Nick Mitchell: What are the foundations of good health for men?

What are the foundations for good health for men?

It’s not necessarily about weight or BMI, what is really important is how much fat you are carrying for your size.

This is the key factor for men who want good metabolic and physical health – but it gets overlooked by the vast majority of people.

Ultimate Performance founder and CEO Nick Mitchell talks about the dangers of what he calls ‘skinny’ fat for men’s long-term health – and how you can diffuse this ‘ticking timebomb.’ It starts with eating better quality foods and lifting weights.

This is part of our Men’s Health series. You can read more here:

Nick Mitchell: How I manage my diet and health.

Nick Mitchell: How men can foster better mental health

Nick Mitchell: Why it’s important for men to improve testosterone

6 steps men can take for better mental health

How your body fat storage pattern could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes

 

BEN KENYON: What are the foundations for good health that men of any age should start considering?

NICK MITCHELL:  It’s not a magic formula for a man. The specific thing for a man to maintain his health is to keep at a healthy body weight.

Now, a healthy body weight varies from person to person. Ultimately, it isn’t about what you weigh. It’s not about BMI. It’s about how much fat you’re carrying for your structure, frame and muscle size.

The very, very worst thing for anyone is being ‘skinny fat’.

So you can look ‘normal’. You can look like you’ve got a good BMI, and you can fit into all the clothes and look like you are in decent nick. But underneath it, there’s no muscle, and you’re all soft, squishy and flabby. You’re a ticking time bomb.

 

BEN: Why is this?

NICK: A very recent study looked at the propensity for people to become type 2 diabetic, which is basically lifestyle-induced diabetes.

If you’re a diabetic, you’re in the firing line for COVID. If you’re diabetic, you don’t live as long; you’re more likely to get Alzheimer’s. They call Alzheimer’s ‘diabetes of the brain’. So this is really, really serious for people. It’s not about being overweight per see – it’s about not being skinny fat.

So how do you address being skinny fat? Firstly, you address the quality of the nutrition that you eat. You don’t have to count calories, but you have to address the quality of the food that you eat.

We overeat, so we shouldn’t be eating too much. We all know men who like to stuff their faces. I like to stuff my face. How many women like to stuff their faces? Do you know? “Oh, I’m really full; that feels good.” Men say that, right? We pat our tummy, don’t we? Do women do that?

BEN: None that I know.

NICK: I haven’t met any yet, have you? It feels very much like a male-dominated thing. Don’t stuff your face. Go for a walk after a meal. Moving your body with a 10-minute walk after the two main meals of the day makes a huge difference to your blood sugar.

The primary tool for maximising a man’s health (and for women too) is weight training or some form of resistance training.

You don’t have to go to a gym – this can just mean press-ups and bodyweight squats in your living room.

Of course, the gym allows you to do more things and progress further, but you just have to exercise your muscles. This is because the fuel that your muscles use when you’re doing weight training type movements, in very simplistic terms, is the sugar in your blood.

You want to deplete that sugar in your blood at certain points in time, and you want to be able to refresh your pancreas.

The pancreas is the organ that produces insulin that deals with blood sugar and deals with the carbohydrates that you eat.

What they found with type-2 diabetics is that the pancreas, and don’t take me literally, becomes ‘shrivelled up’ and ‘shrunken’ because it’s been exhausted being tapped time after time.

‘Handle this Mars bar, handle this bag of crisps, handle these cans of coke’. Time after time after time. It doesn’t get refreshed because we don’t have periods of fasting anymore either. We eat constantly, we eat when we wake up, and we’ll have a snack before we go to bed, and we’re snacking in between.

So, the single worst thing in the world for all our health is the convenience food industry. It’s the absolute single worst thing. If everybody started eating home-cooked meals which don’t have to be salads and sardines and things like that, they can be ‘normal foods.’

BEN: It’s everything your mum told you, right? Sleep well. Eat well.

NICK: All of it is everything that your mum and your grandma told you everything. Everything. It’s meat and two veg.

 

BEN: Why is it so complicated, and why are so many men going off the rails?

NICK: Everyone’s gone off the rails, but men have gone off the rails more because men are not into themselves in the ‘internal’ in the same way that women are. So men are into the ‘external’.

So men are more likely to take anabolic steroids because it’s the external. Women are more likely to spend time doing yoga, pilates, eating macrobiotic diets and things, whatever that means, right? They’re more likely to do that because it’s the internal. And testosterone makes you more external, and a lack of it will make you more internal.

It goes back to nature. We have peacocks and peahens, don’t we? Which one has the plumage?

BEN: The male.

NICK: The male. Show off – ‘look at me!’ Now, that’s not saying that women are not vain. Of course, women are vain. That’s not saying that women don’t care about their appearance.

But with men, it’s external. It’s chasing external validation. That’s what men do too much. For women, it’s a different thing. Again, male hormones – androgens – make us more assertive, more dominant, more aggressive and more ambitious. None of which are part of looking after yourself.

That’s the challenge that men have to marry – this instinctive hormonal, genetic, evolutionary desire to do certain things whilst also maximising their health. And, of course, it can be done.

 

Interested to know how Nick manages his food and diet? In the latest from our Men’s Health series, Nick speaks about his personal struggles with diet and how he overcomes those temptations.

Find out more

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