbcgoodfood.com five a day infographic.



Whether your first stop of the day is the office or the gym, adding some protein to your breakfast is the perfect way to lift up your metabolism. If you do exercise in the morning, a protein breakfast will help your muscles to recover and repair faster. Eggs are the perfect choice since they provide a good balance of quality protein and fat. Other options contain lean ham, fish like salmon or haddock, also lower fat dairy foods. Protein foods slow down stomach emptying, which means that you will stay fuller for longer so you will tend to eat fewer calories the rest of the day.

If you don’t have time in the morning a protein-rich breakfast won’t take very long. Boost your morning toast with a few slices of smoked salmon, some lean ham or some scrambled eggs and when you have more time, take pleasure in an omelet, frittata or our version of the full English.


Protein breakfast recipes:
Scrambled omelette toast topper
One-pan summer eggs
Flash-fried smoked salmon & egg bagel
Ultimate makeover full English
Full English frittata
All-in-one baked mushrooms
Full English potato cake


Mid-morning snack


Eating well in the morning is very important for balancing energy levels. The ideal way is to eat little but often. But you have to make every snack work for you. This means choosing snacks that satisfy your energy requirements plus provide extra benefits like topping up your five-a-day.

Try peanut butter and banana on some crackers, or choose for creamy avocado with turkey slices.

Energy-giving snacks:
Peanut butter & banana on toast
Turkey & avocado toast



Your lunch should be a mix of lean protein and starchy carbs. Carb-rich foods give you energy so you will suffer from mid-afternoon slumps if you cut them out. The key is to select carbs that create a steady rise in blood sugar. This means passing on sugary ‘white’ foods and going for high-fibre whole grains, which help you handle those afternoon munchies. Whole grains like rye, whole wheat and barley will keep you satisfied for a longer period of time. Actually, studies show rye bread keeps blood sugar constant for up to 10 hours.

Choose an open sandwich with lean beef or pork, turkey salmon, or chicken with an abundance of salad or toast some whole grain bread and take pleasure in with baked beans.

Protein and carb lunch recipes:
Open mackerel sandwich with fennel slaw
Chicken Caesar sandwich
Open turkey BLT


For a lot of people, it’s not sugar so much as salty, savory foods they crave in the afternoon. If this is your problem, forget the crisps and instead for choose seeds spiced nuts, and savory popcorn, or take pleasure in lower fat cream cheese with crackers.

Savory afternoon snacks:
Spicy seed mix
Sweet & spicy popcorn
Scandi cheese & crackers



Don’t blackout carbs, as they’re low in fat, fibre-rich and help you loosen up in the evening. Mix them with essential fats that your body can use overnight, alongside with protein, for rejuvenation and repair. This combination is particularly important for healthy hair and skin. You can get these healthy fats from oily fish like salmon, trout, and mackerel as well as nuts, seeds and their oils.

Fill your plate with a colorful variety of vegetables or salad, sprinkle with a dressing made from linseed or rapeseed oil and add fish, meat, or beans with a serving of brown rice, quinoa or whole meal pasta.

Dinner recipes:
Spicy Cajun chicken quinoa
Zingy salmon & brown rice salad
Thai salmon noodles
Tandoori trout


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