Nutrition Tips to Improve Your “Father Figure”

Southeast Dairy Association - Dad and Daughter Enjoying Milk

Father’s Day is a great time to think about men’s health and simple strategies to support healthy aging. A healthy diet and lifestyle choices are directly linked to the prevention of chronic disease and are integral for getting the most from your exercise program.

Start by making fruits and vegetables a priority. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, which offer more than just vitamins and minerals. They are also a key source of fiber and provide a wide range of phytonutrients and bioflavonoids. Plant-based diets are linked with many positive health outcomes, such as gastrointestinal health and protection against cancer and metabolic diseases. Pair plants with dairy foods for the ultimate nutrition power couple! Your favorite fruits or vegetables paired with milk, yogurt, or cheese will provide all four nutrients lacking in the typical American diet – fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.

Maintaining muscle mass while aging is also important for warding off metabolic disease and can help you stay active to keep up with your children and grandchildren. While resistance training is key to maintaining muscle, consuming enough high-quality protein at the right time is also crucial to get the most from your training. The regular spacing of protein consumption maximizes exercise-induced muscle protein synthesis. Aim for 15-30 grams of protein per meal (based on body size). With a little planning, this is easy to accomplish. First, diversify your protein selections to include more than just meat and eggs. Legumes and dairy foods are great sources of protein, too! Fluid milk contains 8 grams of high-quality protein per serving and provides leucine — an amino acid known to “turn-on” muscle protein synthesis. Milk, cheese, and yogurt all contain essential amino acids that promote muscle repair.

Many men pursue trendy fad diets to lose weight or address medical concerns, but, unfortunately, these are typically unsustainable. Align your nutrition goals with these tips for life-long health benefits beyond short-term goals.

Looking for a delicious healthy meal for dad on Father’s Day? Visit The Dairy Alliance’s recipe page for healthy meal ideas for any occasion.

D. Travis Thomas, Ph.D., RDN, CSSD, LD, FAND, is an Associate Professor of Clinical & Sports Nutrition and Program Director of the graduate Clinical Nutrition program in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Thomas is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). He has held multiple volunteer and leadership positions with SCAN and served as lead author on the current Nutrition for Athletic Performance Position Stand endorsed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American College of Sports Medicine, and Dietitians of Canada. He was recently awarded the prestigious 2020 SCAN Achievement Award in Sports Nutrition, SCAN’s first and highest award.

Dr. Thomas has thirteen years’ experience conducting human studies involving nutrition and exercise interventions across the lifespan. Over the past decade, Dr. Thomas has served as an investigator on several funded research projects that focused on a wide range of nutrition issues associated with the preservation and enhancement of skeletal muscle function and performance. These studies have focused on understanding the relationship between vitamin D and muscle metabolic function, nutrition and physical function in aging and athletic populations, nutrition interventions to improve endothelial function and to reduce symptoms in patients with advanced heart failure, and investigating nutritional strategies to preserve physical performance and lean body mass in patients with cancer.

At the University of Kentucky, Dr. Thomas teaches advanced sports nutrition to graduate students and a novel undergraduate course titled “Nutrition for Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation.” Dr. Thomas also teaches and directs multiple clinical nutrition graduate courses and directs an undergraduate certificate called “Nutrition for Human Performance.”

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