Shocking finding: One third of young men’s energy intake comes from junk food
To get fit and shred for Summer, young men need to cut the junk and focus on quality grains, according to newly released findings from the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council.
The Australian Grains & Legumes Consumption & Attitudinal Study[i] researched the habits of more than 3,000 Australians aged two to 70 years. The study revealed that young men aged 19 to 30 years are not eating enough quality grains that carry essential nutrients for building muscles and strength, for energy and for sexual function.
The study also found that discretionary grains – such as pies, pizzas and muffins – comprise one third (32 per cent) of young men’s grain food choices, with almost two in three men (59 per cent) eating them on a regular basis. This is in line with the findings of the Federal Government’s Australian Health Survey 2011-13 (AHS)[ii], which found that one third (36 per cent) of all energy in the diet of young men comes from junk food.
In the Consumption Study, 13 per cent of young men had the misconception that overly restricting grain foods like bread and pasta would help with weight loss. GLNC points out that in fact eating more high fibre grains and whole grains, not less, has been linked to lower body fat, resulting in a smaller waist circumference[iii].
Chris Cashman, GLNC’s Nutrition Program Manager, said young men who regularly eat junk food are at risk of not getting enough nutrients essential for good health and vitality.
“It’s time for young Aussie men to ditch unhealthy convenience foods that are holding them back. Focusing on the quality of grains you eat is like choosing to put premium fuel into your high-performance race car. The evidence shows that eating high-quality carbohydrates and protein-rich grains will help optimise your physical and mental performance,” said Mr Cashman.
“Men should be choosing quality grain foods at least half of the time, or three serves a day. Examples of quality grains include high fibre breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread and brown rice.”
However, young Australian men have got a long way to go to turn around their habits: with a massive 40 per cent currently eating less than one serve of whole grain foods a day, when they should be eating three serves. [Refer to Recommended Serve Sizes on page 3.]
All grain foods contain protein and a range of essential nutrients that are key to an effective Summer shred.
Mr Cashman added: “Men who are looking to bulk naturally this Summer would benefit most from swapping discretionary grains in convenience foods for core grains, including those that contain whole grains, high fibre grains and are low GI. Making small swaps will bring big health rewards.”
Dietitian Matt O’Neill, the creator of MetabolicJumpstart.com (aka ‘Mr Metabolism’), said getting the right energy intake and nutrients was vital to help the bodies of young men function at a high capacity and to improve muscle strength.
“Many young men lapse into poor eating habits in their teenage years and this can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle as they enter their twenties and beyond,” he said.
“Men need to be accountable for their own diet and take control of their eating habits to ensure they are nutrient-rich. As part of a balanced diet, quality grain foods such as whole grains and high fibre grain foods provide the fuel and the nutrients you need to help you bulk-up, power your workouts and keep you on track,” added O’Neill.
Get Pumping this Summer with 5 Essential Nutrients in Grains
- Protein for muscle building and strength. Wheat and oats are 11 per cent protein, a great addition to your other protein sources.
- Zinc for maintaining muscles and for sexual function (i.e. maintaining testosterone levels and for good fertility).
- Magnesium for effective muscles and to release the energy from foods.
- B vitamins to improve energy, help fight fatigue and maintain a healthy mind in terms of concentration, learning, memory and reasoning.
- Fibre for good gut health and to keep healthy on the inside.
Top 3 Benefits of Whole Grains
- Nutrient Powerhouse – whole grains contain more than 26 nutrients and phytonutrients, which help nourish the body and promote wellbeing.
- Low GI benefit – eating a variety of whole grains lowers the overall glycaemic index (GI) of your diet, which helps to keep you fuller for longer.
- Fibre Boost – grain foods are Australia’s leading source of fibre, which is proven to be effective in preventing excess weight gain.
Social Media Hashtag: #ShredWithGrains
2 ABS. Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Foods and Nutrients, 2011-12. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014.
3 Williams PG, Grafenauer SJ, O’Shea JE. Cereal grains, legumes, and weight management: a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence. Nutrition reviews. 2008;66(4):171-82